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Dzyan - Mandala CD (album) cover





3.85 | 18 ratings

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3 stars Better late than never, I suppose, but this live-in-the-studio novelty was too long overdue, released almost forty years after it was recorded. Dzyan never achieved anything more than cult stardom, at best. But to fans this belated addition to their slim discography will provide a fascinating slice of audio anthropology: the missing link between the band's jazzy 1972 debut and the blossoming Krautrock of their "Time Machine" and "Electric Silence" albums (the latter title currently the Number Ten rated Krautrock album on this site).

The prevailing style was still the Canterbury Fusion of that first LP, with Gerd Ehrmann's frenetic saxophone the primary instrument on most tracks, and percussionist Jochen Leuschner providing the bluesy lead vocals. But the ace up their collective sleeve was new guitarist Eddy Marron, recently enlisted but already making an impact, even in a relative supporting role.

Under his galvanizing influence the music was beginning to show a harder edge, in tracks like "Steel's Electric": an obvious signpost toward the MAHAVISHNU intensity of the "Time Machine" sessions. Listening to Marron's absolutely torrid solo at the end of "Dragonsong" (a holdover song from the first album) it's easy to imagine the jaws of his bandmates falling to the studio floor in flabbergasted awe, as the guitarist shredded his fretboard into ragged tatters.

In this track and elsewhere you can hear the later, psychedelicized Dzyan trying to break free of its Jazz Rock shell, especially when Marron begins strumming his beloved Turkish saz, in the song of the same name. The more exploratory instrumental jams show their age best, and the band itself no doubt felt the same. After this rehearsal 'concert' the way ahead must have seemed clear: ditch the singer and the sax, and continue as a trio (but with a more sympathetic drummer).

The title track is an odd droning entr'acte from bassist Reinhard Karwatky (recording date unknown), and the incomplete "Celestial City" is the only selection actually performed on stage. It was included here as a bonus track, but really the entire album is a welcome bonus, 38-years late but worth the wait.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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