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East Of Eden - Mercator Projected CD (album) cover

MERCATOR PROJECTED

East Of Eden

 

Eclectic Prog

4.06 | 142 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars EAST OF EDEN were a British Jazz-Rock band who were best-known for their chart song "Jig-a-Jig", although the single wasn't representative of their album recordings. They released their first album "Mercator Projected" (1969) on the Deram label, a subsidiary of Decca Records. East of Eden recorded seven more albums during the proggy 1970's:- "Snafu" (1970); "East of Eden" (1971); "New Leaf" (1971); "Another Eden" (1975); "Here We Go Again" (1976); "It's the Climate" (1977); and "Silver Park" (1978). The band reunited nearly twenty years later for their "Kalipse" (1997) album and they've released two further albums in the early 21st century:- "Armadillo" (2001) and "Graffito" (2005). It's time now to map out the songs for their first album: "Mercator Projected". The 2004 CD reissue added three bonus tracks to the original eight songs on the album, including a cover version of The Byrds "Eight Miles High".

We're heading for the "Northern Hemisphere" for the first stop on our musical journey. It's a slow but powerful burst of Blues- Rock for the opening song which ploughs on ahead relentlessly like a runaway steamroller. The song has a somewhat menacing air, so it's best to stand well clear, because this steamroller of hard driving rock doesn't sound like it's about to stop for anyone. The song has the same strident appeal as King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", only without the tortured vocals. Dancing gracefully into view now comes "Isadora", a tribute to the dancer Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), who was tragically killed when her scarf became wrapped around the wheels of the car she was travelling in. It's a stirring Jazz-Rock number in which the flawless flautist takes flight and showcases his talent in the best tradition of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. The enchanting lyrics deserve a mention too:- "Isadora dance, we are entranced, Billowing sleeves, in the breeze, Her heart's so soft, the willow weeps, To dance is to live, to love is to give, Beneath a vine of ivy leaves, Isadora sleeps." ..... This resonant refrain was recorded 42 years after Isadora Duncan's tragic death, and now, here we are nearly a century on listening to this immortal musical tribute, when some of the East of Eden band members themselves may be no longer with us. It's a lovely song with timeless appeal. We're sailing along next with "Waterways", an Indian-influenced fuzzy guitar psych-out, so it's time to order a vindaloo curry and settle down for some sitar and electric guitar with a Quintessential side order of Raga Rock. Next up is "Centaur Woman", a raw and earthy, good old-fashioned blast of Jazz-tinged Blues-Rock in the style of Canned Heat, featuring a flautist, a saxophonist, a harmonica player, and with a mean and moody guitarist hammering out some aggressively raucous riffs. This dynamic song veers dramatically from slow blues to wild flamboyant outbursts of uptempo Jazz-Rock with all of the musicians going hell for leather in a helter-skelter frenzy of sound.

Onto Side Two now and we're dipping our toes in the water for the mellow and hypnotic "Bathers", a swirling and mystical magic carpet ride that's tripping the light fantastic in a sea of psychedelic rainbow colours. This song is awash in a Purple Haze of soothing psychedelia. It's time to follow that camel next, because we're headed to the kasbah for "Communion", a song with an exotic Egyptian feel to it. The eastern-influenced music conjures up images of pharaohs and sphinxes and pyramids. You can almost picture the harem scene where a circle of be-robed and be-turbaned Bedouins are getting high as a kite as they puff away eagerly on their hookah pipes. This groovy song is a real Jewel of the Nile. We're continuing our global travels somewhere in the exotic east with "Moth". Maybe it's Egyptian, maybe it's Turkish, but either way, it's psychedelic snake- charming music that takes the listener on an Egyptian flight of fancy, or a magical mystery tour of Turkish delight - whichever you prefer. There's no mistaking the exotic middle-eastern pretensions for the next song: "In the Stable of the Sphinx", the highlight of the album and the longest song on the album with a running time of eight and a half minutes. It's a real whirling dervish of swirling and hypnotic eastern rhythms, all bathed in a healthy splash of psychedelic colours. Prepare for the manic middle section when the music is speeded up to 99 and it sounds like the record is about to go spinning off the turntable in a psychedelic freak-out. A serene calm is restored though for the magnificent conclusion which floats along on a mystical and spiritual wave of flower-power love and peace.

This stunning debut from East of Eden has all of the sweet eastern promise of a box of Turkish delights. "Mercator Projected" is a magical mystery tour around the world, featuring a delicious exotic cocktail of hypnotic eastern rhythms, romantic refrains, psychedelic freak-outs, mean and moody blues, and jazzy jam sessions. This superb album has it all!

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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