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Third Ear Band - Third Ear Band CD (album) cover

THIRD EAR BAND

Third Ear Band

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.58 | 49 ratings

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jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Third Ear Band's second album is music on the border between the West and the East, between light and cultured classical music. It is instrumental music, from start to finish, played by a chamber musical ensemble, which has little to do with rock, except for the fact that some instruments such as violin or percussion are part of the Western rock repertoire.

The album, dedicated to the 4 elements, opens with Air, an impromptu suite with many due to improvisations mainly of oboe (Minns) and viola (Coff), while the tablas (Sweeney) produce a basic rhythm in Indian style very fast but that acts as a background carpet. Wind noise opens this first movement that looks like a jazz improvisation but the sound is completely different because it is conducted by the viola (and violin?), then at about three minutes takes over the oboe that dialogues with the strings in a continuous reference of dissonances that describe a landscape disjointed, very abstract, held together only by percussion, which give a constant basis to which the other instruments return after their overlapping solo scrolls. It is a magnificent piece and unfortunately the other movements (especially those on B- side) of the disc will no longer reach these heights. The piece will fade and again with the noise of the wind. Rating 9.

The second piece, Earth, is more synchronous between the rhythm of the tablas, which changes in speed, and the sound of the instruments. There is an increasingly sustained progression, a pause and a return of fast pace. More narrative piece, less abstract. It's like a folk dance but you can't say what kind of folk: Irish? Arabic? Chinese? Etruscan? Renaissance? We don't know. Another great piece. Rating 8.5/9

End of a wonderful A-side.

The B-side opens with Fire, which produces an orgiastic sound where all the instruments are engaged in high volume dissonances, we are close to the cacophony, you can only identify the odd rhythm of the tablas. The high notes of the strings and oboe are dubbed on both speakers producing extreme almost random dissonances that after a long time make it ardous to listen. Surely it is the most divisive piece, it seems a satanic ritual where you can just avoid paying attention to the ear (the third) and throw yourself into the dance by moving with your bowels. The ears may be annoying, the sounds are unpleasant, this piece should be taken as a tribal dance without listening to the single instrument but only the overall result. Frankly I can not love it, the more time passes the more I hope in a variation that does not arrive and then the song begins to annoy me for the endless racket. I recognize, however, that again the band has found an unprecedented musical fusion. Rating 7,5.

Water. Rain noise in the distance that bathes the fronds of the trees, soft sounds then come from the percussion of Sweeny, then it is the oboe (Minns) that leads the melody while the viola (Coff) occasionally doubles it and the cello (Smith) produces dissonances in the background. Quiet movement, without particular peaks or falls, is more than anything a variation on a dominant melodic theme with percussion to beat a rhythm in three times. Over time it becomes less and less melodic. Rating 8.

This is an essentially folk-fusion album, completely original and without possible comparison. It has an exceptional first side for both arrangement and music, which could make this album an absolute masterpiece of folk-rock (or chamber music?) but a much less successful second side where the arrangements are still sensational but the music is not of the highest level and then the record is takes "only" a 9+.

Five stars.

jamesbaldwin | 5/5 |

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