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Quintessence - Quintessence CD (album) cover




Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.19 | 31 ratings

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3 stars Quintessence made five studio albums during the course of the late 60s and early 70s, with this self-titled second album making the biggest splash as it peaked at #22 in the UK album charts. From what I know of the group however, I'd say that there's too much repetition of its style from one album to another. In fact I'd advise a newcomer to first try the compilation album Epitaph For Tomorrow, and possibly just stop there. That's certainly not normal advice for a prog-group, but then Quintessence was a group that didn't really evolve much.

The sextet started off on the first album In Blissful Company with an excellent combination of Hindu chants, meditative sitar and flute led improvisations and fiery jazz- inflected guitar jams. And really just kept churning out variations of that album until the power diminished and the formula really got too old (this had arguably happened by the time of the third album Dive Deep).

Of course, taken on its own, there is some wonderful music here. The outstanding Only Love (I love Shiva's urgent vocals on this one), Twilight Zones, Sea Of Immortality and Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga are among Quintessence's finest ever songs with Rajam Ram's flute and Allan Mostert's guitar providing most of the instrumental excitement. The spacey multi-tracked flute instrumental Prism also represents a slight diversion from what has gone before.

On the down side, the wah-wah extravaganzas that are St. Pancras and Burning Bush can get a little dull, and Shiva Chant and Maha Mantra are essentially chant songs which are actually done much better on the first album's Chant and the third album's Sri Ram Chant. A bonus live version of Jesus, Buddha, Moses and Gauranga show what a fine-tuned machine Quintessence was a performing band (a Quintessence concert must have been one hell of a stoner experience!).

Despite the excellent moments on this record, I have to repeat my belief that Quintessence is essentially a one-album band, and that while there's nothing wrong with plumping for either In Blissful Company or this album, I'd go with Epitaph For Tomorrow (which does have four tracks from this album anyway). ... 55% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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