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Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon CD (album) cover

SACRED BABOON

Yezda Urfa

 

Eclectic Prog

3.95 | 188 ratings

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Pafnutij
4 stars One of the obscure 70s US prog bands playing highly sophisticated and interesting music, Yezda Urfa originally recorded "Sacred Baboon" as their sophomore album in 1976, only to have it shelved . It was only in 1989 (some 8 years since the band's break-up) that it was finally released thanks to the Syn-phonic label, which provided the progressive rock world with quite a gift, as "Sacred Baboon" is easily one of the best prog records to come out of America. There is, of course, an issue with originality: as many have pointed out, the band owes a whole lot to Yes and Gentle Giant. The former is most evident in the high-pitched vocals of Rick Rodenbaugh (who, unfortunately, has problems with intonation), and the latter in blatant copying of GG's trademark vocal arrangements.Naturally, both bands are also noticeble influences on the songwriting aspects of the music, GG apparently being the bigger one due to the complex, challenging nature of the compositions.

Nevertheless, Yezda Urfa begins the album by sounding more like Yes than Anderson, Wakey and co. ever did themselves - which is what we get with "Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" , an uptempo track particularly reminiscent of "Roundabout" due to it's funky guitar riff and typically Anderson-esque vocal melodies. While it may appeal to some (fans of Yes, mainly), I find it to be "Sacred Baboon" 's weakest song. After the disappointing opening number, the album takes a significant upturn with "Cancer of the band" . The main theme doesn't really grab me, but it's simple and pleasant enough to whistle along to; the song's true strength lies in the intricate instrumental parts that pop up in between the vocal section: in particular, the weird, yet totally catchy interlude first heard around 5:44 is probably my favourite spot on the entire album.

Next comes the 10 minute "Tota in the Moya": after a short propulsive intro an interesting theme with well-crafted tonality changes is established by the guitar, soon joined by Rodenbaugh and the rest of the band; after about 4 minutes, this section is replaced by an even more fascinating instrumental prog excursion featuring outstanding riffs which replace each other practically every few seconds;the song concludes with a major-key verse section - it's considerably simpler and mellower, but the band's complex compositional tendencies still manifest themselves occasionally.

"Boris." , a relatively short track guided by Rodenbaugh, is decent, but as the music doesn't really shine when the band is in the accompaniment backseat, it's one of the album's weaker songs.

"Flow Guides Aren't My Bag" is one of the more accessible tracks on the album - and one of the catchiest too, with the sweet harmonic minor melodies and mighty riffing providing a very enjoyable listen (unfortunately, spoiled by yet another bizarre and out-of-place vocal section copied from GG).

I don't consider "(My Doc Told Me I Had), Doggie Head" (what?) to be a highlight, as throughout it's duration it sounds kinda forced and there isn't much to latch onto. Nevertheless, fans of awkward time sigs, "difficult" music and frighteningly weird song titles should love this one as well.

And finally, we have another strong prog number in "3, Almost 4, 6 Yeah". The intro theme is my favorite part of the (practically instrumental) song, but, once again, there is a great deal of mighty riffing throughout, even augmented by a guitar-based classical interlude.

Overall, one of the most creative and adventurous statements of 70s prog rock. To some, the compositions may appear too frantic and overdone (they frequently are), but those who appreciate interesting, challenging music should love this album.

Pafnutij | 4/5 |

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