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Easter Island - Now and Then CD (album) cover

NOW AND THEN

Easter Island

Heavy Prog


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lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A classic issue in the late seventies, featuring two US vocalists such as Rick Bartlett and Mark Miceli, by a derivative band-YES like- with hints of such a simphonic style by ELP in their lightest vein, and their use of accessible melodies too. Well their recent come back ("Mother Sun" is the title of their new album) in the course of year 2000, is a bit disappointing, being too much technological and emulating also the CRIMSONian sound of the eighties. Instead the present "Now and Then" is recommended, even though it is not a masterpiece...
Report this review (#19336)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first couple of tracks are great, but then there's a big decline in quality. One of those super-obscure albums that probably got more attention from 1990 to now than it did in its first decade of existence. Some nice mellotron parts.
Report this review (#135453)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Now here is an American band that actually sounds British for the most part, but unfortunately more like a parody of all their idols, especially Yes, Genesis, and ELP with a bit of KC thrown in. The band knows how to play riffs and little keyboard runs borrowed liberally from the above, but hasn't much skill in songwriting, composing or arranging. It's not clear when they actually prepared the material for this album, and by 1979 it would have been a non starter even if the band had more prowess in all these departments, but this is no long lost classic.

Nonetheless, Now and Then does contain some worthwhile moments, especially in the opener Wanderer's Lament, containing ethereal mellotron flutes (since regular flutes are not named in the credits),. By far the highlight is the "Telesterion" part of the "Alchemist's Suite", dominated by Park Crain's hypnotic synthesizer pedals and percussion. "The Life Celebration" and "Solar Sailor" contain some of the better Yes-like vocals as well as a cool dose of mellotron and moogs. But beyond that, Now and Then doesn't and didn't contain enough to sustain us now or then. 2.5 stars rounded down.

Report this review (#156544)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Nowandthen" is the CD reissue of one of the most symphonic albums ever recorded by an American progressive rock group. Ranking, by most people's estimation, right up there with other great releases by Cathedral, Lift & Pentwater (to name but three), Easter Island's opus is rightly called a masterpiece of American progressive rock. Nimble synth and guitar lines, fat Rickenbacher bass, and beautiful mellotron passages plus Hammond & Yamaha CP70 electric grand (a brand new instrument at the time) give it that classic symphonic progressive sound. The great thing about this album is that, although you can point to their influences as being Yes, King Crimson & ELP, in very few places does the music actually sound like the things it is influenced by. There is a piece that has a very ELP-ish slant but keyboardist Ray Vogel actually managed to put his own little stamp on it so that you don't really find yourself cringing as when listening to a Triumvirat record! They were listening to those groups and were very influenced by them but they were also hearing alot of fusion at the time, too. The most audible influence from that camp would surely be "Apocalypse"/"Visions of the Emerald Beyond"-era Mahavishnu Orchestra. This influence is perhaps most evident in the track "Summerland" with its fluid guitar lines & busy drumming.

Another thing that made Easter Island stand out from their contemporaries, and even from their mentors, was the lead singer Rick Bartlett. Rick was attending the University of Louisville School of Music at the time studying opera! His classical training is most evident on the track "The Alchemist's Suite" where he shows off his impressive three octave range! Then, being the only African-American member of the band, Rick also brought along a little bit of his interest in funk music. This influence can be seen, if one is looking for it, in the track "Life Celebration".

This album has everything a prog fan could want. Beautiful melodies & themes, lush symphonic arrangements (with lots of mellotron),keyboard pyro-technics ala Emerson & Wakeman, nimble and inventive guitar parts, strong and distinctive singing and a tight rhythm section built on Rickenbacher bass & fluid, agile drumming. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#217505)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another terribly underestimate North-American band !

Maybe due the influence of the British prog masters, like Yes, E,L & Palmer, Genesis, Gentle Giant and others.

Easter Island bring to us in their wonderfull music a lesson of a mix symnphonic/hard and space prog !!! The themes are develop make a not obvious management of this influences and in some moments is completely different to the music created by the bands above mentionned. Like in the track 8- which starts with one type of ritual drums, or the track 5 where the initials 6 minutes are completely instrumental !!!

In addition, the musicians are fantastic and the quality of the recording is very good !!!

For all this reasons my rate is 5 stars

Report this review (#238863)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars EASTER ISLAND were a talented American band from the seventies. Originally only 300 copies of this album were released making it quite the collectors item. It was re-issued on cd in 1991 with bonus tracks. This is now out of print making it a difficult recording to track down. I was reminded of YES a lot especially with the guitar playing.There's lots of synths and mellotron.Two different vocalists here and the one guy I find very annoying.

"Wanderer's Lament" is the opening instrumental that's kind of experimental then spacey after 2 minutes. Mellotron late. "Face To Face" kicks in right away and I like the drumming. The vocals before a minute are truly cringe worthy. He sounds like a Motown singer or something. Nice bass 3 minutes in. "Genius Of The Dance" is pastoral with reserved vocals. It picks up a minute in then turns much fuller as drums and mellotron dominate. The tempo then picks up with vocals. Themes are repeated.

"Solar Sailor" is laid back with mellotron and vocals standing out. Good tune. Lots of synths after 3 minutes. The guitar reminds me of Howe here. "Winds Of Time" is uptempo with lots of keyboards. It settles after 2 1/2 minutes with piano. Kicks back in as contrasts continue. Vocals come in for the first time after 5 1/2 minutes. "The Alchemist's Suite" is divided into 4 parts. "Prelude" is a great intro with intricate sounds. "Life Celebration" opens with vocals and light keys (harpichord ?). It picks up. Some bottom end after 3 minutes, guitar follows. "Telesterion" opens with tribal-like drumming. Mellotron and synths help out. It also has an Eastern vibe. "Resurrection" has lots of synths and the vocals come in fairly quickly. Not a fan of this one.

Worth 3 stars but the vocals can be difficult to take at times.

Report this review (#258996)
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars The only reason I was interested in this band at all is because visiting Easter Island is on my list of things I want to do before I get so old I can't make the trip. The wife and I have evenly seriously discussed ? next summer might be the time we finally make the plunge!

Anyway this band and album have nothing to do with the island except for the moai drawings on the cover. This is a digital remix of the original 300 copy limited edition (probably vanity) recording from 1979. Band founder Mark Miceli digitally remixed that record and released it under the obscure Make Make label with BMI distribution in 1991. the original album is re-presented in it's entirety along with an introductory and almost completely synthesized tune ("Wanderer's Lament") that appears to feature only Miceli; and the closing title track which was recorded at the same time (presumably 1991), again by Miceli.

This does qualify as progressive, symphonic rock music given the mildly classical leanings of most of the arrangements as well as liberal use of moog and Mellotron. That said, there's nothing particularly original here, and nearly every track call to mind several prog gods of the early and mid-seventies, who undoubtedly influenced Miceli and friends.

For example, "Genius of the Dance" borrows unabashedly from Yes circa 1974-75, and "Solar Sailor" could have been included on Kansas' 'Vinyl Confessions' album without anyone batting an eyelash. "Winds of Time" sounds like a warm-up track for 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', and the four-part "Alchemist's Suite" takes the form of too many ELP compositions to count, but with a touch of Klaatu just to make things really weird. Finally, "Face to Face" reminds me an awful lot of the later Salem Hill (who themselves owe a debt to Yes, ELP and Kansas) and the two 1991 add-on Miceli tracks, which frankly are the best- sounding on the album, both come off as Alan Parsons-like studio wizardry.

And the point must be made that these guys are not in the same talent league of any of those bands I just mentioned, as evidenced by the comparatively simple and derivative keyboard passages as well as the sub-par vocals, particularly the falsetto singing on 'Ressurection', the last stanza of the Alchemist's Suite and something that sounds like Jon Anderson on a bad-throat day.

Mark Miceli seems to have made a career of art and music if his website is any indication, and more power to him I say. This is a decent album, but not spectacular and not a lost classic by any stretch. Miceli seems more than anything to have been a victim of unfortunate timing; the original version of this album released in 1979 when the backlash against the dinosaurs of prog was so strong he wouldn't have stood a chance even if with a major-label distribution deal. And the reissue in 1991 was a few years too early to catch the resurgent wave of nostalgic prog interest. So in the end the CD version of this album faded into the same obscurity of its LP ancestor. Mildly recommended as a curiosity to serious symphonic prog fans with deep pockets, but otherwise not much more than a high two stars out of five on the prog rating scale.

peace

Report this review (#294511)
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album originally came out in 1979 (actually on december 31!) on the Baal Label with only 300 pressings (with a different cover depicting the band standing with a crying moai). Of those 300 pressings 100 were collector's edition (as if it already wasn't) with a gold moai's tear. Anyway this is an LP collector dream, but later the same Miceli made a CD reissue in 1991 and changed its name to Now And Then. The first and last tracks are not on the original album (well, Wanderer's Lament seems to be a remixing of a part of the original Face To Face intro). Going straight to the music, I think this album is a mixed bag. While it has its top moments, some are dull and boring (especially on The Alchemist Suite). The album begins with Face To Face, a hard piece whose only part I really like is the ending. Genius Of The Dance (what is this song about?) has a definite Yes flavour all over it, I was reminded a lot of The Revealing Science Of God. Solar Sailor gets more to serious business, it is way more complex than the last 2, but still nothing impressive, oh, and the chorus vocals have this falsetto-like dramatic touch, it is horrible. Winds Of Time might be the best song of the album, pure instrumental prog KB mayhem (except for short vocals at the end), it is outstanding really! Side 2 has The Alchemist Suite, which I don't enjoy a lot neither, Prelude is just an useless intro, Life Celebration has again an awesome ending with lots of synths. Telesterion is boring and dumb for me, just percussion along with soft synths. Resurrection gets a little better but still not a worthy ending (I would have put Life Celebration as the last part). The last song (that isn't a bonus track) is Summerland, it is not that bad, vocals seems to get better but it has this popish feeling that causes me trouble. For what I had been told about this album, I certainly was hoping for something better, still many call this a masterpiece and even Greg Walker ranks it as one of the greatest prog albums ever made (Greg's tastes are a bit strange sometimes with US bands, he even calls Quill's Sursum Corda as one of the top 5 american prog records, *fail*), still a worthy discovery for advanced prog fans. I'm rounding this to 3 stars because of its interesting rarity and in memory of Mark Hendricks (drums) and Ray Vogel (keys), who apparently passed away before the 1999 comeback with Mother Sun.
Report this review (#1470954)
Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Now And Then poses a problem many other 70's American prog bands pose, how important should the amount of originality be when rating or if you should just rate it on its own merits. Overall there's a lot to like here for any fans of Yes and prog in a similar vein, but it's overall lacking in innovation and doesn't bring much new to the table.

Wonderer's Lament is a pretty enjoyable intro, soaked in mellotron and various synth drone effects. It gets the job done 3/5

Face to Face is the heaviest track, including lots of riffs, played in unison. Even though in comparison to the rest in the lineup this doesn't show as much technical skill, it still has some really enjoyable motifs. Vocals don't do much for me in this one. 2/5

Genius of the Dance is my favorite in the lineup and is very reminiscent of Yes. Very beautiful melodic bass lines throughout layered with sweet mellotron. There's a fantastic vocal layering section at the end where both of the vocalists are singing different lyrics. Even though there most likely isn't much meaning behind them, the lyrics are flowery and get the job done. 4/5

Solar Sailor is very strong song. Quite possibly the most technically advanced in the album. There's some really excellent guitar playing in this one. It's in a satisfying structure as well, causing every chorus to feel very significant 4/5

Winds of Time is almost all instrumental. There's a lot to like here, the piano plays a big role and coupled with the melodic bass lines this song is beautiful... But is too disjointed, so there's not too much you can latch on to on this one. The ending vocals are a satisfying end though. 3/5

The Alchemist's Suite is a bit confusing. The songs are really not all the connected and I think putting them in this structure hurts the good moments by clumping them together with generally meandering fluff. Prelude is a bit slow but It's short so whatever. Life Celebration is a very happy upbeat song and I like it. Some great synth stuff on here. Telesterion is at least 2 minutes too long and comes off as filler. Ressurection is ok but It too seems like It'd also benefit from a trim; the vocalist's voice just isn't good enough to carry those last two minutes. 2/5

Summerland Is different, It has a strong Zappa influence with a bit of general fusion thrown in down to the guitar tones. It's a delightful listen even though It can be a bit cheezy at points, there are some addicting bass lines and guitar riffs in this one. I'm honestly kind of confused about this song's placement in the album though, It seems more like a 2nd song than a 2nd to last but alas It's good. 4/5

Now And Then is a nice closer, with very sad string synths galore, reminds me of UK quite a bit. Good stuff. 3/5

3.5/5

Report this review (#2164346)
Posted Monday, March 11, 2019 | Review Permalink

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