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Stardrive - Intergalactic Trot CD (album) cover



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3 stars Stardrive was a short-lived project created by keyboardist Robert Mason in order to present his multi-voiced synthesizer.As stated on the LP ''...Robert Mason has built the worlds first multi- voiced synthesizer that can be played like a real keyboard instrument with full chords and tonal clusters.''.For that reason he composed the album ''Intergalactic trot'' back in 1973,released on Elektra,where he was helped by session musicians on bass,guitars,drums and saxes,among them famous sax player Michael Brecker is the most recognizable figure.

The all instrumental album opens with ''Rushes'',a complex keyboard journey with a fast tempo and many changes,followed by a weird cover of The Beatles' ''Strawberry Fields Forever'', fully-synth oriented with this light symphonic feeling.''Stardrive'', closing the first side of the LP, is quite remarkable.Sort of a complex TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA with occasional GENESIS moog-styled loops in the vein of ''The cinema show'' with also a taste of Funk and jazzy guitars at the middle section.Many changes, dramatic passages and improvised keyboard solos complete a nice soundscape.

Side two will open with the pompous symphonic number ''Dr. Tandem'',again fast and furious music with nice synths but a bit cheesy at moments.With ''Want to Take You Higher'' Mr. Mason starts walking in the Jazz/Fusion territory,another rich composition with a Fusion-edge,while ''Everything at Once'' starts off like a romantic piece of Symphonic Rock,built around smooth guitar work and delicate synths to feature later jazzy guitars and free sax soloing.With the closing eponymous track,Stardrive step into Jazz-Rock/Fusion for good.And here Mr. Mason decided to leave some space to the rest of his team,though his synths are again dominant.Most notably to Michael Brecker,who's fiery sax follows Mason's synths almost throughout the whole track,while the rhythm section is again on a funky mood.

I do not know what happened to Robert Mason's unique instrument,which sounds a lot like a mix of moog,polymoog and clavinet,but this album was a good introduction to his sound to say the least with a very rich and adventurous sound,which will be greatly appreciated by the keyboard fanatics of prog music.Recommended.

Report this review (#1132607)
Posted Sunday, February 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stardrive was the name of a custom-made synthesizer made by Robert Mason. It looks like a cannibalized ARP 2500 (in fact, he did cannibalize an ARP 2500, as parts of the synth are undeniably ARP 2500) with a bunch of unidentifiable stuff. Of course he was frustrated at the monophonic limitations of synthesizers in 1973, so he developed a prototype polyphonic synthesizer (of course, the synth industry had to pay attention, because polyphonic synthesizers started making themselves available to the public in the second half of the '70s).

I found a cheap copy of Intergalactic Trot, I was rather amazed how glossy the cover is for an American LP. Here Robert Mason hires some jazz musicians (Michael Brecker and Steve Gadd are the ones I recognize) and puts the Stardrive synth to work. The original material is nothing short of great. I've heard comparisons to Rundgren's Utopia, and I guess it does, minus vocals, as there are none to be found here. I could do without his take on "Strawberry Fields Forever", though, it sounds like one of those cheesy Moog takes on the song, although his take on "I Want To Take You Higher" is much easier for me to take in. I love how some of the music really soars, some of it a bit cheesy, no wonder one can easily dismiss this as a gimmick (showing off a home-made prototype polyphonic synth), but I'm glad to have bought this album.

Report this review (#1411715)
Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 | Review Permalink

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