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East Of Eden - Mercator Projected CD (album) cover

MERCATOR PROJECTED

East Of Eden

Eclectic Prog


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5 stars In my opinion, this is an incredible album. I have it, and it is very often in my CD player. If you listen to it, you will not be disappointed: "an electric violin which blows rock and Bartok, flutes from the East, and Sumerian saxophones" are ready to bring your mind on a fantastic journey to the Far East of the world, to Nilotic landscapes and infinite deserts, India and Turkey, Egipt and the Sphinx. Dave Arbus is a great musician, the sound of his violin fits the tracks perfectly, and the atmosphere of the whole album acquires some kind of misticism, sometimes relaxing, sometimes more aggressive. In this album there are a lot of moments of extraordinary beauty and exotic taste, and also fantastic instrumental parts. The outstanding songs are "Northern Hemisphere" (decline and fall of Western civilisation), the exotic ballad "Isadora", "Waterways" and the long "In the stable of the Sphinx", but the whole album is very good. I really recommend it to everyone who wants to listen to something different, to every prog fan who thinks -" I want to hear something strange and beautiful at the same time!"- Thanks to Progarchives that put this band in the list. Highly recommended, i can't stop listening to it. Listen and dream.
Report this review (#34716)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

East Of Eden is one of those second line UK prog act that managed a few albums and did enjoy some success. Their debut is reputed among record collectors and progheads alike. Although I do find it a tad over-rated, you have an excellent blues-derived prog to which a rather original line up including Arbus on violin and Caines on winds. Throughout the album you will be subjected to bird noises, dialogues and toilet flushes as intro of songs and some rather subtle hints at oriental music, but this almost more subjected by the look of their faces on the back cover with the Egyptian wears. Strong psychedelic overtones give a special charm to most tracks but unfortunately the in-between dialogues sort of ruin the general ambiance

What you will find on this album is a slid based rock with strong blues roots but the first two tracks are clearly staying too wise to my taste; One has to wait for Waterways to find truly worthy prog material and they score big time with an impressive middle section. However the next track, Centaur Woman, is very deceiving developing a rather sloppy hard blues boogie that could fit on a Status Quo album if it was not for the wild wind instruments. Actually most of my gripe with this track is mostly in the recording rather than the playing in itself which in itself is rather apt.

Bathers starts off side 2 in a rather enchanting mood - great violins before the rest of the band takes over and a clarinet soaring above the rest, before the tracks regains its original feel, excellent especially that we could imagine ourselves at pool side somewhere in an mid-eastern palace. Communion is another pleasing track and the violin has a predominant role in creating the permanent tension and it creates a sense of urgency, which unfortunately stops as soon as the chords evoke the other riff developed. Moth is another good track but nothing extraordinary. In The Stable Of The Sphinx is clearly meant as the centerpiece of the album, but again there are many fine moments but it does miss a bit the mark as there are many opportunities wasted to bring this track over the border of classic prog song. They chose to build up the track to chaos when there were many other options that unfortunately got ignored.

We shall blame this on their lack of experience because their next album is much more accomplished. Overall a good album but with a few flaws, some big enough, unfortunately to ignore, and ruin somewhat a worthy album.

Report this review (#34717)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favourite album and it means for me more than King Crimson's 'In The Court Of The Crimson King'. Calm, peace, violins, saxes, floating voice. This is not the music from earth.

Also, this is not the music for everyone. Not easy listening when you hear it for the first time (as many progressive rock albums from the 60's/70's). But you can fall in love with it.

I did.

Report this review (#34718)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well this is an experimental blues derived proto prog work, a kind of anticipation regarding both the oriental music and the 70's psychedelic music genre as well, enriched by means of the most accessible tunes of rock and roll/blues (a typical mood of the sixties), soon becoming a standard in the early seventies .but what's all the fuss about it?!? Probably "Waterways" is the pinnacle of the album, being the most progressive effort; instead "Centaur Woman" is a low achievement (talking about their artistic inspiration). Nevertheless the performances at the violin and the clarinet are remarkable, after all making us forget the general ingenuousness concerning the whole album, above all if you consider the track "Bathers" as well as the other sessions by Dave Arbus. Then after 44 minutes of discontinuous music, you can listen to the final track "In The Stable Of The Sphinx" -eight minutes long-being a worthy conclusion of an uneven but interesting work and representing also the synthesis of their best ideas.

A raw project it was, whose working in progress (according to the tastes of an immature band) was closer to a different era, in comparison to the following efforts of the proto prog groups of the early seventies. For instance some other similar bands like Wigwam and Colosseum or the unknown but skillful Slovenian group of Kornelius were just a little bit more mature.but at the end make your own choice and you could rediscover also a strange ensemble !!

Report this review (#59989)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Debut album released in 1969 "Mercator Projected". Heavy ethnical jazz-rock. The power of avant-garde development and the performance that gets excited is wonderful. Moreover, a melancholic melody is indeed good. There is interest in the underground where what happens cannot be expected. It is still a masterpiece. Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.
Report this review (#60741)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A spellbinding work from the dawn of the progressive era, Mercator Projected is no fully-formed symphonic prog masterpiece. But as a harbinger of the future (this album emerged in 1969) that is also challenging and enjoyable in its own right, there are few albums to match the status of this one. East Of Eden's true star is Dave Arbus who plays violin, flute, recorder and sax (although Ron Caines also joins in on sax) and it is a shame that the group's success with the novelty hit single Jig-A-Jig (#7 in April 1971) eventually stranded them in no-man's land. However this awesomely inventive debut should not be allowed to be forgotten.

What stays with me most is the glorious hook of Isadora ... "Isadora dance, we are entranced" probably works best if you're down with the hippie vibe, for dancing flutes and Eastern themes are draped around lyrics that are simultaneously corny and deep. Mercator Projector is also defined by the psychedelic rambles of Waterways, and perhaps more than anything else the proto-prog blues of Northern Hemisphere and the hilarious harmonica-driven Centaur Woman (replete with an impressive fuzz-bass solo courtesy of Steve York).

The softer side of the band is featured in the melancholic Bathers, in which violin, organ (from Caines) and recorder are blended to astounding effect. With the subtle drumming of Dave Dufont giving the song added character, this song might well appeal to those who enjoy King Crimson's early ballads. The propulsive Communion also features flute prominently, as well as some cute sound effects and even a joke told in another language (they translate everything except the punchline!). Moth is another piece that incorporates Eastern style exploration, although it is occasionally interspersed with a glorious Beatlesque melody. It all concludes with the high-octane jazzy jam In The Stable Of The Sphinx, which is carried by the saxes, but features spectacular turns on violin and guitar from Arbus and Geoff Nicholson respectively.

There are shades of Jethro Tull & Gravy Train here, but these guys are generally jazzier, almost straying into Soft Machine territory. There are times when they sound like King Crimson or The Moody Blues, although it's interesting that they don't use the mellotron at all. When you factor in that they were doing this stuff at the same time that most of these bands got their start, it becomes apparent that East Of Eden is an essential stop for those looking to investigate the roots of progressive rock. I consider Mercator Projected to be among the best proto-prog albums ever. ... 77% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#71171)
Posted Sunday, March 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars East of Eden play some pretty psychadelic rock music with some prog leanings. The prog leanings are mostly due to the fact that instruments like electric violin, flute, bagpipe, recorders, two saxophones are used. The songs are basically nice little sicties rock/ pop tunes with some pretty psychadelic sounds incorporated. There are longer instrumental parts in some of the songs which are mostly used for soloing.

Allthough I think this is a very good album, it never really gets truly exciting in my ears. I don´t know, but it seems like East of Eden are still searching for the perfect sound with this their debut album.

The sound quality is ok for the time and the musicians are competent. The lyrics are really stoned, and I can imagine these musicians smoking some grass before writing them down. Really psychadelic [&*!#]. I have to note that the cover art is really beautiful and it´s a shame that I only have a CD version of this album, as I can imagine how astonishing this would look on a LP.

Well as I said this is a really good album, but it never reaches the excellent mark in my ears, so this is a 3 star album.

Report this review (#157362)
Posted Tuesday, January 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album deserves a lot more credit than what is received. First off, it's a wonderful album - challenging, and innovative from beginning to end. Second, it was recorded about the same time as KC's In the Court of the Crimson King, and has probably been as much of an influence on latter experimental rock as that album or the earlier works of Jazz artists such as Miles Davis or John Coltrane. I highly recommend this album both as a purely enjoyable listening experience and as a way to better understand the foundations of progressive rock.
Report this review (#170470)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Welcome to one of the lost gems of early prog! Released in the same year as In the Court of the Crimson King, Mercator Projected marks the debut of of one of the most exciting, authentically progressive acts of the original prog era, now unfairly forgotten by most. Drenched in exoticism, from the stunning cover (depicting a heavily tattooed woman's back) to the evocative title (a Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection that distorts the shape and size of large objects), in spite of its undeniable rawness the album is a thoroughly exhilarating listen, blending Eastern sounds with jazz, blues, heavy rock and psychedelia in a heady brew that might at first sound dated, but is still deeply intriguing for a discerning music fan.

One of East of Eden's strengths lies in their use of an impressive array of instruments that, at the time, were still not common currency in the rock world. Dave Arbus' electric violin dominates the proceedings, weaving ethereal melodies or bringing a strident note to the compositions, while saxes and flute add a very distinctive character to the band's sound. In the best tradition of the original progressive rock movement (and not unlike KC's seminal debut), the songs on this album are at the same time accessible and experimental, soothing and harsh. While the band don't deny their rock and blues roots, they also push the envelope with their richly textured soundscapes, evocative of many different moods.

Closing track In the Stable of the Sphinx, a jazzy, sprawling instrumental (also present in a longer version in the 2004 remaster), is possibly the album's masterpiece: mainly guitar-driven, unlike most of the other tracks, it features some brilliant sax and violin work. Flutes take centre stage in the dreamy, hippyish Isadora; while Waterways and Bathers conjure images of Eastern-style languor and sensuality, with lashings of sumptuous violin and keyboard melodies. On the other hand, the bluesy, harmonica-driven Centaur Woman sounds somewhat harsh, and is in my opinion the weakest offering on the album, even though the slightly distorted, dramatic vocals add some interest to the song.

As previous reviewers have already stated, Mercator Projected is not the accomplished work of a seasoned band. However, even in its raw state it shows the promise than East of Eden would fulfill in their sophomore effort, Snafu. It is a great pity that they did not achieve the fame they deserved for their highly individual, creative approach to prog - they could have become as big as Yes or King Crimson, but now they are forgotten by almost everyone but the real aficionados of the beginnings of the genre.

On any account, this album is highly recommended to anyone who likes their prog to be a challenge, even if a bit rough around the edges. Four and a half stars from me for a disc that every self-respecting prog fan should at least try once.

Report this review (#204120)
Posted Monday, February 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mercator Projected by East of Eden is one of the better debuts of progressive rock. Unjustly neglected and almost forgotten, EAST OF EDEN was quite a unique-sounding and innovative band in their beginnings. Let's not forget that this is 1969, a year when for instance GENESIS recorded a weak and underdeveloped debut and when CRIMSON debuted with their masterpeice and trend-setting album.

The sound of electric violin by Dave Arbus was a signature, but the use of saxophones, flutes, mandolins and Mellotron was also important. Rooted in the British blues-rock, the band expanded their sound and explored different aspects of psychedelia, folk and jazz, and even reggae rhythm patterns in Isadora, when the term barely existed! Apart from this beautiful song, the highlights are surely the heavy opener Northern Hemisphere with its catchy and melodic phrase, the Crimsonesque Mellotron-filled acoustic ballad Bathers, a psyched-out saxophone crazyness of Moth and the extended psych-jam of Waterways including wonderful sax solos with strange effects. Centaur Woman re-calls the early JETHRO TULL in its blues heavy rock with harp and flute soli with a competent bass extravagant improv. Two weaker moments are Communion and aimless instrumental In the Stable of the Sphynx, the former containing a funny but unnecessary caffe bar conversation with a waiter spoken in almost fluent Serbo-Croatian language (an oddity indeed!) and the latter being overlong improvisation.

This album contains a musical core of elements that were to be perfected in later works by KING CRIMSON, CURVED AIR or GENTLE GIANT to name a few prominent acts and as such, for me personally, presents a very joyful and amazing listening experience.

PERSONAL RATING: 4,5/5

P.A. RATING: 4/5

Report this review (#209802)
Posted Thursday, April 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very underestimated UK early progressive band,EAST OF EDEN were formed in 1967 in Bristol by musicians Dave Arbus,Geoff Nicholson and Ron Caines,who had known each other from some past underground groups.The original line-up featured also Steve York on basses and Dave Dufont on drums/percussions.Arbus, after seeing some performances of Jean-Luc Ponty,decided to use the violin as a dominant instrument in the band's sound.In 1968 the band moves to London and signs with Deram Label (responsible for the early prog releases of Decca Records).The next year EAST OF EDEN debuted with ''Mercator projected''.

How this album is so unknown is much of a question.EAST OF EDEN blended Classic Rock with jazz solos,psychedelic movements,Classical hints and bluesy riffs to create one of the most rich-sounding albums of the time.In ''Mercator projected'' the fuzzy guitars of Nicholson and the complicated bass work of York are battling with the obscure violins,the harmonica solos,the jazzy saxes and the pastoral flutes of the Arbus/Caines duo.The psych vocals,handled mostly by Nicholson,are great as well,but the strong ace of the band are the fantastic dark,improvisational instrumental passages and the nice interplays of the musicians.No keyboard attacks or organ orgasms in here,this is an obscure yet magnificent blend of different styles and instruments,always in a rock basis.EAST OF EDEN remained a cult act among UK Prog fans,but their debut should be heard by many more people than this closed circle.Highly recommended!

Report this review (#258257)
Posted Monday, December 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars EAST OF EDEN are a band that has gotten past me all these years. Sure i've seen their name pop up in the liner notes on certain albums where it's mentioned that they've played at the same festivals as KING CRIMSON, CAMEL, CARAVAN etc. but i'd never checked them out until this year. Better late than never I suppose.This album really blew me away. It's inventive, challenging and daring to say the least.The band I thought of the most was THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE because the violin sounds very similar.These guys had so many great ideas though and a unique sound, especially for 1969.This album was very successful in France where they had several top ten singles.Violin, flute and sax are prominant along with the usual guitar, bass and drums.

"Northern Hemispheres" has this low end groove with abrasive violin early on.Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes remind me somewhat of Richard Sinclair. Some brief processed vocals after 2 1/2 minutes are followed by flute that takes over.That low end groove with vocals is back. Dissonance ends it. "Isadora" opens with flute as the vocals and drums join in.This is great ! Violin after 1 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop. Flute then replaces the violin. Check out the bass, sax, flute, guitar and drum section that follows ! So good. Vocals are back at 3 1/2 minutes. "Waterways" reminds me of one of the mellow tracks off of KING CRIMSON's debut from the same year. He even sounds like Greg Lake somewhat here. A change 2 minutes in though as the tempo picks up and we get a strong Eastern flavour. Amazing ! Love the drum work too. Sax before 3 1/2 minutes then the early mellow sound with vocals returns to end it. Well almost because a toilet flush is the last sound we pretty much here. "Centaur Woman" has some funny lyrics to it. It becomes uptempo quickly and it is rather Bluesy.The tempo does shift a lot on this one as well. Flute plays over top then sax. Some low end sounds when it calms down before 2 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in at 5 1/2 minutes with vocals.Some crazy sax 6 minutes in.

"Bathers" is mellow with violin and what sounds like mellotron strings. Reserved vocals too. A fuller sound after 1 1/2 minutes.This is excellent ! "Communion" is spacey to start then the violin, flute and drums kick in. Vocals follow.This reminds me so much of THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE. "Moth" opens with drums and sax. A calm with vocals before a minute as contrasts continue.Great tune. "In The Stable Of The Sphinx" opens with the phone ringing and someone talking before the music kicks in to an uptempo groove. Check out the violin after 2 minutes. Love this track. Nice guitar before 3 minutes that reminds me of SANTANA. It settles 5 1/2 minutes in. Dissonant sax 7 minutes in then it picks back up before 8 minutes.There's a cool bonus track of a cover of THE BYRDS "Eight Miles High" along with two demo tracks.

Thankyou Esoteric Records for this re-issue ! This is a classic !

Report this review (#425456)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars East Of Eden... Oriental and Western music with Bartok! That's why I approached East Of Eden. And, I admit, I had read of their lack of success was another reason that prompted me to buy this album. Uh... East of Eden are not commercial for musical concept? I do not think this is the cause of the lack of success. In fact, King Crimson were/ are even less commercial music style and have/ had less poetry in their music. In other words, in my opinion, the failure of East Of Eden to be found in the fact that Decca did not know how to do promotion for them, given the music hard to classify.

This album start with "Northern Hemisphere" that with "Isadora" is the track more conventional, more POP and more commercial. If you think that this is the soul of "Mercator Projected" you are outside of the road, because "Mercator Projected" is also "Centaur Woman" a song with great bass soli by Steve York, in a song that is close to King Crimson but with more Jazz in the veins and also more colours in the veins. Great is also "Bathers", an emotional ballad, with great atmosphere. "Communion", insipred by a Bartok string quartet, is another great song, not banal but extremely magical, because too atmospherical.

"Mercator Projected" is not an easy album for 1969 standard, a perfect mix between Oriental and Western music with Bartok, a mix from Family and King Crimson (for example more understandable) and in my opinion with good appeal. Today a winner groupfor Jazz music but in 1969 a great example of Early Prog. The production is not perfect but great for 1969 standards, all focused on making intelligible the musical chaos of the band. But we must not forget that where music is more POP oriented (and mean to trivialize) the poetic magic comes across. certainly because of the great imagination of the authors but also because of the great technique and sensibility of the musicians.

At the end: if you do not know East Of Eden and "Mercator Projected" you should definitely make you a copy of the album and start dreaming.

Report this review (#593966)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOW!

This album just blows me away. How East of Eden managed to be so 'progressive' and yet still rocking in 1969 just amazes me. The blending of eastern influence (as indicated by the band's name) puts this album over the edge. Still, the more traditional rock tracks (Northern Hemisphere, Isadora, Bathers) are still just as great.

Centaur Woman is definitely a standout... for more reasons than one. I personally love the short lyric sections and the riffs are just fun and rocking. Then comes the bass solo. Just perfectly executed, takes up the whole middle section (about half) of the song.

In the Stable of the Sphinx also deserves a mention due to its length. I have to say... what live versions there are of this song are much better... and shorter. The only less-than-perfect moments on this album come during the middle part of In the Stable. After a powerful opening riff, it sort of loses its direction. Thankfully, it gets better and ends strong as well. As I said, this track is better on bootlegs, getting shortened and joined with Bathers.

Northern Hemisphere gets my last shout-out. Very rocking track, got a spot on my personal "Prog that Rocks" compilation. Great opening... a riff that is not easily forgotten.

Overall rating: 9/10 (5 stars)

Report this review (#837140)
Posted Friday, October 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars East of Eden - Mercator Projected (1969)

Now here's an almost forgotten effort by a very early progressive group from England. One doctor of philosophy that retreated for a year on a mountain near Mecca (wind instruments), a painter/football player (sax & organ), a graphic designer (guitar & vocals), a student of oriental music in Turkey (bass) and a coca-coal addict on drums. "Take one violin which blows rock and Bartók, add one flute from the East, mix in Sumerian saxophones, bass, drums, guitar and liquid wordpictures - mark East of Eden", chronicles the backside of the sleeve.

East of Eden projects a psychedelic backgrounds, world music influences, classical influences and some jazz-bassguitar. There are some similarities to the King Crimson debut, mainly the avant-garde endings of the tracks, the use of up-tempo jazz parts, the grotesque arrangements and mystical atmospheres. A bit different from King Crimson's debut is the recording quality that doesn't allow all ideas to solidify and sometimes leaves us with pitch anomalies in the arrangements (which normally bother me a lot). The vocals of Nichelson aren't too melodic, but if you listen to the record a couple of times you'll get into it. I like his gentle approach.

Especially strong are the haunting ballads with classy violin-melodies, like 'Isodora' and 'Waterways'. Opening-track 'Northern Hemisphere' has hard rock vibes but the melodies are well developed. 'Centaur woman' is a psychedelic rock 'n roll track used as a vehicle for several solo sections. The production really lets us down on this track and it's the only weaker track of the album. On side two the first two tracks continue the style of side one. Third track 'Moth' impresses with its bombastic world music arrangement and mystical vocals. The ending track 'In the Stable of the Sphinx' has a lot of different parts and an eclectic progressive style. Brilliant ending that will satisfy proglisteners a lot.

Conclusion. Well developed eclectic progressive rock album that would have been a real masterpiece had it been given the proper production. Buy it I if you are interested in the development of the progressive genre or when you want a really original early progressive record that has a unique take on world-music influences. I'm going to give it the big three- and-a-halve rating.

Report this review (#934675)
Posted Sunday, March 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Somewhat more hard-edged and a little less jazzy than the followup (Snafu), East of Eden's Mercator Projected is a credible bit of early prog which compares favourably to King Crimson's debut or Van der Graaf Generator's The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other. Like those two albums, it confidently bridges the psychedelic underground on the one hand and the new frontiers of progressive rock on the other. Dave Arbus in particular deserves acclaim for his violin and flute contributions. Although I think Snafu is the better of the first two East of Eden albums, their quality is so close that I think anyone who enjoyed one would also like the other.
Report this review (#966226)
Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars An amazing album from an amazing year ? 1969. The year where music crossed that invisible line into higher progressive arenas. This album was one of the first to successfully do just that but unfortunately remains rather obscure.

It is still rooted in the hard-psych of the late 60s but really jumps into new territory with the crazy different instruments used (electric violin, flute, bagpipe, recorders, saxophones, organs, harmonica, Indian thumb piano in addition to standard rock instruments), the wild jazz improvisation inserted where they see fit (especially the wild instrumental outburst on "Centaur Woman") and the sheer innovative and daring experimentation that they employ. It is very playful and it's apparent that good times were being had by all involved in its creation. It has many of the elements of progressive music that would be expanded upon and refined in the 70s.

Although I prefer the following album to this one, this is definitely an incredible album that I will be revisiting. It's a wild ride that has the best of what the late 60s psychedelic experience was all about with the added bonus of zany creativeness that makes it oh so fun.

Report this review (#1069440)
Posted Thursday, October 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars EAST OF EDEN were a British Jazz-Rock band who were best-known for their chart song "Jig-a-Jig", although the single wasn't representative of their album recordings. They released their first album "Mercator Projected" (1969) on the Deram label, a subsidiary of Decca Records. East of Eden recorded seven more albums during the proggy 1970's:- "Snafu" (1970); "East of Eden" (1971); "New Leaf" (1971); "Another Eden" (1975); "Here We Go Again" (1976); "It's the Climate" (1977); and "Silver Park" (1978). The band reunited nearly twenty years later for their "Kalipse" (1997) album and they've released two further albums in the early 21st century:- "Armadillo" (2001) and "Graffito" (2005). It's time now to map out the songs for their first album: "Mercator Projected". The 2004 CD reissue added three bonus tracks to the original eight songs on the album, including a cover version of The Byrds "Eight Miles High".

We're heading for the "Northern Hemisphere" for the first stop on our musical journey. It's a slow but powerful burst of Blues- Rock for the opening song which ploughs on ahead relentlessly like a runaway steamroller. The song has a somewhat menacing air, so it's best to stand well clear, because this steamroller of hard driving rock doesn't sound like it's about to stop for anyone. The song has the same strident appeal as King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", only without the tortured vocals. Dancing gracefully into view now comes "Isadora", a tribute to the dancer Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), who was tragically killed when her scarf became wrapped around the wheels of the car she was travelling in. It's a stirring Jazz-Rock number in which the flawless flautist takes flight and showcases his talent in the best tradition of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. The enchanting lyrics deserve a mention too:- "Isadora dance, we are entranced, Billowing sleeves, in the breeze, Her heart's so soft, the willow weeps, To dance is to live, to love is to give, Beneath a vine of ivy leaves, Isadora sleeps." ..... This resonant refrain was recorded 42 years after Isadora Duncan's tragic death, and now, here we are nearly a century on listening to this immortal musical tribute, when some of the East of Eden band members themselves may be no longer with us. It's a lovely song with timeless appeal. We're sailing along next with "Waterways", an Indian-influenced fuzzy guitar psych-out, so it's time to order a vindaloo curry and settle down for some sitar and electric guitar with a Quintessential side order of Raga Rock. Next up is "Centaur Woman", a raw and earthy, good old-fashioned blast of Jazz-tinged Blues-Rock in the style of Canned Heat, featuring a flautist, a saxophonist, a harmonica player, and with a mean and moody guitarist hammering out some aggressively raucous riffs. This dynamic song veers dramatically from slow blues to wild flamboyant outbursts of uptempo Jazz-Rock with all of the musicians going hell for leather in a helter-skelter frenzy of sound.

Onto Side Two now and we're dipping our toes in the water for the mellow and hypnotic "Bathers", a swirling and mystical magic carpet ride that's tripping the light fantastic in a sea of psychedelic rainbow colours. This song is awash in a Purple Haze of soothing psychedelia. It's time to follow that camel next, because we're headed to the kasbah for "Communion", a song with an exotic Egyptian feel to it. The eastern-influenced music conjures up images of pharaohs and sphinxes and pyramids. You can almost picture the harem scene where a circle of be-robed and be-turbaned Bedouins are getting high as a kite as they puff away eagerly on their hookah pipes. This groovy song is a real Jewel of the Nile. We're continuing our global travels somewhere in the exotic east with "Moth". Maybe it's Egyptian, maybe it's Turkish, but either way, it's psychedelic snake- charming music that takes the listener on an Egyptian flight of fancy, or a magical mystery tour of Turkish delight - whichever you prefer. There's no mistaking the exotic middle-eastern pretensions for the next song: "In the Stable of the Sphinx", the highlight of the album and the longest song on the album with a running time of eight and a half minutes. It's a real whirling dervish of swirling and hypnotic eastern rhythms, all bathed in a healthy splash of psychedelic colours. Prepare for the manic middle section when the music is speeded up to 99 and it sounds like the record is about to go spinning off the turntable in a psychedelic freak-out. A serene calm is restored though for the magnificent conclusion which floats along on a mystical and spiritual wave of flower-power love and peace.

This stunning debut from East of Eden has all of the sweet eastern promise of a box of Turkish delights. "Mercator Projected" is a magical mystery tour around the world, featuring a delicious exotic cocktail of hypnotic eastern rhythms, romantic refrains, psychedelic freak-outs, mean and moody blues, and jazzy jam sessions. This superb album has it all!

Report this review (#2305201)
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 | Review Permalink

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