Netherworld - In the Following Half-Light. 1981 USA


Netherworld - In the Following Half-Light. 1981 REM

CD reissue: 2002 Musea (France)

Netherworld are the quintessential American band from the late 1970s and early 80s - a band that mixes complex progressive rock with FM sensibilities. Had they been from the Midwest rather than California then they would have been a perfect fit for my USA Midwest / Ontario Progressive Rock (1970's/early 80s) list. Tracks like the opener 'Too Hard to Forget' will instantly make one think of the original NWOBPR movement. By the time we get to side 2 and 'Isle of Man' all pretension of this somehow being a radio friendly album are thrown to the wind. We're in full blown "Selling England..." era Genesis, and it only gets more progressive from there. By the time we hit the 3 part closer 'Sargasso', Netherworld are in the same off the rails league as Yezda Urfa, Pentwater, and Mirthrandir. And, oh by the way, it's also a mellotron feast for the analog gear heads out there. The Musea CD adds the 10 minute instrumental 'Cumulus Nimbus' that was previously on the "Past-Present-Future" compilation from Syn-Phonic.

Netherworld has always been a collectible private press from the US. However this album received quite a bit of distribution in its day, so there's always been enough supply to keep the price to a reasonable figure. It's a basic single sleeve cover, so nothing special from a packaging perspective. I sold mine when the CD came out. This isn't one of Musea's best reissues, missing the full biography that is normally associated with the label. But sonically it's fantastic and includes a very important bonus track as noted above. Jan 2017 update: And I've reclaimed the original vinyl, obtaining a sealed one in a trade with a friend.

And word down at the soup kitchen says Netherworld has plenty more where that came from. Perhaps urban legend, perhaps absolute truth. We all live for the Queen's Court gossip don't we?

Last update: January 29, 2017

Sunscape - s/t. 1999 Italy

Sunscape - s/t. 1999 Mellow (CD)

Here's another installment of  the 90's Italian progressive renaissance. This one comes from the tail end of the decade, and is geared more towards space rock. Mellow turned up all sorts of interesting acts in the 90s, and their catalog is a good place to start if looking for other such gems (we have a few already listed here on UMR). But do your homework first, not everything is up to par on the label.

Though originally marketed as an Ozric Tentacles styled group, Sunscape were more tuned into both the modern space rock scene, as well as the original 1970s cosmic Krautrock movement. Perhaps the only other band from Italy similar to Sunscape during this era were the unorganized and unpredictable band Mary Newsletter. I also hear elements of Porcupine Tree, Groovector (Finland), and a bit of the aforementioned Ozric. The guitarist dominates and is supplemented nicely by modern synthesizers, flute, hand percussion, didgeridoo, and occasional voice (both male and female). A promising debut from a band who disappeared all too quickly. Hopefully they will reform for an encore.

Sezon Dozhdei (Rainy Season) - Vozvrashenie (The Return). 1992 Russia

Sezon Dozhdei (Rainy Season) - Vozvrashenie (The Return). 1992 Lituanus

CD reissue: 2001 Boheme

I'd intended to post this after the Gorizont (Horizont) feature, but got sidetracked. One of the last albums from the progressive rock scene that was LP only (before modern times of course).

Packaging details: The LP is surprisingly well made (Capitalist style), and demonstrates that the last throes of the Soviet Union had been fully realized. All the same I sold the LP when the CD from Boheme first came out. Boheme, as stated before, pretty much reissued every important ex-Soviet progressive rock album (excepting Firyuza maybe). The CD comes with excellent liner notes in English (and Russian), and sounds fantastic.

Notes: Sezon Dozhdei are definitely a product of the early 90s progressive rock scene. With just three tracks, they leave plenty of room to experiment within each composition. Keyboards are what dominate here, with waves of dense sounds that penetrate deep while sonorous guitar lines glide on top. The rhythm section keeps it all together and there are plenty of meter changes to make it interesting. Some nice flute to enjoy on the opening track as well. At times, this reminds me a bit of Djam Karet's "Reflections of the Firepool".

Klaus Schulze and Gunter Schickert - The Schulze-Schickert Session. 1975 Germany

Klaus Schulze and Gunter Schickert - The Schulze-Schickert Session. 2013 Mirumir (Russia)

Other Gunter Schickert features on the UMR

Archival release from 1975 released in both CD and LP formats.

Two legends of 1970s electronic music came together for one "living room" session, and produced the 45 minute+ piece presented here - an album that was oft-bootlegged until the Mirumir label of Russia finally settled the score in a legal manner (for those doubters that remain, the reissue received the blessing of Klaus Schulze on his own website. And the CD features unique liners from long time biographer Klaus Muller). And while the music is not exactly "Timewind" meets "Samtvogel", the characteristics of their individual styles remain intact. Schickert is primarily on acoustic guitar, with nylon strings it appears - played in his trademark sound-on-sound style. Klaus has his usual field day with his sequencers and synthesizer solos. And so it goes for 45 minutes, a pleasant excursion into the minds of two of Berlin's finest e-musik pioneers.

While I'm not 100% certain of this (the liners do not clarify), but it seems to me the final two pieces are Schulze solo works tacked onto the end to fill the CD - perhaps from the same time frame, sans Schickert.

Musica Ficta - A Child & A Well. 2005 Israel

Musica Ficta - A Child & A Well. Archival.

CD issue: 2012 Fading (Italy)

Musica Ficta's A Child & A Well remind me of some of the best of the 90's progressive rock bands, with heavy guitars (not quite metal, but almost), flute, soaring synthesizer solos, acoustic piano/guitar, an active rhythm section, and pretty female vocals. On this latter point, despite the English titles of the songs and the album itself, the lyrics are entirely in Hebrew. As if to prove that the native language should always be the first choice, and the Hebrew language is practically impenetrable for English speakers, and yet it sounds beautiful as if another instrument has been applied. Compositionally complex, so that the attentive listener is rewarded with multiple screenings.

New List: USA Midwest / Ontario Progressive Rock of the 1970s and early 80s

Took me awhile to get this one all together, but I finally published it on Saturday. As you all know from my CDRWL blog, I constantly refer to this unique progressive rock genre. So I finally put a small article around it and published it in RYM. You can read my thoughts and who I can consider participants of the scene here.

Thanks for reading!

The Word of Life - Dust. 1995 Sweden

The Word of Life return with their sophomore, and ultimately last effort, Dust which is somewhat different from the predecessor. There'...