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Banging Colours

Hallucinogenic Treasures from the Convolution of an Imaginative Brain

Review by Gary Hill

This is pretty amazing. If you believe the story behind this (more about that shortly) this is a band that played famous clubs like the UFO in London on this 1960s. The story is that they recorded music for one album (the first disc) and were only around for three years. If those tales are true, this band was arguably the first progressive rock band. The sound they produced would have been so far ahead of its time. I wrote the track reviews with that story in mind as true - and it might be.

Here's the thing, as important as this band would have been, it seems unlikely that they would have remained completely unknown this time. Googling them finds just some reviews, a band website, the label website, a face book page and a new interview. There are other things about this that just seem manufactured to seem vintage without actually being vintage, including band pictures and names.

The thing is, either way, the music is exceptional here. If it really does date to when it says (I doubt it, but can't say conclusively), these guys were groundbreaking. The first disc includes the more song-like material, while the second is all more improvised instrumental music.

You will find bonus video footage of this release is available at the Music Street Journal Youtube channel here: .youtube.com/watch?v=3pAzh9L76rQ

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1: The Studio Recordings
             
The Love and Fun Brigade

A burst of sound gives way to a bouncy kind of groove. This is energized and a lot of fun. It reminds me of some of the sounds that Genesis would later do in some of their tunes. Around the minute-and-a-half mark it drops to a slow moving and dramatic movement that is decidedly proto-prog music. We're brought back to the song proper, and that holds it until the next drop back section. That movement has some harpsichord and intricate guitar sound in the mix. That section drifts into some decidedly trippy zones. It is extensive and eventually serves as the outro to the piece.

Evaporation of Linearity
There is a decidedly progressive rock meets jazz approach to this as it opens. The cut shifts and turns as it drives forward. There is a dramatic tempo change to faster moving jamming. The cut drifts toward psychedelic spaciness as it goes in that direction, channeling early Pink Floyd type sounds and predicting Hawkwind. The cut gets jazzier as it grows outward. It's decidedly freeform and dramatic as they make their way forward. This gets pretty crazed and weird at times, really seeming like it could be a blueprint for the Rock in Opposition movement. The freeform concepts are dropped away as it pulls away for a killer bit of rock to take the track to its close.
If God‘s a Fly
This has a cool rock grind as it starts. I'm reminded quite a bit of Frank Zappa. The cut grows out with some psychedelic rock built into it. The cut drives out into more jazzy jamming further down the road as the cut and our minds are expanded. It's quite a powerhouse jam.
Tapestry Puzzle
This is a driving, screaming hot tune that really grooves with a great prog meets jazz approach. I love the guitar soloing on this thing. This thing is an amazing jam that drives with some serious style and charm. It's an incredibly strong instrumental.
Primrose Hill
A psychedelic rocker, this works into space rock zones in some ways. I dig the piano work on the tune. This has some blasts of killer proggy jamming. It's not my favorite tune here, but it has its allure. I do like the violin work quite a bit.  
Ivica
Bass brings this in with a cool, almost mysterious, bit of psychedelic drama. Other instruments join gradually as they paint a mellow psychedelic tapestry. This cut remains mellow throughout its run. It's another solid instrumental.
Waves
The sound of waves appropriately start this. The cut works out from there into a balladic psychedelic number with a lot of space rock tendencies in it. This gets incredibly powerful as it keeps building in a rather Pink Floyd like way. The guitar soloing on it is so tasty. The sound of the waves returns again at the end.
The Letter
Trippy mellow psychedelic keyboard textures bring this into being. It builds gradually in a somewhat restrained and almost classical way. It's almost like early Pink Floyd done with a classical music type progression. Vocals eventually slide in over the top of the arrangement as it evolves. There is a freaky darkness and bleakness to the track.
Toward the Great Oneness
Serious psychedelia is built into the energized opening of this. The cut drops back to a mellower motif for the entrance of the vocals. There are powered up movements alternated with mellower ones. The vocals are a bit over the top on this, but the instrumental sections really more than make up for it.
Magic Theatre
Weird vocals and trippy music are on display here. This turns out into some more powerful rocking zones that are decidedly prog rock based, but it again drops to the weird mellow stuff to for more vocals. There is a rise and fall concept here.
The Love and Fun Brigade (Mono Single)
Here we get a single length version of the tune that opened the disc. It's less than half the length of the full version, but works really well in this format. The violin soloing really stands out on this number.
Disc 2: Live Jams and Radio Sessions
              
The Gustav Metzger Sessions
                           
Gustav Metzger Improv I

This is a short bit of freeform jamming with a real space jazz kind of vibe.

Gustav Metzger Improv II
Spacey trippiness is the order of business here.
Gustav Metzger Improv III
Psychedelic space jazz" would be a good description of this track.
Gustav Metzger Improv IV

This sort of qualifies as "more of the same."

Gustav Metzger Improv V

Weird psychedelic space like early Pink Floyd is on hand here.

BBC Radio Sessions
                
Radio Session Improv I

With a DJ introducing the band, the group launch out into a cool psychedelic jam after that intro. This gets into some driving craziness.

Radio Session Improv II
The DJ is back as the band power out into another killer jam, drums joining first. This is so bizarre and freaky.
Radio Session Improv III
Coming in with freaky symphonic textures, this grows out from there. It's a more extended piece and a more involved jam with some killer grooves and violin soloing later in the number. It gets into some serious space before it ends.
Fool’s Parsley in Pills 1
There is a symphonic edge as this cut opens. At nearly 19-and-a-half minutes of music, this is an epic piece. It comes upward with a dramatic sound and texture. The keyboards take over for a time with some killer jamming that makes me think of early Pink Floyd. Violin soling drives a different sound for a while. The cut continues to explore the sonic space with a lot of style and charm. It creates another tapestry the makes me think of a more symphonic version of early Pink Floyd. A movement later merges that Pink Floyd element with some Doors. It turns to darker, almost soundtrack like sounds after the halfway mark. It grows outward with more freeform bombast.
 
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