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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Secret Oyster

Secret Oyster

Review by Gary Hill

Secret Oyster has been a well-kept secret, until now. They recently played NEARFest and this has prompted the re-issue of their first two albums. I have to say, this Danish band’s debut was an impressive piece of instrumental music. A true piece of fusion, jazz, space rock and hard rock merge in a symphony of sound that’s quite enthralling. I hear at various points on the disc old school Hawkwind, more traditional jazz and Focus. All I have to say is that it’s a good thing this is a secret no more.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at
Track by Track Review
This rises up gradually, then a line of melody swirls noisily overhead. A killer fast paced groove enters to carry the track in new directions. Other instruments join in the fray and this thing is off and running in style. It turns to a noisy sort of rock and roll guitar solo dominated section later. A crescendo gives way to a little segment that feels like world music. This is a killer piece of fusion and a great way to start the disc in style. It’s truly amazing how much territory they cover in a song that’s roughly 4 and a half minutes in length.
Fire & Water
They start this off in much more melodic territory with a slow moving groove that’s quite tasty. It gains some momentum and power, but retains the overall musical themes as it carries on, a funky sort of wahing melody line winding its way over the top. The guitar really begins to tear across this landscape in a wahing sort of ecstatic journey. This is arguably even stronger than the cut that preceded it, mixing jazz with space rock, funk and other elements. The jam later in the piece reminds me a lot of Hawkwind at times – sometimes to a major degree.
Vive La Quelle?
The riff that leads this off has a very off-kilter almost King Crimson-like effect to it. As they wander through this chaotic landscape the track wanders near to RIO territory, but never really turns into dissonance. Instead circus sounds circle over the serious fusion riffing in an ever changing motif. After this works its way through they turn it into something that resembles the band Focus a lot. This guitargasm segment is cool and very “rock and roll.” The rock motif really takes over as they move forward in a sometimes seemingly random approach. Then they shift out into a jam that is very much in the vein of King Crimson. A killer keyboard tone enters to wander in and out across the general tapestry of the music as the bass churns out a frantic pattern to drive the number along. It is late in this section where it starts to turn towards noisy chaos at times. Eventually it returns to the more playful themes that lead this off to end.
Blazing Lace
Weird sound effects start this off in an odd sort of way. This serves as a good contrast the cut that preceded it. Guitar begins to weave lines of sound over this and eventually takes command of the piece as they move it out into something more “song” oriented. Saxophone and other elements lend a more pure jazz feel to the number, but the rocking elements remain to make this a true fusion between jazz and rock. This jam is one of the best on show here. It just has everything, a killer groove, great instrumental work and a rather accessible texture. It fades out to space to end.
Public Oyster
At almost eleven minutes in length this is the longest number on show here. It comes in with a funky, wacka wacka sound that resembles early Hawkwind in some ways. Saxophone drifts lazily across the top. This turns into rather noisy meandering and then drops back to more pure avant-garde space. Echoey textures created by the instruments resemble spoken words. Eventually this falls away to nearly just percussion. Then the percussion drops out and these odd space sounds begin to rise up in their place. A false ending gives way to a new jam that climbs up slowly. This is sort of a combination of a jazz band with early Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. This becomes more energized, but no less spacey. A killer organ solo ensues as the bass creates an intriguing rhythmic pattern to hold the whole thing together. More Hawkwind-like elements grow over the top of this texture, but they manage to keep moving it back into more jazz oriented structures through the use of solo instrumentation. After gaining a certain cohesiveness for a time, they move it back to the more Hawk-like territory as they continue. A droning element takes it for a time and they continue altering the jam based on this. Keys and bass wander over the landscape in more Hawkwind oriented textures. This is just plain one powerful jam. It’s a close second in terms of best track on show here. They eventually move it down further and further towards space (again in a nod to early Hawkwind) before finally closing it out.
Mis(s) Fortune
This song is a very brief one, at just over a minute and a half in length. It’s a playful, retro keyboard solo.
Saxophone leads this one off in a distant wail, rising gradually upward. After continuing more or less unaccompanied for a time other elements enter and pull it into space. Then keyboards join as the saxophone wanders back up again in a new melody. They play it out for a time before wandering back into more sedate space. This keeps rising and falling in various expressions of sound as it carries forth in this up and down pattern. It’s a bit odd for my musical palate.
Bonus Track - Dampexpressen – Live
Here we have a smoking live performance of the album opener. It’s a great way to show that, as good as these guys are in the studio, they truly achieve a new level of greatness in the live venue. This is also almost twice as long as the studio version.
Bonus Track - Orlavær
This brief (less than two and a half minutes) cut starts as an old school marching band type sound and effects wander in to take it into more space oriented territory. The space elements eventually take over pretty much exclusively. As odd as this is, it’s also very cool.
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