Page 16   R.A.T.W.

REFLECTIONS IN A VINYL DISC

Imports:

SENSATIONS' FIX "Finest Finger"

Polydor 2448 048

Modern music from Italy has always intrigued me because of the background that spawns most Italian musicians; The Renaissance, an incredibly long history of art, sculpture and architecture, opera, several classical composers . . . the list goes on and on. It's the land of the Medicis, Capri, Rome, and Sophia Loren. It's a sad fact that the music industry in Italy could stand a lot of upgrading just to bring it up to snuff with Germany. let alone Britain or America; the simple fact of the matter is that Italian bands have a lot of trouble finding work and recording opportunities within the borders of Italy. To date. only PFM has succeeded in becoming an Italian export. and even they have difficulties in America ('Chocolate Kings' is finally coming out here some seven months after European release, and is reviewed on the next page).

In the case of Sensations' Fix, it's been two albums so far ('Finest Finger' is their thrid) without much recognition. Musically, they've stuck pretty much to a format of layered music, not unlike some of Fripp & Eno's work; in fact, the liner notes to S.F.'s first album. 'Fragments Of

Light.' carried the notation "Dear Robert,
you'll be glad to know that the heavenly
music organization is here too." The
music was structured like Robert &
Brian's musical clones, but was dominated
by a much stronger melodic feel, an
influence from Italy's culture and atmos-
phere. 'Finest Finger' is cast in the same
mold, employing long, lazy excursions into
mellow electronics (?), in the same mold,
In the case of Sensations' Fix, it's been
two albums so far ('Finest Finger' is their
third) without much recognition. Mu-
sically, they've stuck pretty much to a
;ormat of layered music, not unlike some
Fripp & Eno's work; in fact. the liner
:otes to S.F.'s first album, 'Fragments Of
Light,' carried the notation "Dear Robert,
he glad to know that the heavenly
paisic organization is here too.- The
music was structured like Robert &
Varian's musical clones, but was dominated
'•sv a much stronger melodic feel, an
influence from Italy's culture and at-
mosphere. 'Finest Finger' is cast in the
same mold, employing long, lazy ex-
cursions into mellow electronics (?), and
tilling thy' gaps with lyrics that are
adequate, if not spectacular. (Given the
choice, I think I would rather have heard
the lyrics in Italian, as that language
seems harmonically fitted to the style of
Sensations' Fix much better than English.)
The album starts with "Strange About
Your Hands." • topic that has been carried
over from past albums. Franco Falsini, the
group's composer, guitarist, keyboard
player and overall Fripp-figure. directs the
proceedings; his mixes between mellotron,
synthesizer and acoustic guitars is warm
and soothing. He conjures up images of
intimate seaside restaurants on the road

from Naples to Rome—soft breezes, semi-tropical trees, the works. Unfortunately, this album tends to be less idyllic than either of its predecessors. and this is our loss. It seems that after three albums, there's been a collective agreement among the band members that it would be necessary to tone down the pussyfootin' music just a bit in order to achieve wider acceptance, a fact of life in the Italian music scene. Polydor has stuck with this band for almost three years now, and it would be a shame if it were to come to nothing.

'Finest Finger' comes recommended as a good sample of contemporary Italian music as do the first two S.F. 1ps, 'Fragments Of Light' and 'Portable Madness.' They're definitely worth the bother.

HEAVENLY DELIGHTS: "Yardbirds Dream.- "Into The Memory," "Just A Little Bit More On The Curve"

************

DAVID ALLEN "Good Morning" Virgin V 2054

There are certain artists whose work seems to invoke certain kinds of weather; Kevin Ayers (summer) and Tangerine Dream (rainy autumn) are two that come to mind quickly. Now we have the return of the Principal Pothead Pixie himself, Daevid Allen. The impish Australian, veteran of units like the original Soft Machine and later Gong, has returned with his first recorded effort since departing, under rather unusual circumstances, from Gong. At their best. Gong's trilogy of albums depicting the fortunes of a race of other-worldly creatures who fly about in teapots bounced with a sparklei and seemed possessed of a fluidity that was unique in music; Daevid Allen was responsible for the thrust of that music. He left Gong last -year after claiming that a force field prevented him from taking the

DAEVID ALLEN

ritorm

& EUTERPE

stage where the rest of the band was already playing.

Such is the substance and vibration of Daevid Allen. After exiting Gong, he sat down to write a novel about the Radio Gnome Invisible series of albums, feeling that what people missed in Gong's music would be supplied if the story was in hook form. The novel is as yet unfinished. and Daevid has felt the urge to make music once again. He stumbled across a Spanish hand called Euterpe, a five-piece, drummerless ensemble that had great respect for Daevid's work with Gong. Their Mediterranean feel matched Daevid's intentions exactly. and in short order, "Good Morning" was recorded. It's a delightful album, full of up-tempo lines and sunshine moods; musically, it's a lot closer to what Gong used to play, but without the extended soloing that at times muddied the point Gong were trying to make. Daevid has not forgotten the electronic games he's always been so fond of playing, and their marriage to Euterpe's tightly structured playing has enhanced

the appeal of both.

Over the years, Daevid Allen has remained somewhat of a puzzle to the media, who didn't really believe him, and the public, who liked him but didn't really understand him. Rest assured, devoted, that Daevid Allen is probably a lot saner than you or I; it's just that his vision of the way things are and the probabilities of things that might be includes a large number of factors that are simply untenable to most people. The Gong trilogy espoused a philosophy of life, a morality of being, in short, a religion of sorts. "Good Morning" follows the same general pattern without becoming as involved as the Radio Gnome Invisible series; indeed, such Gongaters as Zero the Hero pop up pn "Good Morning," but more in the nature of a guest rather than a leading character.

"Good Morning" is a friendly greeting. a pleasant way to inaugurate the miracle of a brand-new day; "Good Morning" is a fresh start for Daevid Allen & Euterpe, basking in a Mediterranean innocence that bodes well for the future.

DAEVID'S DIVINEST DITTIES: Children Of The New World, Have You Seen My Friend, Wise Man In Your Heart

*******--*****

MICHAEL MANTLER (and Cohorts) "The Hapless Child and

Other Instrutable Stories"

Watt 4

One should always approach any project in which Robert Wyatt is involved with great caution, and a decidedly open frame of mind (and reference); never one to opt for the mundane when the bizarre is available, the star-crossed Mr. Wyatt has joined forces with the ECM/WATT All-Star Team, consisting of Mike Mantler, Carla Bley, Terje Rypdal, Jack DeJohnette and Steve Swallow, playing the stories of Edward Gorey. Anyone familiar with Robert Wyatt's solo work, or his association with Henry Cow will be better prepared for his oral exercises here; Edward Gorey's stories are inscrutable at best. In print, they take on that somewhat gloomy atmosphere reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe; however, Mike Mantler's music requires vocal contortions to get all the words out. Well, even though Robert Wyatt is tragically confined to a wheelchair, his voice knows no bounds. Working his way through a veritable labyrinth of words in a half-sung, half-spoken dialect is no problem for the man who was (and still is) able to sing, note for note, many of Charlie Parker's solos.

As for the band, they've suited both Gorey's stories and Mantler's music to a tee. Everyone in the band is busy, busy, busy all the time. Terje Rypdal's electric guitar swoops in and out, seemingly following its own course while keeping pace with the tune; Carla Bley's keyboards, particularly the piano, create a stark atmosphere not unlike an empty

room with but one piece of furniture in it. The sparsity is used to heighten the effect of the lyrics on the listener.

"The Sinking Spell" opens this collection of odd ditties, and sets the tone of the whole album as it tells the tale of something that descends on a house—and keeps going, right on down into the preserves in the basement. What is it? Who knows, but would you want anything living with your preserves? It's a case of the familiar breeding the strange; the music calls to mind Robert Wyatt's first album as it follows a subtly downward spiral into the basement at the end of the song. Each number treads on similar ground; occasionally, the lyrics seem to obscure, but the music generally rescues it.

'The Hapless Child . . .' is another attempt at creating a new synthesis of' musics, evolving into a structure that is neither jazz, nor rock, nor avant-garde; it's practically impossible to gauge the success of such an experiment in terms of . known entities. This album needs to be taken on its own terms, but it's not unreasonable; there are enough melodies to hold the attention of the listener. The stories may be inscrutable, but the quality is clear.

TOP STORIES: "The Sinking Spell. "The Insect God," "The Remembered Visit"

TIMELESS TRACKS: "Red Is A Mean Mean Colour," "White White Dove, "Understand," "Black or White (And Step On It)"

AMPLITUDE PEAKS (Synergy): Icarus, (Sequence) 14

TIDAL WAVES (Shadowfax): The Shape of a Word, A Song for my Brother, The Watercourse Way

************

IVOR CUTLER

"Velvet Donkey"

Virgin Records V2037

What a natty record album this is! I will not tell you to run out and get five copies, though. For one thing, it is an import and may be hard to locate, and for another. I could easily imagine you becoming inordinately vicious toward me if you bought this one and did not like it. Should you run across it, it should give you much cause to ponder and consider. I will describe it to you, and let you take your chances.

In essence, Ivor is an unholy hybrid of the Incredible String Band and Monty Python, embellished by a most charming Scottish accent. He retains the unique Celtic feel for the absurd that has inspired the greatest comic epics and myths in Western civilization. On top of which, he has Python's penchant for transforming domestic situations into utter horrors while preserving their homeliness. Some of the selections are poems, and still others are ditties accompanied by concertina or piano (which he plays himself) or by viola (by Fred Frith, who is better known as a genius guitarist, where he is known at all). With equal whimsy he versifies fatal highway accidents, kitchen cutlery, and being cursed by a faerie into smelling like something very bad (I will not tell you what it is. though. You will just have to hear the album.) Oh yes, it is very "weird" stuff.

But this is not to discourage you in the least! I like this album very much. I drag many friends off the street and make them give it a listen. They look at me askance, but generally they like it. They generally admit it is quaint and very funny, after a good coaxing. One could say this album has everything, which is not to exclude the kitchen sink. (Again, if you want to know what I mean, you will have to hear the record.)

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