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Friday, May 28, 2010


There is a disc which stayed with me since early '70s... it's "U" a double records-set by Incredible String Band.

I collected over the years ALL I.S.B.'s discs, an immense production spanning four decades, several members turnovers, BUT always with Robin Williamson and Mike Heron at the head of the rooster.

For that very record, the original I.S.B. merged with a theatre/dance group, Stone Monkey, whose Malcolm LaMaistre was to become a member 'til the very end of the group, years later...

Why, ohhh why am I talking about "U" and not one of the 35+ other records they produced?

Because "U", so named after the fabled kingdom, also called Shambala, in the Hymalayas, contains musical anthems and chanting, more than "songs" or "tunes"... some critics and reviewers expressed in the past some sort of blaming when talking about this disc(s) - i.e. lacking of cohesiveness, excessive weirdness, unmusical - while I consider these very same caveats as a plus... strange world: I like the subtle pleasure of the apparently "wrong" note, of the unexpected melody, of the strange tonal palette and tone colours - i.e. shenai, fiddle, oud, irish harp and kazoo!

Songs like Bridge Song, Time, Puppet Song, El Wool Suite, Bridge Theme, Invocation are, they truly are, masterpieces... it's not classical music, but beside being played and composed by young, brilliant minds, they ALL have an ancient patina, like a time-induced burnishing... also when I wsas younger, I was captured by those superbly "different" melodies and soundscapes.

It's like listening to something "wrong", as I wrote... alien - songs too lengthy or short, "wrong" beats blues, wrong, weird time-signatures, too slow jigs and reels... BUT after some careful listenings... voilà!

All make sense and it's like breathing fresh mountain air in a clear, bright morning.

It's heavenly food for the ears, the soul and the mind.

Give "U" a try, folks...

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