Mike Prete    07-September-2001 Arzachel

Comprised of what was then the band Uriel, Arzachel contained some of the earliest protagonists of the prog world using faux names so as to not violate their existing contract. What we have here is one of the earliest recordings to fall under the 'prog' umbrella. As can be expected from the recording date, the music here is more along the lines of psych, rather than typical symphonic prog or Canterbury. Sprinkling clouds of Hammond organ drift along under lethargic vocals only to be cut off by distorted guitar and spiral into a cacophony of squealing sounds. Campbell and Hillage alternate vocal duties, singing of spacey mysticism. (Hey, what do you expect? It's still the late 60s.)

Hints of what was to come later in Egg and Khan surface every now and then, "Garden of Earthly Delights" resembling the former (being very similar to "Seven Is a Jolly Good Time" with its lush organ and jerky vocals), while "Leg" typifies the British blues jamming influences of the latter. The closer "Metempsychosis" brings to mind early Krautrock such as Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel, with its dissonant spacey organ sounds, whirling guitar riffs, and driving pulsating rhythms.

Often considered a classic, I find the album to lack focus too many times, especially in the improvised closer which seems to end and start again in a few places. The awful sound quality does not help much either. Still, this is an interesting document of the embryonic progressive scene that should appeal to those already aware of these bands.

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