quality : lossless (ape, cue, log, booklet scans)
time: 1:02'16" size: 348 mb
issue: 2002 compil. rec. '70-'72
The only album that features Arkham material that is available till today is this offering from Cuneiform Records. In itself the album features a number of live recordings from throughout the whole of the band's career, and also shows the various line-ups that the band had as well as the variation in style that each lineup change also brought about.
The earliest recording is from June 1970 and features the very first lineup that the band had with Manderlier, Denis and bassist Claude "Piccolo" Berkovitch. Recorded at Radio Television Belge (RTB), Belgium's national radio, one find a band that is already very keen on improvisation with influences from the already rich Canterbury scene with Soft Machine at the forefront of their inspirations. Monolithic Progression With Anticipated Rupture has a hypnotic touch to it as the band explore a number of melody lines that are expanded on in a rhythmic way as the rhythm just pounds on and on giving a metronomic feel to the whole track. Only in the final two minutes does the band rally unwind as each musician seems to wander off into a freer form of playing.
By November 1970, the time of the next recording on the album, Berkovitch was replaced by Patrick Cogneaux. The whole music seems to have acquired a more dramatic feel in their style. Listening to this rather muffled recording of Brussels Shortly After, the band seem to have adopted a style very much like various other trios from the same era such as EGG and also in a way, Emerson Lake & Palmer. Of course the brunt of musical excursions is borne by the keyboards while the bass and drums keep up an impressive rhythm which is only occasionally joined in by the keyboards.
The majority of recordings on the album come from 1971 which could be considered as the most stable year in terms of lineups for Arkham. Two recordings remain undated, and they are Bleriot: Visibility Poor and Eve's Eventful Day (Part 3). Starting off with the characteristic whirling sound of the Hammond organ fan, Bleriot: Visibility Poor could be considered as a form of space rock piece of music as it features mainly a series of swirling and swooshing amidst the occasional keyboard doodle, almost like Keith Emerson in his famous feedback "solos".
There are 3 parts of Eve's Eventful Day available on this album, Part 3 and Parts 5 and 6 (which were recorded at a separate concert in July 1971). One of the main differences between Arkham, an many of the other bands mentioned previously in this review is the fact that there seems to be a lack of a melody line that allows certain tracks to have that essential distinctive touch. At time, such as in Parts 5/6 there does surface the occasional melody, yet this is drowned in an aura of dissonance.
The final set of recordings are taken from a concert on April 28th, 1972 when the band lineup had once again changed. "Session" musician Claude "Djoum" Ramon stand in on bass while a new musical vent appears in the form of Claude Deron on electric flugelhorn. The addition of the flugelhorn gives the the band and especially Manderlier a broader front on which to present music. In fact the material from this period (Riff 14 and Tight Trousers) is possibly the best defined of the music that is available on this collection. One could argue that it is also the least "rock" of what has been offered, yet Arkham thred the line somewhere between jazz and rock. At times one can feel that the band has that Nucleus influence, yet they can stand it on their own and it is a pity that they did not progress much further within the musical vein that they were in during this period. The presence of the flugelhorn also seems to free Manderlier from having to continuously solo, thus creating a more vibrant rhythm section as well as create various duets that would have been virtually impossible to come up with in the trio format.
Arkham are an important stepping stone in the mainland Europe progressive rock scene. Unfortunately till today they have only been a footnote with no recordings available to show what they were all about. Thankfully this is no longer the case.
1. Upstairs In The Granery (5:11)
2. Eve's Eventful Day (part 5 & 6) (3:22)
3. Monolithic Progression With Anticipated Rupture (8:00)
4. Brussels Shortly After (8:30)
5. Bleriot: Visibility Poor (8:18)
6. With Assays Of Bias (10:21)
7. Eve's Eventful Day (part 3) (4:45)
8. Riff 14 (8:48)
9. Tight Trousers (4:37)
- Jean-Luc Manderlier / hammond organ, electric piano, clavioline
- Daniel Denis / drums, whistles
- Patrick Cogneaux / bass and some strange frequency modulations
- Claude "Piccolo" Berkovitch / bass (track 3)
- Claude Deron / electric flugelhorn (tracks 8 & 9)
- Christian "Djoum" Ramon / bass (tracks 8 & 9)
sharingmatrix: p1, p2