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Pythagoras - 2011 - "The Correlated ABC"

(84:03 2EP+LP/CD, СPythagorasТ / Musea Records)


*****

Prolusion. The Dutch band PYTHAGORAS was formed around 1980 when drummer Bob De Jong hooked up with the young and aspiring keyboardist Rene De Haan, their self-released debut LP from 1981 hitting an unexpected nerve with the Dutch audience resulting in the initial pressing of 500 copies eventually expanded to 5000 copies sold and label interest from WEA. Following a slightly less successful second production and a few occasional live performances the band disbanded quietly, the release plans for a third installment never realized. Until 2011 that is, when the remaining material recorded back in the 1980's was given a lavish vinyl release courtesy of the band themselves, while Musea Records issued the CD version.

A: Drifting Around Irrational Forces (12:06)
*****

TRACK LIST: 

1.  Drama Queens for Teenage Idols 5:15
2.  Epilogue 0:52
3.  Prologue 0:47
4.  Floating Angel Blues to You 5:12

LINEUP:

Rene de Haan Ц keyboards; flute
Bob de Jong Ц drums 
With:
Piet van Steenis Ц guitars 
Peer Wassenaar Ц bass 
Oleg Fatev Ц bayan 
Pieter Ubbels Ц saxophone 
Joshua Samson Ц percussion 
Analysis. Opening this lavish production is a relic from the times of old, a 7 inch single, sporting one long track on each side, and a brief epilogue on the front side and prologue on the other. These four constellations are all of a cinematic nature, based more in synthesizer workouts than rock music per se, in particular opening track Drama Queens for Teenage Idols, a majestic creation with massive fluctuating layered keyboards backing a fragile piano and accordion based lead motif. Floating Angel Blues to You opens with an elongated sequence of dampened, brooding moods with acoustic guitar licks and careful piano maneuvers backed by a contrasting, dark-tone brooding synth layer, subsequently exploding into a lighter toned, uplifting and majestic symphonic art rock theme. ItТs a fine and intriguing opening of this triple package, where the subtly deteriorated ancient recording quality and the electronic drum sound of the 1980's are the main drawbacks.

B: Right Angles and Other Corners (24:05)
*****+

TRACK LIST: 

1.  Jingle Jangle Jungle 1:41
2.  International Spacial Headrooms 3:02
3.  So the Infinity Pilot Stumbles 4:45
4.  Sonic Mayhem Sucker Punch 2:30
5.  Cosmic Jive Suspension 1:59
6.  The Everyday General Topic 1:47
7.  Earl Honeydew and the Missing Superheroes 2:53
8.  Translucent Action Figure Halo 1:05
9.  A Notion of Motion 4:23
10. Today Is for Crying 5:59 (CD bonus track)

LINE UP:

Same
Analysis. The second part of Pythagroas' "The Correlated ABC" is a good, old-fashioned 12 inch EP, with a total of nine tracks included. The CD version of the album, which assembles the single and EP in the vinyl package, also includes the bonus track Today Is for Crying. As both CDs are included in the vinyl edition, vinyl and CD buyers both will get the opportunity to enjoy this bonus track, which is a nice addition to this part of the album. Musically it's crystal clear at this point that Pythagoras first and foremost is a synthesizer and keyboards excursion. De Jong's electronic drums are sparingly used as a defining element of the proceedings, and when used, they often leave a strange impression. Time typical in the extreme, the sharp and distinctly electronic drums have a sound and expression that reminds me of the theme song for old US crime show Miami Vice, and in terms of musical history UK act Frankie Goes to Hollywood is one I'd pull out of the hat as comparable. And when rhythms of that nature are paired off with richly layered keyboard and synth excursions that might have been pulled off Hawkwind's early 80's experimental albums, as on the opening tracks on this EP, the end result does take a bit getting used to. But as the EP moves onwards the style explored gets less experimental in scope, the chaotic Sonic Mayhem Sucker Punch something of a turning point, the remaining parts of this 12 inch closer in sound to late 70's Pink Floyd. But with less guitar layers and plenty of additional details provided by tangents in one shape and form or another, and lacking vocals. Apart from a brief end sequence on The Everyday General Topic that is. But despite odd rhythms when applied, recordings whose quality have deteriorated over time and an overall sound that is time typical even if given later day overdubs, the end result stays within the engaging parameter as far as I'm concerned: energetic and majestic in a good manner, soothing and hypnotic in an ambient manner that shares few similarities to new age and similar kinds of music. Richly layered soundscapes filled with a plethora of details cater for that quite nicely, there are always plenty of subtle nuances, planned and executed with a careful attention to details. At the time of their recording synthesizer aficionados would have loved this part of the album to bits, and even 20 odd years later I suspect those with a soft spot for vintage keyboards and first generation synthesizers should find plenty to enjoy here.

C: Lo-Fi Watercolour Ballet (41:53)
*****

TRACK LIST: 
 
1.  Start Here or I Will Try to Explain 2:07
2.  Rose, Chicken, 27 3:55
3.  The Main Event 3:30
4.  All of the Answers 6:48
5.  The Accepted and the Denied 3:41
6.  Right on Time 0:56
7.  A Particular State of Mind 1:28
8.  Ultimate Signs of Life 1:54
9.  I Hope My Considerations Are of Some Benefit to You 6:58
10. How to Own a Treasure 0:53
11. Situations, Circumstances and Beautiful Sunsets 2:05
12. The Challenged Spirit vs. Reality 2:29
13. Murphy Saw 2:20
14. To Put Some Things in Practice 2:49

LINEUP:

Same
With:
Gerrit Eijkelboom Ц vocals 
Pieter Courtens Ц synthesizers; percussion
Analysis. The final installment of "The Correlated ABC" is a good, old fashioned full length vinyl LP. Featuring both studio and live recordings, unless my ears deceive me, and quite a few relatively long pieces of music that for some reason or other have been divided into separate parts alongside longer standalone constructions. And again we're presented with a shift in sound, subtle in character perhaps but one that the avid listener will notice. The initial three compositions continue more or less where the EP stopped, with atmospheric laden excursions sporting careful keyboard and synthesizer motifs in dampened arrangements carefully backing gentle instrumentation, and in the case of the third piece The Main Event we're also treated to a creation featuring lead vocals. The following All of the Answers heralds a shift though, the twisted, distorted and what I'd describe as apocalyptic moods thoroughly explored in this instrumental one of the clear highlights of this album. From here and out many of the pieces explored come across as more fragmented and unfinished in nature, and frequently sporting motifs and themes that are more distinctly dream-laden and ambient in nature. The odd breathing noises on Right On Time and the sickly guitar motif on Ultimate Signs of Life interesting details in themselves, but by and large the arrangements are less elaborate and contain less details, and as such won't be as rewarding for the listeners as much of the material preceding it. De Haan is an able conjurer of pleasant and hypnotic moods though, and his performances on piano and keyboards are well worth experiencing, also within the arrangements of a less sophisticated nature. And for those who listen to this whole production in one go, having a run of compositions of a less challenging nature will perhaps feel like a natural conclusion to this production too, the dream-like and frequently melancholic touches befitting the conclusive end to a band that didn't get to release their final material until a quarter of a century had come and gone.

Conclusion. Pythagoras make a welcome return with this slightly reworked version of material recorded back in the first half of the 1980's. A production of interest to existing fans as well as keyboard and synthesizer aficionados in general, and those who have a deep affection for vinyl releases will also enjoy the lavish vinyl edition, where the album cover can be made into a triangular piece of exhibition art and the full package includes a single, an EP and an LP, in addition to the CD version of the album. The slightly deteriorated sound quality and the distinctly 80's electronic drums are the main drawbacks, nothing major, but at least in the case of the latter an element that will take a bit of effort to get familiar with.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 2-3-4, 2012
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Musea Records
Pythagoras


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