Sunday, October 16, 2016

Smoking the Century Away, Mexico

Smoking the Century Away - s/t. 1997 Smogless
Smoking the Century Away - Animated Weightlessness. 2001 Nuggetphase

I've only heard the debut to date.

----Smoking the Century Away

There was a time in the late 1990s when the Smogless label was Mexico City's response to, and admiration of, the 70s Kosmische Kourier movement. Loch Ness, Humus, and Frolic Froth were the most known of these groups, but there were a few other random kollektiv's, and one of those was Smoking the Century Away. This "brand name", as it were, was their outlet for more organic psychedelic music and wasn't as fuzz guitar focused as the 3 groups mentioned above. Sort of a drifting, primitive sound (especially the keyboards), as one might find on an Amon Duul II side long excursion. This album is made up of one track, broken up into 19 vignettes.

Yet another late 90's band that is long forgotten today, and still awaits their true discovery. As such bumping to current date for exposure.

Ozone Quartet, USA


Though the band maintains a Facebook page, it's clear they aren't an active entity at the moment.

Ozone Quartet - Fresh Blood. 1997 Flat Five (CD)
Ozone Quartet - Nocturne. 1999 Flat Five (CD)
Ozone Quartet - Live at Local 506. 2003 Flat Five (CD)
Ozone Quartet - Cloud Nineology. 2004 Flat Five (CD)

I currently only own Fresh Blood. I did sell Nocturne many years ago. This last revisit of Fresh Blood makes me wonder if that was a good move. I'm definitely open to picking up the other albums as I see them, and will update this post accordingly.

----Fresh Blood

North Carolina's Ozone Quartet, on their debut Fresh Blood, provide us with a rough 'n ready instrumental violin driven prog rock / fusion album, as if Jean-Luc Ponty played lead for Boud Deun. Not the best production you'll ever encounter, but it probably adds the right amount of grit needed to make it work. This one is easy to get into for fans predisposed to the genre.

Bought this one upon release, and could use a little exposure, as it's obvious the band has been long forgotten.

Lizard, Poland


Lizard are still going strong with a new album released this year. As noted below, strangely I have not kept up with the band after the debut. This is something I may address in the near term.

Lizard - W Galerii Czasu. 1997 Ars Mundi (CD); 2003 Metal Mind (CD)

As noted in the prelude, Lizard have at least 7 more albums. In the interest of time, I'm just going to list the one I've heard and will update this post as I go.

----W Galerii Czasu

Lizard's debut is an unusual effort coming from the late 90s. Most of Poland's progressive rock scene were following along in the footsteps of Collage, and performing UK styled neo-prog. And there is definitely some of that sound present here, but there's also a bit of heaviness (not metal), perhaps paving the way for future stars like Riverside. But most interesting to me is the look back to the Iron Curtain years, and there's a distinct melodic songwriting as you might find on a late 70's SBB album, or even from the Czech group Modry Efekt. Odd combination, but it works.

I bought this CD upon release, and enjoyed it immediately. Strange that I never pursued anything else by the band (though it didn't help that some of their initial followup albums were "official bootlegs", which is rarely a good thing). Time for some research. The band is still around, and releasing albums, but they appear to have fallen off of everyone's radar. No idea if the quality is the same though. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Architectural Metaphor, USA


Their website promises a new album as of May 2016, but it doesn't appear to have materialized yet.

Architectural Metaphor - Odysseum Galacti. 1994 ArcMet (CD)
Architectural Metaphor - Creature of the Velvet Void. 1997 Black Widow (Italy CD; LP)
Architectural Metaphor - Viva. 2000 Kairos (CD)
Architectural Metaphor - Other Music. 2004 ArcMet (CD)
Architectural Metaphor - Everything You Know is Wrong. 2013 private (CD)

I once owned Odysseum Galacti, but sold it many years ago. I never did hear anything beyond Velvet Void, as noted below. If I do, I'll update this page.

----Creature of the Velvet Void

Architectural Metaphor were a space rock / Krautrock band from the Boston area, that are long forgotten today, but had a bit of momentum during the late 90s space rock renaissance (most notably playing in the festivals of the day plus various compilation albums). Generally Architectural Metaphor performed as a trio, with loud electric guitar, effects, found sounds, and pounding drums. The latter is unique in that they are provided by a female, who also is their lead singer and "space whisperer". Creature of the Velvet Void is their second full length "proper" album, and marks a distinct improvement on their debut Odysseum Galacti. Musically, Architectural Metaphor are clearly informed by the early Kosmische Musik scene, such as Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Tempel, Cosmic Jokers, et al, as well as the usual space rocker suspects like Hawkwind and Gong. They're not the most accomplished musicians you'll ever hear, but for the type of music they play, a bit of raw amateurism plays to their favor. Besides, any band that names a tune 'March of the Wooden Potatoes' has to be onto something special...

I bought this CD not long after release, gave it a few listens, and filed it. It's been nearly 20 years since I last heard it, and I had forgotten just how good this album is. Apparently I need to investigate the albums they released afterward as well.

Bernd Kistenmacher, Germany


Bernd Kistenmacher - Head-Visions. 1986 Cosmic Sound (LP); 1992 Musique Intemporelle (CD); 1997 Green Tree (CD); 2012 MIRecords (CD; LP);  2015 Bureau B (CD; LP)
Bernd Kistenmacher - Wake Up in the Sun. 1987 Cosmic Sound (LP; CD); 1997 Green Tree (CD); 2015 Bureau B (CD; LP)
Bernd Kistenmacher/Mario Schonwalder/Rolf Trostel - Musique Intemporel. 1988 Timeless Sounds (LP; CD)
Bernd Kistenmacher - Kaleidoscope. 1989 Musique Intemporelle (CD); 1997 Green Tree (CD)
Bernd Kistenmacher - Outlines. 1991 Musique Intemporelle (CD); 1998 Green Tree (CD)

This is as far as I'm going to type his discography out. Bernd Kistenmacher is rightly known as the second generation Klaus Schulze, and this comparison can also be drawn to his prolific amount of releases. He has well over 20 more albums than what is listed above, and is still going strong as I build this page out. In addition to the 3 albums I've included here, I also own the CD of Wake Up in the Sun (and will add notes once I revisit). I used to own Musique Intemporel on vinyl, but that was well over 20 years ago, and recall little about it. If I have the opportunity to hear any of his other works, I'll be sure to update this page.


No discussion about Bernd Kistenmacher can be had without at least a passing mention of one Klaus Schulze. Especially at the time of Timewind or X, arguably the Master's finest moment in the sun. Head-Visions contains 3 long tracks of Berlin School goodness complete with full-on sequencers, and various other analog/digital tones drizzled on top to add much needed color. While Schulze himself was busy messing about with digital technology and an unhealthy love of beats, Kistenmacher was trying his duly best to bring back the glory of the original movement. And he succeeded mightily, as others followed suit shortly thereafter. Be sure to get a hold of one of the CD reissues (mine is on Green Tree), which contains the 11+ minute 'Dreamdance', as fine a track as any on the album proper.


Old skool Berlin School music heavily influenced by Klaus Schulze circa Blackdance, with a good dose of Ashra's New Age of Earth added into the mix. Plenty of analog synthesizers, and some modern ones including electronic percussion, with a bit of acoustic guitar to offset the machines. Easy recommendation for fans of the genre.


Bernd Kistenmacher was one of the leading lights of the new wave of Berlin School electronic solo artists coming from Germany in the middle 1980s. Comparisons to Klaus Schulze are unavoidable, though Kistenmacher wisely borrowed from Schulze's late 70s output rather than the programmed sound he preferred at that time. By 1991, Kistenmacher himself was somewhat marginalized as his influence - and others - ushered in a boatload of new artists in the genre. This was a good time for Kistenmacher to take a break, as his sound was beginning to sound all too familiar, just as his idol had done before him. This is a nice, and varied, elektronik album performed by a seasoned veteran, and well worth the expenditure to own.