The fifth full-length album from Portland, OR-based black-ish metal band Agalloch, The Serpent & The Sphere, opens with a 10-and-a-half-minute track called “Birth And Death Of The Pillars Of Creation,” and it is a mindfuck. The song spends some three and a half minutes laboriously building from near-total silence, and upon finally hitting its groove, it proceeds for the next seven goddamn minutes at like 56BPM — a rhythm you might describe as “adagio” or “deliberate” or “glacial.” Frontman John Haughm’s lead vocals are mostly whispered, his rhythm guitar track is entirely acoustic; there’s some portentous plainsong chanting, and at numerous points, components of the already spare instrumentation peel away, leaving only one or two pieces in play, as if the song is buckling under its own enormous weight. It reminds me a lot of the elegant and deeply depressive funeral doom made by Australia’s Mournful Congregation (or Agalloch’s Profound Lore labelmates Loss, from Nashville), although it doesn’t attempt to wring quite the same powerful drama from those sonic elements. It’s not a difficult song, exactly — it’s rather refined and beautiful-sounding, in fact — but on first blush, as an opening track and inaugural statement, it makes no fucking sense.
James Taylor had scored eight Top 40 hits by the fall of 1976 when Warner Brothers marked the end of his contract with this compilation. One of those hits, the Top Ten gold single “Mockingbird,” a duet with his wife Carly Simon, was on Elektra Records, part of the Warner family of labels and presumably available, but it was left off.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)
Essential: A masterpiece of psych-rock music collection.
Vanilla Fudge are a pioneering psychedelic band with a superb lineup and are famous for psyching up well known cover versions. Their debut albums features some of their best and most popular material such as the stunning' You Keep Me Hanging On', 'Eleanor Rigby' and 'She's Not There'.