Claremont (GG) - The east coast's complete domination of the American Progressive music festival scene ensured that it was only a matter of time before the west came up with its own "WETOOfest". With its reputation based squarely on the imagery of tree-huggers, Silicon Valley geeks, and pickle jar-skulled hippies, the west hardly seems an ideal place for a progfest, as history has all too readily shown, but just like the little train that could, a little group of proglets decided to mount the expedition in their spare time after school.
"We've got the entire school saving chewing gum wrappers and cereal box-tops," bragged the bespectacled class president. "'The Sierra Mountain Pine Sap Chewing Gum Company' and the 'Pacific Coast Trail Pebbles Brand Granola Cereal And Environmental Preservation League Company' have generously pledged to donate tickets for the event made of 100% recycled post-consumer materials and animal waste products," he beamed, his eyes bulging widely behind his Coke bottle lenses like a nocturnal tree-dwelling primate from Madagascar, while his massive ears, looking more like the sails of a multi-hulled yacht than collectors of sound, jutted perpendicularly from the sides of his head and threatened to catch the next breeze to Nevada. Leaving precious little time to swallow the foaming saliva that began to nest at the corners of his mouth and stretch from tooth to tooth, I dodged the errant, incoming projectile as he enthused about their hand-screened T-shirts made of 100% dolphin-safe cotton fiber, hand-woven by Tibetan orphans with an officially approved logo of the Dali Llama on them.
Ambitious as it is, it would seem that this little train has an arduous journey ahead if it hopes to one day match the McKinley-an standards set by the war-hardened battle-trained veteran east coast prog festivals, NEARfest, ProgDay, and the Nimitz-class INTERfest. "ProgWest is just riding the coattails of ProgDay, eh?" hissed an inside source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Another source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity agreed: "Me and Chad were hardly surprised to see them pull the 'Classic Coke' number like ProgDay. Me and Chad figured they'd announce that there wouldn't be another festival out there, get people in a tizzy about it, then announce a 'return' of a festival and wait for the fans to come flocking. They may be trying to pull a Classic Coke but they ain't nuthin but a 5 cent lemonade stand as far as me and Chad are concerned."
West coast apologists are quick to point out Baja Prog, ProgFests past, the Expose concert series, and the numerous bands and artists that litter the landscape like globs of oil on the beaches of L.A., but I say "big deal. Put your money where your mouth is and . something else that's devastatingly scathing and witty."
The Beach Boys were the quintessential California band. Their songs about surfing, cars, chicks, and power outages speak volumes of the land of deep thought and seedless pot-plants. The following reviews could be considered the quintessential Gnosis reviews for Jestersaurus Issue 7. We'll leave it to the reader to decide whether or not to continue to section 2.
<>The obvious thing to do after the unprecedented worldwide success of Archimedes Badkar was to strike out on a solo career.
". haunting ."
<> There's the obligatory Halloween reference.
<>"The Drinking Water Consortium" originated during the infamous drinking water Prohibition that threatened the very fabric of American society early last century. The doomed constitutional amendment was quickly exploited by La Cosa Nostra, who emigrated from Sicily and opened the California speak-easies where they sold vast quantities of designer spring waters smuggled from all corners of the globe. Prohibition may have been repealed, but the power of the Quafia goes virtually unchecked to this day.
<>Worthy of their legendary status?
<>Den Za Den<>
<>When listening to this Yugoslavian obscurity, ". one can't help but be awestruck by the technical prowess.".
Den Za Den
"Rings Of Earthly Light (Musea FGBG 4048) is quite simply one of the finest modern-styled symphonic rock albums of the 90s."
"Mellotron fans take note. Unique and uncompromising music, this masterpiece of neo-classical avant-garde rock stands alone."
<>La Torre dell'Alchimista<>
"The buzz around this . assault of analog . digital synth . bears a strong resemblance to . their excellent sense of dynamics . trading off with . emotional . airy . stark contrast . with furious . dropping riffs left and right . with a . major amount of hype . that always keeps things . balancing . and bombastic."
<> What the heck is this guy talking about?
La Torre dell' Alchimista
<>Stop fixating on your perceived reality! Cast your attachment to it aside and realize the unborn and insubstantial quality of all things material! Examine the true relation of the perceiver to the perceived! Experience the ultimate unfindability of the real nature of all phenomena - indeed, their total lack of inherent existence! Work toward unfolding the nature of everything to discover the insubstantial, non-compounded nature of your mind! Yes! For only $49.95, go beyond mere intellectual understanding to a spontaneous experience of SUNYATA! Send check or money order for $49.95 to:
Biff's School of Dharmakaya
P.O. Box 0
<>Interview with Dennis Rea<>
by Jeff Melton, from Expose Issue 23
<>F.X. Matt is one of America's regional brewing success stories, having not only survived the depression, but also the string of countless brewery closures and takeovers in the ensuing years. The microbrewery revolution was also a threat to the old regionals, but not to Utica, New York's F.X. Matt, who seized the opportunity to contract brew for numerous entrepreneurs, concentrated on a line of boutique beers of their own under the "Saranac" name, while continuing to brew their traditional American style beers for their dedicated followers. Dennis Rea is also from Utica.
Dennis Rea is a vanguard; from his unlikely progressive rock roots to his current sound collage excursions (both in the US and abroad) he's been both a catalyst and creator of a fret board approach. Dennis is a member of two First World Recording artists, Stackpole and Land (with ambient pioneer Jeff Greinke) and also gigs with local Northwest singer/songwriters. In his "spare time" the guitarist runs the experimental music newsletter, "The Tentacle" which chronicles the local Seattle scene. Exposé caught up with Dennis after completing the third Land disc, "Road Movies".
Exposé: Please tell us about your roots with Earthstar: How did you get involved in this project? Did you do any live performances?
Rea: Earthstar was the brainchild of keyboardist Craig Wuest, who like myself grew up in the small city of Utica, New York, in the 1960s and 70s. Craig was the first person in Utica to own a synthesizer and was heavily influenced by the space music being made in Germany at the time by the likes of Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh, and Harmonia. Earthstar was essentially Craig's solo project, with additional guest musicians thrown into the mix. In the mid-70s I was one-third of Utica's lone progressive rock group, Zuir; being the only two adventurous music acts in town, collaboration between Craig and the members of Zuir was inevitable. My recording debut came when I added some guitar parts to the first (now impossible to find) Earthstar LP, "Salterbarty Tales," released by Nashville's Moontower Records in 1978. The group performed live only a handful of times, mostly at inappropriate venues like roadhouse bars and college beer halls, with predictable results.
In the meantime Craig, feeling rather isolated in the country-rock backwater of Utica, had struck up a correspondence with his hero Klaus Schulze, who encouraged him to try his luck in Germany. So Craig sold his grand piano and showed up on Schulze's doorstep in Hambuhren in 1979, where he was serendipitously offered a record deal with Schulze's brand-new Innovative Communications label. Although the IC recording failed to materialize for various sordid reasons, Craig stayed on in Germany for several years and released three more Earthstar records on Sky, one of the more prominent labels of Krautrock's golden era. He invited me and other Utica musicians to Germany to contribute to these records, and I spent six months there working on Earthstar sessions in Schulze's studio, my first real trial by fire.
In retrospect I've come to appreciate that Earthstar was perhaps the only American group to participate, however peripherally, in Germany's 'Kosmische Musik' scene during its heyday. Thinking that our records were laughably obscure, I was astonished to discover that at least one of the Earthstar titles, "French Skyline," was reissued two years ago on CD and hailed as a "synthesizer music classic." But I can't really agree with that assessment - although the records do have their moments, there are sections that are excruciating for me to listen to at this distance. And Earthstar was truly one of the most awful band names ever.
Who are your early influences? Can you give examples of songs or albums that made a major impression on you?
Believe it or not, the group that inspired me to become a musician was the Monkees. To this day I savor the irony of being influenced by guys who, at least initially, were not even playing their own instruments on their albums! But the two experiences that were probably most important to my later development were hearing the Gyorgy Ligeti compositions on the 2001 soundtrack at age 11, and the first King Crimson album on the radio at age 15. The former opened my ears to expanded conceptions of form and tonality and to the world of 'extended' instrumental technique; Ligeti remains my favorite composer to this day. The latter showed me that rock music could be so much more than the usual foursquare pounding with juvenile lyrics. Another crucial development came when my uncle, a conservative classical music snob, dumped an LP titled "Electronic Music" on my family along with other record-club rejects. The album included important early electronic works by Cage, Luciano Berio, and Ilhan Mimaroglu. I was hugely stimulated by these curious sounds, which led me to question traditional distinctions between 'music' and 'noise' at an early age.
By the time I reached my mid-teens I was totally immersed in progressive rock, at first the usual suspects like Crimson and Gentle Giant and later more eccentric outfits such as Matching Mole, Van Der Graaf Generator, Henry Cow, Centipede, and the like. Both Crimson and Soft Machine led me to an abiding interest in modern jazz, which was further reinforced when my older brother introduced me to Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" and the music of free-jazz musicians such as Coltrane, Dolphy, and Ayler. The Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Birds of Fire" and Weather Report's "I Sing the Body Electric" were also major influences, as were records by Oregon, ECM discs by John Abercrombie and Barre Phillips, and German synthesizer music.
<>Question is, which of F.X. Matt's Saranac beers, brewed with the natural, spring-fed backwaters of Utica, does Dennis prefer? The Black Forest Lager perhaps? Or maybe the English Pale Ale or the Black and Tan? Or might it be a seasonal, like the excellent, true-to-style Octoberfest? If you don't subscribe to Expose, you'll have to visit this place or this place for subscription information or to buy a copy and find the answer!
"But what about Frank Zappa?" you ask. "He's from California and he's even a progressive artist. Why isn't he at the heading of section 1?" That's because Frank Zappa was in truth, a visual artist from El Salvador whose spirited, one-man stage interpretation of the construction of the Panama Canal earned him the attention of producer Tom Wilson. Zappa and The Mothers actually made a long-term Milli Vanilli-like career out of lip-syncing and instrument-syncing the performances of an undercover band from Bismark, North Dakota.
" . could there be anyone who has never heard "Punk Sandwich" or "Country House Shuffle" from the old days?"
<> Uh, ha-ha. [Ahem] Nooooo . no, of course not! Heh-heh! You
<>Dr. Dopo Jam<>
"The results are always interesting and often spectacular, especially when the group lets it rip . believe me, this is unlike anything you might have heard. Well worth the find for fans of oddly original music, this is a feast for the ears."
Dr. Dopo Jam
"In short, this is a fine reissue that most fans of the melodic/symphonic sound should enjoy."
<> Thijs van Leer, Jan Akkerman, Pierre van der Linden, Jeff Melton: where to they come up with these crazy names?
"Imagine the best elements of Enya/Clannad blended with the folk-rock presence of Sandy Denny's Fairport Convention, make it a bit more progressive and powerful, and top it off with a Christian oriented theme, and you'll have an idea of where Iona is at on this, their second album."
"L'Eliogabalo is a somewhat forgotten album released in Italy in the late 70s. Undeservedly so as it is one of the more interesting Italian progressive albums from the era."
"Nuova Era were one of the first in the new wave of Italian progressives and also one of the most highly regarded."
<>The longhaired, incense-burnin' dewd from California raps about
Nuova's first three albums, man.
"I'd recommend it anyone into the style of bands like Machiavel and Grobschnitt, who don't mind their prog mixed with some tasty mainstream."
<>Just when the Jestersaurus aficionado (hi mom!) was fearing an issue without the Doctor of Obscurity, Tom "Mahatma Ashra" Hayes descends with open arms, adorned with a white robe and a wreath of olive branches, flanked by snow white lambs, virgin nymphs, and lava lamps, to preach of holy relics of enlightenment that facilitate a communal oneness with the spirits. Unusually however, this band's releases are readily available without performing an animal sacrifice to the gods.
"Imagine Finch with an extra keyboard, an entirely instrumental Anyone's Daughter, or perhaps Indigo (the Austrian band) at the time of their first album - the tunes are catchy and compelling, yet eschew any poppiness that might point in commercial directions."
Another strictly-California band to mention could have been the Eagles, but I won't embarrass our left coast readers by mentioning them. But they do fit squarely in the Section 3 realm, if not section 10.
Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
Kudos to you Jestersaurus! Thanks to you, my family won't speak to me and I've lost all my friends! However, even with prog to fill my day, I still have too much time on my hands. I think the problem is that my days are typically about 36 hours long instead of the standard 24. I'm particularly concerned about the extra hour coming up this Sunday morning at 2 AM. Any ideas for another hobby?
Dear Mr Byron Bandersnatch,
You didn't include your address but clearly you must come from Longsdayle Arizona, where the Long Day Zone (LDZ) was first established in 1886. Sure it energized frontier development during a fertile period of rapid growth, but are some of us now paying the price? My advice is just stick to prog. There is no other hobby that is worthy of your time.
Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
Dear Mr Edgeware Grannapowitz,
P.S. What a stupid name.
Dear Mr Mac Beaulieu,
P.S. What a stupid name.
Mac Beaulieu + Mike McLatchey + Dirk Evans + Peter Thelen =
Jestersaurus is a satirical newsletter published by The Gnosis
Project. Jestersaurus uses invented names in some of its material.
Exceptions include cases in which public figures and other individuals
are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and
coincidental. The content of this newsletter--graphics, text and other
elements--is copyright (c) The Gnosis Project, and may not be
reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed
written consent of the publisher. Jestersaurus is not intended for
readers under 18 years of age.
What time is it?
I like, read this entire issue like FIVE TIMES and I can't find any directions to ProgWest like you had for ProgDay. What gives, man? You got some kinda beef with California, Dino-Dewd?
Gnosis Writers Staff
Expose Writers Staff
Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
Dear Mr Edgeware Grannapowitz,
P.S. What a stupid name.
Dear Mr Mac Beaulieu,
P.S. What a stupid name.
Mac Beaulieu + Mike McLatchey + Dirk Evans + Peter Thelen = Jestersaurus
Jestersaurus is a satirical newsletter published by The Gnosis Project. Jestersaurus uses invented names in some of its material. Exceptions include cases in which public figures and other individuals are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The content of this newsletter--graphics, text and other elements--is copyright (c) The Gnosis Project, and may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher. Jestersaurus is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.