Sunday, November 17, 2013

Peak - Ebondàzzar(1980)

(Australian 1980)
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Often thought to be a German band because they’re on Klaus Schulze’s label, Peak is actually from Australia.  Nice electronic album but unfortunately Ebondàzzar seems to be their only release.
Formed in Adelaide, South Australia, Peak is the duo of Robert Reekes-Parsons and Paul Fisher. Both men are multi-instrumentalists, with Reekes-Parsons gravitating more to keyboards and Fisher to guitars.
How would you classify Peak's music? If you were to listen solely to Innovative Communications (Klaus Schulze's record label) promotional spiel after the 1983 re-issue of the album "Ebondàzzar" you may think Peak was a group largely influenced by King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Genesis and perhaps even Godley & Creme and Vangelis. The reality is that Peak has moments where they emulate the style of these prog giants, as well as progressive electronic great Tangerine Dream. Having said this, the complex intertwining of guitar and synthesizer may mostly remind of Manuel Göttsching's Ashra and seems to belong in the sphere with the Berlin School-aligned artists, though this is not always the case as is witnessed when listening to the whole album.

Peak has only the one album, "Ebondàzzar", initially released on Cement Records, Australia in 1980, then re-issued in Germany by Innovative Communications in 1983. On "Ebondàzzar" Reekes-Parsons is credited with playing keyboard synthesisers, vocoder, strings, electric piano, tubular bells and fragmented guitar; Fisher's credits are guitar synthesisers, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboard synthesizers and electronic effects. The duo was assisted with drumming throughout the album by John Haffert. Additional assistance on the track 'Ocean Of Dreams' came from Kym Martin with the military snare and Lindon Lisk on bass. To date "Ebondàzzar" has not been issued on CD.

Review 1
Robert Reekes-Parsons and Paul Fisher
Ebondàzzar is a reasonably rare album from Australian duo Peak - Robert Reekes-Parsons and Paul Fisher - with able assistance on drums by John Haffert. It is a purely instrumental affair with vocals limited to vocoder output, effects and grunting.
Ebondàzzar has been issued twice on vinyl. The original Australian release was in 1980 on Cement Records, followed by a re-issue in 1983 by Innovative Communications from Germany. Despite two different releases the work appears to be relatively unknown.
Ebondàzzar has nine tracks with the longest, "Along For The Ride" clocking in at a little over the nine minute mark. Having said that, all the tracks from side one segue seamlessly making a suite of sorts with a running time of 23:02, though each track is quite different and there is no real hint of a concept. (All tracks on side two are clearly segregated.)
Not a masterpiece by any means, Ebondàzzar is an album of varied soundscapes, journeying mostly into the territories of electronica, space rock and possibly Krautrock. At one point there is a step towards synthesized heavy prog as "The Hunt" goes into full flight in its last half. And to cap things off there is even a hint of blues rock with the final track, "Agent's Lunch". With the variation presented on Ebondàzzar it is a difficult album to pigeonhole.
Highlights are: the hypnotic "Along For The Ride" opening with nice guitar and synthesiser interplay that moves into a Kraftwerk-style of electronica; "Encounter" with guitar synth pyrotechnics conjuring visions of King Crimson, before turning a corner into the symphonic realm; "Nightmist" with vocoder voices and its soaring sequencer melody so readily reminiscent of Tangerine Dream; and the dreamlike "Ocean Of Dreams" that opens with the peal of tubular bells before the synthesisers takeover, and then with the synths being overlaid with military-style snare drumming and tubular bells for much of the journey.
I like this album, but have a bias towards works from Australia. That said, I don't believe fans of electronic music or space rock wherever they be from would be disappointed if they were to stumble upon Ebondàzzar in their travels (review by T.Rox at progarchives.com)

Review 2
This subgenre isn't my specialisation, but I'm on somewhat of a mission to collect as much vintage Australian prog as I can, hence I tracked down this album. I love it more than I expected I would.
The compositional style is fairly minimalist, most of the pieces are built on simple repeated patterns and a fairly limited harmonic palette; like most minimalist music it makes up for a lack of complexity by creating hypnotic moods. Their strength is the diversity of their sound palette - their mix of various synthesizers and electronic effects with more organic instruments (especially their use of guitar), and music concrete approaches. (One guest instrumentalist is crediting with 'swimming', and they're serious - the swimming is an important part of the sound world of "Penguin")
The tracks of the first side segue seamlessly, but very diverse moods are evoked - heavy guitars and drums to open the album, calming down quickly to a more pastoral sound (with much use of flute colours); then a more strictly electronic soundworld with Tangerine Dream -style use of sequencers; then a more abstract soundworld with unsettling doppler-effect sounds sweeping in and out; then into a more ambient mood with lightly arpeggiated guitar, a simple and soothing synth contribution, ocean sounds (and, incongruously, military-style drumming), and fading out with the ocean. The second side offers more discrete compositions, again each exploring a unique soundworld - the final two tracks offer a more organic guitar-dominated approach (an acoustic, pastoral vibe for "Snail's Pace", a more electric rock feel for "Agent's Lunch"); "Penguin" and the lengthy "Along For The Ride" is back in Tangerine Dream-style territory (but with a prominent, if low-mixed, role for guitar in the latter); "The Hunt" mixes both soundworlds. [ review by S175 at progarchives.com]
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Considering this was recorded on a 4 track machine in the lounge room of a house at Henley Beach - South Australia, the quality is actually very good. I was lucky enough to grab a copy of this album at one of their "survival" shows in the backyard of the house. The live sound was superb with a surround sound speaker set-up. From memory it was a limited 500 unit pressing they financed themselves. They were the "house band" at Portobello in Adelaide for a while too I think. [Misanthropist, 2009]
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I myself only stumbled upon this album recently and was totally blown away with the progressiveness that it exhibits and can't believe that Peak didn't go onto record more. Every track on this album has a unique sound and the musicianship of these two artists is equal to any of the great Kraut Rock artists from the 70's and 80's. My favourite tracks would have to be "The Hunt" with its Troll like groans overlaying the soaring guitar riffs, "Nighmist" with its mesmorizing synth sequences echoing the sounds of Vangelis, and "Abyss" which is a dead set lift from Pink Floyds Dark Side Of The Moon. "Penguins" is an interesting track, commencing with a swimming sequence (reminiscent of Pink Floyd sound effects from "Lapse Of Reason") but quickly moves into a bouncey, boppy tune that is probably trying to portray a penguin when it walks. Being an Adelaide band, I'm sure the boys would have ventured across to Kangaroo Island at some stage in their life to visit the Penguin rookaries, and consequently influenced this track.
Needless to say, I really like this album, and highly recommend you give it a go, even if the progressive sound is not your thing. This truely is a lost gem!
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Track Listing
01. Encounter (7:44)

02. Nightmist (6:24)
03. Abyss (3:29)
04. Ocean Of Dreams (5:25)
05. Penguin (4:38)
06. Along For The Ride (9:13)

07. The Hunt (4:21)
08. Snail's Pace (3:36)
09. Agent's Lunch (2.28)

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Line-up / Musicians:
- Robert Reekes-Parsons / keyboard synthesisers, vocoder (A2), strings, electric piano, tubular bells, fragmented guitar, vocal effects
- Paul Fisher / guitar synthesiser, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboard synthesisers, electronic effects, grunting

Additional Artists
- John Haffert / drums
- Kym Martin / military snare

- Lindon Lisk / bass
- Brook Mostyn-Smith / swimming
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Peak Link (87Mb)

8 comments:

  1. AussieRock

    Thanks for the Peak album, I have not heard this before and I am looking forward to it.

    thanks

    Woodynet

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  2. Hey Ozzie, as always, thanks for a fascinating read into Australia’s bygone music history!
    I do have a request. For those of us hellbent on gleaning every factual detail from a release, are you able to provide scans of the labels, as you have with the back cover?
    There is often information (such as composers & production credits) that can’t be found elsewhere and is so easily lost to time. APRA is VERY limited in the depth of its storage.
    Cheers, and thanks.

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  3. Hi Rhonda
    Unfortunately this is not my RIP and cannot therefore supply the label scans.
    (As a standard I always provide label scans with my own rips)
    Sorry to disappoint

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  4. Never heard of these guys - thanks for sharing.

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  5. What a fine album , thanks for the share .

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  6. Thanks for sharing, really interesting

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  7. Just read an article in the Adelaide Sunday Mail about the band, they have reformed, temporarily, and are releasing a new album later this year.

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    Replies
    1. If it was online, I'd love to read the article. If a hard copy, then a scan would be great if ya can be bothered, and I'll add it to the post. Please email to g_r_anderson@netspace.net.au

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