April 29, 2011

A new letter from Steve Pank...

While I'm still waiting the Ursula Smith's answers to my questions sent before Christmas, and no news are coming from Denim Bridges (the project of a new TEB record...), just yesterday Steve Pank has written me this letter, quite interesting...

"Hi Luca,
(...) I have been quite busy writing a book of music it is called "Chromatic cycles" and is to help instrumentalists to play in any key, I have written versions for brass instruments, the saxophone, flute keyboard and cello, I have finished them now so I should have more time for other writing.
I have been helping Ursula with her piece for the website, as I was with the band most of the time that she was in it. There is a bit more work to do on it. 
(...) I recently saw Carolyn in London as she came to the Druid ceremony of the spring equinox on Tower Hill, I have some photographs of her in the ceremony and also of Dave Loxley who did the covers for Achemy and the Elements, he is now the Chief Druid. 
I will email you the photographs if I can sort out how to do it. I also have some photographs of Ursula at the end of a concert where she was leading the cello section of the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra.

Whilst I was in London Carolyn gave me a copy of the "Live Ghosts", the album made with Paul Minns and Alan Samuel. I had never heard it before. I knew Alan briefly when he was living at the embassy with Dave Tomlin and others... I though he played nicely and I enjoyed what he did, but the really important thing about that recording is that it was the last that Paul recorded with the Third Ear Band and for me his playing was remarkable, as good as or even better than the work he did with the original band.
I recently bought a CD of "Alchemy" and the Elements from Amazon at a reasonable price, some of the fans might like to know that it is available again...

(L-R) Dave Tomlin and Steve Pank in London on July 2010 (photo by Luca Ferrari).

Carolyn or was it Dave told me that you were interested in the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream which happened in 1967. The person you need to contact about that is Hoppy, John Hopkins, he was the main man, he was a Third Ear Band fan and you may be able to contact him through the International Times website.
I may be running out of space in this mail, so I will finish now and will encourage Ursie to complete her contribution. Send me a tape by all means, but not the original, make a copy.
Good wishes
no©2011 Luca Ferrari

April 05, 2011

A review on "Third Ear Band" by American musician Elliot Knapp

American musician Elliot Knapp, on his personal blog at http://www.elliotknapp.com/2011/02/third-ear-band-third-ear-band.html, has reviewed TEB's second album, the seminal "Third Ear Band". Frequently on the Web fans and journalists use to write on the band, testifing the great interest for the TEB is not expired, and this review is particularly smart...

"Third Ear Band's second album, 1970's self-titled (now sometimes retroactively titled "Elements") builds on the oboe melody-led excursions of "Alchemy" by assigning each of its four songs to an element. While the instrumentation is still basically the same as the debut, the songs are considerably more identifiable from each other.

Every time I listen to this album I'm amazed at how fun a listen it is without being particularly melodic: the opener, "Air" gently coalesces out of the ether based on a repetitive tabla beat and some probing oboe and cello/violin groans and fails to present any melody except for an occasionally repeated violin riff. And yet, its smoky mystery is utterly compelling and lushly gorgeous, especially considering how few instruments produce the music. "Earth" shifts gears completely, with the strings playing pizzicato over a much more minstrel-like beat from the drums. Dual oboes improvise gently, probing Eastern-scales, while the tempo subtly gathers pace. All of a sudden it's an ecstatic frenzy, then just as suddenly the tension disappears, the rhythmic pattern slightly shifts, and the process starts again. Despite the general mood and ever-present tonal center of the music, there's no real melody to speak of - clear and quite listenable evidence that melody needn't reign supreme as the only musical element worthy of close attention.

"Fire" is a brilliant study in high-register drones and another shift in texture, with a relentless wavering feeling not unlike that of a dancing flame. "Water" closes the album with an actual melody (imagine that) over sustained violin with just enough dissonance to remind us that we're not in any territory that had been scouted at the time of the album's release, or really a whole lot more since. As I listen and re-listen in rapture to the strange and evocative sounds these instruments make together, I'm not always sure how the structures pertain to the elements they're named for, but in reality it's immaterial - by consciously giving each suite a distinct mood, the band stretched itself beyond its impressive but sometimes nebulous debut and gave structure to another forty odd minutes of rare beauty with memorable compositional elements".

no©2011 Luca Ferrari