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Thread: Featured album: Third Ear Band - The Magus

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Featured album: Third Ear Band - The Magus

    http://www.progarchives.com/progress...9202382005.jpg

    Third Ear Band - The Magus

    magus.jpg

    Tracks Listing:
    1. The Key (5:32)
    2. Cosmic Wheel (6:24)
    3. The Hierophant (4:38)
    4. The Magus (8:12)
    5. New Horizon (6:14)
    6. The Phoenix (3:54)
    7. Kozmik Wheel (3:50)

    Line-up:
    - Glen Sweeny / drums
    - Mike Merchant / guitars and vocals
    - Simon House / VCS3, violin, sitar and piano
    - Paul Minns / oboe, recorder and Hammond
    - Ron Kort / percussions and doom piano
    - Dave Tomlin / bass guitar


    Here is what my budy Kenneth Levine had to say on ProgArchives
    For every hundred-ish long unreleased archival recordings deemed lost classics, perhaps one can claim that honour. Recorded in 1972 yet lovingly sequestered for 32 years by THIRD EAR BAND piano/percussion and sound man Ron Kort until it was finally liberated, "The Magus" is that authentic artifact. Some sources imply that it was initially instantiated as "Prophecies" in 1991, but their only similarities lie in their vocal orientation, which makes them anomalies in the "Third Ear Band" discography.

    Gone are the raga inspired lattices of earlier works, and, while Mike Marchant's DONOVAN meets ROBIN WILLIAMSON voice does assume lead, the oboe and recorder of Paul Minns, the violin of Simon House, and the drums of Glen Sweeny swirl about Marchant's fiercely lyrical narratives, vying for attention without a hint of clutter or selfishness. Synthesizer is introduced as organically as its acoustic cousins. The meters of the songs are most hypnotic, materializing as incantations, offering a glancing nod back to the band's origins.

    Apart from the unfettered urgency of the delivery and the virtuosity of the players, "The Magus" is even more striking for the list of bands it could have influenced, and I say could have because herein lies the blueprints for punk, industrial, dark wave and neo folk music to name a few genres that didn't really exist at the time of recording. Yet all were well underway and, in some cases, interred, before "The Magus" appeared. In particular, I want to cite DEAD CAN DANCE and CURRENT 93 as would be benefactors. It's true that THIRD EAR BAND too claim influences, among them the Krautrock and the "Lizard/Islands" period of KING CRIMSON particularly in how they capitalize on flourishes of the wind instruments. But this is very much a sui generis of prog folk. It might be a challenge for fans of their early work to adapt to what is laid down here, which is deceptively accessible yet stratified with the same perfectionism that marked those earlier projects.

    Where uniformity of mood and multifariousness paradoxically mingle, all 8 tracks are luminous, but I want to especially underscore the Native American sounding "Hierophant", the apocalyptic title cut, and the poetry and music of "The Phoenix". But "The Magus" is an opus, and any over emphasis on one part is mere distraction. Therein lies its wisdom.





    Last edited by Trane; 05-09-2021 at 04:30 AM.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Here is what my budy Kenneth Levine had to say on PrigArchives
    Thanks for the great, new nickname for ProgArchives!
    "Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart...not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!"

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    I view myself as a pretty big TEB fan but I never heard of this one before. I would doubt Magus ever won them any new fans but the three posted tracks are nice. Vocals are a good idea for TEB, it gives them some focus. I wouldn't want vocals on most TEB tracks but in terms of hearing something new it makes them stand out. And the vocals are appropriate for what they do...

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    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Thanks for the great, new nickname for ProgArchives!
    They have many faults, but I never viewed them as priggish...Maybe I should reconsider.
    I like the part where Icarus hijacks the Little Red Hen.

    http://www.discogs.com/user/moecurlythanu/collection

  5. #5
    Alchemy, Elements and Music from MacBeth.

    Not this one here.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    I view myself as a pretty big TEB fan but I never heard of this one before. I would doubt Magus ever won them any new fans but the three posted tracks are nice. Vocals are a good idea for TEB, it gives them some focus. I wouldn't want vocals on most TEB tracks but in terms of hearing something new it makes them stand out. And the vocals are appropriate for what they do...
    The Magus was supposed to be released in 74, but never was (until 2005)

    Very different to their other 70's, if only because of the vocals, The Magus is certainly miles better than their late 80's/early 90's second life albums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Alchemy, Elements and Music from MacBeth.

    Not this one here.
    And yet, the album could be similar to bands like Archimedes Badkar
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    the album could be similar to bands like Archimedes Badkar
    Which could be a great thing, if the TEB were only half as good at that game as the Badkars were. I hinestly think it comes out as half-hearted and somewhere halfway between Between and Heart. Actually, more like Aktuala.

    Tho' not quite as good.

    Elements and MacBeth for me.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  8. #8
    Member Munster's Avatar
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    Really enjoying this, but my interest in Third Ear Band has focused on a short period in the late 1980s when saxophonist Lyn Dobson (once briefly in Soft Machine) was playing with the band. Dobson was a pretty enigmatic guy, but I love his sax sound and playing (12/8 Theme on Soft Machine’s Noisette is just amazing). Not much of his work was recorded but there are some excellent (and long) solos from him in TEB. The discography of later TEB recordings is a minefield; for a longish overview of all Dobson’s recording with TEB look on my Amazon.co.uk review of the TEB album Exorcisms (a very good album it is too) under the snappy title 'Crystal clear archive recordings from 1988/1989'.
    Last edited by Munster; 05-09-2021 at 08:14 AM.
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    I view myself as a pretty big TEB fan but I never heard of this one before. I would doubt Magus ever won them any new fans but the three posted tracks are nice. Vocals are a good idea for TEB, it gives them some focus. I wouldn't want vocals on most TEB tracks but in terms of hearing something new it makes them stand out. And the vocals are appropriate for what they do...
    The Magus was supposed to be released in 74, but never was (until 2005)

    Very different to their other 70's, if only because of the vocals, The Magus is certainly miles better than their late 80's/early 90's second life albums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Alchemy, Elements and Music from MacBeth.

    Not this one here.
    Ya forgot Abelard & Heloise.

    And yet, this album could be similar to bands like Archimedes Badkar or Oregon




    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  10. #10
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    BTW, I'd never seen this film.

    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Generally a disappointment. There is a lot of great to at least very good stuff by this band, including some of the 90s reformation.

    I strongly disagree with Trane’s opinion that those are inferior to The Magus.
    Steve F.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    The discography of later TEB recordings is a minefield; for a longish overview of all Dobson’s recording with TEB look on my Amazon.co.uk review of the TEB album Exorcisms (a very good album it is too) under the snappy title 'Crystal clear archive recordings from 1988/1989'.
    Thanks Munster for providing the information about the ridiculously impenetrable 80s/90s TEB discography. Different albums with the same title. Check. Same song with different title. Check. Recording dates omitted from many packages. Check! On and on. This will be helpful as I try to complete my collection.

    I bought the Gonzo 80s/90s releases when they came out and they are very good, musically. Exorcisms is the best. I agree that the 80s/90s should not be discounted and that Lyn Dobson adds an interesting new, er, element, to the sound of the band.

    BTW I stumbled across some of Lyn's recent work on bandcamp. I think it appeared as a recommended link when I bought Zopp. I had no idea he was still active.
    https://markhewins.bandcamp.com/albu...on-mark-hewins

  13. #13
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    Really enjoying this, but my interest in Third Ear Band has focused on a short period in the late 1980s when saxophonist Lyn Dobson (once briefly in Soft Machine) was playing with the band. Dobson was a pretty enigmatic guy, but I love his sax sound and playing (12/8 Theme on Soft Machine’s Noisette is just amazing). Not much of his work was recorded but there are some excellent (and long) solos from him in TEB. The discography of later TEB recordings is a minefield; for a longish overview of all Dobson’s recording with TEB look on my Amazon.co.uk review of the TEB album Exorcisms (a very good album it is too) under the snappy title 'Crystal clear archive recordings from 1988/1989'.
    Really liked Dobson in the Live In Paris ORTF broadcast.

    Actually that messy "minefield" doesn't help really in my assessment ... This is even messier than High Tide's discography in the same years, to the point that one can imagine that a lot of them releases could be exploitation albums for both bands. But given the profile of both bands, the exploitation was probably not monetary.


    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Thanks Munster for providing the information about the ridiculously impenetrable 80s/90s TEB discography. Different albums with the same title. Check. Same song with different title. Check. Recording dates omitted from many packages. Check! On and on. This will be helpful as I try to complete my collection.

    I bought the Gonzo 80s/90s releases when they came out and they are very good, musically. Exorcisms is the best. I agree that the 80s/90s should not be discounted and that Lyn Dobson adds an interesting new, er, element, to the sound of the band.
    I did check them out when available through my library system, but indeed, lack of information led me to wonder WTF was going on.

    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    BTW I stumbled across some of Lyn's recent work on bandcamp. I think it appeared as a recommended link when I bought Zopp. I had no idea he was still active.
    https://markhewins.bandcamp.com/albu...on-mark-hewins
    definitely will check that out tomorrow (it's 1AM)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Member Munster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    I stumbled across some of Lyn's recent work on bandcamp. I think it appeared as a recommended link when I bought Zopp. I had no idea he was still active.
    Thanks for the information on Dobson’s Bandcamp music. As far as I can determine, this is the first music available from him for about 30 years (in which time he has learned to play the sitar)! Welcome news.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Really liked Dobson in the Live In Paris ORTF broadcast.
    The Soft Machine in Paris DVD is great. I have never been able to find out why Dobson left Soft Machine after only about five months. Robert Wyatt admits in his biography ‘Different Every Time’ that Dobson was a ‘very interesting player’ but ‘was on another planet’. He was apparently more interested in playing Indian ragas (which he did in subsequent recordings with TEB) than in tricky time signatures. In the notes in ‘Breda Reactor’, Brian Hopper says that although Dobson ‘brought some added “colour” to Soft Machine, it was of a “shade” not entirely appreciated by some members of the band and he departed after the extensive French tour of February and March 1970’.

    True enough, harmonica solos did not really fit in with the whole Soft Machine ethos, but perhaps someone could have had a firm word with him rather get rid of him entirely. But that was not the way things were done in those days.
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

  15. #15
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    Thanks for the information on Dobson’s Bandcamp music. As far as I can determine, this is the first music available from him for about 30 years (in which time he has learned to play the sitar)! Welcome news.
    Well the link given is actually Hewins' BC, not Dobson
    Maybe Dobson has his own BC.


    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    The Soft Machine in Paris DVD is great. I have never been able to find out why Dobson left Soft Machine after only about five months. Robert Wyatt admits in his biography ‘Different Every Time’ that Dobson was a ‘very interesting player’ but ‘was on another planet’. He was apparently more interested in playing Indian ragas (which he did in subsequent recordings with TEB) than in tricky time signatures. In the notes in ‘Breda Reactor’, Brian Hopper says that although Dobson ‘brought some added “colour” to Soft Machine, it was of a “shade” not entirely appreciated by some members of the band and he departed after the extensive French tour of February and March 1970’.

    True enough, harmonica solos did not really fit in with the whole Soft Machine ethos, but perhaps someone could have had a firm word with him rather get rid of him entirely. But that was not the way things were done in those days.
    Well I seem to remember (from my readings) than the 7-piece Machine line-up for Third was not viable financially, but I suppose that the 5-piece (once Charig & Evans left) wasn't either.
    So my guess is that he was shown the door for musical reasons, but probably the financial aspect played just as much a role into it.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  16. #16
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Alchemy, Elements and Music from MacBeth.

    Not this one here.
    Yup those are the three I have.
    Ian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Well the link given is actually Hewins' BC, not Dobson
    Maybe Dobson has his own BC.
    The link I provided points directly to a 2020 duo album by Lyn Dobson and Mark Hewins. It works correctly AFAICT. It should be of interest to TEB fans. Very similar in spirit.

  18. #18
    It is an album that does not work very well as a Third Ear Band recording, especially while considering that it has been recorded close to Macbeth (which is their peak along with Elements).
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  19. #19
    Member Monet's Avatar
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    In spite of the fact that "The Magus" is a posthumous release, an overwhelming charm that flows from the record has made me love these songs in a similar way that I adore Popol Vuh from the mid to second half of the seventies. All the beauties of Third Ear Band are actually still on "The Magus". Paul Minns' oboe still resonant with a medieval craft of an antique history. Simon House's VCS3 is gorgeous as music gets and reliable rhythmic occuring from Glen Sweeney's drum set is also there. Just listen to wondrously violin on thoroughly modern "I the Key" and that beautiful recorder work in "The Hierophant". An uncanny usage of vocals on the title track is quite strong and results in a surreal atmosphere, timely allowed so gracefully to recital upon an old-world elegance of "The Phoenix".
    The album booklet is excellent as it has a definite history of the band and some nice interviews.
    A brilliant, though an underrated album.

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    sometimes one posts makes it all worthy.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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