Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Between - And the Waters Opened

Between
And the Waters Opened


Released 1973 on Vertigo
Reviewed by Lascivia, 18/06/2006ce


1. Journey to the Ixtland [BONUS TRACK]
2. And the Waters Opened
3. Uroboros
4. Syn
5. Devotion
6. Happy Stage
7. Samum
8. Kalenda Maya [BONUS TRACK]
9. Former Times [BONUS TRACK]

Cotch Black - percussion
Roberto C. Détrée - guitar, motocello, adapted harp
Robert Eliscu - oboe, oboe d'amore
Peter Michael Hamel - keyboards, vocals
Walter Bachauer - electronics
Duru Omson - bamboo flute, percussion, vocals

1973: LP Vertigo 6360 612
1981: LP Wergo Spectrum SM 1014 [REMIXED]
1995: CD Germanofon 941064 [PIRATE]
2006: CD Intuition INT 3602 2

This is one of the classic krautrock albums but let me caveat from the start: this is NOT in the league of "Yeti" or "Tago Mago" or "Neu!" or "Hosianna Mantra", et al. With that in mind, if you like Yatha Sidhra or Deuter or the mellower side of Popol Vuh, this is essential for you. Don't trust just me; this is on the Freeman brothers' top 100 in "The Crack in the Cosmic Egg".

Their music reflects the mix of origins of the members. Eliscu, an American, was both guest soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker and oboist with Popol Vuh. Hamel went from classical composition student to playing synthesiser with Agitation Free. Black, another American, had supported rock artists like Bob Dylan, while the Argentinian Détrée had performed Latin music. Rather than copy foreign folk and classical musics, their orientalisms combined with European classical and avant-garde, resulting in a blend most similar to the Third Ear Band. One should also note the prominent home-made instrument of Détrée's motocello, a single-stringed cello bowed by a motorized wheel, providing unearthly hums that other bands might attempt with electronics.

The sound quality of the recent reissue is impeccable, unlike the distortions present on the old Germanofon pirate. However, the source is probably the Wergo reissue, as there is no acknowledgement anywhere that this originally came out on Vertigo; I have not yet conducted an A/B test against the Germanofon copy. The liner notes are substantial and the bonus tracks, though coming from 1976, are sequenced to flow with the original album. The one minus is that the original Vertigo artwork (shown above) has been replaced!

Listen loud, as it was mastered at low volume, and many details won't present themselves otherwise. (Either that or I'm losing my hearing.)

[ALBUM SPOILER FOLLOWS]

The album proper begins with the second track, the title track. At first, you would be forgiven for thinking this was Michael Rother performing "Im Glück" but with the sliding tone courtesy of the motocello, not the guitar. The tone slides upwards, more insistent, matched by an electronic ocean, lapping, frothing. Both ebb as the congas emerge. Eventually the tide returns, with the rest of the band in tow, all rejoycing as the acoustic guitar gently brings the track to a close.

The oboe leads "Uroboros" in a repeating figure emulating Arabic music. A dense counterpoint (I'm a little confused at this point, as it sounds like the oboe is backing itself, but they did not have multitrack facilities - and from where is the bass sound coming?) builds up only to dissipate into a series of commentary from the other instruments as the oboe continues unabated. "Syn", however, is pure minimalism. Organ filigree elaborates from the inside massive swoops of motocello drone.

The second, more spiritual, side of the LP picks up the pace. "Devotion" is a mantra based around the name "Satchidananda", a swami whose disciples included Allen Ginsburg and Alice Coltrane. As you would guess, this track betrays quite an Indian influence, but is not a raga and dispenses with traditional instrumentation. (The same melody is reused on the side-long title track of their almost-equally classic followup, "Dharana".)

"Happy Stage" plunges deeper into a raga-bliss as the oboe and flute entwine while guitar plays the role of tambura and sitar. Though Hamel cowrote this piece, he seems happy to just provide a few tasteful accents from the piano. The abrupt finish almost runs into the album's finale, "Samum": guitar returns us to Arabia which, after continuation in the oboe, recedes against the howl of cosmic wind.

The first of the closing bonus tracks follows the Hindustani path even closer, with authentic tambura and tabla. "Former Times" is significantly lighter and medieval instead, featuring what sounds like recorder dueting with piano. On the other hand, the opening bonus track is more avant than anything else on the CD, using heavy timpani work, free-improv flailings of the 20th century "classical" variety, and closing with motocello drone that segues right into the beginning of "And the Waters Opened".


Reviews Index