You gotta love this old stuff. And if for some reason you don't, you
certainly have to respect it.
Make no mistake - Mercator Projected is a seriously dated piece of
music and no one could ever convince you that it was released any time in the
last 20 years. But with its clearly experimental, ground breaking and pure fun
characteristics, there's a certain '60s innocence to this music.
After the first song it's plainly obvious that this record was released in
the heat of Woodstock era, and in common with so many artists of that time
there's a big emphasis on the bass. Every track features a prominent, complex
bass line, and "Centaur Woman" has a huge bass solo. Instead of your standard
rock lineup, the driving sounds in most of East Of Eden's music are from a
frantic electric violin, imaginatively played saxophones and an early-rock
bluesy guitar, as well as flute, a sitar, and even a bagpipe. With its frequent
forays into improvisation, the electric violin is the signature sound on this
record, and the clean English vocals are in the style of a Hammill or the early
Cantebury practitioners. There's nothing conventional here and the style of the
music runs from experimental and avant art rock through psychedelic, jazz rock,
and blues-rock with twinges of Middle Eastern influences and the classical
influences of Bartok.
Opening track "Northern Hemisphere" is a ballsy old school blues rock piece,
yet that very English singing and the chaotic violin line make it clear that
this is a far cry from the blues that were the source for its riff and tone.
"Communion" is a relatively straightforward 4 minute piece inspired by a Bartok
string quartet. It is dominated by a relatively simple rhythmic motif on Arbus's
violin, a straightforward violin/flute line, and a beautifully clean vocal duet.
"In The Stable Of The Sphinx" is an 8-minute jam-rock orgy of guitar alto and
tenor and saxes, and that dominant violin. On Eclectic Discs's remastered
version of the CD this song appears twice, with each version showcasing a very
different mix, and the bonus 'demo' version being a full 3 minutes longer.
As always, Eclectic has done a masterful job with this release. It sounds
excellent, there are 3 bonus tracks adding almost 25 minutes of extra music, and
the re-worked and enhanced CD insert is a wonderful retrospective with all of
the original artwork restored and with extensive essays, interviews and photos.
Whether you think the songs here are in the style of Canterbury, art rock,
psych, blues, avant or jazz - the overriding message is that Mercator
Projected is progressive in every sense of that word, and it was very
influential in the definitive stages of that genre.
You ought to own it.
1. Northern Hemisphere (5:03)
2. Isadora (4:19)
3. Waterways (7:00)
4. Centaur Woman (7:09)
5. Bathers (4:57)
6. Communion (4:02)
7. Moth (4:03)
8. In The Stable Of The Sphinx (8:20)