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Secret Oyster: Vidunderlige Kaelling (Reissue)

The esteemed Lasers Edge label relaunches its reissue series with Vidunderlige Kaelling, the first of six titles to be reissued from the heralded Danish jazz-rock ensemble Secret Oyster a collaborative featuring former members of Burnin' Red Ivanhoe, Coronarias Dans and Hurdy Gurdy. Vidunderlige Kaelling, Secret Oyster's third album (originally released in 1976 in the United States as Astarte), is the musical accompaniment to an erotic ballet of the same name that is based on the poetry of Jens August Schade. "This was still possible in the mid-70s," sax man Karsten Vogel writes in the informative liner notes. The ballet production which featured nude dancers, including the arresting cover image of Vivi Flindt apparently garnered mixed reviews at the time. And even Vogel admits that "many of the individual scenes smacked of revue, the spiritual nature was not abundantly clear and all the performers on stage were not of the same standard."

Nevertheless, this music will appeal to fans of Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever although listeners of mood-stirring instrumental progressive fusion in general will find plenty to like here. Vidunderlige Kaelling starts out calmly enough, with the orchestral "Intro" and the delicate and spacey majesty of "Stjernerne Pa Gaden." But on "Sirenerne," the five members of Secret Oyster show off some of the funk-rock stylings that had some critics comparing them to Miles Davis' band, circa Bitches Brew. "Astarte," with its Middle Eastern swirls set against more Davis-fueled inspiration, is the album's centerpiece (and vaguely recalls prime-period Yes), while "Solitude" is essentially a solo piano piece. "Outro" opens with ominous Moog and string synths before climaxing with a fluttery finale. Three previously unreleased bonus tracks also come from the ballet, although one ("Circus Sax") was recorded for the performance but never used. They fit in well next to the original album's material.

This is a subtly challenging and beautiful work that stands in jarring contrast to the creepy (and arguably non-erotic) cover. Thanks to Lasers Edge, many listeners will now be able to hear Vidunderlige Kaelling and other Secret Oyster albums Sea Son, Straight to Krankenhaus and the self-titled album are due next for the first time.

Track Listing:
1) Intro
2) Stjernerne Pa Gaden
3) Sirenerne
4) Astarte
5) Solitude
6) Tango-Bourgoisie
7) Bellevue
8) Valse du Soir
9) Outro
10) Sleep Music (Bonus Track)
11) Circus Sax (Bonus Track)
12) Intro to Act II (Bonus Track)

Added: November 28th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: The Lasers Edge
Hits: 3923
Language: english

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Secret Oyster: Vidunderlige Kaelling (Reissue)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-11-28 07:06:52
My Score:

One of fusion's best kept secrets? Perhaps. The third album from Secret Oyster is now on the receiving end of a long time coming reissue treatment thanks to The Lasers Edge. This Danish progressive fusion ensemble released Vidunderlige Kaelling in 1976 as the soundtrack to a ballet that was running at the time. The result is a dreamy mix of progressive rock and fiery jazz-fusion, music that should appeal to any fan who dug the sounds of the 70's from bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Passport, Weather Repoort, Transit Express, Iceberg, and mid-period Soft Machine.

Layers of funky Moog,Clavinet, and Fender Rhodes meet up with biting electric guitar and squonking horns on the pulsating "Sirenerne", while other tracks like "Astarte" and "Sleep Music" recall some of the dark and ominous power of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. In fact, that is one of the charms of this album, the struggle between jazzy funk and dark progressive fusion. It makes for a varied sound from track to track, and the insertion of many blistering solos from all the members makes for an exciting listen.

Now, while we wait patiently for the rest of the Secret Oyster catalog to get released on CD, time to hit that replay button...

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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