This is a monumental 3 CD collection of all the recorded works of long forgotten Austrian prog band Kyrie Eleison. The bands classic release, 1976's The Fountain Beyond the Sunrise, was marred by excessive distortion during the recording process, and fans have longingly hoped for a remaster release. While the sound has been cleaned up a bit here, it's still by no means perfect, but there's no denying the powerful progressive rock that the band wrote and performed for the album. Included also in the box set is the 1974 album The Blind Window Suite, and a never before released live set from 1975. While the bands line-up changed a bit over the years, the sound stayed pretty much the same-symphonic, keyboard drenched progressive rock, with more than a casual reference to Genesis and Yes. A Mellotron lovers delight!
The Blind Windows Suite kicks off Disc One, a rousing mix of prog, fusion, and classical themes. Keyboard player Gerald Krampi (who, along with drummer Karl Novotny were the only two mainstays throughout most of the bands history) churned out some symphonic keyboards underneath the distorted guitar leads of Felix Rausch on the opening instrumental "Ouverture." Singer Wolfgang Wessely comes in on the next number, the haunting "Autumn Evening." Wessely's voice is very indicative of many of the German prog singers from the same era, and can be a little grating at times. Judging by the photos, he looks like he was into the Peter Gabriel thing with masks and costumes, which must have been cool to see live. On the rocking "Thoughts on a Gloomy Day", the band churns out a more complex piece, much like a supercharged Van Der Graaf Generator, with Wessely's voice sounding very much like Peter Hammill and Krampi's organ reigning supreme. They continue on in this direction with "Man is a Wanderer", a 7-minute, dark piece of violent imagery, with ripping guitars and lyrics dealing with man's inability to change the course of the world. "A Friend" hints at vintage Genesis, with muscular bass, piano, organ, and powerful arrangements that recall the intensity of "The Knife." The band mixes in their fusion chops on the rollicking "June", with guitars dueling with the organ, while Novotny flails away on the drums. "Daydream" is more in a hard rock mode, ala Deep Purple, Bloodrock, or Uriah Heep, featuring muscular guitar riffs and rampaging organ. The lyrics to this one are quite bizarre: "One day I sat alone on a stone, and I had to pour strange brew. She was in my brain." Not sure what that is about, but the music is top-notch nontheless. Another great epic, "Get Me Out (Part I & II)" is up next, with obscure lyrics that I'm still trying to figure out, but aggressive guitar work, cynical vocals, and symphonic keys. At 16-minutes, this one keeps building and changing with drama and tempo changes. The last two pieces, "Climbing" and "Winter Train" are dark, moody numbers featuring tons of haunting organ and tortured vocals, and each clock in at over 7-minutes. Of the three CD's in this collection, this one has the most to digest, as it practically maxes out the given length of the medium.
Disc Two, containing the Live 1975 material, kicks off with the epic 30-minute track "A Pane of Glass", a symphonic gem of prog bliss, featuring jangly guitars, organ, Mellotron, and an overall Yes vibe. "Glass People" has some ominous Mellotron and ripping guitar leads, sounding like a cross between Wishbone Ash and early Moody Blues. There's also an early working of "Out of Dimension" , later to appear on The Fountains Beyond the Sunrise, a neat keyboard solo piece, and the bouncy rocker "Get Ready Eddy." While the sound quality is not the greatest, the performances are top notch.
The show-stopper is of course Disc Three's The Fountain Beyond the Sunrise. This album probably is in every vintage prog fan's collection, but as I mentioned above, the sound is a bit clearer on this remaster. Wessely had been replaced at this point by singer Michael Schubert, who had a voice very similar to Peter Gabriel, and with an extra dollup of Mellotron, this album had a very heavy Genesis feel to it. "Out of Dimension" has lots of passionate vocals, searing guitar leads from new axe-player Manfred Drapela, and loads of heaping Mellotron. Things get a bit more pastoral on the epic title track, a four part gem that throws every signature prog idea at the listener, much like the Genesis classic "Supper's Ready." The vocals of Schubert are very theatrical here, and he is surrounded by acoustic and electric guitars, flutes, organ, synths, pounding bass, and nimble percussion. Things go from mellow acoustic interludes to raging complex rave-ups throughout this piece at the drop of a hat, showing that this band really improved with this new line-up. The remaining tracks are all epics on their own, "Forgotten Words" a mellow, piano led piece, "Lenny" a 16-minute complex rocker that lets bassist Norbert Norin test his skills, and the closing aura of "Mounting the Eternal Spiral." This piece is the most interesting of the bunch, as it includes the creepiest Mellotron waves you'll ever hear, plus some fantastic Moog noodlings to go along with the ripping guitar and bass lines. One interesting note is that this song was recorded at a rehearsal two years after the album came out, with again a different line-up. Unless you read the liner-notes, you wouldn't even hear any differences, as the song fits right in with the rest of the album.
There's hours worth of listening enjoyment here, and plenty of great liner notes of each album, plus band history and photos. While the sound is sub-par at times, and the song writing on the early material leaves a bit to be desired, this is still great stuff. MIO Records has done the prog community proud!