Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#738 in the Series) is Roger Powell, Air Pocket
One of my favourites Sunday morning pastimes is the ¨catch-an-obscure-and-great lp¨ from the sales bin…
Buenos Aires is fascinating in this respect: a big city, music lovers everywhere, lots of people with a great insight in local and foreign artists… Sometimes, something beautiful emerges from those dusty used lp´s bins
And this one is a real gem… From the sleeve´s art (some distorted and pixelated video image), to the assorted keyboard juggernaut, the album screams 1980. Not 1979, not 1983. 1980.
Why? Well… in my subconscious, the period 1980/1981-82 was the epitome of the purest eighties zeitgeist: modernity without mannerism… and a lot of the rest was… well, ¨eighties stuffs¨ (you know, MTV pose, neoromanticism, hairdos, transvestites et al)
And here, Powell plays with all sort of late seventies-early eighties stuff: Cromenco (?) digital to analogue, Moogs, Arps, assorted talk boxes and the infamous Johns-Manville 9´ transite sewer pipe…
Some foggy lady called Jane was credited as inspiring muse; Todd Rundgren makes an e-bow guitar solo: Powell was the keyboard driving force of Utopia in a lot of the band albums, so the collaboration was a bona-fide one…
Modern, if such a term has any kind of relevance in the context of a music review.
The rich texture of analogue synthesizers reveals itself nicely in the vinyl format; the old and classy Shure m97he extract every bit of detail from the grooves with addictive precision, and I´m transported to 1980 in a slow motion, 33 1/3 rpm time machine.
Sometimes –not a surprise- it sounds a bit like Utopia (In fact, some of these songs have appeared on Utopia albums)… Sometimes it sounds like an eerie cross feed between King Crimson and Tangerine Dream; but most of the time the album reveals itself as an original, predating the French duo Air, and other synth revivalists of similar ilk: the emphasis is in textures and rhythm, in surprise and colour.
Yes, there are a few moments of genuine virtuosism here and there, but that´s not the point in such an album: this is not Keith Emerson territory (though I like that a lot…), and this is not prog rock in the guise of lengthy compositions or baroque fioritures.
Here you have a sample of genuine proto-electronica (well, not so ¨proto¨, taking in context that 1980 was, definitely, a modern year)
Does any of you remember that old UFO British TV series? …Cultish stuff, filmed in 1973 or so, but depicting a not-so-distant future whose exact temporal coordinates were the in the year nineteen eighty?
Well, if any of you remember that, this Roger Powell album would make an excellent soundtrack for the existential sci-fi ramblings of that era.
All songs written and composed by Roger Powell.
- “Lunar Plexus”
- “Air Pocket”
- “Emergency Splashdown”
- “Morning Chorus”
- “March Of The Dragonslayers”
- “Sands of Arrakis”
- “Dragons “N’ Griffins/Mr Triscuits Theme”
- Roger Powell – synthesizer, keyboards, producer
- Mark Styles – keyboards
- John Holbrook – rhythm guitar, engineer
- Cleve Pozar – drums
- Todd Rundgren – guitar
- Mark Styles – keyboards