Exposé Online banner

Aleph — Surface Tension
(Poor House 600029, 1977/1995, CD)

by Mike Ohman, Published 1997-02-01

Surface Tension Cover art

What a special album this is, a forgotten rarity that truly is something of a lost classic. Aleph, a sextet based in Sydney, were one of the few Australian bands (along with Sebastian Hardie, Airlord, and Rainbow Theater) making a truly symphonic brand of prog. Aleph's unique feature is its dual-keyboard attack, keyboardists Mary Hansen and Mary Jane Carpenter both displaying a clear classical influence. Witness the graceful Bach-like rapidly descending organ motif in "Morning," or Carpenter's delightful piano playing throughout, but especially on "Mountaineer," which sounds as though it could have been from a lost Beethoven piano sonata. And yes, there's just enough Mellotron to send fans of the legendary keyboard instrument into analog rapture. Singer Joe Walmsley has a high-pitched tenor voice, and is often compared to Jon Anderson in style. To me, he sounds more like Trevor Horn, but with a more impressive range and more powerful emotional depth and sweep.

What a pity, then, that this overpriced, obviously bootleg release is all we're likely to see of this outstanding album. I certainly find no fault with the sound, which was faithfully reproduced. The reproduction of the artwork, however, is definitely sub-Germanofon with its single-panel insert. If only Musea or some other comparable label had done this, complete with band history in the insert. Nonetheless, if you can find it, it is an excellent album, definitely worth the high price you'll inevitably have to pay.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 11, 1995 releases, 1977 recordings

Related artist(s): Aleph

Latest news

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Wyatt / Atzmon / Stephen - ...For the Ghosts Within – Canterbury icon Robert Wyatt steps out of his comfort zone with acclaimed sax man Gilad Atzmon in an unusual collection of light orchestral covers of standards (and a few re-arranged Wyatt classics)....  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues