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

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Glass Hammer - The Inconsolable Secret – One could arguably claim that this release finds American prog band Glass Hammer at the top of their game, which probably explains the scope of this effort. First of all, it s a two-disk set in a...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues