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

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Agitation Free - Fragments – [Musique Intemporelle edition from 1995] Agitation Free are one of Germany's finest space rock groups, an outfit that launched the careers of many respected musicians like Michael Hoenig, Lutz...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues