Exposé Online banner

Amber Route — Snail Headed Victrolas
(Projekt Relic R0, 1980/1995, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01

Snail Headed Victrolas Cover art

Amber Route was an electronic / rock duo from southern California featuring Walter Holland on guitars and synthesizers, and Richard Watson on woodwinds, piano, and synthesizers; both share vocal duties. They produced two albums: Snail Headed Victrolas was their first, from 1980, and a second, Ghost Tracks, three years later, with an accompanying maxi-single. I've sometimes heard Amber Route dismissed as a grade-B Tangerine Dream clone with vocals, but that misses the point and certainly overlooks some of the more interesting aspects of their sound. Yes, the TD and Pink Floyd influences are quite strong, as is the influence of Krautrock in general. But where TD stuck mostly to ethereal atmospheric explorations (at least in their early days...), Amber Route has a more raw and onerous intensity to their sound, abrasive at times. The vocals are trademark, often extremely dark and treated, high and low register unison but slightly out of sync. So go the first three tracks, corresponding to the first side of the original LP. The last track — the seventeen minute "Asteroid Jaroid" — is a different matter, a sequenced electronic piece with layered echo guitar and flute/clarinet improvisation, recalling some of Manuel Göttsching's work circa Inventions, though Amber Route's approach is more haunting and foreboding. In all, it's good to finally have this one available on CD.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 11, 1995 releases, 1980 recordings

Related artist(s): Amber Route

Latest news

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more

2017-01-27
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more

2017-01-26
Butch Trucks RIP – Butch Trucks was one of two drummers in the first incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, helping the band achieve its legendary status as an American original. He died on January 24, 2017 of a self-inflicted gunshot would. He was 69. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Lonely China Day - Sorrow – In the midst of all the noise found on the Beijing music scene, where feedback reigns and screaming is preferred to singing, there is one band that stands out from the crowd. Lonely China Day (their...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues