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

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Michael Mantler / Edward Gorey - The Hapless Child and Other Inscrutable Stories – It's a rare project that extracts elements of the written word and transfers them eloquently to an audio performance. Composer/trumpet player Michael Mantler's first major success with this...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues