Ars Nova — Ars Nova
(Sundazed SC 6207, 1968/2004, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2005-03-01
If you name your band “Ars Nova” you have to be: a) Serious Artists; b) Sarcastic reactionaries; c) Into psychedelic drugs; or d) Japanese. It’s Latin, for goodness sake, and means “New Art.” This particular manifestation, hailing from New England in the late 60s, is probably type a and possibly a bit of c. But in 1968, it was okay to be a Serious Artist, so Ars Nova ended up on Elektra with support to record an ambitious album of psychedelic rock. Prominent use of trombone and trumpet sets the band apart from the run of rock bands of their (or any) era. They also borrowed liberally from Classical music, either directly by adaptation or stylistically, using guitar and organ parts reminiscent of eras from Baroque to Romantic. Badly done, such things could be disastrous, but in this case the result is almost universally successful. The Beatles had used trumpet (think “Penny Lane”) and here was a band with two trained brass players as members, and no need to hire outside musicians. In additional to the Classical shadings, there are elements of West Coast country rock and vaudevillian swagger, which makes for a unique whole. It holds together amazingly well due to the sophistication of the writing and imagination in the arrangements. Management and label difficulties left this outstanding album without the backing it deserved, and the band only recorded one other (with different personnel for a different label) before dispersing. Lovers of elaborate psych, don’t miss this one.
Related artist(s): Ars Nova
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more
SKiN GRAFT Records’ Mark Fischer states that “The Chicago vs New York compilation is an album in its own right… and not just some sort of a label sampler. Most of the songs on the compilation are exclusive to it." Thymme Jones of Cheer-Accident says of "War Is a Warrior," " It’s definitely not going to be on the next Cheerax album.”
We'll have a review of Chicago vs New York in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes out for that.