Exposé Online banner

Ars Nova — Ars Nova
(Sundazed SC 6207, 1968/2004, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2005-03-01

Ars Nova Cover artIf 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 set 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 of 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.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 31, 2004 releases, 1968 recordings

Related artist(s): Ars Nova

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

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 Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Secret Oyster - Vidunderlige Kælling – While listening to this album, I find myself often comparing it to Camel’s Snow Goose. For one thing, there is a certain stylistic similarity, as they are both keyboard-centric instrumental rock...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues