Ars Nova — Sunshine and Shadows
(Collectables COL-CD-6722, 1969/2005, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01A few issues back I reviewed the reissue of Ars Nova’s 1968 first album. Here we have their second and last effort. It takes the baroque-meets-psych sound of the debut and turns a bit more to the psych side. The stately brass interludes are gone, but horns still figure prominently in the mix. There’s some jazzy New Orleans flavor to a couple of the tunes, albeit twisted into a 7/4 vamp on “You Had Better Listen.” It’s all very well written and nicely played, and I have to conclude that only the serious mismanagement that plagued the band (like so many others of the era) kept it from becoming popular. The instrumentalists in the band, featuring trumpet and trombone, really give the music a unique flavor, setting them apart from the multitudes of other American psych bands. Ars Nova might be likened to Ultimate Spinach (but without the overly serious, pretentious lyrics) or later Zombies (though with less emphasis on the keyboards). When they do a tender ballad like “Temporary Serenade,” the acoustic guitar is very lute-like , much more along the lines of classical than folk (like the later work of Jan Akkerman with Focus), and the trumpet descant adds a lovely spice. “Well, Well, Well” is the heaviest rock tune in their repertoire, with a great electric guitar riff and hot organ playing, again set apart by trombone and trumpet. This one is definitely worth seeking out for baroque pop fans.
Related artist(s): Ars Nova
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
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