Exposé Online banner

FM — Surveillance
(Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2382, 1979/2013, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 2013-04-01:

Surveillance Cover art For their third album, with violinist Ben Mink now fully integrated into the band, the Canadian trio left the sidelong instrumental suites explored on their second Direct to Disc, and went back to the shorter song format they started with on their debut Black Noise. As before, Cameron Hawkins plays synth, bass and sings lead, while drummer Martin Deller ties it all together. Even though the opener "Rocket Roll" is lyrically a bit on the dorky side, the three song suite that follows ("Orion / Horizons / Random Harvest") is probably among the best things FM ever recorded, each part segueing into the next beautifully, and the superb violin and electric mandolin solos on "Horizons" make it one of FM's most unforgettable tracks. Perhaps the band's best lyrics, dealing with life's end, are heard on "Father Time," and the powerful jazz-informed instrumental section for scat-vocal and violin that follows the refrain illustrates the compositional power of the trio at their very best. "Sofa Back" is a short but spirited instrumental full of difficult twists and turns that recalls Rush's "YYZ," even though Moving Pictures wouldn't appear for another couple years. The closer "Destruction" features another classic space-age sci-fi lyric and some powerful progressive moves, not unlike "Black Noise" from their debut. I would be remiss to not mention their cover of the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" that closed the first side of the original LP, and while I still prefer the original, this version certainly has its merits. For those who aren't yet familiar with FM, this is the one to start with.

by Paul Hightower, 2013-12-09:

Esoteric’s releases of FM’s early albums have been cause for much rejoicing in progdom, since some of the Canadian band’s work hadn’t been available in ages and others never at all. Their celebrated 1977 debut Black Noise lives in most prog fans’ collections, but until now the rest of the discography had been hard to find, unless one wanted to resort to the black market. As for 1979’s Surveillance, following the debut’s success, the band — synth/bass player and singer Cameron Hawkins, drummer Martin Deller, along with new mandolin/violin ace Ben Mink — released the experimental Direct to Disc, which only saw a very limited release. So in some ways Surveillance was the true follow up to Black Noise. Aided again by synthesizer wiz Larry Fast the group delivered a nine-track collection that looks back to Black Noise’s prog rock extravagance (especially on the mini-epics “Seventh Heaven” and “Destruction”) but also attempts to grapple with changing tastes in popular music by kicking things off with the perky rocker “Rocket Roll.” But sci-fi themed, synth-driven prog rock is the prevailing mode here, from the rolling cover of “Shapes of Things” to the 3 Stooges-inspired instrumental “Sofa Back,” and perhaps best realized in the one-two punch of “Orion”/”Horizons.” Its the sort of tight, energetic prog rock fellow countrymen Rush and Saga were also making hay with at the time so maybe it was in the water. But wherever it came from, Candadian prog rock was firing on all cylinders in 1979, as this album proves. Recommended.

Filed under: Reissues , 2013 releases, 1979 releases

Related artist(s): FM, Larry Fast (Synergy)

More info

Latest news

2020-09-09
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

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ken Pedersen - Deja Views – Deja Views is a collection of 12 piano instrumental pieces based upon various classical themes. Many of the tracks are piano solos, and some have wind or string accompaniment. The songs list people...  (1999) » Read more

Förträngt Hushållsarbete - Offret Om Att Älska – It may seem odd that this turns up in our New Releases section – it is definitely not new; fact is that it’s been out there for four years already but hardly anyone (if anyone at all) knew...  (2006) » Read more

Aragon - Mouse – Every time the subject of this Australian neo-progressive three-piece comes up, someone almost immediately says something negative about singer Les Dougan, along with something mildly complementary...  (1996) » Read more

Nattefrost - Absorbed in Dreams and Yearning – Nattefrost (AKA Bjørn Jeppesen, not to be confused with the Norwegian black metal band of the same name) is from Denmark, and the title refers to cosmic electronic music from yesteryear. The...  (2007) » Read more

Uzva - Uoma – One of the best arranged recordings from last year hails from Helsinki, Finland by Uzva, a seven-piece chamber rock act with additional orchestral instrumentation. Comparisons have been drawn to their...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues