Heyoka — The Spirit of Revelation
(Shroomangel SR-CD0001, 1980/2013, CD / 2LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-02-26Not so long ago in a land called Texas there was a progressive rock band with a strong local following that for whatever reason remained unsigned during all their years together, which was most of the 70s into the early 80s. Although the members of Heyoka changed over the years, lead singer and flutist Michael Grothues and drummer Gerardo Ramirez were there from beginning to end, and the songs on this CD/2LP set were recorded by a consistent five-piece lineup in the latter half of the 1970s that included Dito Garcia (guitars, keys, backing vocals), David Alcocer (guitars, backing vocals), and Pat Hood (bass, backing vocals). One might surmise, from the number of voices in the band, that there are some strong vocal harmonies among many of the tracks here, and many of the lyrics show influence of Native American mysticism, and opening track “Thunderdreamer” even includes a chant and dance of obvious American Indian origin surrounded by gripping progressive rock of the highest order. With two guitarists in the lineup, there are many opportunities for passages featuring side-by-side acoustic and electric. With the singer doubling on flute, some will find comparisons to Jethro Tull, but with the strong harmonies, aggressive guitars and diverse compositions, the most relevant references might be classic Kansas, pre-pop Styx, and early James Gang, with a percussive power that occasionally recalls Santana’s more rock element. One of the most impressive things about The Spirit of Revelation is that the sound and mastering from track to track is very consistent, even though the sources of the recordings span a period of several years. To avoid any confusion, about ten years ago there was a limited release titled The Lost Heyoka Recordings, which was pretty much a raw representation of all the band’s demos from this period. Those tracks are included here on this latest release in remastered form along with a few more. All taken, this is an impressive release by a band that deserved far greater recognition in their day.
Related artist(s): Heyoka
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more