Exposé Online banner

MacArthur — MacArthur (AKA The Black Forest)
(Guerssen Out-Sider OSR044 / OSRCD044, 1979/2016, LP/CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-07-19

MacArthur (AKA The Black Forest) Cover art

I find it very interesting that obscure musical gems continue to surface and be reissued. Case in point is the US garage-prog-psych band MacArthur, who recorded and released an ultra-rare privately pressed LP of 200 copies in 1979. Today Out-Sider Music has released the first ever legitimate vinyl reissue from the master tapes. To give you a bit of band history, a young guitar player and songwriter Ben MacArthur met the 17-year-old prodigy Bill Heffelfinger in Saginaw, Michigan. In addition to being a gifted guitarist, Bill was also a genius arranger and keyboard wizard. Bill took Ben’s songs and transformed them into fully fleshed slabs of progressive rock. To round out the group, they recruited Jeff Bauer (drums) and Scott Stockford (bass). The result is nothing short of amazing, and it is no wonder that collectors have been searching for this album for years. The album consists of eight tracks, evenly split between songs and instrumentals. I detect some Genesis and Italian prog influences and possibly even Quicksilver Messenger Service’s John Cippolina. Most of the songs feature inspired virtuosic guitar solos by Ben. In fact the opening track, “Light Up,” is basically a three minute guitar solo. The five-minute “Laughing Like a Lark” is a two-chord, two-note song with an extended break with sweeping analog synth sine waves and lightning fast guitar work. And there is some similarity with Ben’s vocals to Geddy Lee. The three final tracks are amazing. “The Black Forest” uses fuzzed and Spanish guitars and soaring synths to create a masterpiece. “Prelude No 1 in C Major” showcases both Ben and Bill. The piece begins with Ben on Spanish guitar for almost two minutes and then shifts to Bill on grand piano playing fast keyboard runs, rivaling the master Keith Emerson. And the closing track, “The Shock of the New,” is all keyboards, synths, and piano that build to a majestic piano climax. If you have the opportunity, definitely give this disc a spin.

Filed under: Reissues, 2016 releases, 1979 recordings

Related artist(s): MacArthur

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Homestead & Wolfe - Our Times – Homestead & Wolfe represents an obscure bit of early 70s Bay Area music history. The name refers to the location of the church in Cupertino, California, where this group formed out of a youth...  (2006) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues