Socrates — Phos
(Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2287, 1976/2011, CD)
by Mike Ohman, Published 1995-11-01
This is the third (apparently) and best-known release by this obscure (outside Greece, anyway) Greek band. This album was made famous by guest-keyboardist Vangelis. And while it's true that this fact probably is the reason most anyone would want to buy this album, it actually has much to recommend it by itself. As two members play guitar, you might guess correctly that Socrates is a guitar-based band. But Socrates are an intelligent enough band to know the importance of texture. In their use of layers of acoustic and electric guitars with one electric guitar playing lead, they may remind of certain Scandinavian bands (Aunt Mary, Errs Pink). But Socrates' use often has an undercurrent of flamenco or Middle Eastern music, which gives it a distinctive flavor. What is more, the lead guitar is often entirely free of distortion and with little reverb, giving it a very "clean" sound. Only on the seven-minute "Mountains" do they indulge in extended guitar-soloing. While the solo (cadenza really) takes up the bulk of the piece, it certainly sounds like few guitar solos I have ever heard. It reminds me of the instrumental passage of King Crimson's "Moonchild" arranged for guitar, or perhaps John McLaughlin in a mellow mood. All tracks but one have vocals, which are rather evocative of a number of Italian bands and aren't terribly distracting. The best song is also the most out-of-character, the dreamy, synth-heavy instrumental "Every Dream Comes to an End," not surprisingly the only track co-penned by Vangelis. If you're a Vangelis completist, you will buy this album, that much I know. It's also useful for filling in the "Greece" slot for those of you going on your prog rock 'round the world tour. But while it's not a classic, it does have worth, and is quite rewarding.
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more