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

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
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

2018-07-09
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

2018-07-01
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


Previously in Exposé...

Exclusive Raja - Off the Map – Off the Map is the debut release by a new French band on Musea's Musea Parallele series. Picture if you will a musical blend of Robert Fripp, Richard Pinhas, Alain Markusfeld, and Camel and you...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues