Ramses — La Leyla / Eternity Rise
(Sky CD 32, 1978/1993, CD)
by Mike Ohman, Published 1995-03-01
This CD release collects the first two of three albums by this German band led by brothers Winfried (keyboards) and Norbert (guitar) Langhorst. The band's music is in the spacy symphonic mould, comparable perhaps to Eloy or other mid-to-late-70s German bands, but these albums are better than most of the Eloy that I've heard — and I've heard lots of Eloy — I think because Ramses is a bit more original and has more sonic variety. The band's debut, La Leyla, was co-produced by "sound-wizard" Conny Plank and Jane guitarist Klaus Hess. With this release, they have already proven themselves more sophisticated than Jane. Winfried's keyboards act as the sort of musical significator, shimmering analog synth leads placed atop whirling Hammond organ and rich Mellotron/Stringensemble pillows. Drummer Reinhard Schroeter nimbly adapts to the shifting tempos, while Norbert's guitar emanates from the sonic keyboard sea with wailing solos. Herbert Natho is the vocalist, his range is mostly low- to mid-range tenor, but his voice can occasionally get surprisingly high. You may like him or you may not; he's never especially annoying, though, and I can't think of anyone to compare him to. He simply doesn't sound like anyone else but himself. On occasion (as on "Someone Like Me" or the title song from La Leyla), he is joined by Winfried singing harmony, who possesses a ghostly, quasi-female falsetto. This adds to the dark, minor-chorded tone of the album.
Eternity Rise begins unremarkably with the string-laden ballad "City Life." But soon we're treated to more rhythmically/melodically refined fare as "Only Yesterday" and the instrumental "Agitation Play," which are easily as good as anything from the first album. In fact, the eleven-minute title song may well be the band's finest of all, the motival organ-led finale is truly breathtaking. In all, this is a highly worthwhile purchase for those who enjoy Novalis, Grobschnitt, Eloy et al. Ramses are easily on a par with their peers and helped pave the way for bands like Epidaurus and Anyone's Daughter. They didn't deserve to be as overlooked as they were.
Related artist(s): Ramses
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more