Supersister can claim to be one of the very first non-British groups to play rock music that was progressive. Although Zappa and Soft Machine were almost certainly big influences, the ironic thing is that the group sounds more like Hatfield and the North or Matching Mole, who didn’t exist until several years after the group recorded their debut album, considered by almost everyone to be their best album. Another irony is that the group basically kept the exact same sound and style on their first four albums, with little experimentation with new sonic possibilities, but of course, those albums were recorded over a pretty short period of time. Supersister’s lineup was keys/vocals, flute, bass, and drums. The lack of a guitarist and dedicated lead vocalist gives their music a very open and spacious quality. The keyboardist sticks to organ most of the time, often with the Canterbury-style distortion, but usually clean. There’s also a lot of electric piano and piano, especially on later albums. The roots of the music are a triumvirate of jazz, pop, and experimentalism, with a significant amount of humor and a whimsical approach. All of the albums sound quite similar to each other, so if you like one, you might as well buy all of them. Basically half of their music is humorous pop music, sometimes with lyrics, and the rest is the progressive instrumental stuff.
Present From Nancy is usually considered to be their best album, and it is a good album. Each side of the album is a long suite of short musical ideas that range from simple to very complex, peaceful to loud and dissonant, and always-changing to very repetitive. The main unifying force is the sound, which leans heavily on organ, and only occasionally does the flute or bass have a very important role. Although I like the album, I can’t really call it the classic that a lot of people do. It starts out great, but by the end, they seem to be resorting to repetitive jamming and noodly instrumentals that aren’t very strong, and already they’re repeating the same stuff that they would end up recycling on subsequent albums.
The last album the group made, Spiral Staircase, was both a return to form and an exploration of new possibilities. It included several whimsical vocal pieces (unlike Iskander) but also marked a turn towards the more avant-garde on a few tracks. The subtle changes in instrumentation on the previous album continued on this one, with the addition of acoustic bass, less reliance on flute (or sax), and very little organ. The end result is an album that’s kind of disjointed but still pretty good.