Friday, May 25, 2007

FM-Black Noise,LP,1977,Canada

R1: FM is yet another band that has been unfairly relegated to the far corners of the prog rock niche, which is too bad - this 1977 release is a great example of highly melodic and synth heavy progressive rock. In a manner similar to another much more famous prog band from Canada, FM is a trio. The three musicians on this album include Cameron Hawkins (synthesizers, Rickenbacker bass guitar, piano, and lead voice); Martin Deller (Drums, percussion, and synthesizers) and "Nash the Slash" (electric violins and mandolin, glockenspiel, vocals, and effects). All of the musicians are very good and really crank out some tight performances. There are eight tracks on the album that range in length from 2'36" to 9'55". Overall, this is well written and performed progressive rock that sounds a great deal like the prog band England, not to mention UK (especially their Danger Money album from 1979). Melodies and harmonies abound, and synthesizer use is very heavy. In fact, there are points where a low frequency left hand synth bass line is used in place of the real bass guitar. As a bassist, I like to hear the bass guitar, but then again the synth bass lines are not too bad. The vocals are excellent and work well with the predominantly upbeat nature of the music. Although many of the songs have vocals, there are some excellent instrumentals as well and include the fantastic jazz-rockish piece Hours that features excellent soloing on the violin, mini-moog, and drums. The other instrumentals include Dialing for Dharma and the excellent Slaughter in Robot Village. The instrumental Dialing for Dharma is pretty interesting and starts off with a pulsating synth line that would not be out of place on an album by electronic composer Larry Fast. Slaughter in Robot Village is very different and features some great sounding Rickenbacker bass lines - my only wish is that this instrument had been used throughout. The 9'55" closing title track Black Noise is a very interesting piece that ranges from thunderous "tribal" drumming to spacey electric violin leads, and is a personal favorite. I guess that my only complaint is that the piece Black Noise ends so abruptly- the ending literally comes out of nowhere. Ah well. All in all, this is a great album that is recommended to all fans of melodic progressive rock.

R2:A great album from Cameron Hawkins, Martin Deller and Nash the Slash. Three extrmely talented and individual musicians combined their talents for a classic, one-of-a-kind progressive album. It's vintage 70's sounds but the tracks are very melodic and tuneful. Martin Deller is a world-class drummer and contributes the excellent composition Hours, whcih includes a terrific (and mercifully short) drum solo that will impress. There's a blend on this album of pop, fusion and prog rock, and the production is great. Cameron has an excellent voice and Nash is also doing some backups and plays electric mandolin, which is a string instrument so don't worry that there's no guitar, he's a master and you won't miss it. Dialing for Dharma is a pure fusion tune with a very catchy melody and great violin work by Nash the Slash. Slaughter, Alderbaran and Black Noise are not the best cuts on the album, but they are ambitious extended compositions that really didn't succeed as well as the rest of the material, but still have lots of power and cool synth textures. Martin Deller's drumming is a real standout throughout the album.

R3:This is the first record from FM. It is their most progressive one! This record reminds me many progressive artists, although FM is absolutely unique, since Nash the Slash brilliantly uses electric mandolin and electric violin: the electric mandolin brilliantly replaces the electric guitars, which I am still not convinced they are not present on this record. The masked musician plays charming & delicate glockenspiel melodies too. The keyboards are very varied and modern for the year: there are excellent moog solos, a bit like Anyone's Daughter (Adonis) and Camel circa "Moonmadness". The drums are EXCELLENT, never dull: there is an impressive short drum solo. The OUTSTANDING lead & backing vocals are absolutely catchy, and they have nothing to envy from the Yes band. The less catchy "Black Noise" track, a bit more experimental, has some good floating New Age and techno keyboards reminding a mellow part on the IQ's "Tales from the lush attic" album, and it has a really killer bass sound a la Chris Squire. The bass, violins and drums on "Slaughter in the robot village" have some PFM influences, and the keyboards sound a bit like ELP or Triumvirat. The intro of "Aldeberan" sounds a bit like Alan Parson's "Sirius". This progressive album is fer sure among the best ones of 1977.

Some may say:"h,mutantsounds turned mainstream".....i was thinking much before posting this,it really sounds very mainstream sometimes,almost AOR.But a more carefull listen made me understand that here we have 3 excellent musicians,terrific prog composition,especially great synth lines and Nas the Slash electric guitar /mantolin solos make it pretty weird for a mainstream record...and i said to myself ,what the hell,at least it's worth here it is

get it here


RisingRunner said...

Any Nash the Slash is always a good thing !


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this incredible album!
Having been a fan of UK(i/e Wetton/Jobson etc) your post caugfht my attention.
Id like to describe this album as a very dynamic, lush semi-prog gem. Although you dont really have the incredible over the top performances of Allen Holdsworth and Bill Bruford, what you do get is nice synth bass lines, punchy rock drumming and a tad more of the romantic prog feel of Wind and Wuthering Genesis.Lots of string synth something I have always loved.
I cant believe I have never heard this gem before. Superb release.
People take a listen this is a top notch album with very good musicianship. Vocals do however sound a bit like a younger John Wetton.

Tom said...

An antipodal view, one from an ardent fan of Mutant Sounds who cleaves to the, er, far-left, aggressively avant side of the paradigmatic fence: in my very humble opinion, this album is extraordinarily cheesy, almost unlistenable.

Having noted my biases and these related, surface reactions, allow me to aver than the cheese is very tasty indeed! Roadkill Gouda with flecks of night soil... Yum!

If you're gonna have to offer us prog, let it either be suffused with rigor, or FM-esque. Aerosol cheddar rocks!

joisymikes said...

To prove it's radio friendly pedigree, I came to own this album by way of airplay on the Long Island, New York radio station WBAB.

class of '79, st.charles high school, illinois said...

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. Finally found this. Been searching for this album for years to no avail. Was in high school when my older brother bought Black Noise in '78 in the era of synthesizer kits, Jean-Luc Ponty, Giorgio Moroder, Rick Wakeman, CB radios and fiery Ford Pintos. Speaking of fire, FM got burned in to my psyche and I largely forgot about it until I bought my first iPod in 2004 and started to search the web for some of the classic musical memories of my youth. "I know you...I know your face."

Sweet nostalgia rooted by timeless talent.

V ! said...

Ive been listening to UK's Danger Money album from 1979 for a while. I simply love it! I always wonder about albums of melodic prog rock (or even hard rock) full of synths that were a bit of late of prog genre but fused into something very enjoyable (at least for me)! This is another great example! Thank you for this and CRAFT (1983) post! Another recommendations from mutant sounds realm!

Nothing to loose (Danger money 1979) clip here