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Journey To The Centre Of The Eye

Nektar - Journey To The Centre Of The Eye ©1971 Bellaphon
1. Prelude
2. Astronaut's Nightmare
3. Countenance
4. The Nine Lifeless Daughters Of The Sun
5. Warp Oversight
6. The Dream Nebula (Part 1)
7. The Dream Nebula (Part 2)
8. It's All In The Mind
9. Burn Out My Eyes
10. Void Of Vision
11. Pupil Of The Eye
12. Look Inside Yourself
13. Death Of The Mind

This album was the debut release for a group of very unusual musicians from Germany. Nektar is a group that has a tremendous impact on my musical tastes when I "discovered" them while in college. Long before the advent of "space rock" came this album of space rock that wasn't really space rock. I don't quite know how else to describe it.

The album was a concept disc, as were almost all of Nektar's. It involved a journey of sorts, but it was not a journey to outer space. Rather it was a very introspective album dealing with "inner space", if you will. The album was an experiment and Nektar pulled it off with style and flair. The album, as with the first five or so albums from Nektar, is comprised of one song. On this particular album, that one song is divided into thirteen movements.

The group was made up of consummate musicians. They brought a lot of talent to the table when they sat down to compose their work. They made use of the organ and heavy rhythm guitar work as the foundation for much of their music. On top of this they built using keyboards for atmosphere, wonderful vocal melodies, and a very involved lead with the guitar and keys taking turns. In many ways they reminded me of early Uriah Heep, but they went places and directions that Uriah Heep never ventured in. There are lengthy musical passages built around verse, chorus, verse, chorus styled vocal compositions. The thing that struck me most was the attention paid to the atmosphere of the music and the repeated themes they'd have running through the different cuts.

Journey to the Centre of the Eye was a phenomenal release considering it was a debut album, a concept album, and a major leap into the unexplored realms of progressive rock. It still amazes me when I listen to it today, and it will certainly please fans of progressive rock and metal alike.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 03/2001

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A Tab In The Ocean

Nektar - A Tab In The Ocean ©1972 Bellaphon
1. A Tab In The Ocean
2. Desolation Valley
3. Waves
4. Crying In The Dark
5. King Of Twilight

Nektar were a German progressive rock band. They were the top shelf in the 1970s and have influenced a lot of progressive rock and metal bands in the ensuing years. Iron Maiden covered "King Of Twilight" on their Powerslave double reissue disc. In my opinion, there has never since been a band of their caliber. I'm sure many would disagree with me, but it is my opinion that Nektar was the best progressive rock band to ever record a session. They fell somewhere between the bizarre music of Magma and the furthest reaching of bands like Genesis, Yes and Kansas.

A Tab In The Ocean has been my favorite Nektar album since I first heard it in college in 1979. I always enjoyed the humor that you could find on the sleeve notes. It helped give the impression that Nektar had a great deal of fun producing their music. That sense of fun carried over into their song writing which was always exploring new themes.

A Tab In The Ocean was one of my first experiences with songs that took up an entire side of a vinyl record album. The opening wash of the waves and the organ coming up in the background would sweep the listener away on a wonderful musical journey. It was a profound impact on my musical tastes. This was not bland stuff for those with short attention spans. This was not music that explained itself to you so that you didn't need to work to access it. In other words, it was not the stuff that passed as music then, fodder for the mindless masses. What it was, and still is, was complex, atmospheric, epic, far-reaching music that made me work to apprehend its depth and breadth. Like Journey to the Centre of the Eye before it, and Remember the Future after, A Tab In The Ocean was a concept disc. It was one song in five movements. The concept was grand and the execution was flawless.

The songs flow one into another tied together by repeated themes. The use of the organ is heavy throughout with a steady quick guitar rhythm that was the hallmark of Nektar's sound over their first four albums. The vocal melodies are wonderful featuring some great harmony. The band always played as a unit, never allowing the solos to become grandiose or detract from the song as a whole.

The albums have all recently been re-released on CD. Sadly, the tapes used to master the CDs were not the same tapes used to master the LPs. The loss of sound quality is noticeable if you've ever heard the vinyl. I do not know if there are plans to correct the poor quality of the CD releases. However, as a diehard Nektar fan, I can tell you that I'd rather have the CDs I now have than have none at all. I just wish the liner notes had been reproduced for the CDs as well. A small loss, in the long run.

Fans of progressive rock a la Peter Gabriel era Genesis, early Kansas, Close to the Edge era Yes and similar music will want to look up the discs from Nektar and hear progressive rock at its finest. It simply does not get any better than this.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 03/2001

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Remember The Future

Nektar ©1973 Bellaphon
1. Remember The Future (part 1)
2. Remember The Future (part 2)

Remember the Future was the pinnacle of Nektar's career. The one song is in two parts simply because it could not fit on one side of a vinyl record album. This album represents the deepest epic delving for the band. After this release, the songs grew shorter, though no less deep and meaty.

The song on this disc has a tremendous amount of music in it, not due solely to its great length. The composition was very involved. The chorus features the driving organ/guitar mix that Nektar perfected. The themes that get repeated are spaced by wonderfully varied and rich musical interludes. The mood swings from a screaming frenetic pace to hushed stills and back. The focus never changes, however. The theme is carried in two parts. The first: "Having visited the planet many times before Bluebird had always found that people he met couldn't accept him for what he was rather than how he looked with his blue skin and wings they either ran away from him or tried to harm him. He makes mental contact with a young blind boy and tells him stories of past and future in the form of visions and amongst these visions he places a picture of himself. The boy is not disturbed by the visions but confused by all that Bluebird tells him." The second: "Bluebird decides to give the boy new eyes. The boy realizes now who his friend is. He asks questions and makes suggestions and in turn receives from Bluebird wisdom and the answer to every question. Bluebird then departs knowing that his message had at last been heard."

For those who like long, complex compositions, this progressive rock offering will certainly fit the bill. Part one clocks in at sixteen and three quarter minutes and part two at nineteen minutes. The length of the tracks gave Nektar the opportunity to throw in every ounce of their considerable musical talent. The songs explore territory well beyond the "safe" boundaries of what was then 'contemporary' rock music. Certain hints of what was to come on Down To Earth are present in the jazzier sections of the songs. The heavier moments give a nod to the first two albums.

Those who wish to give Nektar a listen need to start with A Tab In The Ocean and this CD. Progressive rock just doesn't get any better.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 03/2001

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