This 1972 release is very obscure, even amongst proggers, and I am not quite sure why - this stuff is amazing. The musicians on this album are incredible and include bandleader Morgan Fisher (VCS3, Hammond organ, acoustic piano, and mellotron), Bob Sapsed (fretless bass), Maurice Bacon (drums/percussion), and Tim Staffell (vocals, acoustic/electric guitars).
The performances are excellent and there is some fairly intricate ensemble work - just the type of thing that one would expect from high quality English prog. Tim Staffell has a very good and high pitched voice that is occasionally altered by running his voice through the VCS3 synthesizer. The four tracks on the album range in length from 5'17" (Tim Staffell's haunting piece Alone), to the mammoth, 20'17" suite and prog extravaganza Nova Solis. Morgan is an excellent composer and arranger, and all of the tracks flow along nicely.
Melodies and harmonies are also highly developed and dynamic contrasts are used effectively. I guess it's worth noting that sections of Jupiter from Gustav Holst's Planets were worked into the Nova Solis suite only after lengthy negotiations with Imogen Holst (his daughter). Although Morgan is an incredible keyboardist, I have to single out Bob Sapsed. He is an excellent player, thoroughly contrapuntal, and the tone and texture of his fretless bass (he uses glissandos very well) adds great depth to this music.
The album was recorded at the then "state of the art" RCA recording studios in Rome, Italy and the sound quality is excellent. There are abundant and recent commentaries from Morgan both in a general sense and in track by track comments. The lyrics have also been reproduced and there are several photos of the band taken during the recording process (with some pretty funny captions). This is an unfairly neglected prog rock album that is simply excellent and very highly recommended.
by Jeffrey J. Park
1. Samarkhand The Golden - 8:05
2. Alone - 5:20
3. War Games - 7:05
4. Nova Solis - 20:24
Music by Morgan Fisher, lyrics by Tim Staffell.
*Morgan Fisher - Keyboards
*Tim Staffell - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Bob Sapsed - Fretless Bass
*Maurice Bacon - Drums, Percussion
1973 Morgan - The Sleeper Wakes
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