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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Metaphysical Animation “Metaphysical Animation” 1973 Private Demo US Psych Rock


Metaphysical Animation “Metaphysical Animation” 1973 US mega rare Private Demo Lp only 50 copies pressed.

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The group "Metaphysical Animation" was formed in 1968 in Gainesville (Florida), later migrated to Miami. The sound of the band, its composition and formation developed gradually over a certain period of time. The core and the generator of ideas of the team were the Spanish guitarist Alberto DeAlmar and keyboardist Bill Sabella. The band often toured the whole coast, giving concerts mainly in small clubs, but with an enviable regularity. By 1972, the musicians were already ripe for recording the album. It was recorded privately on a professional studio at Ben Scott Studios in July 1972, during one or two sessions. The self-titled album of 50 copies was published in a simple, white envelope, the name of the group was written on the cover with a pen. The most amazing thing is that it was a double demo album with a total playing time of about 65 minutes in total, which is quite a rare phenomenon for a beginner and little-known band. Strangely enough, it seems that the musicians did not really try to promote it to the market. After an unsuccessful attempt to contract, they sold most of the few remaining copies at their concerts. One music lover found this album in the warehouse of a long-time non-existent press factory where these plates were made. This lone specimen lay among a pile of test presses and all rubbish for almost 40 years! Soon after the recording the band was disbanded. Then each of the musicians went their own way. Alberto DeAlmar for a while was a member of another local band called "Faustus", after playing in several other rock bands of local importance. In 1976, he left Florida to get a more serious musical education. Today Alberto DeAlmar is one of the best guitarists in the world. Anyone who has heard his music or seen live performances admires his amazing talent and inventive guitar playing....~

Well, after much ado, here we are. You know, we all hear so many rarities… so many things that just don’t live up to expectations, that it seems unreal something as sublime as Metaphysical Animation’s sole album can actually even exist. We often see the term HOLY GRAIL used in ebay auctions. And yet, if it’s available for auction, how can it be a Holy Grail? My definition of a Holy Grail is Metaphysical Animation. That is, something you’re not likely to ever witness. We are talking about an album that has existed for exactly 40 years in the wilds of the record stores/flea markets/warehouses throughout the world, and it is just now being discovered for the first time. And did I actually discover it? No, I did not. But the AC did. No, he really did. As in, he invested over $150 of his own money on some demo LP listed on ebay that no one had heard of, nor ever spoke of. It wasn’t listed with any key terms that we all look for. It was just a demo album thrown out there and by pure happenstance, the AC stumbled onto it. Right time, right place. Fortunately, three short samples were put up, which helped mitigate the risk somewhat, but not too many folks are going to blow a good amount of money on a few snippets of sound. So he was taking a big chance. But the payoff on this one is the equivalent of a Vegas multi-casino jackpot.

After meeting with 3 of the 4 band members, between them only one copy was saved for posterity. It has been, it appears, completely sold out at the source as they like to say in the marketplace.

Here’s how the AC first introduced the album to me. And before I do that, you know him as well as I do now. He does NOT exaggerate, or foam at the mouth for the smallest of rarities. So when I saw this, I about fell off my chair: “Okay, here it is. By far the biggest discovery of my record collecting “career” (so to speak), and one that may go down as among the more significant finds in American prog history….. But, something like this really does make you wonder what could still be lurking out there, languishing undiscovered in some dusty warehouse, on the very brink of extinction…“
"Part 1: The band Metaphysical Animation was first formed in 1968 in Gainesville, Florida, and later ended up in the Miami area. Their sound and lineup evolved gradually over this time, eventually coalescing around the core of guitarist Alberto de Almar and keyboardist Bill Sabella. They gigged around the small clubs of the area regularly, and by 1972 were ready to record an album. By then the lineup consisted of de Almar and Sabella, along with drummer Robbie Hanson and bassist Steve Margolis (another bassist, Larry Jessup, also played with them around this time). The album was recorded that same year at a professional studio in the area, over the course of one or two sessions. They had a test pressing made of it, but were never able to secure a record deal and soon disbanded. The musicians went their own separate ways, with Alberto de Almar ending up in another local band named Faustus, who opened up for some of the larger rock acts that toured the area. By 1976 they too had called it quits, and I believe de Almar then left Florida to pursue more advanced musical education elsewhere.

Part 2: The album: Less than 50 copies were pressed, housed in a plain white demo sleeve with the band name hand-written in pen on the cover. Now here's where we get to the most amazing part: It's a double LP set, clocking in at nearly 65 minutes in total! I'm not sure if I know of any other instance where an unreleased test press of an underground band like this was done as a double LP. Anyway it seems that they had a sort of uncompromising attitude and never really did try to market it too hard. After failing to be signed, they sold most of the few remaining copies at local gigs, which might account for why no other examples seem to have survived. A few comments on this album's actual discovery: The seller who ended up with this apparently dug it up in a warehouse find that may have been associated with the particular (long defunct) pressing plant where these LPs were actually made, which would explain how it managed to survive these 40 years at all. This lone copy was buried amongst a bunch of other test presses, all the rest of which were just various 45s of local radio jingles and other such ephemera.

Part 3: The music I'll say right now that I think this album is fantastic, pretty much from start to finish, which is quite an accomplishment considering its unusual length. The basic style here could probably be summed up as classic 70s prog, with significant elements of fusion and psychedelic rock. But this band really had its own identifiable sound, which holds firm over the course of the entire sprawling opus, even though there's quite a bit of diversity displayed here as well. Being a bit more specific, the then-recent works of Yes and Mahavishnu Orchestra seem to be obvious building blocks for their style, as well as the more advanced forms of jamming psychedelic rock. Some of their early roots in blues-rock and jazz also peek through just a bit at times, as you might expect from an exploratory band of the era. Finally, Alberto's background as a Spanish guitar player can be heard informing some of the phrasing and rhythms on this album as well. What's really refreshing is that they seem to have come to this synthesis very naturally. As probably only an early 70s group could do, these guys were sort of making it up as they went along, using their influences as a starting point, rather than the be-all end-all. In that sense, they were following the same path of many of their own chronological peers over in continental Europe, especially in Italy and Germany. With all that in mind, let's talk about the individual instrumental performances a bit. First, there's de Almar. His guitar is phenomenal, and often loaded with cool effects, lending a very psychedelic tone. Along with the occasional hint at his Spanish guitar background, there's a sort of "Mclaughlin gone prog" feel to his playing. Then there's the rhythm section, which is very active and nimble, never allowing the music to get stuck in a rut, but also capable of locking into a steady, hypnotic pulse for the intense jamming that frequently breaks out overhead. Last but not least are the keyboards. Oh man... Anyone who's into vintage keys is just going to keel over when they hear this album. The most noticeable thing is Sabella's organ work, which is just over the top incredible. He's able to alternate between dark, spacey textures and extremely intense, choppy soloing like it's second nature to him. Then there's the mellotron. I'm only half kidding when I say that there must be more mellotron on this one album than the entire King Crimson back catalog put together. It seems to be going almost constantly in the background, and other little flourishes are added here and there to great effect. And of course there are plenty of classic synth lines as well. As for the vocals, here is where you'll see the strongest Yes influence. They're definitely Anderson-like, but not in that overly high-pitched and strained style that some Yes-influenced bands insisted on. The lyrics are also mostly in the Anderson mold, with lots of crazy made-up words and weird turns of phrase, spaced-out hippy dippy mysticism, etc. The vocals most definitely take a back seat to the instrumental work, but when they're there, they fit the mood perfectly. As for the sound quality, it's quite good, all things considered. Obviously a bit raw, but still better than many private prog albums that actually did see wide release. To use a relevant example, I'd say that this album actually has a much more pleasing, vital sound than the otherwise excellent Polyphony LP, which I've always thought suffers from a very dull, lifeless production job....~  


Alberto DeAlmar: guitar (ex-Pods, Leaves of Grass, Celebration)
Bill Sabella: keyboards/vocals (ex-Amen/Burgundy Blues, Leaves of Grass, Celebration)
Steve Margolis: bass
Robbie Hansen: drums

Privately pressed double album

01. Two Songs In Space
02. Ode To A Seraph Chamber Fellow
03. Hey Now Mama
04. Paper People
05. Empyreal Souls
06. I’ve Been Blue
07. Better Way
08. You’re The Guru 

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