The origins of Living Force can be traced back to 1973, when both Ticket and Space Farm were in disarray. Harvey Mann and Eddie Hansen had been friends for a long while, and had both tired of the hippie-drugs lifestyle. Along with Glen Absolum, they moved into an Auckland flat and began playing together, whilst cleansing their bodies of all the harmful products they had been used to consuming. They were also searching for spiritual happiness.
After six months, Eddie Hansen went back to Christchurch, where he formed a short lived group called Rock Squad. But by the end of 1974, he was in Sydney playing with Phil Key’s Band Of Light, with Billy Williams and Danny Davidson. In mid 1975, Hansen, Williams and Davidson had left Phil and returned to Christchurch, adding Trevor Tombleson to their line-up they formed Sky Pilot, a three month venture.
While this was happening with Eddie, Harvey and Glen had continued practising with a variety of Auckland musicians. By mid 1975 they had settled on a line-up, adding Murray Partridge, Ivan Thompson and Gary Clarke, and calling themselves Living Force, they debuted at Maurice Greer’s Auckland club, Croft’s. Murray Partridge had been with Freshwater, Gary Clarke was from Carson and Ivan Thompson had been an original member of Dragon.
They had only been going for a few months when Murray Partridge was replaced by Eddie Hansen. There were not many groups in New Zealand who could boast a guitar line-up equal to Harvey and Eddie, but it soon became evident that they were not into the style of music that fans had previously been accustomed. The lyrical content of Living Force was more concerned almost exclusively with spiritual matters, a joyous celebration of Krishna beliefs. Long, drawn out and mostly extraneous solos were the order of the day. Radio Hauraki had organised a concert in Auckland’s Albert Park. One of the bands to play was Living Force, and after they had meandered along for over half an hour on one song, 90% of the 2000 strong crowd decided to leave. All that was left were the jubilant Krishna devotees. The boys in the band didn’t seem to notice. Thirty minutes after the scheduled completion time for the concert, they showed no signs of finishing, so the power was cut off. Imagine doing that to Mann and Hansen in their hey-day.
Living Force had a cult following, mainly made up of middle-aged hippies and Krishna followers. With this support, they managed to stay around until 1979, recording a self-titled album along the way in 1977 and releasing a single from it on the Atlantic label, “Jaya”/“Matter Monster”. The group did have a number of personnel changes during their time. Ivan was replaced by John Pepper and when Gary left he was replaced by Matt Matepi. The other important change occurred when Eddie left mid-way through the album sessions, but was back with them by November 1977.
In July 1978, they all flew to San Francisco, where they recorded an album’s worth of material with Santana engineer Glen Kalatkin. Unfortunately nothing was to ever come from this material and they returned home in December with an additional member in tow. She was American vocalist Mona Hollguin. At this time Glen Absolum left and he was replaced by Mike Fisher. Hollguin soon returned to the States and in February 1979 Harvey Mann left and teamed up with Absolum to form Appaloosa. Before the end of the year, Living Force had disbanded. ………….
1972-1974 era Santana is the obvious blueprint here. Plenty of Sri Chinmoy spirituality references, not to mention the trademark guitar style. The Santana reference is most apparent on the percussion heavy instrumentals. The song styled tracks are more in line with other bands from Australasia during the 70s. I hear bits of Pantha in particular, and smaller doses of Dragon, Ragnarok, and Sebastian Hardie. Only misstep is ‘Sail This Boat’, an insipid pop number that wouldn’t be out of place on a time travel American Idol. Wished they’d done an entirely instrumental album – it would’ve been a killer. Post Spacefarm…..by…ashratom ……
Out of the ashes of Ticket and Space Farm came to life this Kiwi band in Auckland.Glen Absolum (drums), Harvey Mann (guitar) and Eddie Hansen (guitar) all sought for spiritual happiness and a new way of musical expression back in 1973 and, even if Hansen temporarily moved to Christchurch to get involved in other groups, Mann and Ablosum set up Living Force in 1975 with Murray Partridge on guitar, original Dragon’s keyboardist Ivan Thompson and Gary Clarke on bass.Soon Thompson, Clarke and Partridge would leave and they were replaced by John Pepper and Matt Matepi respectively and a second stint by Hansen, who had returned to Auckland.The sole, self-titled album of the band was released in 1977 on Atlantic, featuring also Mike Fisher on percussion.
“Living force” cannot be considered a deep Progressive Rock album, it’s more of a guitar-based Rock release, which is flavored by strong hints of Fusion, Latin Music and Psychedelic Rock throughout.But its content is extremely rich, energetic and creative, led by the impressive duo of Mann and Hansen on guitars and the nice use of percussion next to Pepper’s discreet lines on synthesizer, piano and organ.It has been compared to the works of SANTANA, which is partly true, as the album has a fine Latin vibe in the guitar department, complemented by the tuning percussion and congas and some ethereal electric piano to deliver music closer to Latin Fusion.There are of course some more demanding moments in here, especially the instrumental parts are quite dense with notable breaks and shifting tempos, always having a deep Fusion background and displaying a Latin atmosphere, filled with sharp guitar soloing, powerful rhythms and alternate executions on keyboards and pianos.Vocals are pretty cool as well to complete a great release as far as I am concerned.The opening track “Changes” offers one of the best dual guitar solos I’ve ever heard, which reminds me a bit of Spanish Fusion groups from the 70’s.
As Living Force’s texts were dealing with spiritual matters, they ended up having a cult following of hippies and Krishna believers.With Absolum having permanently left the band, the rest flew to San Franscisco in July 78’, having set up a meeting with Santana’s engineer Glen Kalatkin.Nothing came up though and they returned in December with new singer Mona Hollguin, who only spent some months with the band, before returning home.Living Force disbanded in early 1979.
Great Rock/Fusion album with Latin colors.Excellent guitar parts, lots of energy and some nice keyboard twists.Strongly recommended despite its limited fame….by…apps79 ……..
Living Force is one of the forgotten bands from New Zeeland who manage to release a single album in 1977 selftitled. To tell the truth I had hard time finding this album even in digital format not to mention in the vinyl one, where prices can go up to 80$. It was a pleasent surprise for me this band, a combination between progressive rock typical for that period combined with some more edged rock and some very nice african sunds, at least is how I see this album. Some very good pieces are interplaying with some mor usual one, but always a good album to listen. Not a weak pieace here. I will give 3.5 stars for Living Forc, an album hard to find but I think worth to be investigated. Sometimes they remind me of Journey combined with some Santana moments. A good one.They disbanded a couple of years later in 1979 after this release and fall into oblivion for unknow reasons…..by..b_olariu ……….
By 1973, Mann had dropped out from the rock scene, in which he had reportedly been an avid explorer, combining his fretboard flights with an experiential delight in psychedelic substances. Sex and drugs were suddenly out the window, and even music was on pause.Harvey Mann had discovered Krishna Consciousness, a movement that had mopped up the acid-blotted edges of the hippie movement. The guitarist gave up sex and drugs (and alcohol and meat), and his next project, birthed in 1975, sounded like it.
It’s not that Living Force lacked fire and passion, it’s just that Mann’s instrumental prowess was suddenly directed at those chanting robed baldies, and eschewed the grit and sweat of rock and roll for something altogether more devotional. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves …
When Living Force finally coalesced into a serious project in 1975, they seemed a promising proposition, with another former Underdog/Space Farm cadet, drummer Glen Absolum, in the line-up, as well as bassist Gary Clarke (formerly of Carson), keyboardist Ivan Thompson (formerly of Dragon) and guitarist Murray Partridge (formerly of Freshwater).
When it was announced in November that former Ticket guitarist Eddie Hansen had replaced Partridge, guitar hero worshipers were stoked. Fancy that: Two of the best guitar abusers in the country, in the same band! Expectation was high.
Sadly, the group wasn’t well-received, and was subject to a high personnel turnover, abortive projects and disastrous gigs, and the supposedly mostly completed album that Mann described (complete with sealed EMI deal) in 1975 – with track names like ‘Maya Is Queen’ and ‘Playing Around In The Endless Maya’ – didn’t see the light of day (on WEA) until 1977.
On a good day, the mellifluous, creamy notes – sometimes in unison – produced by Mann and Hansen over epic instrumental workouts could make for exhilarating listening, and if you closed your eyes you could pretend you were hearing a pairing of John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana, like the one on their dual-guitar deal Love Devotion Surrender. But the songs suffered from the group’s blind allegiance to the Krishna cause, and when they performed at an infamous Radio Hauraki gig at Albert Park, they ended up getting the plug pulled after scaring 90 percent of the 2,000-strong audience away with a half-hour of chanted nonsense.
While that incident – reported in John Dix’s Stranded In Paradise NZ rock history – may be at least partly apocryphal, it helps to explain the rapid depletion of the group’s standing.
By 1976, when Roger Jarrett wrote about them in Hot Licks magazine, they seem to have decided on a more pragmatic tack, bizarrely claiming that “we’re a high energy rock and roll band.” But as Jarrett notes, “The band are more relaxed and have left the more overt religious aspects of their previous incarnations to the music, which is spiritual without losing any excitement or power. Eddie and Harvey’s guitar workouts have never been better with each doing amazing things with feedback, controlled sustain and lightning runs up and down the fretboard.” Amen to that!
While the group limped on in various permutations until 1979, however, the writing was on the wall as soon as New Zealand got wind of the howling, feral punk revolution fomenting in the Mother country.
Perhaps Dix summed up the prevalent attitude best in his caustic appraisal: “Replacing passion with precision, Living Force bored the tassles off all but the most terminal hippies. Long, drawn-out and mostly extraneous solos were the order of the day.” While admirers of virtuoso guitar gods may vehemently disagree, it’s certainly true that New Zealand lacked a sympathetic environment for this band of astral travellers and former pothead pixies, and along with our malnourished roster of progressive rock bands, Living Force had withered away by the turn of the 1980s.
The only Living Force recordings are the self-titled album in 1977, and a single from that album, ‘Jaya’/’Matter Monster’.
Eddie Hansen inexplicably left Living Force halfway through recording their album, but had returned by November of 1977.
In July 1978 the group flew to San Francisco, where they recorded with Santana engineer Glen Kalatkin. The resulting album never materialised. It’s rumoured that the group turned down a binding American record contract on ethical grounds.
They brought back vocalist Mona Hollguin from their American expedition, but she soon returned to her home country.
Original member Glen Absolum left the band in 1978, and Harvey Mann jumped the sinking ship in February 1979. Living Force finally knocked it on the head at the end of that year.
In 1979 Mann teamed up with Absolum to form Appaloosa, but by 1980 there was another short-lived group called The Survivors “whose members are all ex-Living Force”, wrote the Auckland Star.
By 1980 The Survivors: Mann, Absolum and Eddie Hansen, were playing as The Spys, a new wave band with cropped blond hair. They released two singles, one ‘Daddy Was A DJ’ on Ripper Records, and a second 'Plastic Love’ on RCA. They then, in 1981, toured China, claiming – truthfully – to be the first Western rock act to do so, predating Wham! by some four years.
Mann still plays guitar and performs mostly on Australia’s Gold Coast, sometimes with Eddie Hansen in a Krishna-inspired group called Mantra. Eddie Hansen recently reformed Ticket – the group that has been called “New Zealand’s ultimate acid band” – touring New Zealand in 2012…..Audio Culture……
Harvey Mann (guitar), Eddie Hansen (guitar), Murray Partridge (guitar), Ivan Thompson (keyboards), John Pepper (keyboards), Gary Clarke (bass), Matt Matepi (bass), Glen Absolum (drums), Mike Fisher (drums), Mona Hollguin (vocals)
A1 Changes A2 Matter Monster A3 Jaya A4 Only You B1 Sweet Inspiration B2 Baja Sri B3 Hello Friend B4 Sail this Boat B5 Hari Bol
Danish psychedelic gem. 1967 album from underground prog-rock-psych artifact with the highest of ratings among in-the-know collectors. The importance of this album can only be underrated…strong songs throughout and a certified classic. Steppeulvene (Danish language for Steppenwolf) was a Danish psych/folk/rock/prog crew which despite its short life, has become the icon for the Danish hippie music scene. This their only album “Hip” first released in 1967 was the first psychedelic rock album in DK and has attained near-mythological status in the history of Danish rock.
The group was the result of a collaboration between lead singer the late Eik Skaløe, who had traveled in the Orient in the early 1960’s and wrote the Bob Dylan-inspired, highly symbolic and almost surreal lyrics, and Stig Møller (guitar, vocal), who wrote the drawling, psychedelic, folk-influenced music. The other members were Søren Seirup (bass) and Preben Devantier (drums).
A tour in October 1967 came to a chaotic end when a concert was cut short by the police and the group members were arrested for marijuana use. Shortly after being released, Eik Skaløe went on a journey to Afghanistan/Nepal (on the so-called “hippie trail”) and was found dead near the Indian/Pakistani border in October 1968, apparently after a drug-induced suicide. Back in Denmark the rest of the group attempted to carry on, but, lacking the characteristic Skaløe as a front figure, the hipsters quickly dissolved…………..
Steppeulv agree LP ‘Hip’ 1967 was an epoch-making milestone in the history of Danish music. It was the first real Danish beat album containing original Danish-language texts.
Until the publication of 'Hip’ had Danish rock music either been fordanskninger of foreign music or traditional Danish songs added an electric guitar.The genesis of 'Hip’ Steppeulv agree classic crew consisted of:
Eik Skaløe - song Stig Moller - guitar Soren Seirup - bass Preben Reilly - drums In the mid-1960s had Eik Skaløe traveled around Europe and the Orient, where he had lived to play guitar in the squares and bars. In the Odyssey, he came into contact with various substances like marijuana, morphine and LSD. These quickly became a natural part of his life. Stig MollerEik turned in 1966 back to Denmark and started writing some songs. At the invitation he got in touch with Stig Moller, who had already made a name in the folk scene.
Stig was immediately excited about Eik and his songs. They therefore agreed to form a band. The group was named Steppeulvene - named after Herman Hesse’s novel 'Steppeulven’.
After having procured a bassist and a drummer recorded the group in March 1967 LP 'Hip’. Filming took place in dense hash mists and took a whole week. It was then time for the filming of a plate, and by the publication of the later in the year it was designated as the most expensive Danish album to date.
Cover - HipThe result was an LP with quite psychedelic music. The texts were in Danish and reflected a dissolute hippie universe. In addition, the album had an excellent cover, was designed by Donald Bull Clausen.
'The Summer of Love’ Steppeulvene was Danish representatives of the hippies , and 1967, 'The Summer of Love’. Everything should have been thriving well.
But although 'Hip’ by contemporary standard sold reasonably, there was no money in the Danish beat music. The group had bought their plants at close, and when they were unable to pay the installments, it was picked up by the seller.
To come out and play should Steppeulvene of the due loan facility of others. Therefore, it was only to a few concerts.
In addition, the group had problems with the police. In the media had Steppeulv The members namely openly admitted that they both smoked cannabis and took stimulants that was stronger.
Law And Order wanted to apprehend the four prairie wolves for their drug addiction. The opportunity came Oct. 14, 1967.
Steppeulvene had a concert in Vejgårdshallen in Aalborg. One of the organizers, however, smelled strange smoke from the room, the group stayed in, so he called the police. During the concert, the power was suddenly cut off. It was the law enforcement who showed up. Performers were stopped, and the group members were arrested.
Steppeulvene was relatively quickly released again. But Eik had had enough, he would no longer be performing musician. Instead, he went to India.
Eik SkaløeFor a time traveled Eik around the East. But in the spring of 1968, his desiccated body found in eastern Pakistan. Apparently he had committed suicide. Eik Skaløe was 25 years.
Steppeulvene reached to issue a single with the telling title: 'You must be out where your depth’. On the starred neither Eik Skaløe or Stig Moller. Yet the result was quite conspicuous. In the vocal foreground the single was heard Hasse Levy…………… «Steppeulvene» Group is very well known in the Danish hippoznoy coterie late 60s. They, by the way, full namesakes «Steppenwolf» Americans only at the Copenhagen dialect. They sang in their native tongue, smoked marijuana, in 1967 recorded only his album «Hip», after which their vocalist Eik Skale once went out to the nearest bread shop for croissants, but on the way he remembered that he desperately needed in India … gone but there was gone - he died in some forgotten by God town in the middle of the jungle, on the Afghan-Nepal border in October 1968. There opium poppy growing in almost waist-high and harvest four times a year removed, so lost, and the abyss, you know, quickly and easily. After the death of singer group, of course, it broke up….. Steppeulvene HIP 1967 came came to stand as a symbol for the future of new music. It was recorded in Metronome study. Upon the release of the plate made Eik a minor happening to the press as he disguises and with a flower in his mouth jumped in Christianshavn’s Canal. It is not many pictures of Eik.
Hip was their first and only LP-plate Eik Skaløe. The music and especially the lyrics are today still subject to a certain cult .. The band Steppeulvene consisted in 1967 of Søren Seirup (bass), Eik Skaløe (song) text Stig Moller (guitar) music and Preben Reilly (drums)
Eik Skaløe traveled soon after the release of HIP to India. Eik was found in India on the border with Pakistan after apparently committing suicide. Steppeulvene has been formed and restored several times since Stig Moller as lead singer on “Steppeulvene Live” from 2002 with Søren Seirup as lead singer on “Steppeulvene, The Forgotten Songs” from 2012…………. By 1967, the effects of the Vietnam War were beginning to severely affect European opinion of the U.S.A. and many American bands returned home under a cloud of depression from having weathered so many insults and questions about the actions of their government. Preaching freedom for Americans whilst destroying civilian populations thousands of miles away especially alienated the inward-looking Danes, whose youth was now beginning to follow the trend for ‘finding itself’ in travels to the east.
Their figurehead came in the form of the young hippy poet/singer Eik Skaloe, whose wordy songs and strangely-female sounding baritone made his band Steppeulvene (‘Steppenwolf’) sound like Marlene Dietrich fronting Mouse & the Traps. Eik Skaloe was the first of his generation to sing in his native language and – though his decision has ultimately rendered his muse opaque for the rest of the world – Steppeulvene’s 1967 LP, the immaculately-titled HIP, became the symbol of all things cool and defiantly Danish. Tragically, Skaloe’s success in Denmark could not hold back his Odinist wanderings forever and, in 1968, he disappeared whilst travelling through the Indian city of Ferozepore, aged only twenty-five. Whether or not Skaloe was murdered or died of a self-inflicted drug overdose in Ferozepore, the singer became Denmark’s own Brian Jonesian sacrifice and his early death in 1968 symbolically confirmed to young Danes that theirs was a righteous scene. Although the HIP album is musically very dated compared to subsequent bands, Steppeulvene’s influence was already vast and made even greater because of Skaloe’s disappearance at the height of his career. Skaloe is a still true rock myth in 21st century Denmark and will always be considered by the original Danish heads as having been ‘Brother Number One’. Skaloe inspired such highly political bands as the Jomfru Ane Band and Rode Mor to sing their own politicised songs entirely in Danish. The latter band featured the refusenik vocalist/poet Troels Trier and released such records at the anti-Vietnam War E.P. JOHNNY GENNEM ILD OG VAND (‘Johnny through Fire & Water’) about a dead American G.I. returning from the war unaware that he is a ghost. — Julian Cope………………..
“A really beautiful and very atmospheric hard rock album. The melodies are strong, carried mostly by keyboards. The bass is quite loud and up-front. The vocalist sings sometimes passionately, sometimes subtly, but always in Japanese. I really liked this album because here the approach to hard rock is not of the straightforward kind. The tempos are mostly slower, there are many beautiful instrumental breaks, lots and lots of awesomely played keyboards. The album really ends up sounding like an entirety and not simply a collection of songs. The mood achieved is also intriguing - melancholic, occasionally brooding. This may sound a little like what Black Sabbath have achieved, but Cosmos Factory is avoiding Iommy’s compactly packed doomy riff strategy. Here we have a more sprawling and atmospheric sound. Really, an awesome album! Cannot recommend it enough to fans ot 70s psych and hard rock.”……….
Their debut was a very heavy, keyboard driven prog rock affair featuring excellent guitar and some fuzz, as well as some violin on one of the tracks. All Japanese vocals add to the atmosphere. The side-long title track on side B is a highlight, and reasonably consistent too. The original Jap press came in a gatefold cover on a red Columbia label with the Merry-Go-Round name of the production co. listed along the bottom of the disc label…by…tymeshifter ……..
Very decent artifact from the golden age when Prog still could still actually rock, this actually has the dope guitar tone and skillful playing you’d expect from a Japanese band at the time, albeit done in a slightly more commercial and sentimental way. It has the technical playing and unfortunately dramatic songwriting of a typical Italian prog band, while the verses and some of the better riffs have a nice Eloy/Floyd feel, although the spaciness is sadly not further explored, the band goes for a more melody and hooky path. The bands talent is unquestionable but it’s actually the sidelong B track that helps this record a lot. The opener has some nice doomy bass, but instead of the guitar kicking in, we have some lame synth, definitely ahead of its time but it’s tough to make that shit not sound tacky. Eventually the dope guitar sound comes through, the soloing is great and the synth goes back and forth from corny to actually spacey and trippy. “Maybe” is upheld by the great guitar and organ riffing, but the conventional sappy songwriting hinders it. “Soft Focus” is an unbearably lame ballad which you might have heard in every single anime. “Fantastic Mirror” has 20 seconds of heavy FTP riffery that is quickly replace by more well executed but sappy songwriting. “Poltergeist” is a decent instrumental with well done soloing from everyone plus a violinist. Fortunately the title track helps this shit get going. When the “Forest of Death” get’s going there’s some dope Eloy-esque riffery definitely a highlight here. The next two three are again very good (especially the great playing during the final one), just kinda hindered by the dramatic arrangements. The vocals here are decent cuz of the low-key delivery, but the riffs kinda get old. So while definitely weaker and more commercial than Satori or Far Out and other Jap heavies, and very inconsistent, this album has some total classic sporadic moments, and top notch playing by all involved, and should at least get some recognition as a unique and underrated Prog album…by…UrbanHaze82 …….
The Japanese progrock band COSMOS FACTORY made a sery of albums in the Seventies with every time another sound. I prefer their debut-album “An Old Castle Of Transylvania” (1973). The long title track (around 20 minutes) is a mind blowing blend of psychedelia and progrock with great build ups and eruptions, very compelling with strong hints from early PINK FLOYD but the swirling movements also brings the long live tracks from URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, IRON BUTTERFLY, VANILLA FUDGE and Krautrock like early JANE and ELOY on my mind. It contains sumptuous keyboard play including heavy floods of Hammond organ and Mellotron along biting guitar. The interplay between guitar and organ is like “Set the controls for the heart of the sun” from PINK FLOYD. The other songs are also loaded with Hammond and Mellotron, a real ‘keyboard nirvana’ for the fans of 'vintage keyboards’. (http://www.progarchives.com)
Formed in 1970, in the ugly industrial city of Nagoya, from the ruins of GS outfit The Silencer, this progressive rock band was courted by a local rock critic who took the band under his managerial wing. They played the local scene for a couple of years before gaining anything more than local success.
Cosmos Factory took their marvellous name from a wholly cosmic misreading of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s LP COSMO’S FACTORY, which has unfortunately led many to believe that they were a space rock band. Instead, they were just a fairly bombastic bunch with a good line in titles. Their best LP is the debut AN OLD CASTLE IN TRANSYLVANNIA, but even this is keyboard heavy in an Italian progressive style, and only the epic title track that closes the album enters the realms of real experiment. Otherwise, their work dwells in the same areas as The Nice, Arzachel and early King Crimson. The band finally made its name as support for The Moody Blues and signed to Columbia Records in 1973, releasing the aforementioned debut that same year.
Thereafter, the band signed a better deal with Toshiba’s hip Express label, and embarked on the unusual policy of releasing EPs. First came FANTASTIC MIRROR, followed by THE INFINITE UNIVERSE OF YOUR MIND and DAYS IN THE PAST, each appearing throughout 1975. Their second LP A JOURNEY WITH COSMOS FACTORY was released the same year. Film soundtrack work altered their music somewhat, giving it a harder, more clinical edge, and the musical arrangements of their final LPs BLACKHOLE and METAL REFLECTION were more Spartan than the previously lush arrangements of earlier albums, and not heavy metal as the titles would suggest. ……………
Cosmos Factory – a progressive group formed in Nogoya, 1970. They moved to Tokyo the next year, acquired a manager [who was also a well-known rock critic] and got to work. The band are now perhaps best known for their first album, ‘Cosmos Factory’ (a.k.a. ‘An Old Castle of Transylvania’) [Columbia, 1973], which has long been the easiest to obtain on CD. In the Ultima Thule shop catalogue it’s compared to Far East Family Band; I find this very misleading, as the only similarities I can hear are in their worst moments, ie. when they get into their cod-emotive sappy balladic crooning. Other than those bits, which take up a lot of space, it’s a pretty good to great album, with heavier bits as well as spacey and slightly ominous progressive rock reminiscent of a blend of The Nice, Arzachel and early Pulsar, with cool use of the Moog. Anyway, this album brought them a lot of recognition and they began playing support for big western bands of the era such as Humble Pie and The Moody Blues, both then well past their prime and probably overshadowed by their unique support act! The next album, ‘A Journey With The Cosmos Factory’ [Toshiba EMI/Express, 1975], reputedly enters weirder realms and was well-received. ‘Blackhole’ [Toshiba EMI/Express, 1976] is reputedly comparable to complex King Crimson in some ways. Around this time, the band also began making music for film soundtracks and TV themes. Their last album, ‘Metal Reflection’ [Toshiba EMI/Express, 1977], has a reputation for being more of a metal/hard rock thing, but it’s actually a lot more varied than that. It’s a pretty good album containing proggy hard rock, proggy metal, spacey prog, cosmic funk, a ballad, and almost omnipresent synthesisers. Some bits are reminiscent of some Magical Power Mako circa ‘Jump’ [see below]. The production is excellent. They also released a number of rare EP’s - ‘Fantastic Mirror’ , ‘The Infinite Universe Of Our Mind’ (a promo release)  and ‘Days In The Past’ . The first album has been reissued on CD by Coca/Nippon Columbia; the next 3 by Toshiba EMI Cosmos Factory – a progressive group formed in Nogoya, 1970. They moved to Tokyo the next year, acquired a manager [who was also a well-known rock critic] and got to work. The band are now perhaps best known for their first album, ‘Cosmos Factory’ (a.k.a. ‘An Old Castle of Transylvania’) [Columbia, 1973], which has long been the easiest to obtain on CD. In the Ultima Thule shop catalogue it’s compared to Far East Family Band; I find this very misleading, as the only similarities I can hear are in their worst moments, ie. when they get into their cod-emotive sappy balladic crooning. Other than those bits, which take up a lot of space, it’s a pretty good to great album, with heavier bits as well as spacey and slightly ominous progressive rock reminiscent of a blend of The Nice, Arzachel and early Pulsar, with cool use of the Moog. Anyway, this album brought them a lot of recognition and they began playing support for big western bands of the era such as Humble Pie and The Moody Blues, both then well past their prime and probably overshadowed by their unique support act! The next album, ‘A Journey With The Cosmos Factory’ [Toshiba EMI/Express, 1975], reputedly enters weirder realms and was well-received. ‘Blackhole’ [Toshiba EMI/Express, 1976] is reputedly comparable to complex King Crimson in some ways. Around this time, the band also began making music for film soundtracks and TV themes. Their last album, ‘Metal Reflection’ [Toshiba EMI/Express, 1977], has a reputation for being more of a metal/hard rock thing, but it’s actually a lot more varied than that. It’s a pretty good album containing proggy hard rock, proggy metal, spacey prog, cosmic funk, a ballad, and almost omnipresent synthesisers. Some bits are reminiscent of some Magical Power Mako circa ‘Jump’ [see below]. The production is excellent. They also released a number of rare EP’s - ‘Fantastic Mirror’ , ‘The Infinite Universe Of Our Mind’ (a promo release)  and ‘Days In The Past’ . The first album has been reissued on CD by Coca/Nippon Columbia; the next 3 by Toshiba EMI [possibly out of print]. By Chris McLean…………….
An Old Castle Of Transylvania album for sale by Cosmos Factory was released on May 11, 2010. Digitally remastered edition of this 1973 album from the Japanese Prog rockers. An Old Castle Of Transylvania buy CD music Cosmos Factory played the local scene for a couple of years before gaining anything more than local success. The band finally made its name as support for The Moody Blues and signed to Columbia Records in 1973, releasing their debut (and best) album An Old Castle Of Transylvania that same year. An Old Castle Of Transylvania songs Cosmos Factory took their marvellous name from a wholly cosmic misreading of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s LP Cosmo’s Factory, which has unfortunately led many to believe that they were a Space Rock band. An Old Castle Of Transylvania album for sale Instead, this is Moog keyboard heavy in an Italian progressive style, and the epic 18-minute title track that closes the album enters the realms of real experimentation. For fans of The Nice, Arzachel and early King Crimson…………….
The starting line-up of this unique Japanese progrock band is: Tsutomu Izumi (keyboards, Moog synthesizer, vocals), Hisashi Mizutani (guitar, vocals), Toshkazu Taki (bass, vocals), Kazuo Okamoto (drums & percussion) and Misao on violin. They made a serie of albums in the Seventies with every time another sound: the debut album “An Old Castle of Transylvania” ('73) sounds like early FLOYD/VANILLA FUDGE, the third album “Black Hole” (75) is more in the vein of complex KING CRIMSON (nerve-racking FRIPPERIAN play), the second LP “The journey..” sound rather weird and freaky and their fourth entitled “Metal Reflection” is, as the title suggests, pure hardrock/metal.
The long title track of their debut album “An old Castle of Transylvania” (around 20 minutes) is a mindblowing blend of psychedelia and progrock with great build ups and eruptions, very moving! The swirling climate also brings the long live tracks from URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, IRON BUTTERFLY, VANILLA FUDGE and Krautrock like early JANE and ELOY on my mind. It contains sumptuous keyboardplay (Hammond and Mellotron) and biting guitar. The interplay between guitar and organ is like “Set the controls for the heart of the sun” from PINK FLOYD. The other songs are also loaded with Hammond and Mellotron, a real 'keyboard nirvana’……………
COSMOS FACTORY were a Japanese band from the seventies and this is their debut, a heavy psychedelic recording for the most part. Lots of organ and guitar plus some welcomed mellotron. I was actually relieved to see Damo and Sagi’s 3 star ratings as quite a few people consider this a classic. I find that half of this album is very good while the other half not so much. The title suite to end the album is incredible which makes it hard not to be giving this 4 stars. “Soundtrack 1984” is a top three for me and an instrumental. A bass/ drum intro here as mellotron rolls in. I really dig the guitar, especially after 1 ½ minutes. “Maybe” is heavy with floating organ. How good is the mellotron and vocal melodies before a minute. The heaviness will be contrasted with the calmer vocal sections with organ. Some nice guitar before 3 minutes that goes on and on until that mellotron/ vocal melody passage from earlier is reprised. This song sounds like a late sixties tune, I really like it.
“Soft Focus” features keys and harp-like sounds and is very much a ballad with sappy vocals. “Fantastic Mirror” has an RPI vibe with the keyboard sounds. Unfortunately this is contrasted with sugary sections where the vocals just don’t sound very good. Not a fan overall but it has it’s moments. “Poltergeist” is bouncy with pulsating keys and drums not fitting the title of the song in my opinion. There is guest violin on this one that I’m not into, sounds like acoustic violin. The guitar, organ and violin take turns leading the way.
“An Old Castle Of Transylvania” suite includes the last four tracks and the songs blend into one another. Other than the first track this is the highlight of the album. “Forest Of The Death” is dark and brooding, experimental too with organ and synths standing out. A change after 2 ½ minute as the drums come in and slowly build and the organ arrives with power. Check out the guitar! Great tune and top three for me. “The Cursed” continues with the darkness as the organ floats in before it all turns dramatic after a minute with the guitar and drums joining in. Vocals before 2 minutes then the guitar returns as it will come and go. Excellent!
“Darkness Of The World” is similar in sound again but more uptempo and more powerful, at least until the vocals arrive and it settles back some. Powerful organ ends it as it blends into my final top three “An Old Castle Of Transylvania”. Guitar joins the powerful organ and steady drums quickly. I like how the guitar soars before 2 minutes. Mellotron follows then vocals before 3 minutes. A minute later we get this stunning ending of thunder cracks, rain and wind. It’s like your right there in this wild storm.
As I said earlier there’s so much on here that cries 4 stars yet at the same time we get plenty of less than steller passages that have me wondering why they went that route. Well worth checking out if your into Psychedelic music….. by Mellotron Storm …………
This is just the beginning! Where some bands realease a very good debut which they can’t follow , other bands release a debut which only shows the band’s potential which is being fully fulfilled in the next few releases. cosmos factory belongs to that second category that had to release a debut before reaching to the point of full development., not that it’s a bad release god forbid…i heard far worse releases
Songs are not that progressive but more like rocky psychedelic 4 minutes long songs. i like it but it’s nothing special either , thinking of other great releases that time. songs are sung in japanese which is nice , doesn’t hurt your ear.. guitar sound is with heavy distortion , the riffs are slow too , there are actually no great solos either but good guitar parts and riffs. the overall sound is not rich , the rocky parts pretty much sound the same althought there are keys involved. i like their rockiness but it’s the soft ballad 'soft focus’ which really does it for me . clean beautiful vocals ( i can’t understand a word ) with that piano and some kind of beautiful mandoline really good. 'an old castle of transylvania’ is an epic divided in 4 parts , the music is still slow but there is a sense of an epic , not the greatest but it has it’s moments , slightly better than the rest of the album. finally you can hear that there is a keyboard player over there , composition flows better and the guitar has more room , there is more space for every body to develop better.
The next album see the band develop a lot more , both in composition and in sound , but it’s the third 'black hole’ where they are kicking some serious butts!! my rating is 3.2 , nice debut but not the best place to start with this band….by Sagichim ………..
Formed in 1970, in the ugly industrial city of Nagoya, from the ruins of GS outfit The Silencer, this progressive rock band was courted by a local rock critic who took the band under his managerial wing. They played the local scene for a couple of years before gaining anything more than local success. Cosmos Factory took their marvellous name from a wholly cosmic misreading of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s LP COSMO’S FACTORY, which has unfortunately led many to believe that they were a space rock band. Instead, they were just a fairly bombastic bunch with a good line in titles. Their best LP is the debut AN OLD CASTLE IN TRANSYLVANNIA, but even this is keyboard heavy in an Italian progressive style, and only the epic title track that closes the album enters the realms of real experiment. Otherwise, their work dwells in the same areas as The Nice, Arzachel and early King Crimson. The band finally made its name as support for The Moody Blues and signed to Columbia Records in 1973, releasing the aforementioned debut that same year. Thereafter, the band signed a better deal with Toshiba’s hip Express label, and embarked on the unusual policy of releasing EPs. First came FANTASTIC MIRROR, followed by THE INFINITE UNIVERSE OF YOUR MIND and DAYS IN THE PAST, each appearing throughout 1975. Their second LP A JOURNEY WITH COSMOS FACTORY was released the same year. Film soundtrack work altered their music somewhat, giving it a harder, more clinical edge, and the musical arrangements of their final LPs BLACKHOLE and METAL REFLECTION were more Spartan than the previously lush arrangements of earlier albums, and not heavy metal as the titles would suggest. Cosmos Factory’s name and fabulous album titles are the main reason for the band’s inclusion here. ….by Julian Cope………….
Songs / Tracks Listing 1. Soundtrack 1984 2. Maybe 3. Soft focus 4. Fantastic mirror 5. Poltergeist 6. An old castle of Transylvania: I) Forest of the death II) The cursed III) Darkness of the world IV) An old castle of Transylvania