Thursday, 11 October 2018

Dean Rouch & Michael Mayer “Face Of The Wind" 1983 US Private Prog Symphonic


Dean Rouch & Michael Mayer  “Face Of The Wind" 1983 US Private  Prog Symphonic
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This is a collaboration between two unknown American musicians, Michael Mayer and Dean Rouch. They composed and released a privately pressed LP in 1983 under the title “Face of the wind”.The first side contains material composed by Dean Rouch, while the second is written by Michael Mayer, and the sound has strong similarities with the typical proggy material performed by the British bands during the 80’s, albeit with a pretty US-styled approach. Both played multiple instruments with little contribution by some guest musicians in some tracks. Mayer’s traces have been lost in time, while Dean Rouch participated in several small bands and albums throughout his career, although all of them had no particular interest from a progressive point of view…..~


Michael Mayer and Dean Rouch propably shared the same taste for progressive music and decided to collaborate for an album in early-80’s.They were based in Indiana, USA and shared each side of the their lone vinyl “Face of the wind” considering the compositions, otherwise both played in all tracks as multi-instrumentalists on percussion, keyboards and flute, while Rouch also played the violin, guitar, mandolin and provided lead vocals.Two drummers offer the played parts on the first two tracks, Judy Hanna plays double bass on the last one and there are also two female singers providing backing voices in another pair.The album came out in 1983 as a private press. 
The first side was composed by Dean Rouch, apparently he had a more folky background than his colleague, thus this part of the album contains lots of rural passages next to the standard lines of a dreamy, symphonic style.The music is heavily based on keyboards with a typical US taste, maybe a less intricate HANDS should do the trick, containing elaborate arrangements and expressive vocals, there was no mood for nonsense instrumental fanfares, but there was true love for lush Progressive Rock and the material is actually very strong, entering the gates of symphonic grandieur quite often and delivering some instrumental depth due to the use of mandolin and violin over the keyboard and piano lines.Second side, composed by Mayer, was a bit more more GENESIS-influenced, reminding of HOLDING PATTERN or NORTH STAR, there are still some folky touches, coming mostly from the Rouch'es violin, among the keyboard and guitar moves, but the sound is closer to the British style of 80’s Prog, with emphatic vocals, more flashy keyboard parts and a tendency towards atmospheric textures, highlighted by the 8-min. Symphonic Rocke-er “Fly”.Even the acoustic closer “Pentagon prayer” reminds me a lot of Anthony Phillips-era GENESIS with a touch of KANSAS. 

It seems that the guys took their own ways after the album was released and, while unable to detect Mayer’s traces, Rouch is still involved with music nowadays, having played in various small bands and mostly focusing on his background as a Folk musician. 

Very interesting 80’s US Prog and excellent job on mixing the instruments, despite the limited technical equipment.Dreamy Neo/Symphonic Prog with Folk overtones and definitely a good candidate for a proper reissue…3.5 stars…..by apps79 ….~


Sometimes we fall in love with a record for no apparent reason, knowing it’s not highly inventive or beautiful or impressive to the majority, like the Wolfgang Schmidt - Wolfhound I shared before in the past. Though it may seem average to you when you hear it, I don’t want anyone to pass up the opportunity for this because it has some very wryly individual, interesting tracks, particularly the two prayers that close out each side. 

As usual this was a discovery of the mighty osurec who first ripped this virtually unknown item some years back. Side a is written by Dean Rouch (not Rough as it sometimes appears), and side b by Michael Mayer; the two sound very similar though. Even the cover has a DIY charm to it, don’t be surprised to hear it was Rouch who was responsible for the (exquisite?) drawing. I love the lyrics too, the highly priceless zeitgeist comment: “I don’t want to die in a nuclear war” from the A2 song “You’re a Bitch” is exemplary– try as I might I can’t figure out how the title and the nuclear war reference fit together– and pay attention to what Mayer is saying in his “Pentagon Prayer,” (track B4) – it’s just wonderful. (How it takes me back to those wonderful cold war days of Star Wars and SDI, ballistic intercontinental missiles, reaganomics and air traffic controller strikes, the ‘evil empire’, wall street masters of the universe and deregulation, and “it’s morning again in America” – which actually was devised years later as someone once corrected me – doesn’t matter, it’s still clear by now that faint gloaming was really the last burst of energy at the end of a long day to which we now are turning in for a sleepless night.) 

“When your peaceful nighttime silence explodes through a nuclear dawn 
load the heart with errors and we can learn to sing along 
and when the nuclear winds do come cold and your best friends are blowing away 
perhaps if you can hold on to come and fight another day” 
–from “ Pentagon Prayer ” 

The competence of the musicians is without question, all instruments are played beautifully with a lot of layered textures involving synths and guitar runs and scales in the arrangements. Of course I’m not crazy about the silly Island song that starts off side b, nor the mandolin piece, but you couldn’t expect a solid record from beginning to end at this late stage in the hunting game. 

I will sample the most progressive tracks, the last song on side a which is a “power prayer,” and the third song on side b, “Fly”….ProgNotFrog….~


Credits 
Backing Vocals – Libby Rouch Shinniman (tracks: B2), Ronda Crofoot (tracks: B1) 
Double Bass – Judy Hanna (tracks: B4) 
Drums – Joe Ferreira (tracks: A1), John Zane (tracks: A2) 
Keyboards, Flute, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Michael Mayer (7) 
Keyboards, Flute, Vocals, Percussion, Guitar Synthesizer, Guitar, Mandolin, Violin, Cover – Dean Rouch 
Layout – Willie Schmit

Tracklist 
A1 Face Of The Wind
A2 You’re A Whore
A3 Mandolin Moves Me
A4 Power Prayer
B1 Island Hopper
B2 Ballada Alla
B3 Fly
B4 Pentagon Prayer 

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