Yezda Urfa - Sacred Baboon

Year of Release: 1992
Label: Syn-Phonic
Catalog Number: SYNCD 8
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:08:00

Yezda Urfa - their name taken from two locations: Yazd, Iran and Urfa, Turkey (Yazd changed to Yezda) - were formed in circa 1975, recording the demo album Boris that year. Although it was never released officially - i.e., released by any label - the band was briefly signed to Dharma Records. But the label's financial problems meant that the second album, Sacred Baboon was recorded but not released. Not until Greg Walker and Syn-phonic released it, on vinyl, in 1989 (SYNPHO 3). It made its CD debut in 1992.

Though I had bought Sacred Baboon release some years ago, it was only when I played it again to review for our NEARfest page (the band was on the bill for NF 2004) that I was struck by how much like Yes they sounded. Mainly because of the vocals of Rick Rodenbaugh, but also in the rumbling bass work of Marc Miller (well, he is playing a Rickenbacker, among other basses), the guitar work of Mark Timmons and the overall arrangements of the pieces. But there is also something Yes-like in the keyboards of Phil Kimbrough, which on only a couple of brief occasions recall Emerson rather than Wakeman. However, Kimbrough's style isn't as showy as Wakeman's. Think of "Heart Of The Sunrise," "Close To The Edge" and the other rockier pieces of Yes - this is the general feel. Yezda Urfa's sound is a little rawer and less refined than that associated with Yes? by which I mean, I little more immediate. Maybe Yes in their early days if they were playing the material of their middle days.

Now, there is also much that doesn't sound like Yes - parts of the quieter, more subtle "Cancer Of The Band," for instance, or the flute driven (Kimbrough) and energetic sections of "To-Ta In The Moya." And while there are Yes-like harmonies, there are times where you have layers of vocals crossing over each other (Gentle Giant, say). Other instruments that Yezda Urfa bring to the mix are marimba, cello, vibraphone, recorders, accordian, and mandolin? (okay, Howe does play mandolin). What you can expect are extended arrangements with lots going on, complex arrangements that hold interest through their lively interaction. If nothing else, it sounds like a band enjoying what they're doing. Aside from "Cancer?" the band do have other places that are more subtle in sound and texture, the acoustic guitar and flute interlude on "3, Almost 4, 6, Yea" being but one example).

But, just as Yes' lyrics are interpretive poetics, so too are Yezda Urfa's. In fact, the lyrics to "Cancer?" read like the "sentences" of random words you find in spam (if you've looked at the source of a message before). And yet there is a rhythmic pattern to them, which makes them either ironically compatible or not quite so random as it appears. Well, some are clearly phrases, even if they don't make much sense. Oh, why not mention "Roundabout" (similar sound bass work here), too. Not that any of these Yezda Urfa songs sound like any one track in particular, but rather have a Yes-ness about them, drawing upon certain Yes characteristics. The first song, "Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies" is probably the track that covers just about all of Yezda Urfa's bases, and is probably the most wholly Yes-like piece on the album.

Sacred Baboon is a very good album. "Cancer?" is recorded so quietly that it might come across as too subtle, but the rest of tracks are engaging, and fun to listen to, even they aren't necessarily played for mere entertainment purposes. There's just a bouncy joviality to them that is infectious. And I've always found Yes to be an upbeat band even in passages that might be termed dark. Yes-like, yes; Yes-clones, no.

Give 'Em Some Rawhide Chewies (3:50) / Cancer Of The Band (6:48) / To-Ta In The Moya (10:14) / Boris And His Three Verses (2:50) / Flow Guides Aren't My Bag (4:45) / (My Doc Told Me I Had) Doggie Head (5:02) / 3, Almost 4,6, Yea (8:39)

Brad Christoff - drums, tympani, orchestra bells, bulb horn, temple blocks, metalaphone, tubular bells, gong, agogo bells, brushes, table percussion, marching snare, hong sarp, glockenspiel, cough
Phil Kimbrough - Hammond B-3, Moog Model 15 synth, Wurlitzer electric piano, mini Moog, Elka String Machine, Yamaha Grand Piano, Fender Rhodes, Memory Moog, celeste, harpsichord, accordion, Gibson H-1 mandolin, flute, soprano and tenor recorder, backing vocals, cough
Marc Miller - Rickenbacker bass, Gibson Ripper Bass, marimba, cello, vibraphone, backing vocals, cough
Rick Rodenbaugh - lead vocals, air guitar, cough
Mark Tippins - Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, Fender Telecaster electric guitar, Martin D18 acoustic guitar, Hofner classical guitar, backing vocals, cough

Boris (1975, currently OOP)
Sacred Baboon (rec. 1976/rel. 1989/1992)
Past Present Future (comp. feat. one YU track)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: June 23rd 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1013
Language: english


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