H?x Cel - Zwai

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 056
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:31:00

Häx Cel are another instance of a group of musicians coming together, recording a strong album, then disappearing, leaving that lone album to be lost in obscurity, known only to a few diligent collectors of German prog. That's where Garden Of Delights comes in, helping to bring these CDs to wider attention. Not everything they re-issue is a gem, mind you, but in the case of Häx Cel's Zwai, it is. Not a perfect gem, as there are flaws, but for fans of German progressive rock, it is a satisfying release.

Recorded and released in 1972, from a show the group played at Beethovenhall in Hanover, Germany, this live release from Häx Cel represents their second recorded work, following a single recorded earlier the same year. This was also their last live performance, as the band split shortly after. They re-formed in 1996, with a mix of original and new members, releasing two albums, each featuring new and re-recorded tracks. In 1972, however, Häx Cel (?a bowdlerisation of the German word 'Häcksel,' which means 'chaff'/'shreds'?) were Michael Mobias on bass and vocals, Achim Neubauer on electric piano, Rainer Greffrath on drums, and Dieter Neumann on flute and vocals.

Häx Cel mix classical and rock elements in mainly flute led compositions, a mix of instrumental and vocal pieces. All but two pieces are band originals, those two exceptions ("Bourrée" ? misspelled on the original release in this fashion ? and "Andante") being pieces composed by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)). Mention of flute in a rock context invariably brings to mind Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Well, it happens that not only because of the use of flute, but also due to the strong presence of bass in the arrangements, Tull do come to mind in a very general way, at least during certain pieces or parts of certain pieces, the intro to ?Julius Caesar? for example. For most of the track, however, you will think of the psychedelic music of the period (late 60s-early 70s) with the spoken-sung lyrics. This same feel comes with ?Marsch,? a piece that also has a cool and funky bassline running through it that is uncharacteristic for psychedelic atmosphere of the rest of the track.

Zwai opens with the stately opener ?Albinoni,? which is repeated as one of the bonus tracks (from the single) with an organ in place of the electric piano. The difference gives the piece a gloomier and darker tone, more like church music than classical, at least for those first opening measures. The first instance of the track is followed by the upbeat and happy (at least musically) ?A Second Time? and the moodier ?Music,? which sounds a bit in a few of its electric piano parts like Chicago's ?Colour My World.? Lyrically it reminds me a bit of the Beatles' ?With A Little Help From My Friends,? at least at first; it one of the weaker pieces vocally. The other bonus track is ?Difference? a more energetic but thin piece where flute and percussion are up front, keys just behind. ?To Barbara? is another standout piece, an intricate mix of chunky bass and percussion and light flute tones, to that style does describe most of the music here to one degree or another.

As it was recorded live, the sonic fidelity one finds from a studio recording is absent. So there is some muddiness to the sound, but actually for a live recording it is remarkably clear, the instruments better served than the vocals. The sound of the audience is limited to applause between tracks - though having been to a number of prog shows, maybe the quiet attention during the performance was a factor even 30 years ago. The music is mostly good, and certainly interesting through out. ?Julius Caesar? and ?Marsch? are both very much dated now, but the music otherwise holds up well.

Albinoni (4:15) / A Second Time (3:06) / Music (5:28) / Julius Caesar (4:40) / Bourr?e (1:16) / Marsch (5:18) / Land Of Dreams (5:05) / To Barbara (7:25) / Andante (0:50) / Bonus Tracks: Albinoni (3:20) / Difference (3:08)

Dieter Neumann ? flute, vocals
Achim Neubauer ? keyboards
Michael Moebus ? bass
Rainer Greffrath ? drums

"Albinoni / Difference" (1972)
Zwai (1972)
A Second Time (1998)
Häxdellent (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: July 27th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 568
Language: english


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