Kyrie Eleison - The Complete Recordings 1974-1978

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Mio Records
Catalog Number: MIO 017-019
Format: CD
Total Time: 199:44:00

I don't know many obscure bands who have faired as well as the Austrian group Kyrie Eleison because obscure they certainly are. Although the band's only album was released on vinyl in 1977 and later re-issued on CD by its instigator Gerald Krampl in 1991, followed two years later by the then unreleased "The Blind Windows Suite", the band remains to this day a very obscure group emphasizing, strongly on the symphonic strength of the seventies. Even if the quality of the recordings is not of super quality, Mio records in Israel nevertheless found it worthwhile to group ALL of the band's recordings and release them as a 3CD box set, limited to just 1000 copies worldwide -- the ultimate Kyrie Eleison experience. So inside the box you will find the full album The Fountain Beyond The Sunrise, the unreleased composition "The Blind Windows Suite" and the lost Live 1975 album containing 45 minutes of unreleased material. A gem for any collector even if the quality isn't perfect!

To understand all of this much better I have to take you back to the seventies where there was no talk of CD, minidisc, digital recording or editing. Instead there was cassette and reel to reel tape, thus in all cases tape which would lose quality everytime you would re-record. Using these tapes today and tackling them with the latest technology still doesn't result in a perfect sound. It's like giving the best chef some poor ingredients to prepare a five star meal. It simply doesn't work! The box is conceived in a chronological way in order to capture the band's history between 1974 and 1978. Founded after the demise of the band Phoebos, Kyrie Eleison is formed around keyboard player Gerald Krampl who combines his classical piano education with his love for Genesis, Yes and ELP. In order to promote the band in the Vienna area, the band recorded all of their material on a home tape machine in one take. This material was already issued by Indigo in 1994. This time however the poor mastertape has been enhanced and previously unreleased material has ben added. With over 74' of material recorded in one take in a tiny rehearsal room with primitive equipment, of course the result can't be compared with Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, however it gives a nice indication in the symphonic direction of the band which contains elements of Eela Craig, Anyone's Daughter, Novalis and Camel. Here and there the presence of dropouts disturb the result, whilst of course one can't expect a very detailed, well balanced sound bearing in mind the drums hide a lot of subtle elements. Sometimes the band also flirts with the psychedelic format as during "Man Is A Wanderer" which also highlights Krampl's romantic keyboard playing. Part of "A Friend" and "June" sounds very much like the Nice's rendition of "Rondo," which once again illustrates the fact that Kyrie Eleison "used" a lot of influences in order to create their very "own" music. The material very much evokes what was happening at the time when creative souls with a classical background were turning towards rock. It's the kind of music which was being performed enthusiastically all over the world in tiny youth clubs. As in most cases however the quality of the singer is far inferior than the music!

On 29th May, 1975, one of the band's many concerts was recorded by their friend Friedrich Koy. Apart from one song which later emerged on their official studio album, all the material on this live recording remains exclusive to this release. On the opening track "A Pane Of Glass," which lasts for half an hour, we witness once again the dreadful vocals of Wolfgang Wessely. Luckily we are treated to some wonderful mellotron, which, as samples didn't exist at the time, prove that Gerald Krampl must have posessed a genuine Mellotron at the time. Because this is a live recording taking place in a small club, sadly the people aren't that quiet during the soft passages which is a pity if you listen to the intro to "Glass People" for instance. Gerald's "Keyboard Improvisations" sounds almost like an alternate version of Rick Wakeman's solo spot on the Yessongs triple album. Sadly the talking goes on whilst drummer Karl Novotny ruins the atmosphere of the composition by adding some unwanted rhythm. And still the talking goes on, so one wonders why people bother to show up at these concerts! The naïvity of the band as well as their appreciation for ELP can be found in "Get Ready Eddy: which in a way could be compared to "Jeremy Bender."

By this time the band was planning to record its first album, but not before three members of the band left. They were replaced by three members from the group Autogenesis. The arrival of singer Michael Schubert whose voice swims between that of Peter Gabriel and Fish was a big advantage. Although having been promissed the use of the then brandnew 8-track recording machine, the band had to make do using the Revox 2-track machines making it impossible to do much overdubing, resulting in a rather poor quality of sound. Nevertheless The Fountain Beyond The Sunrise finally gave Kyrie Eleison a possibility to get their music known throughout the world. The self distributed vinyl edition of the album on Merlin records was released in 1977. A CD version saw the light of day in '91, now followed by a "cleaned up" version as part of this trilogy. It's a pity the band didn't have any experience at the time, because the material certainly merited being recorded under better circumstances. The titletrack contains a Genesis atmosphere one can associate with the Foxtrot period whilst "Forgotten Words" holds a lot of magic to be found in the repertoire of Fruupp. The album closes with "Mounting The Eternal Spiral," a new composition which again was recorded in the band's rehearsal room in 1978 delivering the best quality on the album.

So what can we say of this entire box set after a listening marathon of well over three hours three times over? No doubt the various members of Kyrie Eleison will be thrilled to have ALL of their material available as 24 bit digitally remastered CDs as proof of their musical venture between 1974 and 1978. For the general prog lover, mainly the lack of quality will be the main reason for not parting with this musical heritage. From a composition point of view the music of Kyrie Eleison certainly is worth every second to be admired because it probably contains the best symphonic rock ever to emerge from Austria. Pity no decent record label offered them a fair chance at the time. Especially listening to the first two discs in this package, I can't help but think of my own band Quies of whom I only have some material on poorly recorded cassettes. Maybe I should contact Mio records who could, to the best of their abilities, turn these into better sounding CDs. Quies has always been a big mystery in the world of prog as well, and finally deserves to be heard as much as this Kyrie Eleison.

Disc 1: The Blind Windows Suite: Ouverture (4:09) / Autumn Evening (3:04) / Thoughts On A Gloomy Day (4:10) / Man Is A Wanderer (7:44) / A Friend (10:07) / June (7:12) / Daydream (3:59) / Get Me Out (16:25) / Climbing (7:30) / Winter Train (10:32) Disc 2: Live 1975 (recorded 29/05/1975): A Pane Of Glass (30:48) / Glass People (12:09) / Keyboards Improvisation (5:45) / Out Of Dimantion (10:08) / Get Ready Eddy (Demo) (5:21) Disc 3: The Fountain Beyond The Sunrise: Out Of Dimension (10:07) / The Fountain Beyond The Sunrise (14:04) / Forgotten Words (8:41) / Lenny (16:38) / Mounting The Eternal Spiral (11:11)

Wolfgang Wessely - vocals (1, 2)
Gerald Krampl - keyboards (1, 2, 3)
Felix Rausch - guitars, vocals (1)
Gerhard Frank - bass (1)
Karl Novotny - drums (1, 2, 3)
Manfred Drapela - guitars (2, 3)
Norbert Morin - bass (2, 3)
Michael Schubert - vocals (3)

The Fountain Beyond The Sunrise (1977)
The Complete Recordings 1974-1978 (2002)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin AT

Added: September 29th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english


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