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All Artists: Pentwater
Title: Pentwater
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Release Date: 12/4/2007
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 678277061125

CD Reviews

Classic 70's prog you must own
Prog Lover | Chicago, IL USA | 07/31/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pentwater was formed by a quintet of high school musicians from the Chicago area way back in 1970. Youthful exuberance, as well as a shed load of talent, saw the band write original material from the off and performing the songs along with the prerequisite cover versions, at local church fêtes, school concerts and friend's parties. Influenced by bands such as Yes, Gentle Giant and ELP, the band started writing material that fitted the style of the bludgeoning progressive rock movement and soon began laying down demos at various local studios, gaining airplay on regional radio stations and supporting major label acts such as Rush, Journey and even Hawkwind.

However, it was not all plain sailing: the wiping of an early recording session by an incompetent engineer, signing a four-album contract with a record label that proceeded to go bankrupt without the band recording a note, and recording a promotional video where the band were completely obscured by dry ice and flashbomb smoke were major setbacks. Undeterred, the band persevered and in 1977 recorded, produced and released an album, Pentwater, on their own Beef Records label. Alas, the time was not right for a progressive act to launch their recording career amidst the height of disco and dawnings of punk rock so in the late summer of 1978, after eight years and a legacy of 59 original compositions (all but eight of which were unreleased) the band called it a day.

Cut to 1992 and Pentwater are back in the public eye when Synphonic release a collection of archive recordings. This ultimately results in the band getting back together to reassess their recorded legacy and to begin making music again. The first fruits of this reunion is the re-release of the 1977 Pentwater album enhanced with additional material. And what a re-release it is! Classic 1970's progressive music that encapsulates the moods and experimentation of the time yet sounds amazingly fresh and vibrant even though it has been 26 years since it was recorded. With most members of the band being competent on a multitude of instruments the arrangements are often complex with oboes, violins and flutes, amongst others, added to the mix to complement the standard guitar / keyboard / bass / drums. The interplay of instrumentation, as well as the fact that all five members contribute vocals, bring up obvious comparisons with Gentle Giant. This is particularly evident in Orphan Girl with it's multi-layered vocal section toward the end of the song. War, a five-minute excerpt from the twenty-two minute unreleased epic, The Tale of Lufu and Hatian has been top and tailed by two newly recorded companion pieces, Prelude To War (a violin piece) and Death (foreboding synth and bass), is a complex instrumental worthy of Giant themselves, and is a piece of music that fans of Yes or ELP can easily take to heart.

Overall the playing is tight, as one would expect from a band that survived by performing live, the music is stunning and the arrangements are superb. Perhaps if the band had followed the more typical Midwest 70's sound of bands like Styx and Kansas they may have been more successful. The fact that they didn't is all to their credit and I am grateful, for the sake of the music, that they stuck to their own style which personally is a lot more appealing, original and down-right exciting! It's easy to recommend something this good!
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
- Mark Hugues of