East Of Eden - Snafu [Esoteric/Cherry Red - 2008]East Of Eden were a progressive/jazz rock project that were in existence between 1967 & 1978. The band had a very versatile & at times experimental sound that mixed together prog/ jazz rock with elements of folk, gypsy music, world music melodies, with dips into free jazz & disorientating tape loop structures. “Snafu” original appeared in 1970, and it’s one of the projects more experimental releases.
This 2008 reissue brings together the albums original nine tracks, along with a collection of seven bonus tracks. The set also features a 12 page inlay booklet that takes in band photo session, band live shots, poster artwork, single covers, european press cuttings, and original album linear notes from Melody Marker writer Richard Williams.
The album opens in a fairly sane & save manner with King Crimson like violin sawing & locked guitar riffing of “Have A whack it up”. But from here on in the band’s sound nicely twists & turns through a varied yet still controlled mix of jazz rock, prog rock, jazz & avant jazz, eastern & world melodies, creative & alien tape loops & beyond. Track three “Xhorkom Ramadhan In The Snow For A Blow”, starts off with backward vocals & organ elements, before moving into a mix a slowly jiving semi eastern meet Spanish tinged rock groove that’s weaved with moody sax wails ‘n’ weaves. Then we move into eastern story telling vocals over a jiving rock jazz back ground, with the vocalist finally repeating the word ‘Ramadan’ a few times, before we dip down in a cheeky John Coltrane meets more approachable Albert Ayler jaunting sax type vibe that darts & flits over a fairly even jazz rock groove base. Then there's the alien tape loop noise texturing of “Uno Transito Clapori”, which is built around layers of non harmonic almost turntable like textures. Before we go back to more the King Crimson like rapid violin & guitar riff opener of “Nymphenberger”, which later-on alternates between moody looped violin sawing & more “21st century schizoid man” like risers. Though to “Habibi Baby Beast of Sweden Boehm Constrictor” which starts off with backwards vocals, and eastern jazz rock groove, then drifts into a edgy & taunt experimental jam like mix of stereo channel shifting wacky percussion, violin sawing, tinkling & picking guitar texturing. Before pickin-up shape with a consistent bounding & darting bass ‘n’ cymbal heavy groove, that builds into a great jazz rock groove before suddenly stopping.
The seven bonus tracks take in the two versions of the bands one & only hit, 1971’s “Jig-a-Jig” which saw the band creating instrumental folk/ rock jig( the track later got covered British folk Rock band Skyclad). The other five tracks take in three rewarding & previously unreleased tracks that go from urgent progressive prog rock pop, onto more persistent rock ‘n’ violin led tracks, through to slight jazz tinged blues & rock work-outs. Then lastly we have two alternative versions of tracks from the “Snafu” album.
I can heartily recommended “Snafu” to anyone who enjoys 1970’s prog/ jazz rock that has a adventurous spirit & a few experimental edges. Once again the great Esoteric label have uncovered another lost progressive gem.Roger Batty