Nektar - Journey to the Pyramid Centre of the Eye [Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra - 2016]
This deluxe 45th anniversary edition of the classic debut album by British progressive rock legends Nektar is a 3 disc set packed to the gills with amazing music. The first disc features the original album and includes a 5.1 surround mix, whilst discs 2 and 3 feature a complete 2 hour plus live recording of the band from Bessunger Turnhalle in Darmstadt, Germany, in November of 1971.
Disc one features the original debut album, and whilst many of you may know the album already I will supply a brief summary for those who don’t already know Nektar. Originally released in 1971 the album is a fantastic slice of classic progressive rock, very typical of the period, and featuring some amazing musicianship, the songs are beautifully structured and the whole thing is infused with a kosmische vibe that oozes from every pore, largely down to the fact the band were living and recording in Germany, and would no doubt have drawn influence from such contemporaries as Can and Amon Duul II. The album is at times heavy, fragile, tender, psychedelic and Avant Garde in equal measures and remains one of the finest examples of its period. The new mix is great and really accentuates the depth of the musical talent on display, the sound separation is vastly improved and the album sounds fresh and vibrant. Bonus tracks 1-2-3-4 and a radio edit of Do You Believe in Magic round out the first disc as a nice addition.
The live recordings on discs two and three are the really interesting addition for me. Whilst the recording is rough around the edges, the power of the bands live performance comes across beautifully. Recorded shortly after the release of the original album, this set which runs at an astonishing 2 hours plus is largely made up material from the debut album as well as 1972s follow up “A Tab in the Ocean”, and 1973s classic double album “…Sounds Like This”. The live set captures the band in their pomp, and is an energetic tour de force. Opening with the song Good Day which would later appear on their third album “…Sounds Like This” they rip through a fantastic set. The fact it is an audience recording infuses the album with a sense of the time and place and the whole package is a pleasure to sink into and enjoy.
Nektar remain one of the glut of wonderful progressive bands that blew minds in the early 1970s and whilst they never achieved the success of a Yes or a Genesis they remain just as important for the growth of the genre and its development throughout the period, and in fact their taking on board a more spacey, kosmische vibe ensures their own unique place in the pantheon of British progressive artists to have gone on to influence and inspire musicians and artists throughout the following 4 decades. This album is a must for fans of the band as the live material is a wonderful time capsule of their live performances, and the new mix is beautiful. It is also a great album for those dipping their toe into progressive music for the first time, showcasing an excellent band in their prime as well as perfectly melding the British progressive rock scene and the German kosmische scene. Darren Charles