Friday, 26 February 2016

Sand - Ultrasonic Seraphim (1974)

'Golem', recorded in 1974 by Klaus Schulze, remains Sand's only album released in their brief existence, although in recent few years archival material has managed to stretch to a further three releases (soon to be four!) courtesy of French label Rotorelief.  Before those releases, there was Ultrasonic Seraphim, which emerged in 1996 thanks to the efforts of Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound) and David Tibet (Current 93) who loved the LP and were determined to get it back in print.

According to the sleevenotes, Golem ended up being so spare and minimal through necessity, as Sand found themselves with only three members compared to their earlier incarnation.  Based around VCS3 synth, bass and sparing guitar, Golem's tracks stretch out into lengthy drones and weird tales, with the exception of two shorter songs.  Of the latter, May Rain has an eerie beauty that led Current 93 to do a respectful cover, and the simply...odd On The Corner adds Klaus Schulze on bongos to provide the only percussion on the entire album.

Ultrasonic Seraphim adds a further hour and a half of bonus material, from which you can construct an alternate/demo version of the album almost proto-industrial in its rawness, before Schulze produced the LP with the Artificial Head system (later on known variously as Holophonics or simply binaural stereo).  Along with this are three excellent lengthy tracks that pulse and drone like the very best krautrock; a shorter take of one of them (Vulture), and tracks from frontman Johannes Vester's planned solo album.  The latter certainly had the potential to make up a more conventionally prog album - 'Doncha Feel' frequently sounds like it's on the verge of turning into Jethro Tull's 'Locomotive Breath', accompanied by Animals-era Rick Wright synth!

Is it you... Sarah? it's the storm...

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