Saturday, March 11, 2006

Yezda Urfa - Boris

This was a demo album put together by ourselves. We had wanted to make a good recording, showing off our music, with the hope that someone of influence would eventually hear the album and get us a recording deal. Oh well, one can always hope...
This album was recorded in about three days, as I recall, in a professional studio in Chicago. However, this studio was normally used for commercials and other, more "normal" recording, and they were quite amazed at our music, our long hair, and our crazy antics.
Three of the five pieces on this album were reworked and appeared on our second album, Sacred Baboon. There are only a few copies of this album left. I only have one copy left and it's in poor condition. By Yezda Urfa

Yezda Urfa were an American band that recorded and performed during the 70s, but unfortunately broke up after experiencing no record label interest for their second album Sacred Baboon in the decidedly prog-unfriendly waters of the later 70s. However, Greg Walker's Syn-Phonic label managed to dig up the album and gave it proper release in 1989. The band can can actually be fairly easily described as an eccentric amalgamation of Yes and Gentle Giant. The bass player sounds like Chris Squire, the guitarist plays like Steve Howe and the singer sounds somewhat like Jon Anderson, but the song structures are much more reminiscent of the angular and overtly complex territories of Gentle Giant, including complex vocal harmonies, though perhaps approaching the fiery intensity of Relayer at times. Still, the band lacks the same kind of compositional variety of either of those two bands, instead relying on superbly intense and frenetic playing that can be utterly jaw dropping throughout the album. For the most part, the band doesn't vary from their impressive attack, but occasionally moments of traditional Yes-like beauty provide some breathing room.
"Give 'em Some Rawhide Chewies" is immediately impressive, and rocks out from the first second of the album. Songs like "Cancer of the Band" and the beginning of "Boris and His Three Verses" illustrate a more plaintive melodic side to the group, before breaking into dazzling instrumental portions. The aforementioned "Cancer..." as well as "(My Doc Told Me I Had) Doggie Head" also feature great multi-part vocal harmonies that are directly out of the Gentle Giant book. Vocals are actually the weakest link in the band. I've never been a huge fan of Jon Anderson anyway, but it seems like Rick Rodenbaugh ends up rushing a lot of phrases to keep up with the breakneck changes and playing. To me, the vocals just don't fit in a lot of points where they are used, and only rarely serve their function as an attractive centerpiece to a song, generally distracting from the great instrumental work instead. Still, this is one of the finest examples of American progressive rock from the 70s. Superb musicianship and on-the-dime, well-executed playing is the definite highlight. A fun album, if not the most original thing I've ever heard. Gnosis 2000


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