Floating World CD
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This wonderful band first came to attention with a clutch of albums recorded for Vertigo Records in the early 1970's. By 1974 they had become the vision of flautist Jon Fieldand guitarist Tony Duhig and had signed to Island Records. Noted by Chris Blackwell as one of his favourite groups, the four albums recorded by Jade Warrior for Island were classic ambient works, stunning in their beauty and power. Foating Worlsd was the band's first album for Island Records and remains an outstanding listening experience. This reissue has been re-mastered from the original tapes and fully restores the original album artwork.
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Jade Warrior made a peerless run of four albums for Island between 1974 and 1978, of which this was the first. Formerly vocal orientated, the band became an instrumental duo at the behest of Island boss Chris Blackwell. It was the right decision, for this is music beyond words. This was also music quite outside of its own time, and could have been made for these days of perfect sound reproduction. It is all instrumental, features a stunning array of natural sound colours, eked out of real instruments rather than synthesizers and keyboards, there is a woody, organic feeling to everything here.
The Field/Duhig duo were masters of a number of instruments, more importantly perhaps, getting instruments to what they wanted them to do, Jade Warrior's was a uniquely identifiable sound and it carries through the entirety of their Island catalogue to make the four albums a unique and satisfying whole.
The 36 minutes of intense music presented here consists of 10 titles, but to pick any of them in isolation would be to miss the point. It needs to be heard in full so as to fully appreciate the range and juxtaposition of moods and textures. This is a richly rewarding listening experience, bursting with sumptuously recorded instruments.
There is a dynamic range on show here which must have made the mixing process a nightmare. There are sounds so soft your ears strain to hear them, interrupted by gong blasts and riffs loud enough to pin you to your seat. Background music this is not. The sheer scale and ambition of this work is all the more remarkable for the extent to which they achieved it, and the difficult circumstances in which they had to work.
Jade Warrior really defy categorisation, like all the best music should, but if you appreciate immaculately played and recorded instrumental work, this is one classic you should own. They should have been the next Mike Oldfield.
This album is in my all-time 'top 10' alongside such works as "Close to the Edge" by Yes, "Infected" by The The, and "Colour of Spring" by Talk Talk. Everything about "Floating World" is perfect, from the 'Eckford & Stimpson' artwork which attracted me to buy the vinyl album in its original form, to the musicianship, the incorporation of far-eastern influences, the dynamic range of the music, and the way the music hangs together as a whole piece of work. Tony Duhig's double-tracked guitar and Jon Field's flutes give this music a character all of its own. I can listen to this album many times, and find something new on each occasion. Brian Eno was an admirer - no surprise that something sounding uncannily like Tony Duhig's guitar should turn up on "Another Green World" (the track used as the theme for "Arena" TV Arts show). Their first three Vertigo albums feature a larger line-up with vocals from Glyn Havard, and are enjoyable enough, with clear signposts as to the direction to be taken when Jade Warrior were reduced to a duo. The following three 'Island' albums to 'Floating World' are also worth investigation, although not in my view matching up to this album.
Beautifully and lovingly produced, this album repays investigation by the newcomer to the 70's prog genre, or those who wish to return to albums that they may have missed out on the first time around.
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