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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 6 January 2012
Forgotten miracle of early progressive rock, rescued from obscurity by revival of the interest in the music of the end 60s. "Arzachel" (named after medieval Arab astronomer), in real life was known as Uriel (name of one of the archangels), psychedelic blues-influenced band from 1968, which died young.
"Arzachel" (or Uriel, if you wish) is better known to music aficionados because of Steve Hillage (later of Egg, Gong and System 7 fame) who appears on the album under the moniker Simeon Sasparella. Respectively, Clive Brooks became Basil Dowling, Mont Campbell turned into Njerogi Gategaka, and Dave Stewart became Sam Lee-Uff - all because of legal matters.
Apart from Steve Hillage involvement, "Arzachel" blessed us with the title track - "Garden of Earthly Delights" (so named after famous triptych by Hieronymus Bosch), which since then inspired innumerable books, articles and compilations dedicated to psychedelia.
The album contains what I would call elements of pagan rock mass, with powerful organ-led pieces inspired by church music {"Garden Of Earthly Delights", "Azathoth"*,) and psalm-alike singing (perhaps the voices are not great, but they are pushed to the extreme). Unusual "Leg" starts as another baroque piece, and surprisingly evolves into heavy masterpiece of acid prog. "Clean Innocent Fun" is leaning on blues, and it's easy to feel the similarities with Led Zeppelin. The title of the last track was borrowed from psychiatry, and I am afraid that this choice was justified: the musicians indulged themselves in a lengthy orgy of sounds and improvisations (often compared to early Pink Floyd A Saucerful Of Secrets [2011 - Original Recording Remastered]), making sacrifice of musical harmony and the audience.
*Azathoth, this time, is a deity created by H.P.Lovecroft (writer, not band, although the band is also recommended Dreams in the Witch House: the Complete Philips Recordings)

Brilliant album
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on 27 August 2016
I bought this out of curiosity, having heard about it when I was reading something about Steve Hillage. If you are into prog rock or psychedelic rock of the Planet Gong type, then this really is for you. Yes, it's something of an oddity and the quality is not brilliant ('raw' is probably quite diplomatic!), but musically it is top notch. If you like Hillage, then you really should get a copy of this.
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on 29 April 2001
I have to admit I have only owned a copy of this classic album for a couple of years, and this review consists of information lifted directly from the CD notes plus my impressions from repeated listening. Before its reissue by Dropout records this album had been fiendishly hard to find and collectors would pay ridiculous sums of money to secure a copy. It's not hard to see why, for several reasons: it was recorded early in the careers of Dave Stewart and Steve Hillage, who both went on to become giants of the British progressive and psychedelic scenes. What's more, it has all the trappings of an underground classic: recorded and mixed in an afternoon, cover art done by Dave Stewart with a felt-tip pen, sleeve notes consisting of fake biographies of the band under assumed names (the reason for this was that Stewart, Campbell and Brooks were already under contract to Decca), and released in tiny quantities, later to become available on bootleg. Finally, It is a somewhat eclectic album, the opening tracks securely in the Caravan/Soft Machine mould of organ-led, lyrical progressive pop, moving on through Cream/Led Zeppelin inspired blues, ending up with a protracted psychedelic excursion on the final track. Production? What production? Never mind, the rough edges add to the individuality and appeal of the album. Furthermore, the brilliance of the playing shines through. "Garden of Earthly Delights" has nice booming bass and jazzy drums providing the foundation for Stewart's doomy organ sound. Campbell and Hillage's vocals are somewhat trite, with the feel of an Elizabethan sonnet, but not quite enough to make you cringe. Hillage's superb solo, sounding like Cream-vintage Clapton, makes up for it, though. There's doomy, progressive feel, reminiscent of early Nice or Procol Harum, on "Azathoth," with Campbell's distorted organ sound shrieking like a banshee. "Queen St. Gang" is an opportunity for Stewart to show off his jazz-influenced keyboard skills. It's a gentle Caravan-styled interlude before the stomping blues excursion, "Leg." This track starts out with jolly keyboard twiddlings and lightweight riffing from Hillage, and then suddenly explodes into a passionate rendering of "Rolling and Tumbling" with the band's own lyrics substituting the originals. "Clean Innocent Fun" is ten minutes plus of heavy metal. Hillage plays guitar lines in unison with his wailing vocals and then lifts off on an extended blues-tinged solo. Back to the vocal and guitar unison playing for another verse and then a much more freeform extended solo with waves of echoey distorted organ from Stewart. A final verse, and the song ends as suddenly as it began. "Metempsychosis" is sixteen minutes plus of prime psychedelic freakout. It starts with freeform playing from everybody, in the style of Floyd's Saucerful of Secrets or Amon Duul II's Phallus Dei, and then settles down into a one-chord, insistent riff, which forms the basis for improvisation through the rest of the piece. There's a pause in the middle before disembodied floating voices drift in, with more Floydian strangeness, and then it's back to the beat. Campbell does a bass solo, and we're back to extended freakiness again as the track careers on to a climax, staying on that one chord the whole time. There's precious little surviving material from the golden days of British psychedelia, and it's usually pretty hard to sniff out. We're lucky to have this shining example (reasonably) freely available again.
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on 27 July 2015
A True Prog Rock MASTERPIECE !!!
Steve Hillage at his BEST.
A Must own piece of Prog/Psych History in the making before Hillage joined Legends Gong.
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on 15 September 2007
I remember owning this album many years ago and I wouldn't mind a new CD copy of it, but I can't quite get my head around the price, which seems somewhat excessive. Am I missing the point here?
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on 9 December 2010
A very early album featuring Steve Hillage & Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics one). This is heavy (as in bad trip) this is raw, this is scary in places (Azathoth). This is the sound of the dark side of the hippy dream. Not for everyone by any means but worth a go if you like Acid Rock/Psych-Rock.
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on 29 August 2012
Vrlo vazan album iz najranije faze ova cetri izvanredna muzicara!U konfuziji,album je na kolosjeku s natruhama Claptonovskog rada u Cream,djelom Hendrixa i ehom malo Floyda!Izdan za Evolution 1969te te su autori na lpiju potpisani pseudonimom zbog ugovora diskografa.Bez obzira,Arzachel je dozivio brojna izdanja te uziva danas kult status medju kolekcionarima diljem svjeta!Uporedo Arzachela,netom u to vrjeme izdan je prvi album grupe Egg za Deram Novu bez kolege gitariste Stevea Hillagea koji je u to vrjeme studirao!Ako se uputite u avanturu nabave i istrazivanja ove skupine i svega poslje ponaosob,imat ce te sto cuti!Stroga preporuka za sve u sto je ova skupina godinama meandrirala!Sretno!
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