Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

206

Secret Oyster: Vidunderlige Kaelling

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Secret Oyster—a supergroup in Denmark during its short lifespan in the mid-1970s, having emerged from the remnants of a number of other locally successful progressive rock bands—generally leaned more towards the fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Nucleus, and Bitches Brew-era Miles. Still, when recruited to provide music for a Royal Danish Ballet project based on the erotic poetry of Jens August Schade, the quintet demonstrated surprising restraint, substituting detailed through-composition for the more solo-intensive approach manifested on albums like Sea Son (CBS, 1975) and Orllaver (CBS, 1977).

What international reputation Secret Oyster had was as a group of intrepid jazz-rock soloists whose greatest claim to fame was sharing the bill on Captain Beefheart's 1975 European tour. So it's more than a little surprising that, while the group's more characteristic albums remain long out of print, The Laser's Edge has chosen to issue a beautifully remastered and expanded version of its music for the Royal Danish Ballet project Vidunderlige Kælling. The recording was originally titled Astarte when it was first released in 1975, referencing the specific piece where principal dancer Vivi Flindt—who performed the majority of the ballet in the nude—was painted entirely in gold, at considerable personal risk. This reissue is more appropriately named after the title of the ballet itself, conceived by Flemming Flindt, Vivi's husband and the Royal Danish Ballet's artistic director/choreographer.

Contemporary ballet pieces that use rock-informed music—even of the progressive variety—often fail the test of time, but the music on Vidunderlige Kælling succeeds on its own merits and is surprisingly fresh thirty years later. While lacking the avant-garde edge of classic Soft Machine and the harmonic/compositional complexity of Hatfield and the North, there is nevertheless a certain Canterbury feel to the album, which is fleshed out to 49 minutes with three additional previously unreleased tracks which were heard at the ballet. The textures are different—no self-respecting Canterbury band would use a Moog or string synthesizer—but the contrapuntal nature of the arpeggiated "Intro and "Outro bear clear precedence.

"Sirenerne, with saxophonist Karsten Vogel and guitarist Claus Bøhling's across-the-bar melody supported by Ole Streenberg's solid backbeat, parallels the similarly riff-based Karl Jenkins-era Soft Machine, as does the more atmospheric "Astarte, revolving around a keyboard/guitar arpeggio that develops into a restrained solo tradeoff vehicle for keyboardist Kenneth Knudsen and Bøhling—also heard on sitar. But whereas latter-day Soft Machine, as compelling as it was, often demonstrated a dangerous proclivity for excess, Secret Oyster remains ever-focused on the purpose of Vidunderlige Kælling, which is to support a group of dancers. "Solitude is gentle, lyrical, and just the slightest bit melancholy, while "Tango Bourgoisie —which features guest musician Palle Mikkelborg, well-known to fans of the ECM label—is aptly titled, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Vidunderlige Kælling may not be wholly representative of Secret Oyster's full potential, but it remains an evocative and engaging album that will hopefully spark some interest in reviving the rest of the group's small but worthwhile discography.


Track Listing: Intro; Stjernerne Pa Gaden; Sirenerne; Astarte; Solitude; Tango-Bourgoisie; Bellevue; Valse du Soir; Outro. Bonus Tracks: Sleep Music; Circus Sax; Intro to Act II.

Personnel: Kenneth Knudsen: piano, electric piano, Moog, string synthesizer; Karsten Vogel: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, string synthesizer; Claus B

Title: Vidunderlige Kaelling | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: The Laser's Edge

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roppongi CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Is Life Long? CD/LP/Track Review Is Life Long?
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Contra la indecision CD/LP/Track Review Contra la indecision
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Vessel in Orbit CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read Pulse/Quartet CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Bringin' It" CD/LP/Track Review Bringin' It
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Mist. Moss. Home." CD/LP/Track Review Mist. Moss. Home.
by Jim Olin
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)" CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Follow Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Oh, Clara!" CD/LP/Track Review Oh, Clara!
by Jim Olin
Published: September 3, 2017