četvrtak, 10. siječnja 2013.

17 Pygmies - Celestina III: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale of Love and Quantum Physics) (2012)

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Treći, završni dio epske prog-space-rock opere (započete 2008.) o Celestini i njezinoj posadi, tj. o ljubavi i kvantnoj fizici. Sf-scenarij nadahnut dijaloškim romanom La Celestina (Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea or Comedia de Calisto y Melibea) Fernanda Rojasa iz 1499. godine.
Neoklasična, eksperimentalna etno-elektronička droga.
Sami autori kažu: "Djelomično simfonijski prog-rock, djelomično eksperimentala, djelomično sf, djelomično indie rock, djelomično svemirski rock, djelomično psihodelija, djelomično elektro-akustična muzika (shvatili ste).”



CIII, the third installment in the epic prog-space-rock opera/opus is finally here, concluding story of the Celestina and her crew.
Musically the things I said about CII still hold true. The beauty and majesty remain intact. Given that, there’s more of a tendency for the band to be more experimental on a wider variety of tracks. The big standout is the inclusion of a lot more digital sounds. I particularly like this as they’re basically retro-digital for lack of a better term. I feel like the whole story of the Celestina as told through the music is one of those tales that is simultaneously grounded to a specific era (makes me think of the late 70s) and yet completely timeless and classic. Seeing as how this is the conclusion, there is a heightened sense of drama as the story nears it’s conclusion. Kind of an Ennio Morricone meets King Crimson thing happening here. 17 Pygmies have really done something special in combing an ongoing narrative across short fiction and several concept albums. It’s something that is unprecedented as far as I’m aware. - toeleven.net/

Celestina III: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale of Love and Quantum Physics) brings to a close an ambitious trilogy that began in 2008 with Celestina and continued on with the blues-influenced CII - Second Son in 2011. In keeping with the ambitious scope of the Celestina recordings, the project includes a three-part short story written by Jackson Del Rey (inspired by the fifteenth-century novel La Celestina by Fernando Rojas), with the story's third part included in the new album's packaging in a mini-booklet format. Science fiction by genre, the story concerns a mission involving the crew of the Celestina who have been commissioned to explore a newly discovered anomaly, possibly a Black Hole, in the grand nebula of Cassiopeia. Along the way, a robot community and the Holy Father (among others) are encountered, and a voyage to the Orion Nebula undertaken. The final part, which musically might be described as sci-fi balladry complemented by a generous helping of prog-rock (the latter heard most clearly in the instrumental overture and the ten-minute “Celestina XVII”), concerns the final flight aboard the Celestina. Overall, the material, often gravitating towards a lullaby waltz form, is somewhat more mellow than what one might have expected, though not displeasingly so.
Jackson Del Rey (vocals, synthesizer, guitar, bass), Meg Maryatt (vocals, synthesizer, guitar, piano), Jeff Brenneman (guitar, synthesizer), and Dirk Doucette (drums, synthesizer, guitar) are the four primary musicians, but there's also a small coterie of guests that contribute oboe, strings, bass, and vocals to the album. Celestina appears to be primarily the conceptual brainchild of Del Rey (he does, after all, receive sole credit for the story), even if the sound most prominently featured on this final part is Maryatt's voice. No worries there: her singing is fine, whether heard as a haunted incantation (the “Cassiopeia” chanting in “Celestina XXVI”) or as part of a lullaby waltz (“Celestina XXVIII (Celestina and Dr. V)”).
The songs are often sonically ornate in a way that suggests some mutant Magical Mystery Tour-Brain Salad Surgery hybrid, and their melodies are often haunting (consider “Celestina XXIX (Red to Blue Faster)” and the lilting meditation “Celestina XXX (Could This Be Heaven?)” as two such examples). The vocal songs are a potent and melodically rich lot, whether oozing bluesy portent (the regal “Celestina XXIV (Blues Theme)”) or cultivating enchantment and wonder (“Celestina XXV (Red to Blue)”). Though there are a couple of exceptions (“Celestina XVII,” for example), the arrangements, instrumentally speaking, are largely stripped-down rather than over-embellished, and the twelve pieces are rooted in an understated palette of synthesizers, guitars, and glockenspiels, with drums and percussion (bells, sleigh bells, etc.) generally used more for colour than beats (interestingly, the album material was originally conceived for string quartet, and in places strings appear alongside the other instruments, most noticeably during “Celestina XXX (Could This Be Heaven?)”).
All told, the strikingly packaged Celestina III: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale of Love and Quantum Physics) is a marvelous song-cycle that can be enjoyed on its own or as a concluding chapter in the trilogy. Regardless, the richly rewarding final part holds up strongly under repeated visitations. One leaves the project sorry that 17 Pygmies didn't conceive of Celestina as a four-part work, as doing so would have allowed us to look forward to at least one more chapter. - www.textura.org/

17 Pygmies is a band which has been around for 30 years now. They started out in 1982 when Jackson Del Rey (aka Philip Drucker) started jamming in a garage with a couple of his friends. Soon, this bore fruit, with their take on the Lawrence of Arabia theme. The band went through several stylistic and line-up changes and after 1990 took a 17 year hiatus. When 17 Pygmies resurfaced in 2007, Jackson Del Rey remained the only original member left.
In 2008, the band undertook a monumental task of releasing the Celestina trilogy, which saw the conclusion in 2012, with the release of CIII: Even Celestina Gets the Blues. The story is loosely based on Fernando de Rojas’ work La Celestina. If Rojas's novel La Celestina was a timeless tale of love and betrayal, Del Rey's modern take is a timeless tale of love, betrayal and quantum physics, with the outer space element not only present in the story but in the music itself.
Even Celestina Gets the Blues was released on 1st January 2012, exactly one year after the second instalment. First, I have to say a few words about the packaging, which is just brilliant. The limited edition, signed CD package, as with all Trakwerx releases, is elegantly packaged in a foil-pressed sleeve, including Part Three of the short story. There’s also a wax seal imprinted in the back, making this CD worth its money for the packaging alone.
The music, much like the story, takes you on a hypnotic space journey. Fans of progressive electronic (or even post rock), with really long and involved developments, should get a kick out of this album, however the instrumentation is quite different to the likes of Tangerine Dream. In that respect, 17 Pygmies mostly take a neo-classical route, with keyboards mostly emulating orchestra sounds. There are also some guest on oboe, viola and cello, who reinforce this feeling. There are only a couple of occasions when this trance-like state abates – for example, the Italian waltz on Celestina XXXI and the blues on the very last track (there had to be some blues with an album title like this).
Every note seems carefully chosen on Even Celestina Gets the Blues. You may not get the most technical music, but the melodies and atmosphere are so gorgeous and engaging, you’ll forget all about the absence of any guitar or keyboard heroics. At first the space journey may seem slow and plodding, but once you get involved into the music, you see that the journey is so full of beauty and wonders, there’s no need for any big bangs, it’s enough just to marvel at the cosmos and all its glorious sights (even though the story does includes elements like religious tyranny and space fights).
The music is mostly instrumental, with vocals scattered here and there for good measure. When used, they fit perfectly. Both the lead singers, mostly Meg and sometimes Jackson, and the backing vocalists keep the spacey vibe of the music going, with soothing and gentle lines working in unison with the instruments.
An album of quiet and ethereal beauty which might seem a bit too quiet when you first start listening to it, but its aesthetics really begin to shine through after repeated listening. Even Celestina Gets the Blues might be the final part of the trilogy, but we haven’t heard the last of 17 Pygmies. With releases like that, which are even better than in their supposed heyday, we can really look forward to more goodies from Jackson Del Rey and his posse. Jackson even said in OUR INTERVIEW that The Book of Celestina itself, which consists of 3 short stories and albums, was part of a larger work – a trilogy, so we may be in for quite a ride yet. Strap yourselves in and get ready for an amazing cosmic journey through the outer reaches of our galaxy. - Rok Podgrajšek

As a someone who's spent a lot of time over the years browsing through new music I’ve developed a system that I believe lets me pick music I’ll enjoy listening to. It’s basically a quick three-step filtering process, and if something makes it to the end of the final stage then I’ll generally give it a listen.

1. Band/artist name
2. Album title and cover artwork (is that 2 steps?)
3. Track titles
If I had been left to choose this album using my personally effective (but maybe not very scientific) method of selecting music, 17 Pygmies would have fallen at the first and I would have moved on. Since the choice was not mine but came from the Head Honcho here at The Sound of Confusion I pushed on.
It took me almost two days to find the album title as it’s not clearly defined anywhere in the press kit. The bio mentions a number of albums by the band, and this is clearly one of them, I just couldn’t work out which. I finally worked it out because it was in the subject line of an email. There wasn’t any associated album cover, just a small logo in one corner of the press kit, maybe that was it?
Track titles: ten tracks all laid out in upper case (are they shouting?) all with the same name 'CELESTINA' and numbered with Roman numerals from XXIII-XXXII. I’m thinking this has got concept album written all over it and my heart is sinking further. You need a concept for a concept album and I'm yet find one so far. This was not boding well for me but still I pressed forward.
To the music itself, I think the Pygmies best describe it themselves “Partly symphonic prog rock, partly experimental, partly sci-fi, partly indie rock, partly space rock, partly psychedelic, partly electro-acoustic, (you get the picture)” I did get the picture and it scared me. The vocals of Meg Maryatt are hauntingly beautiful in their style and delivery, reminding me somewhat of Julee Cruise ('XXV'), Laurie Anderson ('XXVI') or even Shirley Bassey ('XXIV') but the lyrics of Jackson Del Rey (not his real name - maybe he’s Lana’s father?) don’t do her any justice at all.
I almost did.
'CIII: EVEN CELESTINA GETS THE BLUES' is such a mish-mash, that it took me ages to think of when and where it would be appropriate to play. I finally worked it out. It’s what I would expect to be played in a public place to deter disaffected youth and drug dealers from hanging around too long. There are a few specks of gold here but you’ll be wasting too much of your life panning for them to make it worth the effort. I think Jackson Del Ray sums it up best saying the Pygmies utilize the “whatever works” aesthetic to get their musical vision(s) across. Unfortunately in this case "whatever" doesn't work.
- thesoundofconfusionblog.blogspot.com/

Celestina II: Second Son (2011)


All music can be defined as a noise, formed by a code (that is to say according to layout rules and laws of succession within a limited space of sound). Listening to music is to receive a message.

I think that's 17 Pygmies are not lost in the space. We feel the absolute control in the shape of the sound, where all is organised. Actually "CII: Second Son" is like the spacecraft itself.
Soundtracks without film . Vanishing images in a glowing halo. Ballads at the border of the kitsch, harmony near an ugly and terrible hole, exploding under the powerfull leitmotivs of this record.
"I draw a circle in the sand
I think that's the way we'll go
I think that we're goin' home"
The combinatorics is the art or science to exhaust the possible. Use a leitmotiv is a attempt to exhaustion. Go and repeat the same tones, colors, shapes and words to make everything different. Fiction fucks reality, we're still here. - darbychronics.blogspot.com/

With a name like 17 Pygmies I wasn’t quite sure what to expect musically. Wow – was I pleasantly surprised! CII: Second Son is the second of a three-part concept series dealing with a doomed space flight exploring a giant gas nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia. This California band actually formed back in 1982 and has been around in some permutation since then. The band currently is made up of Jeff Brenneman (guitar, synth, vocals), Dirk Doucette (drums, synth-guitar, bass, vocals), Meg Maryatt (vocals, piano, synth) and Jackson Del Rey (vocals, guitar, synth). The music they create has at times bordered on arty alternative pop rock to the music here which is lushly symphonic, loaded with keyboards, tinkling sounds and soft melodic vocals. It’s like a haunting sci-fi movie score only more animated in it’s telling of the story.
There are 11 tracks on CII: Second Son, none of them overly long, the longest is 6:50 however each of them regardless of length is richly orchestrated with layers of strings, muted throbbing bass lines, tinkling bells and triangles. The vibe is very much one of floating in space, solitude and more than a hint of danger and the unknown. The compositions are given strength by their ability to evoke space both visually and audibly creating a sense of foreboding. The vocals offer a hint of comfort at the plight of our space travellers, as they seemingly reflect on safer times. The vocals appear in only a few of the tracks and involve recurring melodies which creates a thematic thread. Each of the tracks is entitled “Celestina” and is then sequenced with a Roman numeral. On this second part of the trilogy we have parts XII to XXII. In addition the actual disc packaging it quite impressive. The label offers this release in foil-pressed sleeves, booklets, wax seals, and plastic wrapping.
As I said at the outset 17 Pygmies was a pleasant musical surprise. The music on these two discs is a fascinating blend of bands like The Enid and Karda Estra. Fans of those two bands will immediately love the music on CII: Second Son; it’s dramatic and richly symphonic one minute and then evoking a haunting chamber styled prog the next. If that sounds like your cup-of-tea, I highly recommend you track down the music of 17 Pygmies. CII: Second Son is a totally captivating disc that I highly recommend to lovers of symphonic prog. - www.jerrylucky.com/
Last year prog rock was kind of a thing, at least in the world of metal. I listened to my share of prog/metal and even enjoyed some, but I really never thought it could honestly be described as genuine prog, a little bit of guitar noodling between riffs is ok, but that is all it ever was. 17 Pygmies plays the real thing. Established in 1982, there is a an authenticity to their musical approach grounded in a lineage stretching back to the original era of prog and space rock. CII is the second part of a three-part epic space-opera which is also an exploration of religious themes. There are actually two pieces of short fiction that accompany Celestina and CII; the literal narrative of events of the music in the two albums. I don’t want to delve too deeply for the purpose of a review, but those works definitely add a layer of complexity that goes past what you find on the average concept album.
The music taken by itself is great. There is a beautiful, almost low-key majesty to it. The album unfolds the story at its own pace. There are pieces that are a more traditional songs featuring great vocals by Meg Maryatt and more instrumental compositions that incorporate both the traditional synthesizer sounds of you associate with space rock with very gentle touches of contemporary and classical sounds. While I enjoyed it on the first listen, the album took me a few weeks to “get.”
Any prog and space rock fan owes it to themselves to check this out. - toeleven.net/

Celestina (2008)


17 PYGMIES latest effort, Celestina is a concept album about a doomed space flight by a bunch of astronauts getting high on pure oxygen while exploring a giant gas nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia. Thematically, Celestina is loosely based upon the classic 15th century Latin novel La Celestina, a timeless tale of love and betrayal. Celestina is also a musical tribute to all of the unique 1950-60’s era science fiction motion pictures (think The Day The Earth Stood Still) and clearly reflects JACKSON DEL REY’s recent obsession with late night Twilight Zone repeats. Celestina seamlessly welds classical film scores and ‘60s era psychedelia with 4AD style vocals to create a simultaneously beautiful and haunting universe of musical splendor. - midheaven.com/

This is space opera at its finest. (As in the subgenre of science fiction literature where tales of romance and dare doing heroes fight power hungry villains and alien monsters, all set against the backdrop of the stars.) There are no ear splitting sopranos singing in German on this record, but sultry vocals cooed into a microphone over gorgeous synth lines and hypnotic guitar riffs. This was the perfect band to sit down and listen to as I waited for my flight to arrive inside a dimly lit spaceport bar.
Like a lavish valentine, with a star map of the constellation Cassiopeia on the front (personally signifying the influence of destiny on lovers crossing paths), and beribboned on the back with a heart sealed in hot silver wax, the package itself received the same caring attention and treatment as did the music inside. As with the soundtrack work of Current 93, Celestina was also conceived as music to accompany a short story. The subject matter in this case isn’t the claustrophobic worlds of a Thomas Ligotti or decadent Count Stenbock, but a tale of love, lust and betrayal scripted by 17 Pygmies lead man Jackson Del Rey himself. Like Jackson’s namesake (editor and author Lester del Rey), his story would find a fitting home amongst a pile of yellowing and well thumbed paperbacks from sci-fi’s Golden Age.
Initially inspired by the 15th century Latin novel La Celestina, the next link in Jackson’s associative chain of inspiration came to him upon reading the headline “Nasa astronaut Lisa Nowak charged with attempted murder in bizarre love triangle.” What emanated from his pen is an enjoyable story playing on the tropes of the genre, just as the music enclosed gives a psychedelic tribute to the 1950s-60s science-fiction motion pictures soundtracks it evokes. Downloadable as PDF from a web address disclosed in the liner notes, my only complaint about this release is that the story was not included with the rest of the beautiful package.
The score is an exceptional one and not only stands on its own feet, but in its own corner, apart from the crowd. The band does so to their own advantage, never rescinding on the vision that is integral to their surf infused psychedelic sound. The lasting power of this music will outlive the bands who spawn stale fads.
The first track of eleven on Celestina is reminiscent of a movie’s opening credits; with delicate guitar work and dreamy synth lines, it prepares me for the coming voyage to the Grand Nebula. Meg Maryatt, the lead female on vocals, (a slight change of lineup since their last 13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus release) makes her appearance on the second song. Her scintillating question, “Could this be heaven?” forms a smoky refrain we hear reprised later in the album.
Track five is an epic freakout describing the disastrous collisions that sometimes occur in the shadowy depths of deep space -an asteroid or errant satellite slams into the body of the Celestina like the throbbing drum hits punctuating the ears. Breathy vocals saunter in, a soft rattle hovers around a tightly woven ominous bass thrum, and a screechy high-end guitar is manically picked, like someone laughing from inside a padded cell. Meg sings out “Somethings wrong,” like a warning, like a siren.
The keyboardist sends out shooting stars that wisp and whiz by, diffusing the harried moments in a warm synthesized aura. The afterimages fade with plucked harpsichord guitar trills. Squiggles of computer hiss emerge, as if the machines on board are breaking down.
Perfectly spaced tings on a bell issuing from the right speaker begin track ten; a telegraph pulse responds from the left. This is the kind of music I could drift into a black hole listening to. No longer tethered to the spacecraft, catapulted out by a jealous lover, I am gradually pulled in by a majestic chord. My supply of oxygen is running out and when the synth comes to its abrupt halt, I know I’ve taken my last breath. -

17 Pygmies’ new cd Celestina is a concept album, an eleven-part symphonic rock suite about love and betrayal in space based on a short story written by bandleader/guitarist Jackson Del Rey. It’s a lush, beautiful, absolutely haunting, mostly instrumental art-rock masterpiece, without a doubt one of the most gripping albums released this year. Celestina is symphonic in the purest sense of the word, a theme and variations that twist and turn and recur throughout. Its rich, icy layers of guitars and synthesized orchestration fade in and out of the mix, alternately hypnotic and jarring, with echoes of Pink Floyd, the Church, the Cocteau Twins, and echoing in the distance, Del Rey’s pioneering noise-instrumental band Savage Republic. The narrative traced by the tracks – simply titled Celestina I through XI – is discernable from the start, and it’s not pretty, despite the music’s glimmering grandeur.
It opens with the introduction of a disarmingly simple, gently menacing, Middle Eastern-inflected central theme, ambient and atmospheric with washes of strings, perhaps created by a guitar synthesizer pedal. The next movement, bracing and stately with reverb-and-delay guitar, is a dead ringer for legendary Australian art-rockers the Church circa Priest Equals Aura, singer/bassist Meg Maryatt’s disembodied, ethereal vocals perfectly capturing the mood. “Feels like heaven,” she sings, but the unease in her voice is visceral. Celestina III builds the instrumental theme introduced in II with lush washes of strings, getting gentle and really pretty at the end yet without losing its menacing undercurrent
In Celestina IV, a new theme is introduced with octaves in the bass. “What’s that sound?” Maryatt asks, her voice processed to a horror-movie timbre.The album’s centerpiece is its turning point, a murky, reverberating twelve-minute feedback instrumental evocative of Yo La Tengo at their most thoughtful or a quieter Savage Republic tune. It’s absolutely evil, the guitars’ low resonances phasing in and out for minutes on end until the bassline making a tentative entrance, pushing the melody around, finally grabbing it by the throat and thrashing it around with methodical, deadly force. Throat-singing over the low-register roar adds yet another layer of sinister overtones. At the end, the drums stomp on it a couple of times just to make sure it’s dead.
The next cut is a big, anguished, puzzled ballad with stellar vocals again from Maryatt: it’s something of a cross between a macabre DollHouse anthem and a standout cut from Priest Equals Aura. In VII, reverting to classical mode, the initial theme returns, mingling with its counterpart from II, taking on an altogether different meaning. At the end, bells toll quietly in the background. A fight scene ensues, a quietly anguished cry in a vacuum followed by a long noise jam, the instruments locked in a battle to the death, ending with the same long series of distant wails that began it. When the main theme recurs again, the arrangement is more ethereal and far darker, making it clear that the whole idea of this relationship was disastrous from the start. Closing the suite, loops of tinkling electric piano contrast with a wobbly wash of synth, building to a haunting, darkly nebulous constellation of strings. The cd ends on a surprisingly anticlimactic note, just the guitar playing simple arpeggios with an 80s chorus-box feel. - lucidculture.wordpress.com/

17 Pygmies picture

US band 17 PYGMIES was formed in 1982, initially consisting of Philip Drucker (aka Jackson Del Rey), Michael Kory and Debbie Spinelli. From an initial kind of progressive rock inspired sound the band developed towards a more distinct pop/rock sound in this formative phase. In 1983 Robert Loveless joined the band, just in time for the release of their first EP Hatikva, while Michael Kory left to explore other musical possibilities. The following year the band made their full length debut with Jedda By the Sea, a production considered as something of a masterpiece in the post-punk genre by a handful or so of dedicated fans of this style. In 1985 the second chapter of The Pygs musical exploits saw the light in the shape of Captured on Ice, an album notable for it's lack of popular individual tracks if one is to take the official band biography serious.
While obscurity is a great place to be in for artistic credibility it isn't for band stability, and when 17 Pygmies resurfaced again in 1988 with Welcome it was as a totally revamped band, Drecker and Loveless the only remaining members from the initial phase of the band's history. This turned out to be the last album by the band as an entity too, and 1991 saw the band hitting the pastures of hiatus following the odds and ends production Missyfish.
Just over a decade later various band members from their golden age of underground non-stardom decided that this band project really was too much fun to be involved with to let it rest any longer, and thus their second phase as non-stars in the realms of the obscure came to be. Since this reformation was decided they have been a fairly productive band too, with the double album 13 Blackbirds and the CD Ballade Of Tristram's Last Harping kicking off in 2007, followed by Celestina in 2008, The Outlaw J. D. Ray in 2009 and the second and third chapters in the science fiction based theme album series Celestina appearing as CII: Second Son in 2011 and CIII: Even Celestina Gets the Blues early in 2012.
Truly eager fans of the band might also hit the second hand market to hunt down a further curiosity by 17 Pygmies: The compilation CD Jedda by the Sea + Hatikva from 1995, assembling their two initial vinyl releases in a form and shape more easily accessible in a world where the LP player isn't a common item in households any longer. A description that, incidentally, can be applied to just about any album released by 17 Pygmies too. - www.progarchives.com/   17 Pygmies officially began in 1982 when then Savage Republic member Jackson Del Rey (aka Philip Drucker) began jamming in a garage with keyboardist and guitarist Michael Kory (Radwaste) and drummer, soon to be singer, Debbie Spinelli from Food & Shelter and Radwaste. The group's first composition was an odd, kind of surf-a-delic, Emerson Lake & Palmer inspired cover version of the theme music to David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Since no one was around to say stop, the band quickly devolved into a kind of spooky instrumental and 80's style techno-pop band, and by the time the Pygs, as they were now known to the five people including the band members who knew them, started covering Brazilian sambas (and just before the release of their first EP) Robert Loveless, now a member of Savage Republic, signed on as bass player/keyboardist. That "Hatikva," EP quickly led (minus Kory, who left to pursue an alternate path to obscurity) to 1984's full length LP “Jedda By The Sea." "Jedda" was an album short on the letter "h" but long on musical innovation and is still considered a "post-punk" masterpiece by those same five people including the band members who though "Hatikva” was worth releasing. Next came 1985's "Captured In Ice" which interestingly contained the non-hit "Chameleon" which made a very influential list called the 100 greatest unknown techno songs. All this obscurity led to several personnel changes (the only permanent idiot,,,er band member is Del Rey) which of course led to the release in 1989 of "Welcome" on the Island Records subsidiary Great Jones label. And they say contrary thought won't get you anywhere. Well, it didn't and the band was dropped the next year (1990) that saw the self- release of the last demos for Island as the EP “Missyfish”.
Well, life as a Pygmy was just so much damn fun that an ironic (or is it iconic) 17 years later, the “13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus” double CD was released under the indie record label Trakwerx, with original member Del Rey and Welcome era singer Louise Bialik in tow. Another fine fellow worth mentioning, guitarist Jeff Brenneman from White Glove Test also joined the fray. Well, in the great tradition of all things Pygmy, Bialik soon took off for the Island of Misfit Toys, leaving Del Rey and Brenneman to pick up the pieces and reform the band as The 17th Pygmy with Meg Maryatt (who was a contributor on 13 Blackbirds/13 Lotus) on vocals, guitar and accordion, Tony Davis, from White Glove Test on bass and Dirk Doucette, also from White Glove Test, on drums.
Thus, in October 2007, “Ballade of Tristram’s Last Harping” was released, which reflected a retro ‘60s Psychedelic-‘70s Classic Rock direction. Please note that being the horrible all knowing art-snobs that they are, Ballade is also a visual tribute to the Art Nouveau movement. The Art Nouveau style is probably best exemplified by the works of Gustav Klimpt and Aubrey Beardsley both of whose works were liberally borrowed from (but never credited) on the covers of many, many, many ‘60s albums.
With Jackson Del Rey’s newfound creativity writing experimental prog rock scores to classic silent films (“Battleship Potemkin”,“Nosferatu” & “Tarzan”), he had the idea to record a concept album, “Celestina” (loosely based upon the classic 15th century Latin novel La Celestina, a timeless tale of love and betrayal). 17 Pygmies return to their original name, perhaps for good, and continue on in the tradition of their signature sound that was first explored and presented on their classic 1984 release “Jedda By The Sea”.
Not to rest on their laurels, 17 Pygmies, along with bass player Bob Mora (a welcome addition to the band), are in the process of writing a new CD which leans towards alternative pop/rock songs, although with that very Pyg vibe.
And so it is, for now. - www.cdbaby.com/
    interview with Jackson Del Rey



Jedda By the Sea + Captured In Ice [LTMCD 2581]

Jedda By The Sea + Captured In Ice (2013)
320 kbps | 260 MB | UL | CL | MC

LTM presents a deluxe reissue of the first two albums by Californian experimentalists 17 Pygmies on remastered double CD and download. Formed in Los Angeles in 1983, the first incarnation of 17 Pygmies comprised Jackson Del Rey and Robert Loveless of Savage Republic, along with UCLA art students Debbie Spinelli and Michael Kory. Debut EP Hatikva appeared that same year, followed by their acclaimed cross-cultural album Jedda By the Sea in 1984. The Pygmies followed with second album Captured In Ice in 1985, once again issued on their own Resistance label and selling 2000 copies in just three weeks.
Now available on CD for the very first time, this extended double disc set also includes all five tracks from Hatikva, plus five previously unreleased outtakes from Jedda By The Sea and Captured in Ice. The booklet contains archive images and a biographical essay featuring contributions from Jackson Del Rey and Debbie Spinelli.

Collected recordings 1983-1985 of the Savage Republic-affiliated 17 Pygmies** "LTM presents a deluxe reissue of the first two albums by Californian experimentalists 17 Pygmies on remastered double CD. Formed in Los Angeles in 1983, the first incarnation of 17 Pygmies comprised Jackson Del Rey and Robert Loveless of Savage Republic, along with UCLA art students Debbie Spinelli and Michael Kory. Debut EP Hatikva appeared that same year, followed by their acclaimed cross-cultural album Jedda By the Sea in 1984. 'One of the most charming albums of the year,' said Los Angeles Times. 'The consistently inventive music borrows from various influences while maintaining a homey simplicity with its lush organ chords, occasional violins and tribal percussion. The kind of gracious music that can fill space without intruding on it.' The Pygmies followed Jedda with second album Captured In Ice, once again issued on their own Resistance label and selling 2000 copies in just three weeks. Rockpool praised: 'Four giants of musical brilliance with twelve songs of decidedly minimal music, creating an elaborately-embroidered tapestry of visionary sounds. Never does the music get lost in the ozone of extreme esotericism or eccentricity. Instead you have four people approaching pop music in a fresh and excitingly individual light.' Now available on CD for the first time, this extended 2xCD set also includes all five tracks from Hatikva, plus five previously unreleased outtakes from Jedda and Captured in Ice. Booklet contains archive images and a biographical essay featuring contributions from Jackson Del Rey and Debbie Spinelli." - boomkat

"The first full-length album by Seventeen Pygmies is an exotic, moody affair. Most of the tracks are instrumentals with Middle Eastern-inspired guitar lines over a background of keyboards and percussion. Given that Phil Drucker and Robert Loveless had both been members of Savage Republic, which dabbled in Middle Eastern moods from time to time, this isn't surprising. What is surprising is the delicacy and muted grandeur throughout Jedda by the Sea, far from the industrial clang of the typical Savage Republic release. The moods evoked are sometimes languid, sometimes taut and tense, in a way that shows some growth from the Hatikva EP, but has continuity of style. Though they are sparingly used, the ethereal, almost ghostly, vocals of Louise Bialik fit this material beautifully. When it was released, this album managed some airplay, despite the fact that less than a thousand copies were originally made. This folk-pop classic is a collector's item due to the high quality of the album and small number of units originally released. If you can get your hands on an authentic copy with the original artwork you are indeed fortunate" (All Music Guide)

Starije stvari:

Isabel (2013)

“The Book of Isabel, Part I” is a continuation of the “Celestina” saga which was created by Jackson Del Rey in 2008. Musically, “Isabel” will share some similarities with the Celestina Space/Prog rock sound, but will also delve into some “unusual” musical territory.
As part of the Isabel/17 Pygmies experience, you will also have the opportunity to experience newly created visual aspects of “Celestina.” We have just begun working with artist Natalya Kosolowsky on “The Book of Celestina” Part I, a 22-24 page comic book that will eventually become the first part of a Graphic Novel. This will be a unique and beautiful fantasy/sci-fi project. As part of our exclusives, Pledgers can also choose to purchase the Comic Book. Additionally, Natalya will be writing about her progress on Facebook and her blog, often posting examples of her artwork.
With your help we will be well on our way to another unique project that only the Pygmies can envision.

I was so captivated by 17 Pygmies' Celestina trilogy (2008's Celestina, 2011's CII: Second Son, and 2012's CIII: Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale of Love and Quantum Physics)) that I was sorry to see it end—until, that is, I learned that the long-standing group had plans for a new cosmic space opera to pick up where Celestina left off. And so here we are once more, this time with the first part of a planned Isabel trilogy that, based on the evidence at hand, promises to be as satisfying as its predecessor. Led by Jackson Del Rey on vocals, synthesizer, guitar, and bass, the band in its current formation features Meg Maryatt, whose vocals are a key element of the 17 Pygmies sound, and guitarist Jeff Brenneman and drummer Dirk Doucette (a handful of guests makes key contributions, among them Jean Sudbury on violin and viola).
The band has presented the release with its customary care, with the CD accompanied by a booklet containing the first part of The Book of Isabel and housed within a hand-crafted, string-art covered sleeve (a comic book version of the project is also in the works). The short story has familiar signposts of a standard sci-fi text—cyborgs and looming battles, for example—and understandably shifts the focus away from the female robot Celestina to Dr. Amelia Isabel, another passenger on the Celestina (the name shared by the ship and character).
What recommends the release most, however, is that if one regards Isabel as a prog-styled release, in many ways it goes against the genre grain. In place of fourteen-minute epics of the kind associated with Yes and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, 17 Pygmies present a twelve-part song cycle, and in contrast to a genre known for bombast and overkill, the group favours delicacy and understatement. Virtuosic noodling is eschewed in place of tasteful playing designed to serve the song in question. The tone of the album is ponderous and reflective, the music often unfolding in a measured lilt and presented in a chamber music style. Luscious on sonic grounds, the album's pretty tapestries are liberally dressed up in strings, glockenspiels, synthesizers, and guitars (acoustic and electric), with the overall sound exemplifying orchestral and classical tonalities. Instrumentals dominate, though vocal songs judiciously appear to break up the instrumental flow.
Changes of mood are subtly effected, such that the splendour of the opening part segues into the brooding second and wistful third. An occasional dark chapter appears amidst sunnier ones—the portentous fifth, for instance, where ominous washes drape themselves across a base of synth-burbling IDM. In addition, there's the proggy seventh, a rare uptempo track where electric guitar and “O Superman”-styled vocals front the urgent charge; the trippy ninth, whose sleigh bells, tablas, and surbahar (bass sitar) give the vocal song a quasi-psychedelic vibe; and the brooding, neo-folk eleventh, whose lyrics (“Red was the colour…”) reference the traditional folk song “Black Is the Colour (of My True Love's Hair).” Isabel is a true headphones listen, too, as many tiny touches become more noticeable the closer one attends—the soft-as-a-whisper background vocals behind Maryatt's unaffected singing in the haunting third part an example. 17 Pygmies cite a number of musical touchstones for the release, with Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Lamb-era Genesis, and Christopher Young among them, but, to its credit, the group ends up sounding more like 17 Pygmies than any of them. - textura.org

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