QUIET SUN — Mainstream (review)

QUIET SUN — Mainstream album cover Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Atavachron
The stories behind this Phil Manzanera-led set are numerous including an all night recording session wherein all the primaries were cut, the simultaneous release of his solo 'Diamond Head' which mirrors part of the material here, and a slew of record company rejection letters that rivals the best of 'em, complete with the furiously scribbled notes of a determined artist. It reminds us that even in 1975, perhaps the zenith of progressive music's popular appeal, material like this was a hard sell. But Manzanera had seen some success with Roxie Music, 'Diamond Head' was bound for the charts, and RM bandmate Brian Eno was along for the ride on this one for synth treatments. In musical hindsight, the result was one of the great rock expressions of its time. A truly whole and unique event that seems to happen spontaneously, and though a mere two rehearsals were had it is a fully-realized basement symphony, a dream one afternoon, a young man's triumph and a rare gift.

Eight-minute 'Sol Caliente' could not be better named and achieves a mingling of black fire rhythm and minimalist wave theory, jazz drone and molecular exploration that ends all too soon on the near-perfect (and trumpet-less) 'Trumpets With Motherhood'. Drummer Charles Hayward is alive, his traps mixed in front, partnered by bassist Bill MacCormack's needlepoint thunk and Dave Jarrett's light touch on the Fender Rhodes. A kazoo free-for-all opens 'Bargain Classics' but it's as if the first cut never ended, just got more deeply into an already astounding moment of clarity and madness at once, the players braving the hot soot and sparks given off, pushing deeper with no thought to outcome... the experience of a living, blood-pumping creature, startling in appearance and not a little threatening. Manzanera's classic hard-fuzz guitar tone grounds us to realty when necessary Canterbury style, like a comforting friend during a long mescaline trip. But his leadership is entirely generous and he allows all members to shine, creating the special conditions that made this session what it is. 'Mummy Was an Asteroid' is miraculous, huge, inspired... layered guitar and key lines meeting on the street for some bold infighting, Phil's wailing solos, what Soft Machine could have been. 'Trot' provides a short rest but is equally compelling, Jarrett's soft jazz and Eno's childlike background colors. The infamous 'Rongwrong' finishes and though endless, turns itself into a sweet and not unsingable love song featuring Charles Hayward's slightly off whine and stiff tongue in cheek performance from the band.

Surely a masterwork of its kind though best viewed against the backdrop of prog history, and I suspect the record will please those most who have heard a tremendous amount of music, good and bad.
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