May 21, 2015

"The Scene". Rab Wilkie's memories from the past (part one)...

After a first contact by mail, I asked Rab if he could tell something about his meeting with our Holy Band.
Even if with some wrong memories (for example, Dave Tomlin never played a trumpet or a tambourine...), this is a very interesting personal recollection of the climax lived in the end of Sixties/beginning of Seventies. A precious little contribution to the Third Ear Band's story... 

"Hi Luca,
What a pleasant surprise to hear from you! (One never knows what to expect when leaving a message on the internet). I'm not sure I can help you much more with 3rd Band info, but I'll add a few things here, just in case they're
of interest. (I'm more a writer than a talker).
I met the band around August 1967. I was age 21. And hung out with them for several months until April 1968. In May 1971, on a flying visit, I popped in to see them during a recording session for MacBeth. That's about it, as far as in-person interactions go with the main members of the band. But it was a big scene overall, with all sorts of people, artists & musicians, coming & going, and things going on.
I first made the connection to this scene in Toronto, Canada, in 1965 when I roomed in a house in the Yorkville Village area - Toronto's hip version of the East Village in Manhattan. Barry Pilcher was staying in the same house.
He had recently arrived from London where he had played sax with the Hydrogen Jukebox & Dave Tomlin, also with Glen and others. 

The following summer I lined up a job for him as a forest ranger on a fire lookout tower in northern Ontario. We each manned a tower (May-September) in the same area, about 20 miles apart; and would chat by radio-phone some evenings. (One night he was almost struck by an incoming meteorite).
That autumn he returned to London, and I flew over to visit relatives in Plymouth, Devon.

In January 1967 I moved to London and met up with Barry again. He was the only person I knew in the city at that time. But a couple of months later I decided to become a monk and spent six months in a Thai Buddhist monastic centre near Richmond. I moved back into the hub of things in mid August where I reconnected with Barry and some of his musician friends, including Glen, Carolyn, and Clive Kingsley who was playing guitar with the band. Barry played sax with them. 
This was just before they decided to call themselves the Third Ear Band, and the band itself had not quite formed. Various musicians came and went, and Barry & Clive apparently did not quite fit. Glen of course was the mainstay, with Carolyn. (Barry & Clive eventually went off to do their own things. Clive ended up in small coastal village in Cornwall; Barry got married and moved to Ireland but continued to play gigs here & there).
On one occasion I joined the Third Ear on stage at a venue in Covent Garden at a "happening". The only instrument I owned then was a bagpipe chanter, so that's what I played. The other attraction was a dance troop, Exploding Galaxy. (My main instrument was alto sax, but it was a while before I could afford even to rent one.. and then I left, returning to Toronto). 

Pilcher and Glen in 1991
So, aside from the meeting at Glen's & Carolyn's flat - which I described previously in my first message to you - where the idea of a name for the band was discussed and more or less decided, I can't say that my influence or interplay amounted to much. And with so many people & things always happening, on the periphery, I'm not surprised that to Glen & Carolyn I've become a forgotten footnote. But at the time, amidst the chaos, they helped many of us - including myself - stay focused. They were always very open and friendly, sharing their enthusiasm and experience with the scene; and
music was at the heart of it.
"The scene" of course involved much more than music, and I became more involved with the literary & mystical side of it. With crazy poets & publishers of the "Underground press". I was involved with Steve Pank and Muz Murray as they planned to start a "mystical scene magazine". The result was two different magazines, Muz with "Gandalf''s Garden" and Steve with "Albion".
I co-edited Albion with Steve, but it did not survive beyond the first issue. (I left a month before it hit the streets).
Meanwhile, poets such as Neil Oram & Harry Fainlight were roaming around Notting Hill and Westbourne Park doing poetry, Ginsberg parachuting in to dance and bop balloons at Chalk Farm, etc; and John Michell was re-writing "The View Over Atlantis" after his first manuscript had gone up in flames. (There had been a fire in his flat when he was out).
But at least we managed to publish in "Albion" John's Caxton Hall talk on Stonehenge & Flying Saucers.
John has been in a slump about the fire. When Barry and I dropped in at a friend's flat on Westbourne Park Grove one Saturday morning in November, John was there, staring into space, sitting on the floor, his back against the wall. It was chilly and the room was unheated... no shillings left for the gas meter. But he seemed not to notice even though coatless.
One of the women offered him a hot mug of tea, which he absently took with a slight nod of his head, and held tightly, warming his hands.
It was a long time before he took his first sip. The mood was morose.
Everyone seemed sluggish. Then Dave Tomlin rattled a tambourine, drums were revealed, and from my pocket I pulled out my chanter.

A moment later, the whole crew had formed a procession and were heading out the door towards Portobello Market, Dave in the lead like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. (Except I had the pipe and he was Tambourine Man).
As we were about to march into the open-air market, a horse in front of us bolted, scared by our loud Janissarian arrival. But disaster was narrowly averted as Dave rushed forward and grabbed the horses reins, calming him almost instantly. (Scientology had worked for Dave. His presence of mind was legendary).
But that wake-up incident pretty well ended our event. It was time to get on with the day and the 'happeners' scattered, going our separate ways.
Barry and I headed back towards Notting Hill Gate.
"Where's John?" I asked. "Did he come with us to the Market?"
Barry was silent, thoughtful. His eyes skewed upward as if looking for a bird in the clouds...". 

(end of part one - to be continued) 

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   

May 15, 2015

Discogs Web site puts Ghettoraga as the main reference for the TEB!

Just a little reason to brag for this Archive is Discogs Web site's staff has put the Ghettoraga link on the Third Ear Band record as the main source about the group (read at here). 
With ab0ut 6 millions titles (by 3.8 millions artists), Discogs ( is probably the best indipendent "Database and Marketplace for music on Vinyl, CD, cassette". 
An important recognition of the work made here from that December 1st, 2009...

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)  

May 09, 2015

Lost & found. News about Barry Pilcher...

Where Mr. Barry Pilcher has been all these years? Elusive character of the TEB story, just recently evokated by Rab Wilkie's memories in a interview that we'll publish here very soon, in these last years the Web has got him living alone in the isle of Inishfree (Ireland). In 2013 he came back to humans sharing a flat with his wife in Essex...
Here's two amazing articles taken from the Net that reveal that extraordinary person who is Barry, a perfect Third Ear Band's soul!

No Man Is An Island
by Cathal McNaughton
Reuters Edition U.S. May 3, 2012

For almost 20 years Barry Edgar Pilcher has lived alone on the island of Inishfree. 

He is the sole permanent inhabitant of the tiny windswept island off the coast of Co Donegal in Ireland where he writes poetry and plays music. Once a week – weather permitting – Barry, 69, makes the 15 minute boat journey to Burtonport, where he does his weekly shopping in a petrol station. He posts letters and picks up the modest provisions he will need for the week and then it’s back to his ramshackle cottage where he lives and works in a single room.

Without basic sanitation, running water or a telephone and with a leaky roof and problems with dampness, Barry’s cottage is without any modern comforts. He has a peat-burning stove to provide warmth but he has to be frugal as any fuel has to be carried back from the mainland. 

Barry spends his days corresponding by mail with other artists across the world – he is part of a mail art group whose members send each other drawings and pictures in the post. When the weather is warm he likes to ramble around the beautiful island playing his music – when I visit it’s a mild spring day and he takes me on a tour, stopping to play his saxophone on the beach. He tells me he takes inspiration from nature: “I’m playing a symphony to the shells today,” he says. His music is amazing and I am privileged to be at this exclusive concert for one.

Originally from south London, Barry moved to Inishfree in 1993 to ‘get away from the rat race.’ He bought this cottage from a member of a cult-like pagan group known locally as The Screamers, who had made Inishfree their base for several years. In his garden there is a stone circle left behind by the group who he tells me worshipped outdoors, screaming to release energy.

When he first arrived on the island there were a number of other people living there – one by one they have all left. “There is no school here for young people, no prospects, no future,” he explains. Later that day in his old fashioned kitchen Barry prepares a simple Vegan meal and surprises me by telling me he is thinking of moving back to the UK. “I miss going to gigs and visiting friends. I don’t think I’ll live here forever,” he says"."
(© 2012 Reuters- Cathal McNaughton)

"Loneliest' man's new life in suburbia"
Inishowen News
August 16th, 2013

MUSICIAN Barry Edgar Pilcher – once dubbed Ireland’s loneliest man - has put the remote Co Donegal island house he called home for 20 years on the market.
The saxophonist who was the sole permanent resident of Inishfree island off the Burtonport coast, has put his ramshackle 'Raven Cottage' up for sale. The seventy-year old artist moved back to Essex, England, five months ago and has since been adapting to his new life in suburbia.

Saxophonist Barry Pilcher enjoying his new life in Dagenham, Essex, with wife Eve.

He is also writing a book about life on the island, off Burtonport, where he devoted most of his time to composing music and writing poetry since moving there in 1993.
"Life is really good at the moment. I've been so busy I haven't had time to miss the island. When you’ve been on your own for so long, you appreciate people even more than before," he said.
"It’s really nice being with my wife and daughter after being apart for such a long time. I also like the nearby shops, the hot running water and the steady internet connection.
"After the quietness, I am fascinated by the city noises too - like the Tube in London -I sort of hear the music in it."
While many his age are winding down, it seems life is just beginning for Barry whose story of splendid isolation was picked up worldwide. He has found himself in demand as a saxophonist across Europe and recently played a number of guest gigs in Belgium and Germany.
"I was essentially putting a body of work together all the years I lived alone on Inishfree and I am now trying to put it out there. I am also writing a book about the island - a collection of poems, stories and photographs,” he added.
Barry and wife Eve (70) are now planning a private sale of their property on Inishfree. The couple, who have one daughter Alice, are on the island this week to clear out the rest of Barry's belongings. Given the stagnant market and the cottage’s rareness however, they have yet to settle on an asking price. The property, the island’s former post office, has a number of unique features including a one-acre garden leading onto the beach and a living room with a sleeping platform. It has an adjoining barn, a conservatory and several other rooms including one formerly used by islanders to cast their ballots. They also plan to sell sites on a separate nine-acre seaside plot and two-acre inland plot they own on the island which is a square-mile in size and accessible only by boat. Meanwhile, Eve admits that their living arrangement for the past two decades - where they spent only three weeks of the year together - "was definitely unique". She said Barry’s return to their rented semi in Dagenham has been "challenging on every level". "I am finally realising what a relationship really is but so far so good. It's lovely having him back," she beamed. Potential buyers can contact Barry through his Facebook page".
(©2013 Inishowen News) 

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)     

May 04, 2015

"New forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac" ready in a couple of months...

After having checked the proofs of the booklet that will be included in the second Gonzo Multimedia's CD, where I've written some things about the first Italian TEB's tours, Rob Ayling confirms the second brand new TEB's album - with a digital rendition of "New forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac" - will be ready in a couple of months.
Here's the original front and back covers:

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   

April 30, 2015

Rab Wilkie's memory about the origin of the TEB's name.

On April 7th, 2015 Rab Wilkiea practicing astrologer for over 35 years and an anthropologist for about 20 years involved by chance with the beginning of the Third Ear Band, posted these very interesting lines about the origins of the TEB's name at the old page

"The naming of the band was very much the result of a group-think, everyone contributing an associated thought or three, and in the end Carolyn's seal of approval probably decided it, but my recollection is of my own strong advocacy for "Third Ear", and actually first suggesting it as an option. I suspect that I'd recently read "The Third Ear" by Lobsang Rampa and tied it in, mystically, with hearing divine sounds. Later that year (1967) I helped Steve Pank edit "Albion" and wrote the article about Tibetan monks, which appears with the TEB ad". 

Little changing the sense of Carolyn's memory about it, Rab actually alludes to that very famous (a Sixties real cult book!) Lobsang Rampa's "The Third Eye", about the nature of a third mystical eye in the human mind. The complete original version of this book, first published in England in 1956, is available for free download at

"Published in 1956, T. Lobsang Rampa's book The Third Eye created a huge sensation", writes Dan Anon at "Tibeto-logic" Web site. "And for obvious reasons. I believe
that still today it is the all-time bestselling book about Tibet in any language. In chapter seven of the book, the young Tibetan acolyte (who would only in later Rampa books take over the body of the Englishman Cyril Hoskins), in the presence of his teacher, has a hole drilled into his forehead, through the skin, flesh and skull.

"A splinter of wood is placed there and left for some time before being removed. TLR's teacher Mingyar Dondup (which must be, in real Tibetan spelling Mi-'gyur-don-grub, a person who seems 
otherwise unknown in the annals of Tibetan history) often told him that, “with the Third Eye open, I should be able to see people as they were.” In practice, as one may read in chapter fourteen, what having an open Third Eye meant for Lobsang Rampa was to be able to read the thoughts of other people more or less directly, but also to see their true feelings and intentions (and illnesses) by viewing the colors of their astral bodies. The Third Eye has a function which might at first seem to correspond to the 'intuitional' function of Plato’s
third eye, but in fact it is entirely oriented toward the realm of human action. It has no transcending function, no ability to intuit higher transworldly metaphysical truths of any kind".

They can be clear the possible connections with the Third Ear Band's idea of a third ear able to get the inner dimension of a person...

About the controversial figure of Lobsang Rampa, you can read something at the Wikipedia page /wiki/Lobsang_Rampa

An official Web site of him also exists at 

Soon some memories by Rab about the meeting with Glen, Carolyn and Steve Pank in London in 1967...

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)    

April 24, 2015

First of the two new Third Ear Band's CDs available for pre-order!

The first one of the two new TEB's CDs titled "Necromacers of the Drifting West" is now available for pre-order at the Gonzo Multimedia Web site at
It will be realised on May 25th, 2015.

Edited by Luca Ferrari, the CD includes the National Balkan Ensemble's (pre-Third Ear Band) tracks published by Standard Music Library in 1970 (at last here in a official edition!), the wonderful unrealised "Raga in D" (from the very first "Alchemy" studio session) and "Raga n. 1" (from the Februry 1971 session for the never realised "The Dragon Wakes"); and "Water", "Eternity in D" and "Druid (one)" from a BBC "Sounds of '70's" radio broadcast (February 17th, 1971)...
Well-known tracks to every serious TEB's fan, sure, but for the first time now in a great sound quality version!

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   

April 15, 2015

Good chances to have soon an interview with Mrs Mary Hayes, Paul Minns' first wife!

Last year, on March 3rd, 2014, from the unscrutable waves of the Internet, Mrs Mary Hayes came out with this message to my personal e-mail:

Mrs Hayes in December 2011.
"Hello Dopachino.
Sometime ago, I saw your archive on the Third Ear Band. My name is Mary Hayes, and it has been on my mind for quite a few years that I should write to you in reference to Paul Minns, the oboist of the Third Ear Band. 
I am not sure if you have the full biography details of Paul Minns personal life and family, and therefore, feel I should give you a brief background. I was Paul Minns first wife, Mary Minns, we were married in 1969, and we had three children, Matthew Minns, Tristram Minns and Amber Amber Minns. 
We divorced in 1980 or thereabouts. Paul Minns later married Katherine, who is now deceased, they had no children, and therefore, Paul's children would be relevant to any biography details published in archive material or on line. I remember, at the time of coming across your archive that you were going to carry out an interview with Caroline, Glen's partner, so you may already have this information. The Third Ear Band Archive looks very good, and captures the essence of the Third Ear Bands character and music. The music was all improvised, Paul's oboe, being the central musical component of the bands musical expression. 
Mary Minns nee Mary Hayes".

It is obvious that  I was really surprised of this, because I was ignoring Paul was married with another woman before his relationship with Kathryn Ade, his wife at the time when I knew him. Whem I met him in the '80's he never told me about this, even because I was not so involved into collecting informations about private biographies...
Tristram Minns
Anyway, from that day of March 2014, I've tried to have a proper interview with her, but for some reasons nothing happened. 
Now we are still in contact and there are good chanches Ghettoraga Archive can collect another important testimony about the Band's history.

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   

April 11, 2015

Antonello Cresti on the Third Ear Band (from his latest book).

Here's the excerpt about the Third Ear Band taken from Antonello Cresti's last book titled "Solchi Sperimentali" (with kind permission of the publisher):

"It's difficult today, after so many years, to render the Power of Spreading Out made by the Third Ear Band. The impact of their first album, and, at-large of all their music, even if a non-mass heritage, can be defined as 'erupting'; it's not important which categories one can use to value it. If with a limited view we could consider this band just as the inventor of the world music, as the union of stimula coming from different times and places, we would appoint to these artists a very considerable place in the young music's history; but watching this closer, just considering the fact  Rock world had started  in a more or less calligraphic way to watch most of all to the East, we'd discover that in the Third Ear Band there's nothing of esotheric or descriptive. So their music is pure sound  philosophy translated in action: here, their raga becomes a method for improvising, the conceptual universe is that syncretic of the more radical and educated English hippie movement. Even if integrally instrumental, TEB's music perfectly communicates a climax where interests for Eastern philosophies, pagan traditions recovered, countercultures, drugs... was welding together. It's a music of experience that the band plays in "Alchemy", where any details is functional for involving the listener in a different way to conceive the sound: Glen Sweeney & C. break the rock and folk tradition for watching to where? Surely it's not the jazz the landscape where they move, and it can be surely traced references to the contemporary music and the barbaric music, but we would hurt to the band's originality: their power was to go to the nucleus of the music communication.
Under this view, the tunes included in their first album (and even more in their second published in 1970) seem very hard to understand, but this is just an appearance because their aim is that to communicate beyond all limits of the aestethics and even the rational. From this point of view is hard to imagine a music can be more spiritual than this... Surely also the form, charaterised by an acoustic ensemble with strings, boe and percussion, and the severely circular form of compositions, or this capability to evoke dance movements in a so essential way, are traits that made the Third Ear Band music an unescapable reference for any record collection of 'Elsewhere'. But the more terrific thing about this music is the several meanings under of it.

Their first wonderful, apocalyptic album shows more caught up moments, while "Third Ear Band" is oriented to the suite with its four tunes dedicated to the natural elements. Maybe the only one "softening" is in the "MacBeth" music, composed for the Roman Polanski's movie (1972), where we can find more traditionally descriptive arrangements, reverberating medieval music with the use, even if moderate, of typical rock instruments.

One could hazard Third Ear Band's short existence was the most radical experience in the British underground: also in the period of their last reunion, happened between the end of '80's and the beginning of '90's, their music seemed to come from other depth of thought than the new age.

Glen Sweeney, this minimalist of the percussive art, passed away around ten years ago, in silence, as like he had always lived. With him we have lost one of the greatest voice of the first  British Esoteric Wave, that that was near to thinkers as John Michell and others...".

A psychedelic Antonello Cresti with his new book.

(Italian version)
"E’ difficile resocontare oggi, a distanza di tanti anni, la Potenza della operazione di “spalancamento” operata dalla Third Ear Band. L’impatto del loro primo album, e, in generale, di tutta la loro musica, per quanto patrimonio non di massa, non può non essere definito come deflagrante, quali che siano le categorie che intendiamo utilizzare per compierne una valutazione; se, in maniera riduzionistica, ci limitassimo ad immaginare questo ensemble come inventore della world music, intesa come unione di una serie di stimoli provenienti da tempi e da spazi diverse, già affideremmo a questi artisti un posto di assoluto rilievo nella storia della musica giovane, ma a ben vedere, considerando che il mondo del rock già aveva cominciato a guardare in maniera più o meno calligrafica soprattutto ad Oriente, ci accorgeremo che nella Third Ear Band non c’è nulla che sia descrittivo, esotico. Ecco allora che la musica espressa da questa formazione è pura filosofia del suono tradotta in azione: il raga diviene un metodo di approccio per improvvisare, l’universo concettuale è quello sincretico dell’ala più colta e radicale del movimento hippie inglese. Anche se interamente strumentale la musica della Third Ear Band comunica perfettamente un clima in cui andavano saldandosi interesse per le filosofie orientali, recupero della tradizioni pagana autoctona, controcultura, droghe… E’ musica esperienziale quella di “Alchemy”, nella quale ogni dettaglio è funzionale a coinvolgere l’ascoltatore in una diverso modo di intendere la materia sonora: Glen Sweeney e compagni rompono apparentemente con la tradizione del rock e del folk per guardare dove? Non è certo il jazz il panorama sin troppo irreggimentato in cui si muovono e i riferimenti alla musica contemporanea, alla musica barbarica certamente possono esser rintracciati, ma ci sembrerebbe quasi di fare un torto alla originalità del gruppo la cui forza sta nell’arrivare intuitivamente al nucleo inscindibile della comunicazione musicale. In questo senso i brani che compongono il loro lavoro di esordio (e ancor più compiutamente quelli inseriti nell’omonimo album del 1970) appaiono difficili, ardui da comprendere, ma appunto si tratta solo di “apparenza” poiché l’intento è quello di comunicare fuori dalle gabbie dell’estetico o addirittura del razionale. Da questo punto di vista è difficile immaginare una musica che, nel suo andamento primigenio, sia più spirituale di questa… Certamente anche la forma, dall’organico in acustico suddiviso tra archi, oboe e percussioni, alla forma rigorosamente circolare delle composizioni, alla capacità di evocare movimenti di danza in maniera così essenziale, sono tutte caratteristiche che rendono la Third Ear Band un riferimento ineludibile per ogni discoteca dell’altrove, ma ciò che è ancora più terremotante è, come abbiamo detto, la lunga serie di significati che agiscono sotto la corteccia formale di questa musica.

L’esordio, bellissimo e apocalittico, predilige ancora episodi più conchiusi, mentre “Third Ear Band” guarda alla suite, con quattro brani dedicati agli elementi naturali. Unico “ammorbidimento”, forse, nelle musiche per il “Macbeth” filmico di Polanski (1972), in cui vengono accolti elementi di arrangiamento più tradizionalmente descrittivi, dal richiamo alla musica medievale, all’utilizzo, per quanto discreto, di strumenti cari al rock.

Verrebbe da azzardare che nella loro breve parabola la Third Ear Band è stata l’operazione più radicale emersa dall’underground britannico: anche al tempo della loro reunion, avvenuta tra la fine degli anni ottanta e i primi anni novanta, la loro arte, in piena epoca new age, sembravano provenire da altre profondità di pensiero.

Glen Sweeney, questo minimalista dell’arte percussiva, ci ha lasciati circa dieci anni fa, in silenzio, come sempre aveva vissuto. Con lui se ne è andata una delle grandi voci della prima ondata della Britannia Esoterica, quella affine a pensatori come John Michell e altri…".
(Riprodotto per gentile concessione dell'editore. Tutti i diritti riservati) 

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)  

March 21, 2015

Something about/around the Ear Band in the Net...

Surfing through the Internet I've found some little interesting things about the Thirds:

- this nice b/w poster printed by Blackhill Enterprises in 1970-71, posted by Michael Chapman (!) on the TEB Facebook's fans page at

- an almost complete radio programme dedicated to the Thirds aired by Canadian CKCU on March, 8th 2015 (read here);

-  a review about a record by Danish band Frisk Frugt with presumed references to TEB's music (catch it here);

- an interview with Legendary Pink Dots' Edward Ka-Spel with a reference to Our Holy Band ("that reminds me of Third Ear Band (a long term favourite of mine)…") just here;

- a well-done tribute to Mel Davis by Sammy Sten at "Something Else!" Web site (read it here).

Waiting for the new two CDs of the Ear Men, TEB is still on the Net!

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   

March 09, 2015

Ready new Third Ear Band CDs masters!

Just today Gonzo Multimedia has sent me  the proofing disks of the two new Third Ear Band albums! Thanks the great work of audio visual wizard Harold Houldershaw, they sounds really good and I'm sure they will be a great surprise for many TEB fans...
The records will be available very soon and they will document important experiences in the Band's story.
So be patient and keep in touch!

January 30, 2015

New book by Italian journalist Antonello Cresti with TEB quoted.

"Solchi Sperimentali. Una guida alle musiche altre" ("Experimental grooves. A guide to the other music") (Crac edizioni – 300 pages, € 22,00) is the new book written (in Italian) by Antonello Cresti
It's an essay/compilation of reviews about around 300 albums recorded by alternative/experimental bands as Area, Claudio Rocchi, Terry Riley, Magma, Comus, Aktuala, Red Crayola... based on twenty years of passionate listening with a wide spectrum from the Sixties to nowadays.
As a big fan of the Third Ear Band  (he has dedicated pages on his last books) he has written also pages on Glen Sweeney & C..
A peculiar idea of this book is that along with the reviews there's a QR code for listening the music on streaming while you're reading about it.
Cresti is an Italian composer, musician, writer and journalist. He works for newspapers/ magazines as "Il Manifesto", "Rockerilla", "Liberazioni", "Alias".

Edizioni Crac Web site:
Buy a copy of the book/Acquista una copia del libro: 
Cresti's promo video about the book (in Italian):
A live presentation of the book (in Italian):
Other Cresti's books  on this Archive:

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first) 

January 22, 2015

"Third Ear Band’s Psychedelic Alchemy in Macbeth" by Glenn Kenny.

A remarkable essay of analysis on TEB's "Macbeth" music has come in last December by Glenn Kenny (critic at published on The Criterion Collection Web site at
Here's the original text of it:

“We were just in London, clubbing, all those things people did in the ’60s in the middle of London,” British actor Francesca Annis recalls, in an interview on the new Criterion release of Macbeth, of “crossing paths” with director Roman Polanski in the days when the Polish-born director was launching his career in the West with the still-galvanizing thriller Repulsion. “Clubbing” in London in the ’60s arguably had more cultural significance than you find in contemporary nightlife. Nightclubs were also cultural laboratories of a sort, in which musicians and other performers, sometimes with psychedelic assistance, sought to expand the borders charted by the likes of the Beatles and the Stones. The scene at London’s UFO Club, for instance, yielded experimenters both obscure and, in some cases, eventually monumental, like Pink Floyd, the Soft Machine, and an aggregation that would eventually be known as Third Ear Band—which in 1971 would provide the score for Polanski’s chilling Macbeth.

The murder of Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, and their unborn child in the summer of 1969 was in fact the second traumatic loss Polanski had suffered that year; in April, his longtime friend and collaborator Krzysztof Komeda had died after sustaining head injuries several months earlier. Macbeth was the first film Polanski made after these tragedies, and only the second without Komeda’s participation. (American jazz musician Chico Hamilton’s score for Repulsion is often mistaken for Komeda’s work, which in itself says a little something about varieties of cultural cross-pollination.) Contemporary accounts claim that Polanski, back in Europe after a U.S. filmmaking sojourn that had seen him complete the remarkably successful Rosemary’s Baby, was told of the band by an acquaintance who had worked with them on their soundtrack for an obscure animated German television film, Abelard and Heloise.

Writing of Third Ear in his excellent account of British folk-rock in the ’60s, "Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music", Rob Young notes that the group “sculpted an esoteric chamber music from acoustic elements,” yielding “incantational songs—without words, a ritualistic consort music.” Ritualistic is a significant word here; in Polanski’s film, one of the most appalling and memorable set pieces is the witches’ sabbath, and the movie’s many murders are depicted almost as fever-dream rites. Young quotes founding member Glen Sweeney, the group’s percussionist (he played a variety of hand drums), thusly: “I called the music alchemical because it was produced by repetition.” For the recording of the music soundtrack, Sweeney and oboe/recorder player Paul Minns, another founding member, were joined by cellist/bassist Paul Buckmaster (a classically trained musician who was also doing string arrangements for Elton John in this period, and who would later collaborate with Miles Davis), violinist and electronics player Simon House (later of the sci-fi psychedelic madhouse Hawkwind), and guitarist Denim Bridges, and they improvised the score at London’s Air Studios while looking at black-and-white rushes of the film. The full results of their efforts are collected on the album "Music from Macbeth", a bracing record that presents an experience pointedly different from that of the film . . . but just as breathtaking and sometimes harrowing.

There’s a hypnotic effect created via the alchemical repetition: not just in the rhythms of Sweeney’s hand drumming but in the motifs Minns spins out on his wind instruments. In the early ’60s, the British guitarist Davey Graham had taken his interest in Moroccan music and applied it to a new guitar tuning that went on to influence such players as Bert Jansch and Jimmy Page. The repetitions inherent in some forms of Western modal music—old British folk songs, for instance—seemed to find an affinity in the drones of Indian ragas. The tonal limitations of early electronic instruments, such as the VCS3 synthesizer played by House on the Macbeth soundtrack, lend themselves to a certain form of musical minimalism. The consonances implicit in these musical forms that were largely considered culturally discrete give Third Ear Band’s music for Macbeth an uncannily old-world feel, in that it evokes an atmosphere in which certain ideas of “difference” had not yet been fully formed. This feeling of a kind of antiquity prevails even when the electronic instruments in the band’s array are foregrounded. Hence, nothing in the score for Polanski’s film seems overtly anachronistic: it all fits into the sometimes verdant, sometimes blighted, always eerie and enigmatic world where the filmmaker sets the bloody action.

But Polanski uses the music sparingly in the movie, and sometimes remixes it ruthlessly. For the scene in which Macbeth (Jon Finch) seems compelled by a floating dagger to undertake the murder of Duncan, Third Ear Band recorded a track (titled “Dagger and Death” on their album) on which a repeating single-stab guitar note (like something out of a slo-mo version of the psych-rock hit of a few years earlier “Pictures of Matchstick Men”) is underscored by moans from violin, recorder, and even what sounds like a bowed percussion instrument; two minutes into the track, Sweeney’s hand drum comes flurrying in, whipping up a small frenzy that drops out as suddenly as it began. For its use in the film, though, Polanski just about mutes all the instruments save the guitar, the stinging note synchronized to the floating dagger as it first tempts, and then leads, Macbeth, drawing him down the hall to commit his first foul deed. It is with the stabbing of Duncan that the hand-drum section of the piece is heard, to great effect. In other scenes, such as Macbeth’s consultation with Lady Macbeth at the well where they both ineffectually try to wash the blood from their hands, Polanski keeps the music at the brink of audibility. When Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost, the violin swells from a larger piece of music are dropped into the soundtrack percussively.

In "Electric Eden", Young says that Third Ear Band’s “arcane, absorbing music stands as one of several unexplored lanes leading away from the psychedelic garden that remains neglected and overgrown.” It’s true that very few of the musicians who came in their wake attempted anything as ambitious as this group did. But they were influential. The soundtracks that the German group Popol Vuh created for Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath Of God and Fitzcarraldo would be unimaginable without the precedent of what Third Ear Band did in Macbeth (and in fact, Herzog used a Third Ear song on the soundtrack of his Fata Morgana). Such works exerted considerable power over musicians such as Gary Lucas, the alchemical guitar wizard who co-composed Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” and “Mojo Pin” and who recently unveiled a new guitar score for James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein. Lucas recalls visiting Glen Sweeney in London in 1973 and being presented a copy of the Macbeth script, the front page of which was embossed with a simulated-blood thumbprint! Sweeney himself passed away in 2005.

This six-minute track, “Overture/The Beach,” as it appears on Third Ear Band’s "Music from Macbeth", illustrates the atmospheric, improvisation-based method that gave Polanski a wide range of aural options to mix into the film’s actual audio track:

Here, Polanski uses the band’s percussive “stabs” on a guitar string to give hallucinatory dimension to the vision of a floating dagger that coaxes him to murder, which he does to a flurry of almost panicked-sounding hand drumming, discordant cello moans, and more pointed guitar shrieks.

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)

January 16, 2015

New TEB albums update...

When in 2009, after two tours managed and a book written about the Band, I decided to set GhettoRaga Archive my first aim was to celebrate the art of one of my favourite bands ever and honour the life of two great musicians and friends - Glen Sweeney and Paul Minns, founder of the group, sadly passed way.
Then other deaths came - Ben Cartland, Mike Marchant, Mel Davis...loosing an important part of the memory.
One of the first project I had in my mind was to realise a CD with some unrealised tracks taken from personal archives, BBC radio recordings and other old stuff. The project, titled "The Dragon Wakes", was inspired by the third TEB's album announced in 1970, recorded in 1971 but never realised (electric guitarist Denim Bridges has still all the original (wondeful!) recordings at home but he has never made anything from it (why Denny?).

Now, thanks English label GonzoMultimedia on next Spring TEB's fans shall have some recordings from the past (all the National Balkan Ensemble's recordings, some other never realised tracks, the complete concert played by the band in Sarzana in 1989, now a rare collector's item...) on two different albums with liner notes edited by me.
Here's a cover proof designed by Martin Cook who has thought to the project as a set of two similar covers with different colours:

So stay awake and... keep in touch with GhettoRaga! 

no©2015 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)