(All Album Reviews by gsk42)
Joe DiFazio: organ, pianos, harpsichord, mellotron, moog, guitars, bass and bass pedals, lead vocal
Royce Gibson: percussion (tuned and untuned), backing vocal
Atlantis Philharmonic were an obscure two-man dual of multi-keyboards and assorted percussion devices who hailed from Ohio. Their inimitable style was a brooding synthesis of Emersonian bombast and dark, aggressive psychedelia, made more attention-getting by their intensity and adept ability to incorporate tonal variety and complexity with bone-jarring riffing.
Their eponymous debut barks ominously with its opener, “Atlantis”, a piece dripping wet with mythical lyrics, and driven mad by bulldozing Hammond, mechanical percussion, and menacing vocals. The gust of mellotron at its conclusion is mindblowing. Proceeding along, the introspective “Woodsman” is contrastingly plaintive and studied, featuring classically tinged piano, syncopated percussion, and another superb mellotron tutti. Lyrically, the piece is drenched in symbolism and allegory, which contrasts greatly with the altogether more raucous yet lyrically macabre “Death Man”, a forceful and strident anthemic workout of almost heavy metal proportions.
To keep alive their tenet of contrast, the next tune “Fly-The-Night”, is more subdued and also built upon the dexterity of various keyboards, which are by turns bouncy and carnival-like, though serious and imaginative enough in a deployment of harpsichord and organ to keep the aesthetes and snobs of the world happy. The most anomolous piece, “My Friend”, delights in its allusions to Hell whilst at the same time managing, with its liberal use of piano, Hammond and Mellotron, to create a provocative and, dare I say, pretty melodic line.
The climactic and, once again, decidedly more dramatic closer, “Atlas”, evinces their predilection towards monumental hard rock and overt mysticism. It moves nimbly through a number of shocking and somewhat labored mood changes, exploring them in brief segments, though in which are showcased copious amounts of Hammond, crunching guitar and thudding percussion. The multi-tracked vocal polyphony on the piece’s coda is stunningly haunting in its execution and dramatic delivery.
Even so, their sole outing was not an entirely successful venture, lapsing as it did into sophomoric, heavy-handed tendencies and some rather trite, even disquieting, lyricisms which may have seemed more at home with the likes of Black Sabbath or Uriah Heep. Generally speaking, the work did display a nice melange of styles, usually exerted with an intensity unlike some we hear in the genre. Moreover, this is a work of imagination, epitomizing originality and engrossing variety, while displaying considerable technical ability as well. The reissue has been long deleted from the Laser’s Edge catalog (an original LP fetches a sum, if you can find one), but for those who fancy the seemingly dated 1970s style and do not mind more strident playing, it would be well worth your effort to investigate this innovative and unique release.