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Jade Warrior - Floating World

Jade Warrior - Floating World

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Genre: progressive
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Floating World
Company: Island
Catalog: ILPS 9290
Year: 1974
Country/State: UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 277
Price: $20.00

Best time to play: how about a snowy afternoon ?

I had a college roommate who was a big Jade Warrior fan. Me, not so much ... In fact, on those rare occasions when we weren't getting along (didn't happen very often), Rob would slap on a Jade Warrior LP knowing full well that it was going to irk me. Fact of the matter is I just didn't see the band's charms then and some forty years later I'm still at a loss to figure out what the appeal is (yes, Rob I don't know ho wit happened, but I still have a couple of your Jade Warrior LPs - give me a call if you want them back).

After a series of releases for the Vertigo label, 1974 found the band signed to Chris Blackwell's Island imprint (thank, or blame Steve Winwood for helping the band get signed). Perhaps inspired by Richard Branson's success with Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells", the deal with Island was only offered to multi-instrumentalists Tony Duhig and Jon Field. Jettisoning Havard, Duhig and Field signed on with the company, writing all of the material and serving to co-produce 1974's "Floating World". Quoting the liner notes, this was apparently intended as a concept piece: "Ukiyo, The Floating World - Living only for the moment, turning our full attention to the pleasures of the moon, the snow, the cherry blossom and the maple leaves, singing songs, drinking wine and diverting ourselves just in floating, floating, caring not a whit for the pauperism staring us in the face. Refusing to be disheartedned, like a gourd floating along the river current. This is what we call Ukiyo." Nice philosophy, but musically this has always been a tough one for me to enjoy. As you can probably deduce from the title and cover art, there were lots of Asian influences scattered throughout the set (Japanese flutes, Japanese harp, oriental gongs, etc.), but those sounds were unexpectedly counter-balanced by jazz and rock influences (check out the fuzz-guitar propelled 'Red Lotus'). The all instrumental set was probably best described as an early stab at world music - imagine Brian Eno being stuck in Tokyo's Osaka airport for a week and you'd get a vague idea of what these soundscapes were like. Technically you couldn't deny the set was highly impressive and some of the melodies were quite soothing, but it wasn't exactly a dance party waiting to happen.
- The album's most experimental tune, 'Clouds' started out with some raw electric guitar in the background, punctuated by some startling bursts of percussion. After that unexpected beginning the song shifted direction, moving briefly into a pretty flute and string bass propelled segment that then turned surprisingly jazzy (thanks to Duhig's acoustic guitar and Coolridge Good's string bass). rating: *** stars
- Giving credit where due, thanks to Tony Duhig's beautiful multi-tracked lead guitar, 'Mountains of Fruits and Flowers' was actually a charming effort. Very melodic and catchy. rating: *** stars
- Since side one was performed as a continuous suite, it was hard to tell where one sond ended and another started. That said, I think 'Waterfall' was a drum and percussion effort that was simply dull. rating: ** stars
- Anyone who thought these guys were a bunch of overly sensitive hippies should probably take a quick listen to 'Red Lotus'. Opening up with some blistering David Duhig guitar, the track started out as one of the closest things they'd ever done to a true heavy rock song, but then migrated into a slice of jazz-rock fusion. Around the three minute mark the song morphed into a tranquil, flute propelled slice of retrospection. rating: *** stars
- Side two opened up with a continuation of 'Clouds'. Frankly, I couldn't tell what the major differences were. rating: ** stars
- Again it was hard to tell where one song stopped and another started, but 'Rain Flower' seemingly began with some lovely electric guitar. To my ears, Duhig's guitar effect has always reminded me of some of 10cc's mid-'70s work. And then the song turned mildly funky, showcasing Field's flute/ Kind of lost interest at that point. rating: *** stars
- 'Easty' found the band sticking their toes into a jazzy mode. Kind of a Wes Montgomery vibe going on here and then it shifts to a less likeable Herbie Mann feel. rating: *** stars
- Um, well 'Monkey Chant' started out sounding like ... a bunch of monks trying to sound like a train with Jimi Hendrix riffing like mad behind them. Sounds crazy and it was. rating: *** stars
- Featuring Skalia Kanga on harp, 'Memories of a Distant Sea' may have been the album's prettiest melody. Very relaxing, if perhaps a touch to MOR-ish. rating: *** stars
- Ever seen the movie Local Hero ? Every heard Mark Knopfler's accompanying sountrack ? Assuming you're familiar with the movie and the soundtrack, imagine the movie had been relocated from Scotland to Japan and you'll have a feel for what this pretty number sounded like. Martha Mdenge provided the spoken word segment (which I guess was not Japanese). rating: *** stars

Technically these guys are truly dazzling and my vinyl copy actually sounds pretty good on a Rega turntable. That said, I can't say that this set was particularly fun .It was actually a bit like studying for a college exam in a class you didn't particularly like. Probably worth the effort, but not something you wanted to do every day.

"Floating World" track listing:
(side 1) time - 16:45
1.) Clouds (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
2.) Mountains of Fruits and Flowers (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
3.) Waterfall (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
4.) Red Lotus (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -

(side 2) time -20:30
1.) Clouds (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
2.) Rain Flower (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
3.) Easty (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
4.) Monkey Chant (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
5.) Memories of a Distant Sea (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
6.) Quba (instrumental) (John Field - Tony Duhig) -
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