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Cold Sun - Dark Shadows CD (album) cover

DARK SHADOWS

Cold Sun

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams
4 stars Throw yourself at their feet - listening to only the beginning of South Texas. How droning Bill's autoharp be I'm always amazed. However wait, not only the sounds of his autoharp could determine COLD SUN's psychedelic musical style...please listen more carefully.

Yes I cannot be permissive with leaving such a great psychedelic progressive rock band (and simultaneously a follower of 13th Floor Elevators) still obscure underground. The frontman Bill MILLER, the autoharpist, got to be a backup-band member of Roky Erickson - he was a real admirer of Elevators and at the same time a real developer of Elevators' sound and style I appreciate. Not simply with a dry guitar solo, warped voices and wetly lyrical drums & percussion like Elevators, Bill and all members of COLD SUN tried to incorporate some progressive structure into their Elevators-based style - Neues! Their new trial should have catered for the psychedelic rock scene in those days...but, sad to say...their dream was broken out by the bankruptcy of the label Sonobeats.

Please let me say that COLD SUN should owe much of their psychedelically progressive essence to ALL the members' play, not only Bill's eccentric autoharp sounds. Hugh's wetly lyrical (and low-fi) drumming and Mike's heavily trailing bass are somewhat comfortable, in spite of their slightly unstable rhythm. Tom's fuzzy and unworldly guitar solo can remind us a brightly colourful flower garden. And strongly impressed with Bill's warped and cheesy (sorry!) voices! Don't be deceived with poppy-flavoured opening of each song, especially the third track Here In The Year. :-) The story (song) continually alters itself like a chameleon okay?

Again said, it's a pity they could not release this terrific album in the early 70s. They could have been one of the psychedelic progressive rock pioneers I consider.

Report this review (#254675)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although it has some minor flaws, this is one of the most interesting albums I've ever come across. The far-from-professional production and recording quality doesn't take away much from the album's magic, actually it adds very much to the atmosphere, you can feel how underground they are just by the sound quality. As if you needed that...

The album starts off with "South Texas" and the mind-blowing sound of Miller's autoharp. Not that you think "man this guy is incredible with the autoharp", of course it's more of "wow, they use an autoharp as a main instrument". This is not the only thing unique about Cold Sun, but it is by far the most unique. Every time I listen to the record, I think about the autoharp and how well it fits in with their sound. Every time I wonder if I should learn to play the autoharp...

Anyway, "South Texas" is a nice song, with neat, dark lyrics and melodies. It's dark psychedelia written as a progressive song.

"Twisted Flower"... first of all, what a great song name! This one gets even better, with better lyrics and melodies. I just completely love the part where another vocal melody kicks in at the words "yes I recieved the calls as they float around..." or whatever they are singing... I really need to find myself a lyric sheet.

"Here in the Year" is perhaps still my favorite song off the album, a bit longer than the first two and more developed I guess. It also weeds out non-fanatics while repeating the phrase "I think we're gonna see, television some day soon" in different forms. I do love the way that part ends with though. "And you'll be on television someday soon, locked behind the glass in my room". There are some GREAT lyrics here... you're just not allowed to miss it.

"For Ever" starts off great with an incredible chord progression (no idea what chord progression, it just sounds good to my ears, could be 1-5-4 for all my ears can tell), melody and lyrics. However, the part repeating "where does he come from?" is just too long, it's like yes I know it's psychedelic music but seriously... All in all a great song though.

"See What You Cause" is also a nice song, not as good as "Here in the Year" or "Twisted Flower" but it works well. It does pale in comparison with what's to come though.

"Fall" is my other pick for a favorite song. It has some of the greatest lyrics I've ever heard, mixed up with average lyrics I guess but still. I'm only guessing at the lyrics here but if he really sings "Once I was a drunken mass of mynn, at the garden wall, now I'm a dancing prince of light, who knows no fear at all" then those are some incredible lyrics! Also, I have some unexplained complete love for the line "Sing a song for life, in the middle of imagined night". It just... sums up what their music is all about in such a surreal and psychedelic way... It's simply perfect.

I haven't even mentioned anything else about "Fall" other than the lyrics... the song goes through many different stages and is overall much more well-written and arranged than the others (except for "Here In the Year" I guess). There are some incredible guitar solos, I just love the feedback sound they get on this record as well, it's simply mindblowing!

Finally, we have "Ra-Ma", also a longer extremely well-written piece. It has a great part near the beginning which is very defining for the whole band, when the song after a slow, meandering intro changes tempo drastically and goes into a fast, almost hard-rock like beat with incredible lyrics. More accurately, I BELIEVE those are great lyrics, I can't pick up much but fragments so they won't make any sense here, but they still leave an impression, to put it mildly.

All in all, this is not really an album that can be described. It is very unique and interesting, and is well worth 4 stars even though it is obviously a debut album by some very talented aspiring musicians, not an ambitious masterpiece by professional artists with years of experience in the music business. However, what they lack in professionalism they balance out with their unique style and lots of emotion. I wish they could have got a decent record deal, these guys could have blown bands like Soft Machine away ten times over if they had got the chance.

Report this review (#832506)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's been a while since I've been so intrigued with an album like this one. My first listen was bizarre as all I knew was that this was released in 1989 and it was a Psychedelic record. Bizarre because the vocals and fuzzed out guitar sounded straight out of 1968 or 1969. I felt like I had discovered something special here and after doing some research I found out that this was originally recorded in 1969 but the record label went bankrupt leaving this on the shelf until Rockadelic Records picked it up and released it 20 years later. That answered some questions I had. COLD SUN was the project of Bill Miller who plays an electric autoharp here along with harmonica and sings. This band was from Austin, Texas the home of the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS. That band's leader Roky Erickson would hook up with Bill Miller later on in Roky's band called ROKY ERICKSON AND THE ALIENS who released two great albums in the early eighties.

There's some dispute with the release date of "Dark Shadows" as Discogs has it at 1993 and many point to a magazine interview where it says Rockadelic Records discovered this album in 1991 and released it the following year. I feel 1989 is right along with RYM because on the Rockadelic web-site it has their releases by catalogue number in order and it had to be 1989 unless they were in the habit of giving catalogue numbers then not releasing the album for a few years. I'm going with 1989. I have the 2008 re-issue which sounds a lot better apparently. Interesting that the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS were known for that electric jug while COLD SUN was known for that electric autoharp. This is a dark and moody album including the lyrics that are so well done. By the way COLD SUN originally had the 13tH FLOOR ELEVATORS drummer but he left before the recording of this record.

"South Texas" is a great opener and I really dig the lyrics, especially talking about the gecko and paranoia. The fuzzed out guitar and autoharp are outstanding and check it out before 2 minutes as it's like the sun has come out making the darkness flee briefly. So cool. Harmonica after 3 1/2 minutes then more fuzzed out guitar late. A nice start. "Twisted Flower" is another excellent track and it opens with percussion and bass as it builds. Kind of a DOORS feel with the guitar then the vocals arrive before a minute. I really liked this right from the first listen. The guitar and autoharp sound incredible here.

"Here In The Year" is probably my favourite song on here. Again the lyrics are so well done. Drums, bass and autoharp to start as vocals join in. It's surprising how much he sounds like Bob Dylan on this song at times. How good does this sound just before 2 minutes as it changes slightly. So good! Suddenly we get chaos before 3 minutes as they rip it up. Back to the vocals before 3 1/2 minutes as the guitar solos over top. Insanity again after 5 1/2 minutes as we get another freak-out. It settles back again along with droning autoharp sounds, a beat and more.

"For Ever" is an uptempo track with desperate sounding vocals and we get backing vocals too. I like the guitar too then we get a change 1 1/2 minutes in sounding like Zappa's debut to me, especially again late. In between we get an explosion of sound 3 minutes in. "See What You Cause" is a catchy vocal led track with drums and bass supporting. Too straight forward for my tastes although I like it especially the fuzzed out guitar late.

"Fall" opens with drums as harmonica, guitar, bass and autoharp join in. Great lyrics again. It settles after 2 minutes then it kicks in with vocals. Fuzzed out guitar after 3 1/2 minutes and an urgent sound with vocals. Pulsating keys late in this dramatic instrumental conclusion. "Ra-Ma" ends it and it's the longest at 11 1/2 minutes. Beats and cymbals as it builds. It calms right down a minute in with vocals and more. It picks right back up with vocals. Another calm after 3 minutes as the tempo continues to change. It settles with harmonica and vocals before 5 minutes. Some grinding fuzzed out guitar follows. An interesting sound late without vocals to end it.

I agree with Damo that this would be considered a classic and a pioneer album had it been released back in 1969 or 1970 when it was recorded. A very solid 4 stars and the album cover is really well done.

Report this review (#1914705)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2018 | Review Permalink

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