Ahora Mazda

Discography

Ahora Mazda
Ahora Mazda
(1970)

Tracks:

  1. Spacey tracey (D. Abbink) [8:28]
  2. Timeless dream (D. Abbink) [3:32]
  3. Oranje vrijstaat (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [7:30]
  4. Fallen tree (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [9:13]
  5. Power (D. Abbink) [6:48]
  6. Fantasio (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [5:20]

CD [4] bonus tracks:

  1. Vybra stroll (D. Abbink) [1:58]
  2. Nosy noise (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [3:06]
  3. Huddo jaw (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [1:54]
  4. Pushy (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [4:41]
  5. Try to forget (D. Abbink) [2:59]

CD [6] bonus tracks:

  1. Spacey tracey (D. Abbink) [8:29]
  2. Oranje vrijstaat (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [7:33]
  3. Timeless dream (D. Abbink) [6:01]
  4. Fantasio (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [6:03]
  5. Fallen tree (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [9:30]
  6. Power (D. Abbink) [6:53]
  7. Exotica [4:07]
  8. Nosy noise (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [3:08]
  9. Pushy (D. Abbink, R. van Wageningen) [4:39]
Musicians:
  • Tony Schreuder: Bass, percussion
  • Winky Abbink: Drums
  • Rob Van Wageningen: Flute, kalimba, saxophone, percussion, vocals
  • Peter Abbink: Bass, guitar, piano, organ, trumpet, vocals

Guest :Rik Lina: tabla on track 6

Ahora Mazda

Information:
Recorded 2, 3 and 4 April 1970 at the Bovema Studios, Heemstede.
Produced by Joop Visser.
Engineered by Pierre Geoffroy Chateau.
Tracks 7-11 are demo recordings, recorded january 1970 at the Cosmos, Amsterdam.
Cover design by Rik Lina.

The bonus tracks on the 2013 CD [6] are previously unreleased demo versions.

[1] LP Catfish 5C 054-24184 (1970)
[2] LP Pathe Marconi 2C 062-24184 (1970, French release)
[3] LP Pseudonym VP99.004 (1999)
[4] CD Pseudonym CDP-1064 (1999)
[5] LP Pseudonym VP99.034 (2013
[6] CD Pseudonym CDP-1114 (2013)

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Ahora Mazda

Ahora Mazda

Reviews

Ahora Mazda was a well known band in the dutch underground scene in the late nineteen sixties. They played long elongated sets with improvised music. It was once described by a critic as “Avant-garde jazz/pop with a rhythm & blues slant” and that is a good description. Influences for the music are Jimi Hendrix, The Mothers of Invention, Captain Beefheart, but also world music. The latter can be heard, for instance, in their choice of several percussive instruments. Another main feature is the flute, which is wonderfully played by Rob van Wageningen.

On their one and only album, they decided not to play the elongated sets, but more conveniently arranged songs. This doesn’t mean you get easy to swallow music. The free form music still exists, as can be heard in tracks like “Oranje Vrijstaat”, the most avant-garde of the album or in the second half of “Spacy Tracy” with a long Hendrix-like guitar solo and a very spacy ending. More structured are the haunting “Timeless Dream” and “Power”. “Fallen Tree” is the most rocking track of the album with a heavy guitar solo and excellent flute playing. On “Fantasio” several percussion instruments are used.

On the CD reissue five bonus tracks are added. These give away some of the magic from the original album. Although it looks like they are tracks, they a more sort of random chosen parts from a studio session. They may give some insight in how a concert of Ahora Mazda might have sounded like, but for me they are not so interesting.

In conclusion, this is a psychedelic masterpiece from the Netherlands. This album, together with Group 1850’s “Paradise Now” (1969) and Surprieze’s “Zeer Oude Klanken en Heel Nieuwe Geluiden” (1972) are the top three of psychedelic rock from this country. It is recommended to everyone with a love for some old psychedelic rock. Especially when you want some jazz added to the mix.

(Agemo, Dutch progressive rock of the nineteen seventies)

No, the name isn't some new model of Japanese car. Ahora Mazda was actually a really intense Dutch psych band of the late 60's/early 70's. Taking their name from the Ahoera Mazda which is the god of light from the Zend-Avesta, the holy book of the ancient Persians, AM produced some of the wildest and most hypnotic music of their time. Combining psychedelic sounds similar to Annexus Quam, early Pink Floyd and Soft Machine with the free jazz elements of Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman this amazing band unfortunately had a rather short life.

One thing that is immediately noticeable when first hearing the music is the incredible flute playing by Rob Van Wageningen. I'm almost tempted to say this is what Ian Anderson might have sounded like had he gone a jazzier route. Not content with just that, he can also blow a mean tenor sax and sometimes effortlessly alternates between the two. Peter Abbink is the bands singer, guitar player, keyboardist, trumpeter and kazoo virtuoso. Along with brother Winky on the drums, he adds a great deal of character to the band. He has a quite unique voice and sounds perpetually stoned. To make a comparison, I'd say he sounds a little bit like Robert Jan Stips of Supersister but not nearly as silly. Rounding out the band is Tony Schreuder on bass and percussion.

According to the liner notes on the CD, the band had quite a reputation for it's performances in the Amsterdam underground scene. The music has all the elements of great psychedelia and it must have been magical to see them perform live. On the CD there are longer, more free form pieces as well as shorter excerpts from live performances. This gives me the impression that there may be more recordings of this fantastic band around somewhere. If there are, I'd love to hear more!

This album is quite a rarity, so if you're into the psych stuff and ever see it, grab it if you can. Your remaining brain cells will thank me.

(Progressive Ears)

This Dutch psych gem from '70 was 'unoffically' re-released back in the early 90's, but I was too busy jumping on someones' head at a Sick Of It All show to pick it up. That might of been a good move on my part 'cause this time around it comes on hockey puck like vinyl and sounds quite crisp. SO THERE. These wooden-shoed motherfuckers have enough rattlers, maracas, shakers, flutes, lutes, and congo bongo fury to stop a Chemotherapy fan dead in his/her tracks and with all these elements they sometimes come off like early 70's Brit spiritual rockers Quintessence with all their screws unloosened. Polyrythmic grooves unfold into the great unopened on the tune 'Oranje Vrijstaa' where The No Neck Blues Band, the fore mentioned mighty 'Q' and Coltrane mesh together in a stormy moment of grace so effortlessly, you'll never see it coming along (Unless you're a total nerd) Certainly a gem in the mounds of crap re-issue stuff I get suckered into buying. Hey, anything else by these guys? Other bands? Solo shit? Just curious....

(Blastitude, Tony Rettman)

First legit/CD issue of this Dutch progressive psych album from 1970, with 5 previously unreleased bonus tracks (demos recorded a few months before the album). Spacy, free-psych explorations, not totally disimilar to something like Annexus Quam's more abstract moments. "Ahora Mazda (the western corruption of Ahoera Mazda) is the name of the god of light from the Zend-Avesta, the holy book of the ancient Persians. After concerts throughout the country and after the American record label ESP had shown interest- without leading to any definite contracts -- Joop Visser of the group Bovema took the initiative to produce an album for this group. Instead of recording elongated sets they decided to record shorter, more conveniently arranged numbers. After three days of recording at the Bovema studios, where they enjoyed the many possibilities of dubbing and special effects, there was enough material for the Catfish label LP Ahora Mazda. It was released on May 31, 1970 and shortly afterwards on the Pathé Marconi label in France."

(Forced exposure)

To make it clear from the beginning, my attention radar always sends signals when a flute is involved (actually, except for Jethro Tull). Needless to say, the flute is not all this band has to offer on their only album, because Rob Van Wageningen also plays a tenor sax here and there, while Peter Abbink does the vocal work along with playing the guitar, keyboards, trumpets, with his brother Winky doing the drumming.

1970 was a weird year I guess, with psychedelic music being still rather cool to play around with; folk rock was arguably at its height and progressive rock was beginning to take shape. The thing is, we have some of each here: the overall feel is that of a psych record, the instruments and their use hint towards (psych)folk at times, the structure of the songs brings to mind progressive rock with touches of jazz. And they are all blended superbly, which is exactly what makes this album stand out.

A Dutch band singing in English (there are some tracks with Dutch titles - "Oranje Vrijstraat" - but they are instrumentals), sounding so fresh it's almost impossible to make a direct comparison, being as broad as one band can be and as tight as it was needed to create such a well-focused record (and one can only imagine they were aware of both 13th Floor Elevators and Sun Ra). That is to say - The Soft Machine fans, THIS is what you've been looking for (and it's much better too!).

(schizodanny, Rate your music)

This album is a really fabulous psychedelic nugget from the land of the flowers and the windmills. It combines both more close-to-earth flute fronted bluesy jazz rock in style of German RUFUS ZUPHALL and free freak-out improvisational soundscapes with some really cool jazz styled saxophones. These both elements are presented in the funny opening track "Spacy Tracy", telling us a tale of a girl intetrested in the psychedelic way of life, starting as a mellow groovy rocker later morphing as completelly free improvisation. "Timeless Dream" is then a minor key melodic tune, having sadly a quite disturbing fade-out ending taking place in the middle of the song! The two following about eight minutes long songs combine again the freefrom improvs and nice themes, featuring some very good jazz saxophone tunes from Mr. van Wageningen, and also Peter Abbink blows some really good raw electric guitar solos in style of JIMI HENDRIX and MANUEL GÖTTSCHING. "Power" is one of the few mostly constructed songs, containing really weird and scary effects used in the singing verse, creating a very mysterious overall feeling.

The last five bonus tracks are a bunch of excerpts from the band's collective jazz improvisations, which sound sometimes resemble the primitive passages of SYD BARRET's "Lanky", sometimse the cosmic electronic soundwalls of HAWKWIND, and sometimes as the ethnic perscussion gear swithces on with the saxophone, MILES DAVIS's "Bitched Brew" could be another association. Sadly the excerpts are only cuts, varying in length from under two minutes to over four, beginning and ending from a silent void. I wouldn't have mind hearing some improvisation "mistakes", rather the hearing only glimpses of the grooves. Also another solution might have been to try construct a collage out of them, just like MILES DAVIS did in his fabulous record mentioned before.

But anyway, I really liked the little melancholic but still laid back feeling of this album, and I would recommend it warmly to anybody liking both 70's psychedelic blues/jazz rock and dreamy impressionistic collective jams. Also the flute melodies are here very strong, so the fans of that instrument might want to try giving this album a listen. If you want to see the last bonus tracks as an integral part of the album quality, remove one star from the rating.

(Eetu Pellonpää, Progarchives)

They named themselves after ancient Persian gods (which was quite apt for their loose hippie rock). Their only album is a precious item for those who still wear their kaftans and stay awake until sunrise! "Spacy Tracy" starts as a slow Barrett-esque girl story, but soon enters a free-form freakout zone with rambling percussion, strummed piano strings and disjointed guitars. You'll also note the unusually free-roaming flute notes (the rat catcher spell-binding the innocent children to follow him into the suspicious regions of Amsterdam's red-light district) on each-and-every track. The excellent "Timeless Dream" is a more mellow number with mysterious flutes and gurgling voices treated with Leslie effects. "Oranje Vrijstaat" re-visits free-form territories, perhaps overdoing it this time. "Fallen Tree" is the obvious highlight, an irresistible song featuring a long, psychedelic guitar-solo (followed by a flute solo). "Power" delves into deranged thoughts of supernatural powers, while "Fantasio" is a mad procession of tablas, percussion, trumpet, sax, mouth harp and, at the very end, that flute-playing rat catcher. This is an example of how uncompromising and uncommercial the the Dutch underground bands tended to be, diving into Eastern mysticism and psycho-active, spiritual improvisations. Probably the group described it best themselves: 'The mirror which is held by Ahora Mazda is partly shady, but look into it and you may see, as many travellers before you did, something of your own mind". A classic piece of strange psychedelia.

(D. E. Asbjørnsen, Scented Gardens Of The Mind)

From the moment I laid eyes on the amazing front cover art work, I new I was going to in for an amazing ride into what it must have been like, in the late 60's, early 70's Amsterdam based, hippy-underground music scene. This relatively short-lived group, consisting of Peter Abbink, (vocals, guitar, piano, jawsharp, cup muted trumpet and organ) Rob van Wageningen, (flutes, vocals, tenor sax, percussion, slide whistle, african thumb piano "kalimba") Tony Schreuder, (bass guitar, percussion) and Winky Abbink, (drums) made free-form experimental psychedelic and progressive rock, that is reminiscent of early Pink Floyd in their Syd Barrett days, and is as wild as it gets! The listener should have an open mind about the sound of vocals sung in perhaps the singer's second language, but I felt it gave this music a real edge, and I've grown to like it. I would recommend this disc to fans of obscure/unknown world "Psychedelia", and also to people into Jazz-Rock fusion, as this is very talented music on display here.

I would offer one word of warning, regarding the 5 bonus tracks, as I feel they are not as strong as the officially released tracks, from 1970, (tracks 1-6) but I feel their inclusion on the disc is welcome, as it shows how the group may have generated their ideas for the more finished tracks.

The sound quality is nothing short of incredible, and is a real aural treat, the lyrics are suitably weird and interesting as the song "Spacy Tracy" attests: "She used to walk on the waters, she used to eat from the sun, it was a cold hard winter, when her life begun...".

(Andrew Shields, Amazon)