Het Pandorra Ensemble is an experimental group formed by Dolf Planteijdt that started around 1973 and ended in 1980. At the same time they played in the popgroup Door Mekaar, with this band they recorded the album Voor Mekaar.
Guitar player Wouter Planteijdt (1957) and singer Frank Wisse formed an acoustic duo. Around 1969 this evolved in the band Speed where they were joined by Marcel Schmidt (June 16, 1958, Haarlem) on drums and Gert-Jan Blom (September 13, 1956, Haarlem) on bass guitar. They played their own material but also covers by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Free and Janis Joplin. Schmidt was replaced by Maurits Santen. In 1971 the band releases a single for BOVEMA (Imperial - 5C 006-24439): Easy to say (written by Wisse) / Mrs. Clear (written by Santen). It was produced by the later Kayak producer Gerrit-Jan Leenders and as guest guitarist Jan de Hont, of Cargo fame, can be heard. The band also performs in the youth program Stuif-es-in.
1973 marks the end of Speed. Blom and Schmidt start a band with Wouters brother Dolf Planteijdt on guitar, Jean Eble (drums) and Roland Brunt (flute): Het Pandorra Ensemble. The idea was to become a chamber music ensemble. This line up with two drummers didn't last very long, since Schmidt left soon after the first gig. Drummer Eble was replaced by Wilfred Snellens (1955, Beverwijk) in 1976. When the band started to record an album, Brunt left, and he was replaced by Dolf's brother Wouter Planteijdt.
The album was recorded on four tracks. Except for a group improvisation, all tracks were composed by Dolf Planteijdt. In an interview with the newspaper De Waarheid (September 26, 1978) he explained that he just starts with some chords or plucking which he records. The bits he likes, he plays with, adds extra parts, experiments with it, starts arranging. In his words it is simple music with complex arrangements. The tracks on the album are basically the same as they started with but have evolved since then. Live the tracks have a longer duration. The first track can easily take 45 minutes! In 1980 the band played its last gigs with tenor and soprano sax player Rinus Groeneveld replacing Wouter Planteijdt.
After the group broke up all the musicians played in numerous bands, both as member and guest. Roland Brunt swapped the flute and plays in several bands, a.o. De Dijk. Gert-Jan Blom studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory and later played in bands like Bauer, Fay Lovski and The Beau Hunks. He releases a solo album in 2004. He is currently artistic producer for the Metropole Orkest. Roland Brunt joins Planteijdt in 1999 in the band Morzelpronk. Wilfrid Snellens played in Black Slacks and Morzelpronk. He can also be heard on the sole alum by Sjardins Terrible Surprise. He sadly died on August 7, 1997. Dolf Planteijdt became a well known producer of punk bands, but also played in Morzelpronk. Wouter Planteijdt was a member of (a.o.) Corry & De Grote Brokken, Morzelpronk, Sjardin's Terrible Surprise and Sjako!. He also appears on the album "A view from the valley" (1985) by Grin.
In march 2012 the album is finally released on CD by Modulus. The album was remastered by Bob Katz from the original master tapes and the album contains several bonus tracks.
Source: album sleeve
Guest musicians: Roland Brunt: flute
LP Disaster Electronics DEI 00975.6 (1978)
CD Modulus MOD01 (2012)
CD Marquee MAR 121939 (2012)
Recorded on 4 tracks in Eexterveen, Drente, The Netherlands.
Engineered by Salvatore Tozzi
Bonustracks - are outtakes of the sessie to record the album
Bonustracks - are live tracks recorded in Alpha, Beverwijk, Holland, September 30 1978
Photography by Mark Morrell (front) and Kees van den Haak (back)
Also credited is Kaspar Peterson for lending ears during the recording session. During concerts he sometimes was involved as narrator
For the cd release the analog tape transfer was done by Steve Puntolillo and mastering by Bob Katz
Track Drei is based on a poem by Kurt Schwitters
600 copies were made
In the studio
Door mekaar: Wouter left, Dolf right (no solos, just written themes)
Kanon pittoresk: whirl and end solo: Dolf
Karotten: long and whirl solo: Wouter, then Dolf
(Dutch Progressive Rock of the Seventies)
Taking Side 2 of King Crimson's "Starless and Bible Black" as a blueprint, Het Pandorra Ensemble went about releasing one of the more bizarre progressive rock album of the era. There's quite a bit of ambient atmospherics, augmented by louder rock sections with compressed fuzz tone Frippian guitar. But unlike the
decidedly atonal Crimson, Pandorra follow the European model of melodic, almost jazzy, progressive rock. This is a one of a kind album, with no regards to any kind of pre-conceived audience. The album cover is not indicative at all of the music within.
See also Zog, their follow up group, who also play an entirely unique music, yet still different from Pandorra Ensemble. These guys were on their own planet. Despite the title, "III" is their debut. Strange lads.
CD reissue wish list
It's a bit hard to believe this music is from 1978. Where the album lands is somewhere between progressive rock(with some mild jazz influence and avant-garde sympathy) and post-punk. There're some problems with consistency, since the middle section has some shorter stuff(also mellower) that should've been shorter(pun-intended). My favorite off this unusual album is the first track.
From the openings chords i can hear clear Canterbury influences, reminiscent of National Health's albums from the same year. These moments are abruptly disrupted in a manner which almost remind me of unplugging a cable. What ensues are like the existential hesitations of the likes of Joy Division, with the melancholic melody on the back while the bass-line keeps soloing away; creating an atmosphere of anxious preoccupation that lasts quite a while; until it eventually ends with a King Crimson'like guitar wail that sounds like smashing a mirror. They've contrasted the melodic aspect of post-punk/jazz with King Crimson's fuzzed paranoia(two guitarists btw), and this combination is working like a charm - abandoning the old prog redundancy - the band is already embracing the future. There's material for you math-rock geeks as well. Check out the crazy, jazzy section and the end of the second track, all of these strange stops-accelerations and often dissonant, distorted chords coalesced with their melodic counterpart. Excellent production as well - their great bass player is always audible in the mix and the dynamic drum fills are even better. I'm very surprised to hear such a strong mix from an obscure band.
A very interesting album for that year, give them a shot if you'd like to have a vague idea how a progressive Robert Fripp would've sounded in 78'. The reissue has some great bonus material as well. This CD reissue on Modulus (USA) is a beautifully packaged gatefold mini-LP, with incredible sound, tons of bonus material, a history, photos, etc... A stunning package - as gorgeous as any Japanese mini-LP. It's worth noting that the original is a single sleeve, so this is an improvement in that category as well. What's even more amazing, is the bonus tracks are even better! Same style of improvised melodic dissonance (how's that for an oxymoron), but perhaps a bit more focused than the album proper. Rare is the case where the bonus tracks exceed the original product.
Surfing The Odyssey