Ethos (Ardour)

Ethos (Ardour)

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Much like Klaatu in cover art but more progressive in style, this eponymous mid-'70s album by Ethos (Ardour) has plenty of great ideas and is well executed, though it fails to deliver a knockout punch. Despite the beautiful cover art front and back, what restrains Ethos (Ardour) is a distinct lack of personality. You won't expect to hear a "Long Distance Runaround" or "Heat of the Moment" from this group, but though it doesn't fly over the top, the LP still has its moments. Recorded toward the end of 1975 at the Hit Factory in New York, the eight songs on the debut are all from the pen of vocalist/guitarist/mandolin player Wils Sharpe, with percussionist Mark Richards helping out on "E'Mocean." Stuart Alan Love drops the ball on the production, which fails to reflect the heaviness of the lyrics or complex musicianship -- and which also allows the band to wallow in self-indulgence. Fans of progressive rock may eat this up as a forgotten appetizer that works better than Ethos contemporary Pavlov's Dog; the instrumentation is perfect, but melodies drift hither and yon. "Spaced Brothers" could be the group It's a Beautiful Day reinventing itself in another world while "Atlanteans" fuses wandering jazz riffs with guitar/keyboard interplay. This group really needed an Eddie Offord to pull it all together and find a "Lucky Man" or some focus, and not Jan Akkerman's Focus from three years earlier. "The Spirit of Music," "Longdancer," and "Dimension Man" all kind of blend together on side two, either intentionally or because the group couldn't clarify the music within each individual title. They include pictures of everyone from the business manager to road crew on the lyric sheet, lots of care going into the presentation when maybe more thought should have gone into crafting a hit record to promote this project. In the end, the group and album with the strange double title of Ethos (Ardour) is too serious for its own good, but interesting enough to offer some progressive rock enlightenment for those in the mood for something a little offbeat and out there.

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