Medusa Cyclone
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Viv Akauldren: Old Bags & Party Rags , 6/10
Viv Akauldren: I'll Call You Sometime , 7/10
Viv Akauldren: Vivian's Fountain , 6/10
Medusa Cyclone: Medusa Cyclone , 7/10
Medusa Cyclone: Mr Devil , 6/10
Medusa Cyclone: Tangier , 6/10
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In June of 1982 vocalist/guitarist/bassist Jeff Phry, keyboardist Keir McDonald and Robert Wannacott formed a band called Trancegland in their hometown of Detroit. When Phry's girlfriend and soon to be wife Deb Agolli replaced Wannacott as the drummer, the band changed name to Viv Akauldren. The trio is one of the unsung heroes of psychedelic music. Their performances were legendary.

Old Bags & Party Rags (Akashic, 1985 - Resonance) offers progressive-rock in the vein of Gong that can be quirky and catchy (Censored), spaced-out (Life Expectancy), tribal (Catabolic Blues), and convoluted a` la Can (As You Wish).

After a live EP with The Titanic Mind, the band released their second album, I'll Call You Sometime (Akashic, 1987), a concept that pivots on spiritual themes, The ballad Along The Way and the world-music of The Chain demonstrate the eclectic nature of the music, but where the band truly shines is at the border between progressive-rock (Is This It, Inn'er Current) and minimalist/ambient music (the instrumentals The Maker Of The Sun & The Moon and Farrowbone). The album ranks as one of the unheralded classics of psychedelia.

The mini-album Witness (Resonance, 1988) is its alter ego: Hawkwind's hard-rock takes over and drives Eye Suck and the other catchy, aggressive tracks.

Magnolia and May As Well are the highlights of Vivian's Fountain (Resonance, 1990), an anthology of unreleased material ranging from the early days of Trancegland.

Upon returning from the British tour, in November 1989 the members split. Phry fell victim to drugs and disappeared from the music scene, and eventually relocated to Berlin, where he became a street musician. Agolli went on to form Hot Footin' Puddin' Pie and then joined Outrageous Cherry.

McDonald, whose fame as a keyboardist had obscured Keith Emerson in the Detroit's underground, started Medusa Cyclone as a solo project, listing Sun Ra and Wire as main influences. McDonald plays guitar and uses tape-loops on Medusa Cyclone (Third Gear, 1996), that compiles his first three singles. Meandering Faust-ian suites like Assigned Frequency (15 minuts of it) and Helium Head steal the show, but McDonald's spectrum is much broader, extending from Neu's drilling rhythms (Chemical) to catchy synth-pop nightmares (Gravity Serpent), from oddly subliminal takes on world-music (Burner, Inch Of Mercury, X-Plodo Sub Hat) to the ballad Dream House that sounds like Syd Barrett fronting the Spacemen 3 (vocalist Jeff Oakes lends a hand). In his most conceptual moments (Black Dawn , Atomic Hand ), McDonald straddles shoegazing and kosmische musik, Spacemen 3 and Tangerine Dream.

A couple of singles followed. Hypnosis Take (Manta Ray Fleet, 1997) weaves a captivating mixture of noir and futuristic atmospheres. The catchy pop of End Cloud (Third Gear, 1997) is misleading, as Ouija Ground and Junebug Canyon, on the same single, are two of his most experimental pieces.

Mr Devil (Third Gear, 1998) displays the same schizophrenia, ranging from the most accessible Medusa Cyclone ever (Blind Witch) to the darkest sides of the previous singles.

Tangier (Small Stone, 2002) is another wild bunch of instrumental improvisations.

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