Nodopaka & the Netherworld Rock Band
The story of my first album cover art dates to 1981… and I saw stars in my eyes. Be kind to the musicians but not to me. I am elated to have found out that the 1981 rock band group has become a classic of the music of the era and that the re-release still carries my cover art. Following are musical reviews by appropriate commentators & critics.
Review by erik neuteboom (erik neuteboom)
[Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Expert]
The story of this ‘USA cult prog rock band’ started in 1975 but not until 1981 NETHERWORLD released their debut-album entitled “In The Following Half-Light”. It contains seven compositions with varied instrumentation, exciting solos and elaborate arrangements (especially “Sargasso” with its frequently shifting moods, in my opinion their absolute highlight). The powerful and expressive vocals (sometimes a bit theatrical) and fiery and sensitive guitar play often reminds me of TWELFTH NIGHT, a very original neo- prog rock band from the early Eighties. But you can also trace hints from mid-GENESIS (twanging 12-string guitars and Mellotron waves), no wonder because NETHERWORLD used to play covers from them. The colouring of the music with a wide range of keyboards (from Grand piano and Oberheim – and ARP synthesizers to the Mellotron and Crumar organ) is very tasteful with some spectacular synthesizer flights. The instrumental CD release bonus track is titled “Cumulo Nimbus” (at about 10 minutes) and divided into three parts. It has a beautiful, compelling final piece with a howling guitar and majestic choir- Mellotron. If you like alternating and original prog rock (from melodic or dramatic to more complex or bombastic) this one is yours!
Reviewer: Steve Mynaugh
I suppose that many people over the years may have heard of the band Netherworld. Well, maybe they have but I have not. I must have missed this one somehow. I'll have to blame my old friend Dana. He turned me on to almost everything I listen to today but somehow this one got by him. Fortunately for me this is no longer the case. It seems that Netherworld has managed to get themselves re-released twenty years after their vinyl debut. Not a bad trick for a band that even Dana didn't seem to notice. Is this going to be a trend? I don't know. I sure would like to see more of this though. There is a huge amount of great music that got swept away over the last twenty or thirty years with little or no notice. Anybody remember Ethos or Galaxy?
The Netherworld album that we have today is a compilation of two earlier works by the band. The first being "In the Following Half-light" and the later "Cumulo Nimbus." Brought back to you once again by the magic of CD's and digital remastering. Musically, I was taken back immediately by the bands style. I will say it right out. This band reminds me of IQ to three significant digits.
After only a few moments of listening, I figured Netherworld was just a bit of a "knock off" band. It was some time later that it occurred to me that these tunes must have come out some years earlier than the IQ work that I am familiar with. This really got my attention! One minute I'm dealing with what I thought was just another pretender band and the next I'm stuck with a "chicken or the egg?" quandary. Please folks don't confuse the reviewer! So, initially I was going to write that Netherworld reminds me a great
deal of early IQ and accordingly had to have been influenced by them. But I had to change my tune completely. It seems now that IQ reminds me of Netherworld! Not bad, not bad! Whether this similarity is complete coincidence or if this sound was overall popular in the Prog world during the eighties, I guess I'll never know. But it sure sounds to me as though these bands must have
come from the same musical swamp.
Netherworld features music that is fast changing and urgent with
instrument sounds and vocals that are almost a dead ringer for that "other" band. This is not a bad thing either. I found the musicianship to be first rate and the subject matter very mature, if a little dark, in places. As to dark subject matter, one selection even tells us the story of the serial killer Son of Sam. For those of you who are afflicted with youth. Son of Sam was a lunatic murderer who apparently murdered young women after receiving orders from a dog named Sam. The murderer is, I think, still rotting in jail and to the best of my knowledge the dog "Sam" is still at large. So much for the S.PC.A. As I said the subject matter is mature and a little dark in places. That being said, I like the Son of Sam track quite a lot.
The first few tracks are very reminiscent of early IQ. Fast paced, changing with guitar and keyboard interplay that would be immediately familiar to many of us. The vocals of Denny Gorden are also first rate and comparable Peter Nicholls. Perhaps even a little more polished. If you are a fan of this style of music, this work will not disappoint you. I would recommend that you get a copy right away. The album is worth it on this level alone! But there is more. Along about track 5, Netherworld really hits its stride. The tracks
soften a bit and bring in more instruments such as the cello and harpsichord; uncorking a couple of great melodically flowing tunes which show the musical depth of the band. I heard some subtle Yes and Genesis influences here as well. Either way I found the shift in feelings to be very unexpected. The album is rounded out by a three part instrumental that was, during the bands performing
years, always in demand and serves as a nice finish to the album.
As to the Chicken or the Egg question, it is not really important which came first (unless you're a chicken of coarse) as long as the results are worth listening to.
The Netherworld release easily has enough going for it to stand
on it's own merit. There is a nice diversity of styles and themes present. The musicianship of the whole band is very good indeed and I think there is a song or two here to please everyone. Surely a few songs for party mixes. I'll hang on to this one. I hope that dusting off and re-releasing the progressive oldies becomes popular. I'm sure there are a lot of things that we may have missed along the way.
I'm going to give this one..........8 Keyboards