There's a tradition of ambitious amateurism in progrock that has been both blessing and bane in the genre. When seen in killer groups like Clear Blue Sky, it's propitious; in crap like Deyss and Heavy the World, it's onerous; in attempts like Black Sun Ensemble and Bevis Frond, it's curious and oddly attractive but too often not as praiseworthy as we'd desire. Silver Summit belongs to the lastmost category but has large potential to leap over to the first rank and thenceafter to professionality.
There are crit ventures devoted to this kind of material: the pretty much unreadable Ptolemaic Pterrascope and Exposť magazines as well as the equally scribblous Gnosis website. One can wallow in poorly written doggerel by boneheads there and still not get a clue, despite the fatuous worship rendered by their crews. Silver Summit deserves better than that and will get it here...but not adulation. The group is actually a duo, David Shawn Bosler and Sondra Sun-Odean, who are roaringly 70s slanted, taking in the Incredible String Band, Popul Vuh, Organic Soundscape Music, and maybe even echoes of Dzyan. The lyrics faintly hark back to early T.Rex, and the CD's an orgy of druidically psychedelic music aided by friends and associates, including Fern Knight's delicious Margaret Wienk on cello, helping two cuts tremendously in an album dripping with Turkish tapestries, lush drapery, opium states, paisley, and dark medievalism. Silver Summit shines resplendently on Apple Tree, anchored by Wienk, but Music in the Afterlife and the opening tunes are a tad sloppy, prey to the shortcomings seen long ago in LPs like Harumi's one-off and the later uneven fare of Black Sun Ensemble. The second half, however, tightens that up rather nicely.
Wienk appears again in Acadia, another great track, and that's the key: this duet needs firm guidance in order to bring its own virtues out most properly. Production, too often just the estate of carpetbagging moneymen, is a very important aspect of music. Minus discipline, many groups become too self-indulgent, hamstringing or diluting themselves. The two Wienk-augmented cuts demonstrate that with crystal clarity: stunningly good, worthy of 4AD, Editions EG, early Charisma. To give Silver Summit it's due, what they're trying to pull off isn't easy, rarely done (labelmates Festival match Even in the Light here), though it's seeing a very slow semi-renaissance lately, and that's exactly why it requires excruciatingly aesthetic overseerage. They're capable of it, as in Valentine (with what appears to be a mellotron background), but stick Margaret Wienks in the ensemble, or at least have her produce (and play) on their next release, and we'll see a CD that'll turn heads, bend ears, and blow minds…calmly, sedately, but affectively.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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