November 7, 2019

Esoteric Recordings might be my favourite current label. Their attention to detail with regard to each of their reissue series is unmatched, and they fearlessly dive in to the back catalogues and long forgotten titles by artists who weren’t always million-sellers (even if some of them deserved to be). Legendary keyboardist Patrick Moraz is one such artist. It’s no secret that he played with some monstrously successful bands in the 70s and 80s, and those albums are always readily available in the local shops or with the click of a mouse – but Patrick’s own solo albums are the kind that go out of print, and can stay that way for years. Esoteric has seen fit to change all that (for Patrick and a great many other artists) with their bountiful reissue series. This past year has seen the chronological re-releases of The Story Of I, Out In The Sun, Patrick Moraz, and now the fourth edition in the series: Coexistence, the 1980 instrumental album Patrick recorded with Romanian pan pipe flautist Simeon “Syrinx” Stanclu. On top of all this are brilliant new editions of the Mainhorse and Refugee band albums, the latter of which was expanded to a three-disc boxed set. Suffice to say, there’s been no shortage of excellent new additions to the Moraz fan’s library.

But back to Coexistence: as with the first three titles in the series, all of the original artwork has been restored and the album has been remastered under the supervision of Patrick himself. This music has never sounded better, and to say it’s an upgrade from my ancient cassette is a massive understatement. Two bonus tracks from the sessions are also included.

a perfect intertwining of two musicians and composers in sync…

The original motivation behind this album was to pair the ancient pan flute (circa 5000 B.C.) with the modern synthesizer, and see what kind of music could be created from this ‘coexistence’ of instruments. What eventually resulted was a fusion of multiple styles, but the oft-mentioned ‘new age’ is not one of them (perhaps the presence of pan flute leads people to mistakenly believe this music is what you’d hear at a local spa?) There are certainly some pleasant and major-key compositions here, but it’s far from gentle and relaxing soundscapes- not to mention, most of the tracks are augmented by guitar and drums as well. Of the handful of tracks that comprised the original first side of the LP, the most successful might be the moody Adagio For A Hostage, a perfect example of what a balanced collaboration this really was. What could have ended up a full-on Moraz album with some occasional pan flute accents was in fact a perfect intertwining of two musicians and composers in sync, neither dominating the other.

Soundrise is another of the best pieces, where the pan flute takes a pretty lead melody on top of a fairly simple track to great effect. But the centrepiece of the album is surely the 19-minute Coexistence Suite, which originally took up the whole of side two. Opening section Black Gold is an almost frantic bit of prog rock, followed by the funereal Moment Of Love, the impossibly bonkers Chain Reaction, and the majestic beauty of closing section Peace On The Hills. An epic piece of music that ranks alongside any of the best things Patrick did in his solo career. And what I like best about it is that it is four distinct movements that form a whole. There’s no shoe-horning or sloppy assembly just to make it a large-scale piece for the sake of. These are solid compositions on what is certainly an underrated album.

By eliminating both the current chart-topping mega-stars and the hopelessly obscure, Esoteric have found that ‘sweet spot’ of artist to focus on. Respected and eclectic musicians with strong back catalogues who may otherwise be a tad unrepresented in this day and age. Having these albums back in print also means the average music buyer no longer needs to shell out for old, used copies online, and hope that they arrive in the condition they were claimed to be in. This music is worth hearing and owning, and for collectors and casual listeners alike, Coexistence is yet another fine entry in a long line of these sparkling reissues.

Available from Cherry Red, Amazon, and other worldwide vendors.