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Sweet Smoke - From Darkness to Light (1973) review

40 years anniversary review: Sweet Smoke – From Darkness to Light (Harvest, 1973)

Second album of unique psychedelic jazz-rock band Sweet Smoke that celebrates its 40th anniversary, surely is one of those albums which left deep and influence to rock music, but like many somehow was left behind.
Although band`s origins are from Brooklyn in New York where they have been formed in 1967, their true inspiring and creating territory was Germany. To be precise – the social community to where they moved from USA at the end of the sixties. Like many hippy free-living communities that functioned in America and Europe, it gave many vibrations for creating a lot of good free-spirit music. After their master-piece debut album “Just a Poke” from 1970 (that ingeniously consisted of only two twenty-minute songs with long and technically sophisticated instrumental parts, that individually where placed on each side of the vinyl LP), they went farther in experimenting with second. This six-song story is practically the aftermath of their first album. Five-piece band enlarged to seven members. The debut formation, that consisted of Marvin Kaminovitz  (lead guitar and vocals), Andy Dershin (bass guitar), Michael Paris (tenor saxophone, alto recorder, vocals, percussion), Jay Dorfman (percussion and drums) and Steve Rosenstein (guitar and vocals) added Rochus Kuhn (violin, cello) and Jeffrey Dershin (piano, percussion, vocals) in order spread the musical possibilities.
“From Farkness to Light” is more acoustic and diversified that the first one. Each of six songs have their own stories, that create an, practically, tangible atmosphere. Album starts with “Just another empty dream” - maybe the only song that more or less reminds of the first album, maybe because of its tempo and rhythm brakes in the middle. Second song “I'd Rather Burn Than Disappear” is a deep-minded confession in folk sounding acoustic manners, accompanied with alto recorder’s soft and pure sound. That`s where the band already moved the barriers of their musical experimenting. Much farther they went with the third, last A side song – Kundalini, that shows how much they were influenced and inspired by yoga and Indian culture they experienced in commune. Song transforms to jazz jamming closer to the end.
B side begins with folk rock track “Believe me my friends” that has that Crosby Stills and Nash groove and multi-vocal support. At some parts it even goes more progressive, and of course more jazzy. Next “Show Me the Way to the War” is funky-jazz oriented song probably inspired by Vietnam and the whole cold political situation that they observed from the peace environment they were at the moment. The last song album-titled “Darkness to Light” is almost thirteen-minute mix of various influences demonstrated in this combination of soft singing poem and good individual solos with many rhythm breaks.

Maybe this is not band`s best issue, especially comparing it to their debut, but it`s definitely the album each psychedelic rock fan must hear, because of its diversity in innovation of the arrangements and writing.

Review made by Andrija Babovic/2013
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