The world of Roxy Music is rich in many good stuff and recordings. It's almost like Roxy Music is a virus and whoever becomes in contact, eventually will make their own album with either group or solo. So being a Roxy fan is expensive over time, yet, I have not regretted the expenses being spent on their art. Quiet Sun is Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera's band before he joined Bryan Ferry, Eno, and company. Oddly enough I never purchased this album due to my fear of prog rock. If one can even call Quiet Sun a prog rock band. Mostly a group of misfits who border on the eccentricities of the time as well as being in the avant-garde angle in rock n' roll. Beside the Roxy guitarist, the band consists of Bill MacCormick on bass, Charles Hayward on drums and some keyboards, and on the keys the noted Mathematician Dave Jarrett. Eno helps on the noise part and legendary music writer Ian (McDonald) MacCormick, the brother of Bill on backup vocals.
While Manzanera was doing his first proper solo album "Diamond Head" he also recorded this Quiet Sun album as well. The band did split up when Phil joined Roxy, but they never made an album, and either due to the preservation aspect of Manzanera's music making, or just wanted to do a crazed album, is what is upon us for the last 40 or so years. While I loved "Diamond Head" I was hesitant to purchase or listen to Quiet Sun, because of its aggressive fusion sound. It took me many years (like yesterday afternoon) to finally get the album, as a reissue (on Manzanera's record label) and give this "Mainstream" a serious listen.
The music is fusion, but these guys are creative at what they do. Manzanera is one of the great underrated guitarists. His Hendrix accented echoey guitar sound (perhaps helped by Eno's treatment of the instrument) has always been a standout on all the Roxy recordings, and he doesn't let up on his own albums. If Quiet Sun has a sister or big brother band, it would be Soft Machine. One can imagine Robert Wyatt coming in doing the vocals. So the mindset is on that part of the world and its aesthetics. Riffs come and go, but what I find appealing as well is Charles Hayward's percussion. A very imaginative drummer, and with MacCormick on bass a great rhythm section. The one classic song off this album is "Rongwrong" which the title is based on and the same as artist Marcel Duchamp's art journal in the early 20th century. It's a beauty of a song, and although written by Hayward, it reminds me of Wyatt's solo work. A song diary of sorts, but a beautiful wistful melody, even as the long instrumental passages play on, it's an incredible song.
Quiet Sun is not my favorite of the Roxy Music off-projects, but an essential part of the puzzle that is Phil Manzanera.