EnTrance Overview 

by Richard Taylor 

Entrance...
With the accent on the second syllable, it means to fill with rapturous delight.

Entrance... 
With the accent on the first syllable, it signifies a means or place of entry.

Entrance...
With this collection of delightful compositions, Conrad Praetzel opens the gateway to an endless journey of musical discovery.  

Drawing  from a supporting cast of musicians and a studio-full of exotic and virtual instruments Conrad Praetzel has forged a truly unique ensemble sound.  At times, the sound is other-worldly, at times third-worldly, often inner-worldly. Leading Edge Review observes: "One can imagine oneself in an intimate, well-staged live performance as one listens to this intelligent production, which thoughtfully utilizes Western technology to create hip interpretations of traditional and ethnic music."

The first track, "Waking the Shadows," establishes an atmosphere of spiritual awakening, grounded on an earthly layer of percussion.  Sparked by a sampled "tea kettle drum"--a typical whimsical Praetzel touch--"Shadows" dances to a loping bass line lifted by a feather-light flute figure reminiscent of classical Indian music.  The cinematic flow of "Out of the Woods" suggests images of early British colonial Africa, with tattooed tribal drums giving way to contrasting bagpipes.  And "Lykewake Walk" evokes a mood of joyous reverence, as trance-like incantations revel with surf and e-bow guitars to the rhythm of a heartbeat drum. 

With Conrad and his gypsy band, there is a new aural universe to discover 'round every bend.  "Stone Soup," for example, could be the soundtrack to a shootout in Cheyenne, as the guitar-slingers take aim with dobro, electric sitar and flamenco guitar.  But in the context of the album's Middle Eastern slant and the Praetzel logic that permeates Entrance, you can imagine these pickers arriving in town astride a train of camels, wearing turbans, tarbooshes, and ten-gallon hats.
 
As a tape mastering engineer over a decade ago, Conrad met Solomon Feldthouse, a founding member of the legendary band Kaleidoscope, and his friend, percussionist Armando El Mafufo.   Solomon Feldthouse, along with David Lindley and the other members in Kaleidoscope,  created a number of albums of "worldbeat" music long before it was fashionable.  

 "Solomon was one of my heroes," Conrad says  "because instead of playing  guitar like everyone else back in the Sixties, he was playing stringed instruments no-one had ever heard of, like the oud and the tar."  Needless to say Conrad was quite pleased when Solomon agreed to play on Entrance.  His contributions include oud, ney flute, violin and flamenco guitar.  The piece "Petra" spotlights Solomon's authentic oud fingering and his glistening violin solo, while Armando El Mafufo provides the beat with dumbek and tambourine.

Guitarist Robert Powell, featured on Conrad's previous album, is back on Entrance.  His special contributions this time include the smiling Hawaiian guitars on "River Truce," the album's buoyant second track, and the plaintive pedal steel lines on "Harlequinade."

To trace the first recorded steps in Conrad Praetzel's journey of discovery, track down a copy of Between Present and Past (Scarlet Records, 1989) and Myths and Memories (Paleo Music, 1993).  His first album was essentially impressionistic and ethereal in tone, while with Myths, Conrad introduced more rhythmic elements, with increasing transglobal influences.  Now, Entrance reveals an entire new realm that defies musical categorization- unquestionably modern, yet unfathomably ancient.  

So allow yourself to become entranced and join Conrad and his gypsy band in their journeys.  This could be the music you have always wanted to find.

-Richard Taylor   1995