For connoisseurs of the Italian progressive rock scene, the name of Doris Norton is probably familiar through her membership with acts such as Antonius Rex and Jacula. At least since the early eighties, Norton had experimented with Roland and Moog synthesizers. Since that time she's an Italian icon of the experimental electronic music (EM) scene. Some people regard her as the female Italian equivalent of the German EM pioneer Klaus Schulze. In 1981 she recorded her second album Parapsycho with the help of Alex Cooper (flute), Mike Lee (guitar), Andy Jackson (drums) and Antonius Rex (bass, guitar synthesizer), supplemented by two special guests: Tullio De Piscopo (drums) and Hugo Heredia (flute). Recently this album got a reissue by Black Widow Records including a bonus track.
Parapsycho begins with the title song, an aggressive up-tempo piece of music sung by Doris Norton. In a way her voice sounds a bit like Toyah Wilcox. When you listen to this hard rock piece with lots of heavy electric guitars, you'll probably think that she plays a kind of heavy metal instead of EM. However, while listening to the following tracks you'll find out that the title track is one of the two tracks that contain this kind of hard rock. The second track Ludus (Astral Voyage) is in sharp contrast with the opening piece. It's an orchestral keyboard track, an instrumental ballad with relaxed synthesizer solos. Next is Psychic Research, a fine synthesizer tune, which is more interesting for fans of EM. It contains many contributions by synthesizers that made me think of the early solo albums by Edgar Froese and Peter Baumann.
The next track Telepathia is again a wonderful synthesizer piece which has all the characteristics to be the opening theme of a romantic TV series. It's followed by Hypnotised By Norton, a kind of hypnotic track with many influences of disco music. However, the flute parts provide this piece a progressive rock touch! The track Tears again contains synthesizer music that could be used for a soundtrack. Obsession, the final track of the original album once more holds disco and some heavy metal influences! The bonus track Precognition is an electronic piece with lots of electric guitars.
When you listen to Parapsycho 32 years after its first release, you'll notice that the music mostly sounds outdated. Well, this the case with many reissues of course, but normally that doesn't matter at all, but for most people the music on Parapsycho will be difficult to digest. Not all tracks reveal its beauty right from the start. It took me some listening sessions as well to get into this album and to conclude that many tracks are worthwhile listening to. People who love experimental electronic music made by acts such as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Edgar Froese and Peter Baumann will surely dig this album!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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