Immram - Voyage of The Corvus Corrone

 

Rumour and obsession have kept the legend alive. But 35 years later, the myth is reborn. The 70's synth prog classic returns; re-mastered, re-packaged and re-imagined. Escape Artists Recordings are proud to announce the re-release of this most mysterious of albums.

 

The story of the Immram album began on the morning of January 31st 1975 when a mysterious parcel arrived at reception desk of the fledgling Akashic Records label based in Paris. The label had been set up as an outlet for progressive rock music by Jean Claude Onsager. Inside the unlabelled package were the master reel and completed artwork proofs of the album.

 

The only paperwork was a typed copy of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Crossing the Bar," and written captions which seemed to accompany the artwork. The master reel was labelled with the address of the nearby Chateau D'Mercier studios. After a little investigation it was discovered that the studio had been booked some two months earlier by three foreign gentlemen who had declined to give their names but had pre-paid in cash for the recording time.

 

The identities of the men were never discovered, but inspection of Chateau D'Mercier revealed it had been decorated with all manner of strange symbols, somehow related to the abandoned synthesizers which had been heavily modified in ways that made them state of the art for the time. It appeared two of the men had worked without interruption or distraction on the recordings while the third busied himself with the meticulous illustrations and the mysterious "Cog" design that adorns the cover.

 

This third man would reportedly spend long periods of time during the early evenings on the roof of the Chateau stargazing, finally returning to the studio with a clutch of new sketches and bizarre diagrams which would then spur his companions on to further composition. The three men seldom took refreshment, and seemed confident in their purpose and the execution of the finished performances.


Akashic Records decided to release the album. Shortly after the album went into production, Jean Claude Onsager also vanished. Without Jean Claude at the helm the album never found the promotion and support that it deserved. The label folded.

 

At the beginning of 2009, former Akashic Records employee Louis-Sébastien Monad received a package from the legal firm of V.V. Corvi & Associates. Inside was a Deed of Testament informing him that all materials related to the Corvus Corrone recordings, including artwork had been bequeathed to him through the Estate of Jean Claude. His will had been located only months before in the small town of San el-Hagar, outside of Tanis in Egypt. It had apparently been left at the law office with strict instructions to be forwarded to Louis-Sébastien on thirty-fourth anniversary of the album's initial discovery.

 

Escape Artists Recordings was in the process of setting up when Paul McLaney was contacted through a mutual acquaintance of his and Louis-Sébastien's, electronic composer Rhian Sheehan. Paul and his Escape Artists co-founders agreed it would be the perfect flagship release for their new label, embodying as it does the themes of imagination and mystery they were keen for the new label to explore.

 

The album's central theme is that of escape from the Old World to the New World, climaxing in the cautionary final lyric "Be careful that the fears which you escape do not stowaway". In this respect it follows the standard class of its namesake of traditional Old Irish tales concerning a hero's sea journey to the Other World (see Tír na nÓg and Mag Mell). These were written in the Christian era and essentially Christian in aspect, they preserve elements of Irish mythology. "Immram" is usually translated as "Voyage".

 

"Once in a lifetime you are presented with a project as rich and mysterious as this…" so begins project co-ordinator Max Pitros' introduction to the lovingly assembled 64 page vinyl-sized hardback first edition. The album consists of 7 individual tracks and features gatefold illustrations to accompany each recording. The book's cover and interior features a symbol widely referred to as "The Cog", apparently of immense significance to the original artists, which embodies some further meaning. Escape Artist co-founder Matt Pitt is credited with overseeing the restoration and repair of the original 1976 artwork.

 

Given the mysterious origins of the project next to nothing is known of its creation other than its electronic aesthetic and use of late 70's synthesizers. Escape Artist co-founder Module (Jeramiah Ross) has remixed this 2011 re-release.

 

"When I first got the files, I was impressed by the state of the old recordings, there was a lot of great material there, some of the beautiful old synthesizers have a sound about them that I really love. To me, this project is a bit like 'sonic gold', I can hear that it was recorded all on tape, you know, that old tape noise and compression, you just can't beat that sonic. It was a lot of work to get a more modern production flavour going on that sat well with the existing older material and bring it to a finished state, but in the end I think it worked and came out pretty well." Jeramiah Ross (Module) - January 2011

 

The 2011 re-issue includes the appendix "Escape From Xanoths" a single player adventure game book often associated with the album.