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Iskander / Spiral Staircase

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Album Review

There is not a single serious note on Spiral Staircase. There isn't much musical material on it, either, and yet it holds together fairly enough. Supersister's fifth and final album (their sixth if one counts the compilation/rarities LP Starshine) is actually a Robert Jan Stips solo album. It was billed as Sweet OK Supersister, which was the name of the group prior to the release of its first LP, but subsequent repackages featured the name Supersister. Solo Stips or not, the album features other members of the group, including returning original flutist Sacha VanGeest, who shares all songwriting credits with Stips. This is clearly not Supersister's magnum opus, as ideas are running thin, but it remains a decent album, especially for those who enjoy the group's wackiness and missed this side of its personality on the previous album, Iskander. On this pseudo-conceptual album about madness, Stips lets his Frank Zappa and Gong influences run wild. The four pieces on side one of the original LP form a segued suite opening with sped-up voices. The highlight is "Dangling Dingdongs," a seven-minute jazz-rock workout with more than a wink to Soft Machine. Side two starts with "Gi, Ga, Go (Gollumble Jafers)," a calypso that sounds highly questionable, until you realize how Daevid Allen-esque it is. Processed vocals and studio effects abound throughout the album, to a point where it seems at times that Stips spent more time on the interconnecting snippets of studio humor than on writing music for the album. As faith had it, this album was reissued on CD as a two-fer with Iskander, the group's most serious release. It's not an essential item, but calling it a disappointment would be unfair. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Formed: 1970 in The Hague, Netherlands

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '00s

Holland's R.J. Stips is one of rock's great unknown keyboardists and tunesmiths. From his early Zappa-esque prog-pop ditties to full blown symphonic rock,...
Full bio
Iskander / Spiral Staircase, Supersister
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