[Review] Patrick Moraz: Story of I (1976)

A science-fiction concept album that makes Wakeman’s stuff seem tame by comparison.

Kronomyth 1.0: A towering achievement.

Progressive rock keyboardists, many of them trained in the classics, often go the route of program music on their own, creating complex concept albums that fall prey to convoluted plots. On the surface, Patrick Moraz’ Story of I fits that description: the “story” takes place in a huge hotel where guests exchange their life for the pursuit of pleasure, following the lives of a man and woman who accidentally fall in love while thus occupied. Throw into the mix all manner of musical styles (prog rock, jazz, Latin music), the painstaking personification of various instruments to drive the plot, and fourteen separate sections that connect the story seamlessly from point to point… well, you see the potential for this tower to topple over.

And yet Story of I succeeds against overwhelming odds. Moraz’ keyboard wizardry conjures plenty of magical moments, from the opening “Impact” (which sounds like a saucer landing in a jungle) to a miniature battle between guitar and mini-moog on “Indoors.” Equally important, Moraz carefully scripts the action from piece to piece while ensuring that principle themes and sounds give the work a unifying structure. The liner notes, which look chaotic, actually reveal Story of I to be calculated art. There are even a handful of songs here, some featuring Patrick himself on vocals without ill effect, that break up the instrumental action nicely.

“Some of the sounds that we got on Story of I were done with the help of Bob Moog. He, in fact, contributed to a lot of the sounds of the making of that album.” — Patrick Moraz, in a 2010 Goldmine interview.

The supporting musicians are outstanding, aiding Moraz in the pursuit of a new sort of fusion that draws from prog rock, jazz and Brazilian music (Chick Corea may be the closest parallel). Although listeners might be expecting something along the lines of Rick Wakeman (and there are some moments where the two cross paths), Story of I is closer in construct to Tony Banks’ A Curious Feeling. However, Moraz aspires to (and achieves) much more here. In fact, Story of I may well be the keyboardist’s towering achievement. Ambitious in the extreme, engaging at every turn, this deserves a place among such impressive declarations of independence as Olias of Sunhillow, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Voyage of the Acolyte.

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Original LP Version

A1. Impact (3:28)
A2. Warmer Hands (3:37)
A3. The Storm (0:53)
A4. Cachaça (Baião) (4:09)
A5. Intermezzo (2:49)
A6. Indoors (3:44)
A7. Best Years of Our Lives (4:01)
B1. Descent (1:43)
B2. Incantation (Procession) (1:52)
B3. Dancing Now (4:38)
B4. Impressions (The Dream) (2:48)
B5. Like A Child In Disguise (4:05)
B6. Rise And Fall (5:34)
B7. Symphony In The Space (3:07)

CD reissue bonus tracks
15. Cachaça Variations (6:14)
16. Cachaça’s Children’s Voices (4:28)

All music and themes composed, arranged and conducted by Patrick Moraz. English lyrics by John McBurnie, French lyrics by Patric Moraz.

The Players

Patrick Moraz (keyboards, vocals, marimbaphone, additional assorted percussions, orchestrations), Jeff Berlin (electric basses), Ray Gomez (electric lead and rhythm guitars), Vivienne McAuliffe (vocals and additional lead vocals), John McBurnie (lead vocals), Alphonse Mouzon (drums), Andy Newmark (drums) with Chico Batera (surdos 1), Bezerra (with Birambau) (ripique), Jean-Luc Bourgeois (gongs and tam-tams), Paulinho Braga (tumba), The Children of Morat, Switzerland (vocals), Claudio (corte), Auguste de Anthony (acoustic guitar and additional electric guitars), Doutor (cuica), Elizeu (percussion), Gilson de Freitas (bateria), Jorge Garcia (tamborins), Gordinho (surdos 2), Hermes (varios), Jorginho (ganza), Luna (percussion), Marcal (with matchboxes) (percussion), Rene Moraz (tap dance and castagnets), Veronique Mueller (French and additional vocals), Nenem (pandeiro), Risadinha (agogo), “Professor” Jean Ristori (cello and acoustic string bass), Geraldo Sabino (reco-reco), Philippe Staehli (tympanis and assorted percussions), Wilson (frigideira). Produced by Patrick Moraz; engineered by “Professor” Jean Ristori and Chris “Snoopy” Penycate.

The Pictures

Cover design by John Pasche.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in May 1976 in the UK (Charisma, CDS 4002/7208 604), the US (Atlantic, SD 18175), Germany (Charisma, 6369 975) and Japan (Charisma, RJ-7156) with gatefold cover; reached #132 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1978 in Japan (Charisma, BT-5189).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1995 in the UK (Virgin, CDOVD 446) and in Japan (Charisma, VJCP-2544).
  3. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 2006 in the UK (TimeWave) with 2 bonus tracks.

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