Get this crazy baby off my head!


Oblivion Sun

Oblivion Sun - Oblivion Sun - 2007 - MVD Visual

Oblivion Sun is the new prog band featuring Frank Wyatt and Stan Whitaker, founding members of Happy The Man. Their self-titled debut shows a band that can prog-n-roll and throw down the funk! Fanfare & Noodlepoint have all the bombast and majesty one expects from proggers, while No Surprises & re:Bootsy show a band which could just as easily share a bill with Kings X as they could Mahavishnu. For fans of Spock's Beard, Battles, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, etc. © 1996 - 2008 CD Universe

The music played by Oblivion Sun covers many genres, but remains faithful to their progressive roots. The album is ia great example of improvisational progressive jazz rock, and is HR by A.O.O.F.C. For music in a similar vein, you should check out the following albums - "The Rotters Club" by Hatfield And The North, "Acquiring the Taste" by Gentle Giant, "The Polite Force" by Egg, Gong's brilliant "Zero to Infinity" album, and of course Happy The Man's self titled album from 1977.


1 Fanfare - Wyatt 4:41
2 Ride - Whitaker 5:07
3 Noodlepoint - Plummer 3:51
4 Catwalk - Wyatt 7:40
5 No Surprises - Whitaker 3:36
6 Re: Bootsy - Plummer, Smith 3:28
7 Chapter 7.1 - Whitaker 3:35
8 Tales of Young Whales - Plummer 5:53
9 Golden Feast - Wyatt


Bill Plummer - keyboards, Moog synthesizer
Chris Mack - drums, percussion
Frank Wyatt - saxophone, keyboards
Stan Whitaker - vocals, guitars


Oblivion Sun is a new band formed by Stanley Whitaker (guitars and vocals) and Frank Wyatt (keyboards and sax), the founding members of Happy the Man (HtM), who after 25 years of silence released The Muse Awakens in 2004. Whitaker and Wyatt were still full of inspiration after the release of that album and they had more ideas for new songs. However it proved to be very difficult to get all the HtM members together because of personal schedules and proximity. So they decided to record them themselves. The project was called ‘Pedal Giant Animals’. They were accompanied on this project that was released early this year by guest musicians Chris Mack and Pete Princiotto. Pedal Giant Animal’ proved to be the birth of ‘Oblivion Sun’. Next to Stanley Whitaker and Frank Wyatt the band members are Chris Mack (drums; also in Iluvatar and Puppet Show), Dave DeMarco (bass) and Bill Plummer (keyboards, engineering and production; HtM sound man). What sort of music can you expect from a band that consists of two of the main songwriters of HtM (together with Kit Watkins of course)? As Frank Wyatt said in an interview at the end of 2005; “it’s a bit like HtM, but the songs are more loose and there is room for improv”. There is no denying that Oblivion Sun sounds a lot like HtM. There are some differences as well. Jazzy progrock is the main ingredient on the album but the songs are a little more jazz rock orientated than HtM. The songs are shorter with less room for extended excursions. And with Dave DeMarco, Bill Plummer and Chris Mack, Wyatt and Whitaker took some very talented musicians on board. Bill Plummer, as the engineering and production man, did a great job (as I had to do this review without a CD booklet I don’t know which keyboard parts were played by him). He gave the songs a very dynamic sound and that’s just what they need. It directly becomes apparent on the very strong opening song of the album Fanfare. It’s a very exciting jazz rock song that alternates between a very up tempo part with lots of moog fills and a quieter and moving part with Fender Rhodes and a beautiful guitar part. Bass player DeMarco has a short solo spot before a beautiful Moog solo takes over. Next up is the more straightforward rock song The Ride which is dominated by heavy riffing from Mr Whitaker and the saxophone of Mr Wyatt. It has a very strong chorus as well. It’s the most commercial song of the album. It’s also the first of two songs that feature the vocals of Stan Whitaker. Now, I always found that the vocals on HtM albums sounded a bit shaky as if they were hesitant to include them on the albums but on this album Whitaker really sounds self assured, especially on this song. Next up is one of best songs of the album. Noodlepoint is a very complicated song but they make it sound so easy. That is mainly down to the rhythm section. They give the song a very nice flow and make all the different up tempo and fast sections sound very natural and easy. They make the song a perfect environment for Wyatt's sax and keys work and Whitaker's guitar. Especially the part with the King Crimsonesk/VdGG sax solo is great with some brilliant percussion work by Mack. But also DeMarco shows some excellent bass work throughout the song. And all of that in less than four minutes. Wow! Catwalk is the last ‘vocal’ song of the album. A song about an imaginary journey of a man. He meets the Cheshire cat (the imaginary, highly philosophical cat of Lewis Caroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’?) that wants to walk with him (‘excuse me he said. Can I walk in your head?’). The man notices that the cat feels a bit low and decides to cheer him up by writing a song together. It’s the longest song on the album and again features some strong, but short and to-the-point solos. It’s one of the quieter songs on the album. There’s a really beautiful instrumental passage near the end of the song that has a moving melody. I wonder if that is the song they wrote together because after that part the cat feels much better and leaves (‘excuse me he said, for using your head’). The three songs that follow show us the versatility of this band and their efficiency. The rocky No Surprises, the funky Re:Bootsy and the progressive rock of Chapter 7.1 (an alternative version of Chapter Seven from the Pedal Giant Animals album) are all around three and a half minutes and show what this band is capable of. Especially Chapter 7.1 has a lot to offer in that short time. Moog solos, Hammond chords, exciting guitar playing and some great breaks. Tales Of young Whales seems to be a very nice and quiet song until Stan Whitaker gives the song an enormous kick in the butt with a truly amazing guitar solo! Closing track Golden Feast is one of my personal favourites of the album because it reminds me of At The Edge Of This Thought and While Chrome Yellow Shine off the Better Late third HtM album. It’s not that the song is an exact copy but the it’s more the feel and the atmosphere of the song with its prominent Fender Rhodes and its typical Wyatt chord progressions. It’s laid back at the start but slowly builds up. The build up is introduced by bass player DeMarco and then Wyatt kicks in with a Fender Rhodes solo followed by a beautiful Moog solo. Whitaker closes things with a short but heavy guitar solo before ending the album with an up tempo version of the main theme. It’s a brilliant song. This album was a great surprise. Especially the fun and pleasure these guys must have had during the recording process really comes across. Also, Oblivion Sun is more than HtM minus Rick Kennel (the other original HtM member who’s still part of the band). DeMarco, Mack and Plummer also shine on the album and deliver some great performances. If you are a HtM fan or simply like jazz rock orientated progressive rock you will really enjoy this album. Highly recommended! Conclusion: 9 out of 10, © LEO KOPERDRAAT, © 1995 - 2008 : Dutch Progressive Rock Page, www.dprp.net/reviews/200772.php

"Let’s cut to the chase: the music produced by Oblivion Sun for its debut release is as good, if not better, than anything Happy The Man ever produced, and leaves little doubt that this album belongs among the best releases of 2007. Formed by Happy the Man alumni Stan Whitaker (guitars) and Frank Wyatt (keyboards), Oblivion Sun retains the best elements of previous incarnation Pedal Giant Animals and fine tunes its fusion of progressive rock, jazz, metal and funk. The compositions are uniformly excellent, recalling vintage Happy the Man without succumbing to pure homage, finding a delightful balance between retro and progressive. The band explores various genres with great aplomb, from the crunchy Crimson-like delivery of “No Surprises” to a bouncy nod to William Collins on “Bootsy.” Magically working the keys alongside Wyatt is newcomer Bill Plummer, who fits the mold perfectly, while bassist Dave DeMarco and drummer Chris Mack give the music some needed punch. This is one crack band of musicians; they have, without doubt, created an instant classic." © Mark Newman Progression Magazine (spring 2008)

Around the year 2000, we received new signs of life from the Happy the Man camp. With their proper fusion of prog, jazzrock and light classical influences the cult prog act from the east of the U.S. had been well-known for years among insiders as the crème de la crème of their field. In a sense, they were akin to Gentle Giant: frivolous, yet more polished. Eight years hence, the group's resurrection at NEARfest is still fresh in the minds of many visitors. In addition, “The Muse Awakens” from 2004 was by no means a disappointing effort and it turned out to be the perfect follow-up to the band's magnum opus, “Crafty Hands,” which was released in 1978. For the next four years, the various band members worked on a variety of projects. Guitarist Stan Whitaker and keyboardist/saxophonist Frank Wyatt (founding members of the band) now present their latest project, “Oblivion Sun,” a group which further consists of keyboardist Bill Plummer (HtM's sound engineer), bassist Dave Demarco and drummer Chris Mack (of Iluvatar-fame). Originally, the band would be called Pedal Giant Animals, after that they renamed themselves Spirit Noise, but ultimately, they turned out their eponymous début album under the name of Oblivion Sun. Ah... but what to expect from a company who look so distinguished on paper? The answer is crystal-clear: just prick up your ears and enjoy the nine pieces which together make up almost forty-five minutes' worth listening. Once again Whitaker and Wyatt have managed to beautifully shape their guitar and keyboard sounds into stirring and melodic compositions. Fanfare, Noodlepoint and Golden Feast in particular are instrumental gems that show diversity without turning bombastic or too overwhelming because of ideas that are too 'hot.' The saxophone combines marvellously with the high-paced keyboard sounds and keeps the jazzrock-influences alive — as if little has changed since HtM's albums (just for fun: first listen to Steaming Pipes and then play No Surprises!). The end result is less strict, though, and it seems as if the musicians play their parts somewhat more loosely these days. The album effectively alternates between vocal and instrumental tracks, a juxtaposition in which the former stand out in their 'rockness' (such as, for instance, The Ride), but that is actually quite refreshing. In addition to Whitaker's vocals the guitar parts work out beautifully, especially in Re: Bootsy, which is a sort of refined progfunk that has the lovely tendency to lose self-control at times. Like a true madman, drummer Mack flies sublimely through the song, followed suit by bassist Demarco. However, Mack also knows when to hold back a little — top class! “Oblivion Sun” is without a doubt one of the progressive highlights of 2007, being an album that deals in an authentic fashion with melodic themes and which stays clear of musical clichés. The group may well prove to be a sensation on-stage — I really do wish that that is where things will lead. None of our readers will be surprised to hear that this record is absolutely compulsory for HtM-fans, while other people interested in Oblivion Sun can be assured that by purchasing this album they will be getting themselves top value American progressive rock. © 2008, Wouter Bessels, www.oblivionsun.com/progwereld_review.htm


Oblivion Sun is the brainchild of Frank Wyatt and Stanley Whitaker, founding members of 70's Arista recording artists of Happy The Man. HTM reformed in 1999 to headline Nearfest 2000 and they released their first CD in almost 25 years, "The Muse Awakens" in 2004. Last year, Frank and Stan recognized the difficulty in getting together to work on new HTM music due to personal schedules and proximity. They had amassed an abundance of material that they feared would never get recorded if they waited for HTM to record it. It was out of this reality that they began recording the soon to be released duo project "Pedal Giant Animals". The PGA project, with guest musicians Chris Mack and Pete Princiotto, became the seed for a new band...Oblivion Sun. Oblivion Sun comfortably crosses many genres while staying true to their progressive roots. If the first batch of OS tunes are any indication, this is a band that's not afraid to get downright funky at times and throw down some serious rock grooves and even improv!. Expect a good deal of vocal content as well! Fear not, this is still prog and fans of HTM's lush arrangements will not be disappointed! The ensemble features the compositional and performance skills of all five musicians: Stan Whitaker on guitar and vocals, Frank Wyatt on keyboards and sax, Chris Mack on drums, Dave DeMarco on bass and Bill Plummer on keyboards who also offers his engineering and production skills. Together, Oblivion Sun have created a powerful, dynamic sound that is sure to satisfy all prog fans, young and old alike. The band is poised to quickly establish itself as a forerunner in the ongoing evolution of progressive music. The band members include Frank Wyatt ~ Composer, keyboardist, saxophonist, engineer and producer- founding member of Happy The Man, Frank has worn many hats. From his Crafty Hands Studio he continues to produce innovative and fresh new music. Recent projects include Pedal Giant Animals , and now new band Oblivion Sun's debut. Stan Whitaker ~ Stan is a founding member of Happy The Man, playing with them during their classic period in the '70s. After the band broke up in 1978, Whitaker formed a band called Vission. By 1985 he had moved on to his next group, One by One, and in 1992, Avalon. He has guested on albums by Ten Jinn, The Carl Hupp Project, John Palumbo, and others. Stan also works as a solo and duo artist with his wife LeeAnne. Bill Plummer ~ Bill has known Stan and Frank since the mid 70’s when Happy The Man was in its heyday. He started playing on a Moog Modular as soon as he got his driver’s license. A friend, Mark Roumelis from the band Facedancer, worked at Maryland Public Television and invited Bill to play the Moog whenever it was available. Bill soon found that a career in music as an audio engineer was a better move for paying the bills and started out by being the house engineer at The Bayou, a famous club in DC. Tours soon followed. He left the live touring part of his career after mixing Whitney Houston in 1989-90. Studio work followed and then moved into broadcast engineering. As chief mixer at BET Jazz, Bill had the great pleasure of mixing many of his childhood heroes such as Herbie Hancock, George Duke and more. While at BET, Stan called about a HTM reunion and he eventually became the FOH engineer for all but one of the reunion shows that the band performed between 2000 and 2004.Stan and Bill had played together a great deal over the years and was aware of his abilities as a keyboardist. When the decision was made to form a new performing band Bill was called by Stan and Frank. He immediately said yes and rehearsals began. When not playing with Oblivion Sun, Bill produces and engineers a variety of artists. He was nominated for a Grammy for BeBe Winans “Live And Up Close” and has also mixed artists including The Cure, Maroon 5, Diana Krall, Audioslave, Toni Braxton, and many more. Chris Mack ~ After honing his skills at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and paying his dues in L.A. for a few years, Chris moved back to the east coast and landed the drum chair with Baltimore neo proggers Iluvatar in Dec. 1997. He recorded "A Story Two Days Wide", Iluvatar's 4th CD release. Iluvatar went on to play Baja Prog in 1998 and NEARfest in 2000, as well as many shows in the Baltimore area in support of the CD. In the Fall of 2003, Chris played on "Pedal Giant Animals", a collection of songs written by Stan and Frank as a side project. He is also a member of Puppet Show, a well established progressive rock act from Northern California. Their latest CD, "The Tale of Woe", was released on ProgRock Records and mixed by producer icon Terry Brown (Rush, IQ, Fates Warning). In 2007, Chris was active in the prog festival scene playing both The Rites of Spring Festival (Rosfest) in April and CAL Prog in May with Puppet Show and ProgDay in September with Oblivion Sun. Chris is a well established drum and percussion instructor in the Baltimore area and plays frequently around Maryland with other rock acts including The Dave Demarco Band. Dave DeMarco ~ When Oblivion Sun's calendar allows, Dave maintains a busy extracurricular schedule as an in-demand session and freelance player. He appears on CDs with artists such as Frank Gambale, Brett Garsed, TM Stevens, Larry Fast and composes for film and TV. His playing has been featured on HBO, ESPN, MTV's Punk'd, NBC's Coastal Dreams and several FOX TV themes. © www.oblivionsun.com/musicians.htm


A.O.O.F.C said...



ani. said...

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A.O.O.F.C said...

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