Duncan Mackay - Chimera
12 Tone Nostalgia [8.10]
Song For Witches [19.42] Bonus track The Opening [7.07] CHIMERA It was the early 70's. Progressive rock in the form of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis, King Crimson, Yes and countless others, was on the rise in those dim and distant lands. The closest we got to seeing our heroes was in the pages of Melody Maker or New Musical Express.Seeing the likes of Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Vincent Crane, Brian Auger, Rod Argent, and Jon Lord in action was merely a pipedream for us, here in isolated South Africa. For those of us into the more progressive side of music, these were gods, the untouchables, almost forbidden fruit, if you will, never to be seen in the flesh. We were condemned to drown in a sea of musical mediocrity, forever to believe that the likes of "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" and "Mammy Blue" were the be-all and end-all of the music scene in South Africa. Fortunately, all was not lost. In spite of what the radio stations and record companies would have us believe, South Africa certainly did have a very vocal, albeit small community, of, dare I say it, more "discerning" music lovers, and we had some really great bands who, sometimes under incredibly difficult conditions, managed to release some fantastic albums. We had Freedoms Children, Otis Waygood, Suck and Hawk (most of these legendary bands' albums have been released on CD on the Retro Fresh label,) and a host of others. And we had Duncan Mackay. Born in the UK, he won the best young violinist in Great Britain award and in 1963 he went to Shrewsbury School on a music scholarship . His family came to South Africa in the late 60's, where he acheived L.T.C.L and L.R.S.M violin teaching diplomas at Port Elizabeth University. Whilst studying, Duncan would earn money playing keyboards at local music venues which lead in 1970 to a tour of Brazil with members of the Sergio Mendes band. Moving to Johannesburg in 1971, Duncan and drummer Mike Gray were working the hotel cabaret circuit but were getting restless. They wanted to spread their wings and play music that stretched their talents. As fate would have it, a week from finishing a residency at The Criterion, they were approached by a big Scotsman, Tom Buchanan who had been listening to them all night. Having won the lease to an old restaurant at the bottom end of Jeppe street in a poker game the previous evening Tom had the dream of converting it to a venue for progressive music and asked Duncan to take the gamble with him. Duncan grabbed the opportunity, got stuck in, built the stage and started rehearsing. Word soon got around that this was the place to go. “The Branch Office” was born, named by Tom after a New York jazz club. I remember hitching all the way from Sandown, as it was known then, sometimes with a few friends, always concerned that I wouldn't get to the venue in time for the first set. The banks of keyboards, the monster double bass drum kit, the endlessly revolving Leslie's and the air fan blowing in the face of one of the finest keyboard players I had ever heard. His musical skills and the energy he put into his performances ensured that the punters, like myself, kept coming back. I looked on in awe as he effortlessly moved from keyboard to keyboard, his feet playing the bass pedals, never failing to blow me away, and I was forever grateful to my future brother-in-law for taking me to this place. Duncan and Mike practiced day in day out, honing their skills, playing Peddlers, Nice and ELP material, as well as Duncan's own compositions. Everybo...