Late 1960s South Africa might be the last place you’d expect a progressive psych-folk band to have emerged from. But amid racist and nationalist tensions, a small, yet fertile scene did exist, which included a little-known band by the name of Abstract Truth.
Guitarist Kenneth E. Henson formed Abstract Truth in Durban, South Africa around 1969, going on to release two studio albums with the group during 1970. However, the band was short-lived and disbanded after numerous line-up changes in 1971.
Abstract Truth’s first album, titled Totum, is a collection of covers that includes takes on everything from jazz standards like “Summertime” and “Comin’ Home Baby,” Donovan and Dylan tunes and more. The vastly improved second album, titled Silver Trees, consists entirely of originals, blending elements of prog, folk and psych that, at times, recalls Caravan, Fairport Convention and early King Crimson. Silver Trees, in particular, is worth seeking out. The album covers a lot of ground, and sees Saxophonist/flutist Sean Bergin and Henson dueling throughout over jazzy time signatures and complex compositions.
For years after their release, these two Abstract Truth records existed as extreme rarities, known and heard only by die-hard collectors and few others. But in 2009, both albums were reissued with extensive liner notes, bringing these two lost classics to the ears of many more.
Below you can hear the folky opener “Pollution” and the epic eight-minute title track from the group’s second LP, Silver Trees.