Interview with Paul Fishman from prog rockers Absolute Elsewhere about their (very) long-awaited “Playground” album release

Interview with Paul Fishman from prog rockers Absolute Elsewhere about their (very) long-awaited “Playground” album release

20th June 2024 0 By Jon Deaux

UK progressive rock musician Absolute Elsewhere was signed to Warner Brother Records in 1976 by MD Derek Taylor, former Beatles publicist and manager of Apple Records. The band made two prog albums, moving the needle on experimental sound and pushing the boundaries of the genre.


Their first album, “In Search of Ancient Gods” was entirely instrumental and combined progressive rock with electronic music and since its release, it has gained a cult following. The album was very much a musical interpretation of Erich von Däniken’s famous books; the publishers approached the band directly to do this.


The follow-up album “Playground” was very different to the previous one in that it featured songs, big soaring melodies, and complex arrangements, allowing the group to explore their abilities as multi-instrumentalists and fully exploit the range of possibilities in the recording studio. Sadly, as it turned out, this release coincided with the sudden arrival of punk, and the album was shelved. For many years the album remained buried in the studio vaults until 2024:  when it was discovered, compiled, and lovingly mastered for release. Now “Playground” can be revealed in all its intended progressive glory for all true connoisseurs of experimental and atmospheric music!


We spoke to Paul Fishman from the band about this long-awaited release, and more besides……

As someone with a varied and prolific musical output over the years.. What was it that inspired you to form a progressive rock band?

It was the music of the time and was what we were listening to. Many musicians were starting to be influenced by Jazz & Classical music and required more skills to perform. These were the musical elements that created prog-rock. It’s a fusion.

How did the band name ‘Absolute Elsewhere’ come about?

I think Jon Astrop came up with it. We wanted something almost undefinable

Who are – or were – your favorite prog bands?

It might not be a surprise to learn that we were very inspired by Gentle Giant. Most of the band’s members were multi-instrumentalists and they could create music that others could not. They are still some of the most complex arrangements produced by any group.


We were listening to lots of music including Caravan, Camel, and of course King Crimson but also around this time Genesis. I later played on one of Mike Rutherford’s albums, so that was a thrill.

Tell us about the first Absolute Elsewhere album ‘In Search Of Ancient Gods’ which was released back in the 1970s

Well, it was very much an accident. My father was friends with the publisher of Eric Von Daniken’s books. I had around this time became involved with electronic music. One day they were having a conversation about the possibility of making an album of music to accompany the books. I thought the suggested approach was wrong and added a few comments about the type of direction but did not think I would become involved. As King Crimson had just disbanded I suggested maybe Robert Fripp would be interested in doing something. The next thing I knew was about a week later my father passed me the phone as he had contacted Robert. He already had other plans but suggested that I contact Bill Bruford which is how he became involved.

The follow-up album ‘Playground’ came out this year ( 2024!) How has it taken this long to release?

We made it 1978 but Warner Brothers who released the first album were not interested and MD Derek Taylor who signed us had left. As punk was happening, this type of music dramatically went out of fashion. Most artists who were not in the punk category got dropped. The album sat on the shelves and we didn’t really have plans to release it until earlier this year when I found the masters and got them transferred.

Can you tell us more about what inspired it?

We wanted to make a better album and felt that we were most definitely capable. Having almost fallen into recording the first album, Playground was far more accomplished and complex. We were starting to write together and realizing the different qualities we had when we collaborated.

How have the other band members felt about releasing the album now?

It really is Phil Saatchi’s fault as he was the one who had nagged me about remastering it but I don’t think he ever thought it would be released. We recently met with Jon who also loved the idea and then I contacted Andrew. We hadn’t spoken in over 20 years and he loved the idea. We all had put a lot into making the record so it’s nice to see that it finally got released.

What has the public reaction been?

The reaction has been really good but we don’t expect it to cause a riot. The first album has grown a cult following and recently got sampled by R&B artist Future in the title of his new We Don’t Trust You.

Are there any other releases coming?

Yes, loads but not under Absolute Elsewhere. I have an album that I recorded with Ped Gill from FGTH under the name Ltd. Noise “About 8 Minutes or More” that will be released next week

Phil, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you, and thank you so much for your time. 

Listen to the album here:


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