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The Enid - Godfrey & Stewart: The Seed And The Sower CD (album) cover

GODFREY & STEWART: THE SEED AND THE SOWER

The Enid

 

Symphonic Prog

3.48 | 33 ratings

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progpositivity
Prog Reviewer
4 stars It is the late 1980s. "The Seed and the Sower" will be the last collaborative effort from composer/arranger/producer/keyboardist Robert John Godfrey (Keyboards) and co-composer/guitarist/engineer Stephen Stewart. A staid and weighty undercurrent will pervade this album, at times approaching what one might even describe as sepulchral - as if to mourn the end of an era for the band. All is not forlorn, of course as shining moments of hopefulness gleam all the more brightly against the darker backdrop this time around.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the opening track (Chaldean Crossing) is by far the weakest composition on the album. Even still, it has much to recommend itself. The track essentially transplants the general vibe and feel of Genesis' "Follow You Follow Me" into an instrumental number with a Caribbean island flavor. Unfortunately, the band takes what would have been an excellent idea for a catchy and memorable 4:30 single and extend it into an 8+ minute excursion into outcast regions of repetition. By the time the song finally fades into oblivion, we are not at all far from where we had initially begun. Although the piece had set an effectively restrained groove, little else of note can be said to have happened since. To be fair, this song remains a fan favorite to this day, so perhaps it was a reasonably effective "smooth prog lite catchy hit single" after all?

"A Bar of Shadows/La Rage" begins with a haunting whistle signaling the beginning of an extended atmospheric introduction that may test the patience of restless proggers still groggy from the monotony of the album's opener. Those willing to allow the track some time to slowly build, however, are soon rewarded with substantive melodic statements and development, rich harmonies, satisfying emotional tension and release along with a wide range of impressive late 1980's keyboard strings, woodwinds, harps and horns patches. It may be fun to keep track of each "virtual" clarinet or french horn as it gets added to the mix, but such pastimes soon give way to greater pursuits of music appreciation as Godfrey's genius as a contemporary composer and arranger becomes increasingly evident. Just the moment I became tempted to consider whether this piece might have been better suited to performance by a traditional symphony orchestra, I was greeted by an intelligently composed and integral guitar line which neither dominated nor suffered within the larger symphonic context, a feat far too rarely achieved because it requires not only careful forethought during the composition process but also because it requires a true ear for both rock and classical music. This perfect wedding of electronic with symphonic is worth the price of admission alone.

Unlike the previous pieces, "Longhome/Earthborn" wastes little time before making a very strong melodic statement. Tonality is varied and interesting. Again, the keyboard orchestration is pure genius. The lyrics are almost impossible to decipher. Also once again. lest we begin to wonder whether perhaps this work has little connection to contemporary rock music, conventional drums enter the scene. Bird sounds carry us to "Earthborn", a strong composition featuring the late internationally celebrated cultural and musical icon Geraldine Connor on vocals.

"Reverberations" indulges in a repetitious introductory passage before finally settling in to a very slow and beautifully haunting 5/4 dirge.

I recommend that symphonic minded proggers skip track 1 altogether (or at least tack it on at the end of the album rather than hearing it first and thereby allowing it to color their perception of the rest of this strong work). Better yet, begin with "Longhome/Earthborn", move on to "A Bar of Shadows/La Rage" and then soak in "Reverberations".

progpositivity | 4/5 |

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