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FUCHSIA

Fuchsia

 

Prog Folk

3.51 | 38 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars I recently took a trip where I had a seven hour drive. Knowing I would need something interesting and novel to keep me alert, I picked up this reissue of some ancient prog/folk band I had never heard of, along with a couple of South American symphonic CDs to listen to along the way.

One of the other CDs was Crack’s album, which I enjoyed immensely. The other one never got played. I actually listened to this thing about five times in a row on the way to my meeting, and at least three more times on the way back. What a completely enjoyable album!

I have no idea what this band should be classified as. The first track starts off as sort of symphonic, but the strings are almost Baroque at times and lady singing ranges from near operatic to gothic. The acoustic guitar work is exquisite although quite simple, and Tony Durant’s singing reminds me a great deal of a number of early seventies British folk singers. Each track is elegant but not pompous, full of sounds but not haphazard. I have to believe these guys were mostly classically trained based on their precision and formal arrangements, but the feel of the album is one of young, creative artists of the very early seventies or even late sixties, which of course is exactly what they were.

The castanets on “Gone with the Mouse” contrast interestingly with the shrill cello and tinny harmonium. You don’t here those two instruments together, and the castanets make a trio that’s probably unique to this band. The violin passage that comes in at the end is achingly familiar, but perhaps that’s just a result of having heard this song so many times in the past few weeks. This is exactly what I always thought symphonic progressive music was supposed to sound like, although the rest of the album is much closer to a folk sound.

The acoustic guitar that opens “A Tiny Book” quickly gives way to a driving guitar/ tambourine/cello rhythm that is totally seductive, accompanied by harmonic backing (a couple of ladies with a guy who pipes in occasionally) and Durant’s vocals now sounding a bit like very early Moody Blues. A couple of tempo shifts give this one a bit a character, and the almost martial slow ending makes for an elegant closing.

“Another Nail” has a dissonant string opening that could have come from a Silver Mt Zion album just as easily, and this also gives way to a driving rhythm, this time acoustic guitars and a lively bass (perhaps upright, I actually can’t tell). The strings throughout this composition are lush and beautiful, not at all like the strident opening. Durant’s voice by now is almost driving me mad for its vague familiarity to someone else I can’t quite place. This is a ‘hug the sunshine’ kid of folksy number that also features some pleasing harmonium, and finishes with a catchy guitar riff that slowly fades to the same string discord that opened the song. Very well done.

The acoustic guitar continues on “Shoes and Ships”, and in fact this one sounds a lot like “A Tiny Book” but without the persistent guitars in the middle. The violins and cello are featured prominently with Durant’s simple vocals for a casual, almost ballad-like number.

The “Nothing Song” is announced as just that by the vocalist straight away amidst a formal string arrangement that reminds me a lot of very early ELO. This is the longest song on the album, but frankly there’s quite a bit of wandering around on guitar and meandering vocals that could have been firmed up a bit. But this was recorded in 1971, and things just didn’t move as quickly then, so one shouldn’t ask something to be what it is not, I suppose.

“Me and My Kite” could have easily been a Moodys song, a completely unaffected and simple ditty about a guy and his kite just meandering through the day without a care. I guess that thing I said about things moving a bit slower in 1971 was dead-on after all.

Finally comes “Just Another”, a pulsating guitar number with philosophical lyrics about the tranquility of personal observations of one’s surroundings despite the discord happening all around. Or something like that, not really sure to be honest, that’s my impression though. This one has more great acoustic guitar, but it a bit more aggressive than the rest of the album, and also includes some almost angry piano behind the thudding bass. Another fadeout ending, and I already want to play it again.

I don’t know what happened to these guys, but I hope they found other ways to express themselves throughout the rest of their lives. I suppose they could still be around, or at least some of them could be, although they’d be pretty old now. Too bad they didn’t put out more of this kind of music though. It’s really engaging, and makes for a nice drive through the countryside on a warm fall day. Highly recommended. Four stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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