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Gavin O'Loghlen & Cotters Bequest - Land Of The Vast Horizon CD (album) cover


Gavin O'Loghlen & Cotters Bequest


Prog Folk

3.57 | 7 ratings

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4 stars A private message appeared in my progarchives mailbox about a week ago from Gavin O'Loghlen himself, announcing the availability of two official band videos. This group was touted as prog folk and I was skeptical, but sure enough they have been known to this website for many years, and I thank Mr O'Loghlen for bringing them to my long overdue attention. I immediately sought out their recordings and came up with this, their latest. It's a huge concept both historically and sound wise, and more than a little reminiscent of "project" albums or rock operas that used to be so much more commonplace. Only, and most importantly, while we often loved these disks as much for their overreach and fallibility as for their intrinsic worth, "Land of the Vast Horizon" is a whole lot tighter, more energetic, and less kitschy than the historic norm.

The album begins so traditionally one might wonder if it's worth the full listen, even if the frequently used pipes are crisp and complement the splendid acoustic guitars. I have heard this record before and it wears thin, and not from overplay I assure you! But then at about the 2:20 mark the atmosphere thickens and the sweeping vocals enter. Yes the melody is jaunty but also majestic, to say nothing of the layered harmonies and keyboards. Similar juxtapositions are played out throughout this uniformly dynamic disc, which at turns evokes SEVEN REIZH, BATTLEFIELD BAND, CLANNAD, ALAN SIMON, SIROCCO, ENIGMA, and the OLDFIELDS, but mostly it's as fresh as a salt sprayed boat upon a New World shore. True, you have to be open to hearing a lot of pipes, but, I confess I am not a big fan myself and these blow me away in their airy settings, over and over.

A couple of tracks stand out for me, like a 7 foot basketballer does when surrounded by players two inches shorter. Your own choices may differ, but "The Burra's" haunting pace, monkish wails, and synths yield to an equally gripping vocal, fairly choral melody, ancient yet rocked about like an inflatable raft, adapting to all the glorious technology that would sink lesser vessels without a trace. "Natabra Hut" is the one that reminds me of other proggy Aussies "Sirocco" in their use of dramatic string synths and pipes. The whispered accompaniment on vocals add to the solemnity, but at no point is this disk a downer. Its vibrancy is felt through the hope in every immigrant, even faced with unanticipated adversity as they so often must have been.

GAVIN O'LOGHLEN and the Cotters Bequest have produced that rare immense and lavish work that clicks first time every time, crafted with a love of history and fortune, and an underlying optimism that everyone's story is worth telling, and hearing.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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