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Gryphon - Red Queen To Gryphon Three CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 624 ratings

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4 stars This album is what progressive rock was about back in its heyday. The drive to push rock music further afield and into other fields. What an exemplary album "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" is of that. Do I like it? Well, yes and... yeah, it's alright. But never mind that. Here are four musicians who really tried to create something original.

The album is loosely based on a game of chess. Sounds utterly boring, does it not? Thankfully, other than the track titles, there is no hint of chess being played and in fact it is rather difficult to continue imagining a game of chess being played to this music. It is lively, it is diverse, it is bold, it is entertaining. We have rock and renaissance, folk and classical. We have guitars and the whole rock band deal along with bassoons and krum horns and some other woodwind instruments. In "Second Spasm" we have something that sounds like a renaissance duck duo. "Lament" features some lovely pastoral passages. Each of the four compositions follows a different course, though you will notice that each piece weaves its own wild course through varying melodies and themes.

One thing that struck me was how blatantly obvious it became that the American prog band Yezda Urfa were inspired by Gryphon, particularly "Second Spasm". There are sections of the music with its speedy guitars and rapid fire rhythm (in odd meters of course) that sound like they came straight off "Sacred Baboon" except for that Gryphon did it first.

For another comparison, I find the music is as busy as that of Anglagard or Wobbler, who both introduce musical themes like runners coming across the finish line at a race. Gryphon, too, will give you some melody for 24 bars or maybe 32, and then that one is discarded and an entirely different melody and meter will abruptly take its place. Which means this is no slow and gently progressing set of instrumentals but rather a sometimes torpedic (is there such a word?) ride through a magical music landscape.

As for my personal opinion, I find the music on this album to be admirably bold and progressive and at times a tad over the hedge. I love some of the parts but not all. Too much renaissance bassoon and krum horn doesn't sound so cool in the car stereo, and the duck duo, though well executed, is not something to play when the wife is around. Once again I am reminded that listening to this kind of prog is sometimes a very private affair.

I would say it is a masterpiece and certainly essential if classic seventies prog in all its wondrous forms is your fancy. However, I am certain there are plenty of progheads out there who will find this a little too out there. I'll give it four stars.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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