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Johannes Luley - Tales From Sheepfather's Grove CD (album) cover

TALES FROM SHEEPFATHER'S GROVE

Johannes Luley

 

Crossover Prog

3.91 | 84 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'll admit that "Olias of Sunhillow" has never really grabbed me. I love Yes and I love Jon Anderson in Yes. But "Olias", for all its wonder and creativity and vision, as of yet still hits the target only near the edge for me. Now Johannes Luley's bands Moth Vellum and Perfect Beings I really like. So without knowing much about "Tales from Sheepfather's Grove" I reckoned that I would probably like this album, too.

I read the CD notes first. Johannes had an old cuarto, and hatched the concept of an album on which he would play almost every instrument. Because he's not a drummer, Johannes decided to forgo the drums and use only percussion. One look at the impressive list of instruments and you can imagine the effort and no doubt joy that went into creating the music, music entirely by his own design because Johannes has his own studio. He receives assistance from only a few select guests such as Stephanie Bennett on concert harp and female vocals by Sianna Lyons, Robin Hathaway and Kristina Sattler.

Now with Johannes handling nearly all of the instrumentation (various stringed instruments, synthesizer, percussion) and supplying his own vocals which are soft and high like Jon Anderson, the "Olias of Sunhillow" comparisons become apparent right from the first track "Stab the Sea". But though I said I haven't warmed up to Jon Anderson's solo classic, I quickly took to "Tales from Sheepfather's Grove". There are some distinctly important reasons why.

First of all, the state of the art modern recording techniques capture Johannes' music with such warmth and richness that each instrument is clear and present. I find "Olias" lacks that warmth and sounds a little flat though that may be because the CD version I have predates modern remastering techniques. Maybe Steven Wilson should have a go at it.

Another thing is that even though Jon Anderson is a brilliant creator of musical concepts and a wonderful vocalist and persona, he is not a gifted musician in particular. That doesn't mean that he didn't do a stellar job on "Olias"; he most certainly did in that respect. But Johannes is a very talented musician and indeed a multi-instrumentalist.

It didn't take long before I completely forgot about the Olias comparisons and simply came under the spell of the music of "Tales from Sheepfather's Grove". Others have pointed out similarities to Steve Howe and Jon Anderson / Vangelis collaborations as well as Enya. The soft, relaxing and meditative atmosphere of the album also reminds me a little of Devin Townsend's "Ghost". "Tales" however is a shorter album, wrapping up in around 44 minutes, making it an easy album to absorb and actually seemingly over too soon.

Johannes Luley has created an immensely pleasurable collection of acoustic songs with electric instruments added only for atmosphere, colour, and, as one reviewer on the Net put it, the icing on the cake. The melodies are beautiful and positive or mysterious and mystical or even cinematic. A special mention goes to the first part of "Give and Take" with the harp. The music is just so beautiful that I must say for me this is a moment where music's arrow has struck the bullseye of my soul. I immediately think of a few deep souls with whom I would love to share this.

If you can appreciate this kind of music, I highly recommend it if you haven't heard it already. It's not complex and tricky prog. Sweeping and transcendental would be more accurate terms to describe it.

Now I think I should go back to "Olias of Sunhillow" and give it more attention.

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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