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Gryphon - Gryphon CD (album) cover

GRYPHON

Gryphon

 

Prog Folk

3.34 | 203 ratings

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Replayer
4 stars Gryphon's eponymous debut album is not rock, and is technically regressive rather than progressive. This is due to the fact that the music is played on acoustic instruments and largely consists of traditional English Renaissance/folk songs.

The album finds Gryphon as an acoustic quartet, consisting of Royal College of Music classmates Richard Harvey (recorder, crumhorn, organ, harpsichord, mandolin) and Brian Gulland (crumhorn, bassoon, recorder, vocals), together with Graeme Taylor (acoustic guitar, recorder, vocals) and David Oberle (drums, percussion, vocals). Oberle used an ingenious combination of toms, bongos, gongs, cymbals and even a kettle instead of a standard drum kit.

Despite the band's reputation as medieval-prog band, much of the album's music originates from the Renaissance and Baroque era: Kemp's Jig is a 17th century tune named after Shakesperean actor William Kempe (died 1603), The Three Butchers is a 17th century ballad, Pastime With Good Company is a well-known song composed by a young Henry VIII. Three Jolly Butchers with its references to shooting also seems to be a Renaissance song. Actually, all songs with vocals use modern English.

All songs are rather short, with only The Unquiet Grave surpassing five minutes in length, but this also means that none of the songs overstay their welcome. About half of the songs are instrumentals, interestingly including Pastime With Good Company, which does have lyrics. The songs with vocals range from melancholy (Sir Gavin Grimbold and The Unquiet Grave) to amusingly raunchy. Save for three original instrumentals (two of which are very short), the album is comprised of cover songs.

As such, this debut is more of a showcase of the band's instrumental prowess rather than its compositional abilities. Estampie, in particular, reaches an impressive tempo. Nevertheless, the band's own composition Juniper Suite is very strong and foreshadows Red Queen to Gryphon Three.

Whether you will enjoy this album depends on your appreciation of Medieval/Renaissance/Baroque/acoustic folk music. For my part, I enjoy it very much, leading to a solid four star rating.

Replayer | 4/5 |

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