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




Prog Folk

4.14 | 566 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Very Good Medieval Symphonic Prog

Gryphon's _Red Queen to Gryphon Three_ attracted me as it was one of the highest rated progressive folk albums on this site not by Jethro Tull. I picked up this album based on the sample here, and was a little surprised. Folk has a lot of definitions, and at first, this album didn't match mine at all. This is not acoustic strummy music, and it doesn't resemble 60's psychedelia either. What's more this album is all instrumental, so the deep lyric themes or storytelling one normally associates with American Folk are absent also.

So what does the uninitiated fan actually get? More than anything, this sounds like classic 70's symphonic prog, with the addition of the infamous krumhorn. More like Renaissance, Genesis, or Gentle Giant's medieval turns than Pentangle or Fairport Convention. The music is very classically inspired, with added rock instrumentation. Like GG, there can be rapid shifts between sections, though none of the dissonance. The performances are very good and the players skilled.

The album comes in four approximately ten minute sections.

Opening Move, is very classical in feel and composition. The horn plays a large part, and there is plenty of interplay and counterpoint between the various instruments. It comes to a climax with an increasingly chaotic cascade of sixteenths before a slow finish.

Second Spasm opens with pastoral whimsy with flute and guitar in a Celtic feel before classic prog sounding guitars take over the melodies. The themes repeat over with numerous variations and keyboard breaks, some humorous, others heavy.

Lament is more pastoral and sad in tone, again starting with strummy guitar and flute. Krumhorn takes the theme, and then the duo play in harmony. Three minutes in, a completely new movement starts in complex time, darker even than the beginning section, the horn at the low end of its range. At 5:28 another movement begins, much more rocking than anything we've seen before, with lots of cymbals and frolicking bass. This evolves into something actually resembling prog folk for a short while before the horns bring us back into symphonic territory, again reprising the main melodic themes.

Checkmate starts in fine classic prog keyboard fashion, very reminiscent of Gentle Giant. The flute gets an extended solo spot over only drums, and then we get a more composed section with classical counterpoint. It weaves from light to dark and ends with a series of solos including a Wakeman-esque key climax before the final reprise.

This listens like a piece of classical music. It requires attention, but the reward is certainly there. I've had this album for months now and only now feel like I can give it a fair review. It's pretty unassuming, and at first seemed somewhat unimpressive to me. But with time, I've grown to appreciate that it's a fairly unique true fusion of classical music with rock instruments. Though I would call this symphonic in the truest sense, it still would be an excellent part of any prog collection.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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