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Gnidrolog - In Spite Of Harry's Toe-Nail / Lady Lake CD (album) cover

IN SPITE OF HARRY'S TOE-NAIL / LADY LAKE

Gnidrolog

 

Eclectic Prog

3.98 | 29 ratings

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Vibrationbaby
5 stars With the advantage of almost 40 years that have elapsed since the release of the two lost classics featured on this two-for-one jewel, certain comparisons will inevitably be made to just about every contemporary prog rock band that mattered in the early 70s when prog ruled. Comparisons notwithstanding, Gnidrolog with their opaque lyrics and discordant sound were certainly one of the most incitingly mysterious bands to emanate from that scene. Sounding like a fantastical character out of an Enid Blyton novel, their enchanting name was actually a re-arrangement or anagram of the surname of the twin brothers Colin Goldring (vocals & assorted instruments) and Stewart Goldring (guitars,vocals) who formed the nucleus of the band along with Peter Cowling (bass, cello) and Nigel Pelgram (drums, flute, oboe) and later with John Earle (woodwinds) who was added on the second work featured here, Lady Lake.

Having played for several years opening for heavy hitters such as King Crimson, Greenslade and Gentle Giant as well as headlining their own gigs on the UK college circut Gnidrolog finally released their debut In Spite Of Harry`s Toe-Nail in early `72 with the second effort, Lady Lake, following later that same year. Musically, with foreboding doom & gloom that contrasted dramatically with quaint passages, both works were decidedly English. Exploiting their multi-instrumental talents and drawing from a multitude of musical forms from medievalisms to bluesy rock Gnidrolog achieved an often dissonant sound that was closer to Gentle Giant than anyone else but without so much light-heartedness which is evident on the opening neo-medieval two part epic Long Live Man Dead replete with recorders and mad flutes. In fact, there is nothing lyrically uplifting on either work which each contain a smattering of brooding figures who ponder death and can`t wait to lose. So, despite a slightly brighter and more mature orchestral sound with less twidling heard on the second work with more emphasis on woodwinds it is easy to view both albums as a single work. The notorious absence of keyboards such as the Hammond organ, mellotron and various synths on both albums which were synonymous with prog acts in the early seventies set Gnidrolog apart from the norm, preferering woodwinds and strings as their musical canvas. Tracks such as the ethereal Same Dreams about a lost love which features a guest musician Charlotte Fendrich on grand piano and the sombre lament, Dog With No Collar, which features a classical guitar and a forlorn sax along with Colin Goldrings impassioned vocals that pre-date thoseof Pavlov`s Dog`s David Surkamp illustrate these preferences to great effect. Suprisingly, the band manage to compliment the dreary messages by using a number of dynamic creative musical devices such as emotional madrigal-like vocal deliveries, harmonizations, orchestral arrangements, counterpoint, and abrupt tempo/key changes.

In addition to the afore-mentioned Long Live Dead Man there are also a few unsung epics to be discovered by the uninitiated here over the two works. The anti-war I Could Never Be A Soldier with its ostensible Ian Anderson flute passages as well as the title track of the second work, the metaphorical Lady Lake with it`s building atonal woodwind and horn layerings are nothing short of brilliant.

Devoid of any semblance of commercialism Gnidrolog`s esoteric music with it`s morose timbres that was way off the beaten track was overshadowed by other more mrketable artists on the RCA label at the time such as Lou Reed, David Bowie and Elvis. This and personality clashes ultimately led to the untimely demise of the band in early `73. Although briefly reforming in 2000 and releasing an album which nodded back to the glory years of the early 70`s, these two masterful works of progressive music remain Gnidrolog`s epitaph of this bygone era. Essential.

Vibrationbaby | 5/5 |

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