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Mostly Autumn - The Spirit Of Autumn Past CD (album) cover

THE SPIRIT OF AUTUMN PAST

Mostly Autumn

 

Prog Folk

3.78 | 150 ratings

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DominicS
3 stars This is a band that is able to encompass numerous influences into their music and this album certainly doesn't disappoint. They are classed as prog folk, which is correct, but we must also consider the Celtic influences, the Pink Floyd influences, the rockier influences. The songs on this album are so varied which makes it a very interesting listen with some clear stand out moments. However, there are some songs on the album that let it down; it sometimes feels creatively strained as some songs are either average compared to the rest of the album or just don't progress anywhere. Despite this, the album is definitely worth a listen as I have never heard anything quite like it.

The album begins with a segment from the final song of the previous album, which also happens on the first song of the album after this one, suggesting that the band's first three albums are part of one big concept - very interesting indeed and also very clever. When 'White Mountain' kicks in fully, the main riff or motif of the song is heavy and aggressive on Bryan Josh's guitar, but the delicate sound of the flute played along with it creates a nice contrast - a real headbanger. I particularly like the ascending power chords that come in after the main riff as a couple of the chords go outside of the D minor tonality and so they sound harmonically spicy in the context of the Key signature. I also like the brief attempt at a quiet middle section, however for me it is too brief and needs to develop further as a section so as to add more variety to the song. Furthermore, some vocal harmonies could be added as this section allows the vocals to shine, however Josh and Findlay merely sing in octaves - more could definitely be done here. 'The Great Blue Pearl' is a pretty average song in terms of structure and chord progression but it does have a very catchy chorus. The one great thing about this song is the epic guitar solo from Josh at the end; this is where the influence of Gilmour shines in Josh's solo style, it is raw and emotional but also so powerfully communicated due to the immense quality of the overdrive Josh is using - a great guitar tone and a beautiful solo. There is some lovely acoustic work on 'Pieces of Love', a ballad that finally showcases Findlay's tender voice. The layered flute parts are heavily reverbed which makes this piece quite dreamy in places, you could almost fall asleep listening to it. The addition of strings to the song adds to the fragility and emotion of the song. I admire the opening keyboard part in 'Please' which begins quietly for the first two verses but successfully builds into the third verse through some well-placed guitar chords. I find the remainder of the song quite dull until we reach a quieter section which again is too brief and needs to be developed further but the ending is mighty, commanded by Josh's guitar. We reach the highlight of the album for me at 'Evergreen', beginning with a gorgeous acoustic guitar part that takes its time to build. Heather Findlay shows off her voice to the maximum on this track, yet I feel that she could probably be more powerful at times. The song kicks off when the acoustic guitar starts to strum and the drums enter yet the build hasn't stopped, as the most intense part is yet to come. The most awesome part of this song and probably the album is when the whole band re-enters and the guitar plays these crunching double bends and finishes the song with a blazing guitar solo - this song truly is a magical addition to the album.

The next four shorter songs, while all being rather repetitive, show off the bands Celtic/folk influences. 'Styhead Tarn' is the most repetitive but its ambiguity as a song makes it an interesting addition to the album. I particularly like the third chord in the repeating chord progression as it's not a typical chord to go to in the key that the song is in and so it sounds rich when it is played. 'Shindig' begins with a pumping bass line that drives the song throughout. The relentless violin melody, relying mainly on quavers, emphasises how driven forward the song is as well as sounding very folky indeed. The flute adds a nice counter-melody when the whole band enters to support the violin, which persists with the same melody it has played throughout - perhaps quite tiring for some listeners but pretty effective nonetheless. Despite how repetitive these songs are, the growing intensity helps the listener retain interest. There is, again, some nice acoustic work in 'Blakely Ridge/When Waters Meet' that makes the listener want to get up and dance. The African drums add a naturistic flavour to the song. The song changes slightly in its final minute but for the most part it is tediously repetitive without any sort of growth. 'Underneath the Ice' suffers from a similar problem as the structure seems confused; there seem to be only two different sections, a quieter section heard at the beginning and then a louder, strummed section that repeats itself until the end. The song, overall, doesn't lead to anything and is probably one of the weakest on the album. Bryan Josh's vocals are at their worst in 'Through the Window', he himself admits he is not a singer and it is obvious that he is not the best (at the same time, nevertheless, I wouldn't say he was the worst either). Compared to the other songs on the album this seems like an average filler track, nothing special here.

The last three songs on this album are all excellent; 'The Spirit of Autumn Past (Part1)' features the most captivating piano chords, harmonically rich and authoritative. Josh carefully places some gentle guitar embellishments over these fantastic chords - it is most enchanting. 'The Spirit of Autumn Past (Part 2)' simplifies the chords from the first part and this suddenly becomes an enjoyably catchy song despite its simplicity. The modulation to the supertonic leads us nicely into the climactic ending of the song which is done best at this point in the album. The chords at the end are euphoric, helped along by the guitar and flute that play a repeating ascending figure - it is a treat to the ears. 'The Gap Is Too Wide' is the final (and longest) song on the album and another stand out moment. The first four minutes are sparse and once again acoustic, but the chords are rich, and Findlay's voice again enchants the listener. After these four minutes, the rest of the song seems like one gigantic instrumental growth of intensity until the end. Although it creates an effective soundscape and Josh treats us to one final earth-shattering guitar solo to close the album, I can't help but feel that all this repetition is a result of creative strain, as if they didn't have the creative stamina to think of creating any new sections. I have found this to be the case for other songs on the album where I have mentioned the constant repetition of ideas and chord progressions; for a lot of the album I have yearned for more contrasting sections and more developed middle sections, which are attempted but not well enough. My other issue with this album is the structural repetition of songs, as a lot of the songs follow the same formula of starting sparsely and then building to a climax. However, all in all this is a good album of music with standout moments being 'Evergreen', 'The Spirit of Autumn Past (Part 1) and (Part 2)' and 'The Gap is Too Wide'. Furthermore, the more Celtic/folk songs provide a juxtaposing flavour despite their overly repetitive nature.

DominicS | 3/5 |

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