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Flairck - Gevecht Met De Engel [Aka: The Lady's Back] CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.00 | 44 ratings

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5 stars This album notes the welcome of violin virtuoso Sylvia Houtzager as well as the disposal of any drumming. As usual, there are no vocals, but this is an absolutely brilliant display of tightly woven acoustic folk music of the ancient Celtic acoustic kind. As many many other reviewers have said before me, though this is all acoustic instrumentation, the music of Flairck feels and sounds like the most centered progressive rock music one can find. Full of a broad spectrum of sound dynamics, melodies, frequent variations in time and key signatures, and musicians who are definitely virtuosi of their instruments, this stuff rocks, it impresses, it melts your heart.

1. "Oost-west Express" (East-West Express) (4:49) opens with some fast finger-picking on steel-string guitar, joined by second guitar in the second round, panpipes in the third, violin in the fourth and the quartet builds, congeals, detonates, reels, keens, kneels, serenades, danses, and finally spins wildly out of control. Cool song with very diverse and yet very old-feeling folk roots. (9/10)

2. "De Vlinder" (The Butterfly) (7:25) opens with solo flute trilling and flitting before guitar and sitar join in and take over with a melody that is borrowed from a very famous Celtic folk song. At the two minute mark Uillean pipes take over and strings shift beautifully, effortlessly, to support/accompaniment. Then, at the three minute mark, the tempo suddenly shifts with the sudden and forceful arrival of the violin, speeding her way through an amped up variation on the same Celtic melody. Flute takes over with fast-strumming of 12-string for a bit before pipes and violin duet the melody lead with the same 12-string accompaniment. At 5:20 things slow down as the melody transposes into a different key and temporary minor version before returning to the with three different instruments maintaining their own version of the lead melody in speed-dial. Wow! The final 30 seconds of slow- down are almost necessary for cool down. (15/15)

3. "Voor Antoinette" (For Antoinette) (2:08) nice acoustic guitar duet with a lullaby feel. (4.5/5)

4. "De Stoomwals" (Steam Engine Waltz) (8:29) panpipes based, this one represents very simple traditional folk melodies that could come from the Andes, the Pyrenees, the Caucasus, or the Balkans. The guitars, harp and violins accompany throughout but rarely take the lead away from the panpipes. I don't know why some versions of this song lack the calliope- (and steam engine-)like multi-panpipes intro and outro. (17/20)

5. "Gevecht Met De Engel Deel I" (8:25) opens with a flourish of multiple instruments bursting into a very Spanish sounding theme before breaking down after half a minute into a less cohesive, almost classical-sounding loose weave of the individual instruments. Spanish guitar moves into the fore solo, before flutes, violin and guitars come together for another, different frenzy flourish. At 2:00 things slow down into a delicate weave of gently picked arpeggio (sounding very GENESIS-like) setting the scene for a slow, plaintive flute solo. Spanish guitar and other guitar do some very interesting, technically challenging things in support, before the ensemble again rests for a slower Spanish guitar solo. Flute and violin join back in at the 3:40 mark, each carrying its own melody while gently- picked guitars support. At 4:32 a bass guitar enters and the rhythm guitars begin to strum more forcefully while violin and flute continue to play their separate-yet-interlaced (one mirroring the other) solos. After the six minute mark, the group amps up again--especially the strumming guitars--while flute and violin march on steadfastly. Guitars and bass settle back into the fold to support the powerful melody before a kind of Chinese weave of all the instruments (again, sounding very GENESIS-like) forms to play out to the end. Wow! It doesn't get much prettier or impressive than this! (19/20)

6. "Gevecht Met De Engel Deel II" (8:35) pastoral nylon string guitar opens this one before 12-string joins in and then harp. Gorgeous! After 90 seconds of this the classical guitar takes a more aggressive, Andalusian approach to the lead while 12-string and harp continue their beautiful support. At the end of the third minute all instruments drop away except for the classical guitar--doing the solo. In the fifth minute multiple bowed strings join in before classical guitar shifts its tone and force into a very Rodrigo-like (and then Mike Oldfield "Incantations 1") section. At the six minute mark flute enters with another very familiar Celtic melody while violin supports as guitars fall into accompanying roles. Classical guitar steps in to triplicate the lead instruments. What wonderful arrangements this quartet creates! Amazing! (20/20)

7. "Gevecht Met De Engel Deel III" (5:28) a kind of weave of several famous classical and folk styles and melodies-- from Beethoven to Romani to Rimsky-Korsakov to Ravel or Bizet. (9.5/10)

Total time: 44:03

Amazing compositions performed by top-notch virtuosi musicians. The only tiny complaint I have is concerning the borrowing of famous melody lines and playing styles from other European folk and classical traditions (even though they do it so amazingly well).

Five stars; a masterpiece of symphonic Progressive Folk music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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