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The Guildmaster - The Knight and the Ghost CD (album) cover


The Guildmaster


Prog Folk

4.15 | 8 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I don't know if this international collaboration will remain a one-album project only or will there be more. In any case, the architect of the project is one of the hardest working musicians I know: drummer, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Kimmo Pörsti of THE SAMURAI OF PROG (and formerly of Paidarion and Mist Season). Pörsti also released the first album (The Wayfarer) under his own name last year, and since this album we're dealing with right now was released several months ago, it comes as no surprise that Pörsti and his TSOP partner, bassist Marco Bernard (who's naturally also involved here) are again working on new album project(s?). It's inevitable they keep doing it for the love of music. I'm also glad to say that the CD releases in Pörsti's record label Seacrest Oy are always done with extra dedication to covers and booklets as well, the internationally respected artist Ed Unitsky being a constant collaborator.

The Guildmaster is mainly a unit of Pörsti, Bernard, Spanish guitarist/multi-instrumentalist and composer Rafael Pacha plus keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel (KAYAK). In addition to them, The Knight and the Ghost features many co- musicians from various countries, like in The Samurai Of Prog tradition. Whereas TSOP is oriented to symphonic prog, The Guildmaster explores the folk elements. The instrumentally oriented, approx. 62-minute album contains thirteen tracks.

'Puppet Dance' (written by Scherpenzeel) is strongly flavoured by the Renaissance [the era, not the band] featuring Pacha's recorder and Baroque flutes. 'Saaristo' (= archipelago in Finnish) is a serene and romantically melodic composition by Kristiina Poutanen. It was originally included in Kimmo Pörsti's first own album (Maahinen: Ihmeellinen iltapäivä, 1997), and since it resonates with Finnish folk music, it was reworked for this album. Violin and flute sound lovely! 'The Hare' composed by Rafael Pacha has connotations to a horn-pipe.

The album's title song by Alessandro Di Benedetti is the longest one (9:14) and features the beautiful vocals of Camilla Rinaldi. If you're fond of mostly peaceful folky prog with female vocals, you'll love it. Pacha's next piece is based on the old musical form of La Folia, and it gives a good example of the album's way of combining old instruments with modern rock environment. It would have been nice if the rock/modern side would have been left completely out of the equation somewhere along the album, but still the folk approach is very much in the fore. On Scherpenzeel's brief 'Six and Fives' Pacha plays both acoustic and electric guitars-- as on the album in general --, plus recorder and darbuka (a.k.a. chalice drum). Fiddle is again well present on Pacha's composition 'The Search', in which he himself plays proggy keyboards in addition to several other instruments.

The second vocal song 'Camino de Luz (Path of Light)' was composed by Kimmo Pörsti and sung in Spanish by Ariane Valdivié. A beautiful, soothing piece not without some rock dynamics too. 'Noughts and Crosses (Scherpenzeel) reminds of the opening tune in its Renaissance flavour. Pacha's 'The Fairy Pole' indeed is resembling a Finnish polka, a joyous dance form. 'Ghost Dance' originates as a Pörsti composition from Mist Season's first album (2004), but the latter part was newly composed by Pacha. On 'The Sun Rises Again' the composer Pacha plays also a pentatonic kantele. The closing piece by Scherpenzeel is a serene and moody little piece in which Pacha plays viola da gamba and recorder.

This is a truly pleasant album mixing old music instruments & flavours and various forms of folk music with contemporary [rock] environment, and the production is good -- maybe a bit too polished? In the end the whole feels slightly too determined and safe (ie. continuing rather unsurprisingly in the chosen style), which perhaps would have been avoided by either letting go of the rock side here and there or by increasing the progressive rock approach. 3½ stars rounded up.

Matti | 4/5 |


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