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The Pentangle - Basket Of Light CD (album) cover

BASKET OF LIGHT

The Pentangle

 

Prog Folk

4.10 | 74 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ProgressiveAttic
5 stars Progressive Folk indeed!

This album is the exact definition of Prog-Folk in both approach and sound. In first place, the instrumentation is typical to folk music and completely acoustic (not a bit of electricity is used here). The musical orientation is driven by English (mainly medieval) and, to a lesser extent, American folk influences with the purpose of progressing beyond the "traditional" sound of the genre with the addition of elements from blues and jazz. As a matter of fact, an important fraction of the album is dedicated to re-workings of classic folk pieces.

Although this album (and review) is featured on a website dedicated to Progressive Rock, do not expect any rock from it. Danny Thomson (double bass) himself said that "one of the worst things you can do to a folk song is inflict a rock beat on it", as a consequence of this line of thought Pentangle developed an approach of conserving the internal rhythm of each piece, resulting on an extensive use of unusual time signatures and changes (such as on Light Flight). At the end, this is Progressive Folk not Progressive Folk-Rock of the likes of Jethro Tull.

Light Flight starts the album in the most progressive fashion of folk with changing time signatures, great female vocal displays (courtesy of Jacqui McShee) and very impressive and cohesive instrumental sections and backing (double bass + guitar +drums). 5

Once I Had A Sweetheart is the first re-working of a classic folk song. Very strong version, highly enjoyable and interesting, mainly due to the vocals and the introduction of a sitar on the mix (which will remain almost constant throughout the rest of the album). 4.5

Springtime Promises is another Pentangle original, this time featuring the apt vocals of Bert Jansch (also responsible of half of the amazing guitar work) and a specially enjoyable rhythm arrangement. 4.5

Lyke-Wake Dirge, apparently, some sort of death-related traditional English chant of Saxon origin. Very solemn and pleasant song. 3.5

Train Song lets the band's bluesy leanings flourish. The rhythm is intended to mimic the sound of the wheels of a train with alternating male and female vocals. The final output is a very interesting blues piece with nice vocalizations and an outstanding guitar work. 4.5

Hunting Song is one of my favorite pieces of the album. The highlight of the song are the vocals with contrasting male/female timbers and very intricate lyrics based on the Arthurian legends. The instrumental passages and backing are top notch with a heavy emphasis on the guitar and the glockenspiel, supported by the always excellent rhythm section. 5

Sally Go Round the Roses, originally an R&B hit, receives the Pentangle treatment. Not really intricate (very simple actually) bluesy track turned into a folky piece featuring a very pleasant vocal duo. 4

The Cukoo is another re-working, this time of a classic English tune. Here, the strings and female vocals are the center of attention. Flawless piece. 5

House Carpenter closes the album with another classic English piece treated ala Pentangle. This time the instrumental background is dominated by the sitar and banjo, joined by the characteristic male/female vocal duet contrast. 4.5

Total: 4.5

The bonus tracks are very pleasant and none deserves less than 4 stars, which makes them an added value to this already excellent album.

Every single instrument is a highlight, but the ones that impressed me the most are McShee's vocals (some of the best I've ever heard), the upright bass (I cannot get tired of Thomson's work) and guitars (no folk album is complete without them.... nonetheless a guitar-less folk album should be interesting...).

This album has its low points (such as Lyke-Wake Dirge.... which aren't too low, by the way ), but nonetheless is an absolute essential and masterpiece for any progressive folk fan.

5 stars for one of the most revolutionary albums in folk music history.

ProgressiveAttic | 5/5 |

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