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Gryphon - Gryphon CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.37 | 257 ratings

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3 stars Gryphon's transformation from a band of bona fide "Renaissance Fayre" strolling minstrels into the prog-rock monsters who could share the stage comfortably with prime-era Yes was a powerful thing to behold. Unfortunately for proggers, the very first album by Messrs Harvey, Gulland, Oberle and Taylor has little to commend it in the way of counterpoint, Moog synths and fantasy lyrics. It is nonetheless a beguiling work that would not shame a prog collection.

The tone for this album is set by the lively Kemp's Jig, which sees Gulland establish the presence of the krumhorn (a Renaissance-era curved horn that both Gulland and Harvey, who met at the Royal College of Music, were masters of). Most of the pieces on this romp are either butsling jigs like Kemp's Jig and Estampie or bawdy folk songs like Three Jolly Butchers and Sir Gavin Grimbold which really aren't for everyone.

The main concessions to prog sensibilities are the brief but challenging guitar and recorder duet Touch And Go and The Juniper Suite, which with mandolin, organ, harpsichord, bassoon, recorders, classical guitar and the obligatory crumhorn quartet was a delightful glimpse into Gryphon's subsequent dizzying climb up the prog-rock ladder.

Nothing on the first album however can remotely approach the brilliance of Gryphon's glorious adaptation of the folk ballad The Unquiet Grave. The lilting melody sung by Oberle, the steady build-up of melodic layers (due in no small part to a four-part crumhorn arrangement!), Taylor's achingly beautiful guitar accompaniment and the eerie bassoon and drum "graveyard interlude" all serve to make this among the most cherished pieces of music I own. The tale of a love that transcends death may be centuries old, but it comes graphically alive in Gryphon's hands, and makes this album far more than the curiousity it might otherwise have been. ... 65% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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