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Gryphon - Red Queen To Gryphon Three CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.14 | 564 ratings

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4 stars I bought the LP of "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" in 1975 and liked the music. The years went by, I moved many times, my LPs were lost or sold and I completely forgot about the band and the album. A year ago I remembered the band, looked them up on the Internet, listened to a clip from 'Lament', and memories of GRYPHON's pleasant, unusual music came flooding back. So I bought the CD.

"Red Queen To Gryphon Three" is an instrumental album consisting of four long pieces apparently inspired by a game of chess. All the band members are consummate musicians, and the playing is faultless. The twist is that the music has medieval/Renaissance and folk influences, with the band using bassoon, crumhorn and recorders alongside keyboards (piano, organ and synth), electric and acoustic guitars, drums and other percussion. It's quite a unique sound: primarily lilting, very melodious and, even during the parts using synth and other modern instruments, retaining a medieval feel. Lest you feel this medieval influence would be too much to bear, we're not talking Greensleeves here. It's definitely Progressive Rock, albeit using some unusual instruments and themes in places. For those who like electronic keyboards, there are several bursts of synth.

All four tracks are good, each comprised of a variety of melodies, tempos and moods. I like very much the piano and tune in 'Opening Move', but 'Lament' is probably my favourite: it has as its core theme a very melodious tune which, amongst other things, shows how pleasing the recorder can be when in the hands of an expert. Mind you, the second and fourth tracks are also showcases for Richard Harvey's recorder playing: country folk music-like in the former and sea shanty-like in the latter.

This music works in two ways for me: I can listen to it intently or I can listen to it as background music. There's plenty of complexity in the music, lots of changes in tune, mood, tempo and instruments to keep you interested, but without vocals I find it can still be quite relaxing in the background.

Now, the fact that I completely forgot about the existence of the band and the album for nearly 30 years could be taken to mean that this album only deserves a 3-star rating (Good, but non-essential). However I did buy the album again after all those years, think it is well worth having and still enjoy listening to it very much. So I think it deserves 4 stars (Excellent addition to any prog rock collection). If you like not-too-heavy symphonic Progressive Rock then you should find this album not only eminently listenable but also interesting. I'm not going to say GRYPHON sound like YES, but I think that if you like the music of YES you could very well like this album. As it happens, GRYPHON did support YES in several concerts - I can't think of a better fit.

Fitzcarraldo | 4/5 |


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