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




Prog Folk

4.14 | 566 ratings

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5 stars And on the eighth day, God made Red Square To Gryphon Three.

OK, so I'm exaggerating. After all I don't even think Red Square To Gryphon Three is the greatest prog-rock album of all time (an honour that my rigid mind assigned to Genesis' Selling England By The Pound fifteen years ago). But I rate it among the greatest prog albums ever, and that alone represents a leap of miraculous proportions. When one considers its flawed predecessor Midnight Mushrumps, it's hard to believe just how majestic Red Queen To Gryphon Three is.

Augmented by bassist Philip Nestor, the original Gryphon quartet of Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, Graeme Taylor and David Oberle plunged headfirst into hardcore progressive rock. Perhaps inspired by Rick Wakeman, the multi-talented Harvey swapped his krumhorn for a battery of keyboards and led his bandmates to the promised land. Based loosely on a game of chess, Red Queen To Gryphon Three is a wholly instrumental work divided into four pieces (ranging from 8 to 11 minutes long).

Opening Move is both otherworldly and regal, with a distinct sense of magic about it, as Harvey and co. show us instrumental chops that they always had but previously hadn't bothered with. Second Spasm harks back to Gryphon's Renaissance roots with some krumhorn (OK, so Harvey didn't give it up completely) and a lovely militaristic mid-section.

Lament? Well, Lament is something else. It has at its core two absolutely sumptous woodwind melodies. As beautiful as the first one is, it is the second, tragic bassoon melody that both won, and broke, my heart. Frankly, after the melody concludes I find myself just hanging on for dear life as Gryphon take flight, hoping against hope that I will hear it again. I don't.

The blistering concluding segment is of course titled Checkmate, and really that says it all. A mighty congregation of musicians firing on all cylinders, in a way that no other band seems to have done. ... 91% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 5/5 |


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