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

RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE

Gryphon

 

Prog Folk

4.13 | 437 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Gryphon's one and only triumph "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" is a chess game that has four lengthy instrumentals beginning with 'Opening Move' and ending with 'Checkmate'. The idea itself is worthwhile noting for its innovation and the album cover depicts the old sage in a medieval setting, poring over his next move on the chessboard, while a joust takes place below in the castle grounds. The music echoes this feeling from the outset with 'Opening Move', with long meandering passages of medieval music and courtly majestic excursions. One may be reminded of Gentle Giant at times with the intricate time sigs and Rick Wakeman with its unusual instrumental pageantry. The Renaissance period is captured on this album with strong English folk nuances and an emphasis on woodwind solos.

'Second Spasm' features the pied piper sounds of woodwind specialist Richard Harvey, also a marvel on keyboards and Krumhörn. Brian Gulland accompanies on bassoon and Krumhörns and is joined by the incomparable Graeme Taylor on guitars. This track features medieval noodling throughout, that may turn off some listeners, especially the Krumhörn solos and it sounds very whimsical and court jesterish, like the soundtrack to an old comedy in the Renaissance period. The music is certainly upbeat and positive, conjuring images of castles, knights in armour rescuing damsels and kings and queens making a procession to their royal palaces. The marching procession on percussion by David Oberlé is noteworthy also. Other musicians include Philip Nestor on bass, Ernest Hart on organ and Peter Redding plays acoustic bass.

'Lament' opens side 2 of the vinyl and it begins softly with Harvey's woodwind and Taylor's gentle acoustic. It fades slowly as the next movement fades up, a more solemn atmosphere with Gulland's low bassoon tones and guitar. The mood change is appropriate after all the whimsy on side 1 and this melody reflects the sound of an impending calamity. Soon some manic hi hat work ushers in a brand new day, and the music is bright and in quick cadence. The keyboard solo that follows is mesmerising along with the odd meter and pulsing bassline.

It ends with 'Checkmate', a rousing, rollicking piece that may remind one of medieval dancing around the maypole. The strange music locks into a time sig that is all over the place, and then is released with a drum heralding in the march and a recorder solo trills beautifully along. The woodwind solos are virtuoso and this is perhaps a much more progressive track in terms of sigs and building up of intensity. The keyboard solo towards the end is stellar along with the recorder solos and dramatic percussion. It ends with a finale and excellent pageantry.

The chamber music of the album is a compelling focus of Gryphon and at only 4 tracks the album never outstays its welcome. It is certainly worthy of recognition, though may be difficult for some listeners with all the medieval flavours. One thing is for certain there is nothing else like it and Gryphon are recognised primarily for this work alone. It is little wonder that Richard Harvey went on to produce some successful movie soundtracks in his later years.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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