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Secret Green - To Wake the King CD (album) cover

TO WAKE THE KING

Secret Green

 

Prog Folk

3.83 | 12 ratings

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The Mentalist
5 stars There's a shocking lack of interest in Secret Green - only two reviews of 'To Wake The King' and one of them is so off the mark regarding frames of reference that I've decided to come out of retirement to write a review.

Secret Green is the brainchild of composer/guitarist and founding member of The Enid, Francis Lickerish. After nearly thirty years out of the music business, Francis has returned with a remarkable concept album. The album is an invocation of King Arthur - the sleeping soul of England, that he might awake and save his land and people in its time of greatest peril. Of course this isn't to be taken literally, it is a plea for an end to jadedness and cynicism, and for a return to Dignity.

The music is 100% English. Indeed there are moments where you would swear you were listening to Vaughn Williams. There are also many moments where The Enid come to mind. In fact, there are several quotations from the first four Enid albums throughout, and one of the main recurring musical themes is from The Enid's 'Six Pieces' album. This music also brings home the fact that Francis Lickerish is an excellent composer, and proves that Robert John Godfrey didn't write as much of The Enid's material as people think The album consists of instrumentals; songs, and songs with lengthy instrumental sections. The songs have a haunting Englishness about them, complimented by sumptuous guitar and keyboard orchestrations which recall two of England's greatest musical sons, Vaughn Williams and the criminally neglected Arnold Bax.

The opening Prelude sounds not unlike the opening of Wagner's Das Reingold (with a direct quote from Mahler's 2nd symphony thrown in on the brass for good measure) and leads into:

Echoing Green An invocation of England's pagan past and Arthur himself

"Sunset Summer star, waking up the warrior. Keep it from the priest for he'll say it's a sin".

The song ends with an extended fugue of gigantic proportions, written by Francis's ex Enid buddy, keyboardist William Gilmour. No pseudo 'classical' wakemanesqe noodlings here, this fugue is the real deal.

'On Merlin's Ground' depicts Merlin atop a cliff, brooding and "mourning the disenchantment of the world". One can almost see the waves crashing against the rocks in this one. A beautiful tone painting. It ends with another Mahler quotation; 3rd symphony - 4th movement. Hilary Palmer's vocals are beautiful on this one, as they are throughout the album.

The Gunivere Suite consists of five courtly dances. Despite the fact that the mythical King Arthur is placed somewhere around the 5th century, the courtly dances are all firmly planted in the renaissance period.

Pavan - The Track Of The Moon On The Water One of the most beautiful songs on the album. Here the Vaughn Williams influence is at it's strongest. Stunning guitar playing too.

Galliard - On Secret Green Another call for The King to awake. Probably the rockiest track on the album this one. Loure - Lady Morgana's Orrery (No Real Cause For Tears.) The accompanying music to this song perfectly conjures up the movement of a delicately crafted orrery as it turns around and around. This is followed by two short instrumentals; an Allemande and Bransle, to complete The Gunivere Suite

'Canlaan' An atmospheric; cinematic, soundtrack-type instrumental, depicting Arthur's last battle - The Battle of Clanaan. It contains a quotation from the medieval plainchant Dies Irae (also used by The Enid) as well as a backward glance at the main thematic material of album.

The final track is 'Nimue' who is, of course, The Lady Of The Lake. This beautiful song culminates with a quotation from The Enid's 'Song Of Fand' and a glorious restatement of the opening prelude.

Is it Folk? Is it Rock? Is it Renaissance music? Is it 20th century orchestral? Is it Prog? The answer is yes to all of the above. But, more importantly, it's bloody good music.

The Mentalist | 5/5 |

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