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Jade Warrior - Jade Warrior CD (album) cover


Jade Warrior


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.63 | 122 ratings

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3 stars "Feel excited but I wanna feel more."

I joined Prog Archives five years ago in order to vote for one of my favorite albums ever, Last Autumn's Dream. Shortly after, I provided a review for the album. It has been my intention to continue with the reviewing in an organized manner ever since then. Scattered reviews are all that I have presented so far, (and thanks to all the readers who have given me positive comments on them), but I am now in a different place, physically and mentally, where I can engage in that long-term project. Out of the ashes of July (whom I have never heard), Tony Duhig and Jon Field unite with Glyn Havard to form Jade Warrior. The musical ideas underlying the band include unusual rhythms inspired by various cultures worldwide, melodicism that often reflects the Far East which inspired the band name, and sudden eruptive dynamics. Unique chord structures and leads, compounded with flute and an emphasis on conga rather than kit drums are also part of what sets this band apart from any others before or since. In the history of music, no one else sounds quite like Jade Warrior. And that is a good thing. Were they better known, we could even identify a particular sound just by stating their name. The music feels like no other. Jade Warrior's first eponymous album opens on a defining moment with The Traveller. Almost everything that identifies the JW sound is found here. Soft guitar chords lead to conga percussion, flute, a grand electric lead, even soft thoughtful vocals. This is followed in the next track, A Prenormal Day At Brighton, by the classic JW explosion. Not that it is jarring or too abrupt. The song itself moves along in what was to become a typical JW song structure. But it is in the third track, the multipart suite titled Masai Morning, that we see the true adventurousness of the band. African-styled percussion, dramatic rather than fully rhythmic, at least at first, and atavistic flute lead way to a fierce electric riff and we are on our journey through the African veldt, full of danger and death. A brief break for some chanting and more drama, returns us to the ferocity mirroring the lion's attack. We then get the mellow Windweaver, even though it has some abrupt blasts of percussive sound. Their unique melodicism comes to play full time here, and it is beautiful. Another multipart suite comes next, Dragonfly Day, the longest track on the album, and it starts with some more of Tony Duhig's signature guitar leads. These leads are not fast solos. Duhig was no shredder or speed demon. His approach to guitar was far more sophisticated than that. Some of Havard's soft vocals come, and we get an engaging mid-tempo section. The lyrics are kind of trippy/hippy, one of the reasons why this band is put into the Psychedelic/Space Rock category. Jon Field provides some nice flute. Like Duhig, he was limited in his speed so he always emphasized mood and melody. You will not have to listen carefully for the moment of the dragonfly's death but you may miss it all the same; the ensuing music is quite pretty. So enough of that pretty stuff. Let's rock. Petunia may be slow but it is rock nonetheless, especially after Duhig comes in with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop. People generally consider Neil Young as the godfather of grunge, but that is the best word to describe some of Duhig's work. Grunge. Dirty, distorted, and demonic. The song conveys a sultriness that is a little disturbing. For a true rocker though, we have to move on to Telephone Girl who may be Petunia at a later stage in her life, or perhaps her older sister. The mirrored bass/guitar riff is very cool. This is the most straight-forward song on the whole album, but we have to remember that when dealing with Jade Warrior that is a relative term. Psychiatric Sergeant starts in a jazzy manner before it moves into true JW territory, that is, the music they make that is truly unique to them. Still, it never relinquishes its jazziness. The trippiest song comes next, the aptly titled Slow Ride. This is a short instrumental piece that drifts through the ennui of an evening lost most likely to some sort of controlled substance, or maybe alcohol, or possibly exhaustion. Most likely all three. And then we get the final tune, Sundial Song. Arpeggiated harmonics from Duhig's guitar give a moderate grounding to Field's gliding flute. But only for so long. Jade Warrior, for all the softness, is a rock band. Not that they rock fast but when they want to, they rock hard. A new drifting section follows, a variation on the introduction, and we get some tasty guitar. The final, closing moments convey a luminescent sound of sunlight itself gliding through the atmosphere, a fitting conclusion. Jade Warrior is a band whose style and sound is difficult to identify. Even if one song fits neatly into an established category, the next one that comes along will not. It may fit into another nicely but there is no guarantee. You never know what will come next, but it will always sound like nothing other than Jade Warrior. Their entire output fits this description, as do complete albums; even individual songs. The band would move on from this beginning point but all the elements that make Jade Warrior what it is are present here. This is one band that had fulfilled its promise and they have given us what I consider one of the best bodies of recorded music on the planet. If you are not familiar with their sound, this is a good place to start. If you are already familiar with it, there is much here you will recognize, but it won't be the same. It is never the same.

Progosopher | 3/5 |


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