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White Willow - Ignis Fatuus CD (album) cover


White Willow


Symphonic Prog

3.76 | 148 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Ignis Fatuus is the debut album from Norwegian band White Willow, part of the Scandinavian revival of Symphonic prog rock in the 90's. This is an interesting album were the songs seem to be split, several are Symphonic prog (Snow Fall, Cryptomenysis, etc) and others are Prog folk (The Withering Of The Boughs, Lines In An Autumnal Evening, etc), an approach which works well here and sets out their style for the next few years with confidence.

Regardless of the style of the songs, this album overall has a laid back feel to it and IMO this album is brilliant to just sit back and relax to. The music to many of the songs can be described as slow, yet deliberate, creating a tranquil atmosphere. However, when the musical compositions are combined with the lyrics and the way that they are sung (particularly with the voice of Eldrid Johansson) the songs give of a melancholic feel with a few notable exceptions. The exceptions would be Now In These Fairy Lands and Till He Arrives, both of which seem to give off an uplifting feeling which counters nicely with the melancholy of the other songs.

Though this album is rather soft, with the aim being to create exquisitely beautiful, rather than "rocking" music, there are some songs on here that exude a feeling of power without resorting to particularly heavy guitar, drum and bass sounds that could have been an easy lure. This is a tack shown to its best on the opening two tracks, Snowfall and Lord of the Night, and the closing mini-epics, Cryptomenysis and John Dee's Lament. I notice that these also seem to be the stand out tracks on this album for me. The last two in particular exude a really creepy feeling that can make my skin crawl without ever loosing that sense of beauty. If you like his kind of thing then you really need to hear these two songs.

One thing that I cant get away from is the feel that this is more of a collection of songs than a fully coherent album. Don't get me wrong, the songs work well at getting the feelings that they try to bring from you with the music and lyrics, but they don't seem to mesh together like you would expect. I presume this is due to the songs being recorded over a two year period and some musicians only appearing on a couple of songs.

I also find all of the sub 3 minute songs to be unnecessary on here. For instance, Cryptomenysis and John Dee's lament would flow together really well but they are separated by the 2 minute passage of Signs. I find this gets in the way and it happens at other times in the album. Its not that the music is bad on these bridge's, its just that they weren't needed at all. This sadly means that the album is a bit longer than I think it needed to be, but it doesn't really detract from this.

Overall it's a great album that works really well when you just sit back, relax and listen. Some songs are uplifting, others are more melancholic and some are down right creepy! It looses a star as I find the shorter tracks to be unnecessary and breaks down the sense of cohesion slightly, but it achieves its main aim of creating beautiful melancholic music excellently.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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