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Sunforest - Sound of Sunforest CD (album) cover



Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Highly intrigued after having read articles and books mentionning the band, I started huntinhg it down, finally finding it in ali Baba's Cavern in Namur. Great thing I could get an ear on it, I was the only customer in the cave at the time, so I had time to listen to it at great lenghts. One of those highly praised album (especially by collectors trying to get their old vinyls sold) , along with Vashti Bunyan and a few other rarities, that does not live to its reputation as a folk masterpiece or even the slightest bit progressive.

Some 15 short songs, all acoustic (or mostly, I remember a tiny bit of electric guitar), some with rather sympathetic subjects and a seriously hyppie athmosphere. The amateur of medieval or pre-renaiissance will find an interest in the list of instruments played, and the proghead that really enjoys Gryphon might want to pay attention too!

It can be endearing to some folk enthusiasts, I mean the record is not devoid of qualities, but you have to be quite a folk nuthead to appreciate rather amateur and naive songwriting, rather approximative music playing, shoddy production and poor recording. But this is worth a listen, though. Maybe not the investment but certainly the investigation. I was happy to have heard, and now hope to have the album's reputation deflate a bit after this review. Just the fact that this album finally got a Cd release should do the rest about having the prices coming down a bit.

Report this review (#67013)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Oddly bracketed here as 'Psychedelic / Space-Rock' - a very misleading label(sorry guys) - this sun-kissed folk-pop curio has become something of a cult favourite over the years thanks mainly to the catchy acoustica of 'Magician In The Mountain', a breezy two-minute workout that has featured on many a psychedelic compilation. A trio, Sunforest were a short- lived outfit made up of Terry Tucker(keyboards, harpsichord, vocals), Freya Houge(guitar, banjo, vocals) and Erika Eigen(percussion, vocals) and this brisk, self-titled effort from 1969 proved to be their only release, featuring as it does a succession of softly-peddled folk-pop nuggets tinged with rainy-day psychedelia. Undoubtedly 'Magician In The Mountain' is the highlight, yet as an actual album this is surprisingly good, the bulk of the material exuding a loose, low-slung, lightly-ambling hippie vibe, though don't go expecting any complex instrumental flourishes. This is progressive folk in the loosest sense of the term. An archetypal late-sixties relic, fans of the poppier side of psychedelia - just think Donovan, Incredible String Band or Jethro Tull's folkier moments - should lap this up. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Report this review (#638529)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A wonderful slice of Anglo-American history, anno 1969.

I find this album to be an under-appreciated gem. It has very well recorded psychedelic folk performances of original material that I find far superior to a lot of the "classic" Hippie Folk or Prog Folk that I've become familiar with from the 1960s. The anachronistic instrumental opener being followed by the wonderfully ambiguous (is it happy or is it sad?) MAMAS AND PAPAS-like "Where Are You?" set the stage perfectly. The more famous "hit", "Magician in the Mountain", has a CSN&Y feel to it until the complex horns enter, giving it more of a R&B feel. The vocal harmonies may, at times, lack enthusiasm, yet they have the smoothness of Mama Cass & Company or The Cowsills. The bass play is exceptional. The cute little folk ditty, "Bonny River" sounds as if it could have come from Sonny & Cher or The New Christie Minstrels. "Garden Rug" continues the foray into more ancient musical traditions, though this time from the female perspective. Feminism in its fullest! The cinematic folk arrangement of "Lovely Day" reminds me of something from a romantic Lerner and Lowe musical (like "Brigadoon".) Great song. The amazing "All in Good Time" is dripping in sarcasm with its sound imitation of church music and attitudes. Brilliant!

Yes there are a preponderance of quirky, made-for-popular effect songs on the album (still using odd and often anachronistic instruments and arrangements). They all serve to dish out what I find to be a refreshing collection of vignettes into the espritzeitgeist of the times (1969) and are, thus, wonderfully entertaining. What's the difference between this kind of story-telling and the mythical renderings of Genesis or traditional folk music? "Lighthouse Keeper" is innocuously cute, and "Mr. Bumble" sounds surprisingly as if it could have been made in the 2010s by the NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA. The harpsichord based "Give Me All Your Loving" sounds tongue-in-cheek comic like a ROCHES song, but is brilliantly rendered. "Lady Next Door" sounds like it was a reaction to an episode of Brit radio classic, The Archers--the time that a hippy lady appeared in Ambridge. (Crikey!) Ditto, for "Peppermint Store"--though this one might be as likely to express a scene from Americana's Mayberry RFD--and "Old. Cluck". (I have to remind myself that this band was founded by a trio of Americans who moved to London to find their artistic careers. Perhaps theater and television should have been their medium.)

Much of the music and arrangements have a traditional folk, even antiquated feel to them, though there are many additional "modern" (for the time) ideas being added/implemented to each and every song--and each done so with individualistic attention, not just blanket engineering. It feels like a lot of work, a lot of creative energy went into the crafting of these songs--that a lot of discussion and experimentation occurred with and for each and every song. Thus, I find myself dumbfounded that this album gets passed over and downgraded. Far superior than anything I've ever heard by the Incredible String Band, (but, then, I'm not a lyrics guy, so that might explain my lack of appreciation for the [any?] progginess of anything done by that band.

I seriously can't see giving this window into our past anything less than four stars! It is such a fascinating glimpse into the changing times of 1969!

Report this review (#2601378)
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021 | Review Permalink

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