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Henry Fool

Crossover Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Another one of those project of over-active Steve Wilson - in terms of sheer quantities ofmusic released , he must equal Roine Stolt(TFK) and Fabio Zuffanti (Finisterre & Hotsonaten) but is there . This obviously has PT and Nu-man written all over it but is less spacey and more symphonic . the high light is the mini-suite (track 4 until 9 or 10 ) but i have a problem going through the rest of the album after those particular tracks. Just lacking relevance is my diagnostic.
Report this review (#33272)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Contrary to what the first review suggests, this is actually a project spearheaded by Tim Bowness, Steven Wilson's partner in No-Man.

For me, the album's an organic and interesting fusion of early-1970s Prog and Jazz-Rock influences (Crimson, Soft Machine, Gabriel's Genesis etc...) and elements of Post-Rock bands such as Gastr Del Sol and Tortoise.

The most surprising aspect of the album to these ears is the fact that Fudge Smith's drumming is far more loose and expressive than his work with Pendragon. Not at all what I was expecting.

Personal highlights include 'Bass Pig' (Crimson-esqe mellotron-driven fury) and the beautiful 'Grounded' (a conclusion to the album's mini-suite).

Not as innovative or contemporary as No-Man or Porcupine Tree perhaps, but well worth a listen for those interested in an affectionate, warm and distinctive take on the first wave of Progressive bands.

Report this review (#33273)
Posted Saturday, April 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an interesting album with a variety of sounds. There are plenty of ambient keyboard sounds, sometimes soothing, sometimes unsettling, which can suddenly morph into wild,jazzy passages, and before you know it, you are into a short, well constructed song, impeccably crooned by Tim Bowness. Don't expect spectacular guitar solos, but you will find jangling guitar chords and short staccato phrases,which are all the more effective for thir understatedness. I was particularly impressed by Fudge Smith's drumming, especially his exquisite drum-rolls on 'Jazz Monkey'. Myke Clifford also delivers a stunning performance on sax, flute and clarinet, while the keyboard work is excellent throughout.

The tracks are short, and well-constructed. I found it best to listen on headphones to appreciate the composition of each piece. The only trach which outstays its welcome is the longest one, ' The Mellow Moods of Malcolm McDowell', but even it is not lacking in interest.

The album is similar to Porcupine Tree at times, and at others, reminiscent of Somnambulist. An enjoyable, relaxing and interesting cd.

Report this review (#79319)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars NO-MAN's Tim Bowness is part of this project along with PENDRAGON's Fudge Smith on drums.This is spacey, atmospheric music with lots of sax and mellotron. I really prefer this to NO-MAN by the way. Oh, and Steven Wilson mixed a couple of tracks.

This album opens with no less than 3 instrumentals. The first one "Friday Brown" has spacey synths, guitar, Fender Rhodes piano and mellotron ! A very atmospheric piece. The second song "Bass Pig" has distorted guitars to start with, cool drums, organ and mellotron. This is very Red era Crimson sounding. Kind of the opposite of the first song. "Poppy Q" is brighter with keys and mellotron. The bass and drums are excellent on this one. It has a spacey ending. "Lateshow" consists of 5 songs that blend together. The first is called "Midnight Days".This is where we first have the privelige of hearing Tim Bowness sing for the first time on the album. Right away the band NO-MAN comes to mind. This is beautiful, fragile and gentle.The next part "Blindman One" is led by the sax and it's still dreamy. "Poppy Z" is more uptempo and I love the dissonant sax. "Blindman Two" features gentle sax and is very PINK FLOYD-like. Nice and spacey.

Besides "Bass Pig" the next song "Grounded" is my favourite. The vocals, the flute, the mellotron, this is beautiful music. It does get heavy as the vocals come in with mellotron. Amazing sound ! "The Laughter that Turned To Ice" and "Judy On The Brink" could both be on NO-MAN records, I even checked to see if they were, because they sounded so much like NO-MAN. In between those two tracks we have the mellow song "Jazz Monkey". "The David Warner Wish List" is a cool sounding experimental tune with fuzz bass and sax leading the way. It builds as synths, guitar and drums come in. "Heartattack" is an atmospheric song with vocals. Nice bass lines in this one. Some angular guitar, flute and sax in "The Mellow Moods Of Malcom McDowell". The next tune "Dreamer's Song" has vocals, piano and organ leading the way. Love the mellotron after a minute. "Tuesday Weld" ends the album with a dark instrumental. I like it ! Especially the mellotron.

I highly recommend this atmospheric, mellotron laden beauty.

Report this review (#89745)
Posted Friday, September 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Henry Fool came in life out of the coffee shop chats between No-Man's singer Tim Bowness and ex-Lahost/Airbridge's keyboardist Stephen Bennett to come up with a project indicating their music influences as youngsters.Henry Fool officially formed in spring 2000 with the two men gathering also bassist Peter Chilvers, Pendragon's drummer Fudge Smith, guitarist Michael Bearpark (known also for his work with No-Man) and woodwind player Myke Clifford.The project recorded its debut at Chaos Studios in Norwich and at the Music Farm in the hamlet of Lenwade between March 2000 and April 2001 and the album was eventually released on the Cyclops label.

The album contains 16 short tracks connected to each other and making a long composition, which passes through extremely different soundscapes and each drawing influences from a mass of music styles.These unrelated textures will definitely surprise the listener in a positive way, though this is the same reason the album lacks in coherence.With Bowness as the leading figure ''Henry Fool'' contains lots of ambiental/psychedelic textures akin to NO-MAN with hypnotic guitars, dreamy flutes, distorted electronics/sound effects and sensitive vocals creating calm, chill-out images.The psychedelic vibes do not stop here, there are also a couple of more upbeat moments with solid grooves and jams, very much in a Kraut Rock enviroment, led by impressive guitars and a powerful rhythm section.The more Classic Prog-oriented tracks feature always the presence of Bennett.Loads of Mellotron, refined electric piano and light organ themes recall the 70's Prog Rock era, mainly influenced by KING CRIMSON, offering dark but well-crafted soundscapes with an orchestral mood.The next leading figure of the album seems to be Myke Clifford and his sax.Many moments in ''Henry Fool'' are led by his strong sax experiments with evident VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and EMBRYO inspirations, somewhere between Psych/Prog and Kraut/Jazz Rock.Beautiful performances with an obvious jazzy approach, much in a loose mood.

This album should be easily regarded as a nice trip into the world of NO-MAN's music and the Classic Prog ages.Alternating calm and nervous passages result a work of a documentary character as a whole.Not a masterful album, but definitely an original and pleasant listening.Recommended.

Report this review (#956330)
Posted Thursday, May 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
4 stars Henry Fool are a new prog band based around Fudge Smith (Pendragon/ Steve Hackett Band) and Tim Bowness (No-Man/David Torn). Along with Steve Bennet (keys), Peter Chilvers (bass), Michael Bearpark (additional guitar) and Myke Clifford (woodwind) they have produced one of the most interesting prog bands to come out of the UK in recent years.

Fudge must find this music like a breath of fresh air having played in Pendragon for so long. Take 60's/70's influences such as early Genesis, early Floyd, Soft Machine and VDGG and mix them with Rain Tree Crow and King Crimson then throw in some Faust and Greg Lake for good measure. The album moves from delicately sung ballads that are beautiful in the extreme to music that takes a lot of work to gain the benefit from it.

This is probably too far away from what most people these days think of as 'progressive' music but in many ways this truly is and deserves to be heard.

Originally appeared in Feedback #64, Dec 01

Report this review (#970775)
Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | Review Permalink

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