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Mostly Autumn

Prog Folk

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Mostly Autumn The Ghost Moon Orchestra album cover
3.74 | 142 ratings | 6 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Unquiet Tears (5:27)
2. Drops of the Sun (3:37)
3. The Devil and the Orchestra (3:54)
4. The Ghost Moon Orchestra (7:01)
5. This Ragged Heart (3:27)
6. King of the Valley (4:34)
7. Things That We Notice (3:43)
8. Tennyson Mansion (7:06)
9. Wild Eyed Skies (5:48)
10. Top of the World (7:27)

Total Time 52:04

Bonus CD from 2012 SE - "A Weather for Poets" :
1. Working Man (3:48)
2. The Rain Song (5:36)
3. The Second Hand (4:29)
4. Caught in a Fold (3:49)
5. Passengers (4:03)
6. Pure White Light (5:10)
7. Constellations (2:22)
8. Evergreen (5:31)
9. Heroes Never Die (4:09)
10. Changing Fast (3:52)
11. The Last Train (1:05)
12. Tonight (5:46)

Total Time 49:40

Line-up / Musicians

- Olivia Sparnenn / lead vocals, percussion
- Anne-Marie Helder / vocals, flute, keyboards, hand drum
- Bryan Josh / lead vocals, lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, keyboards, producer
- Liam Davison / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Iain Jennings / keyboards, piano, Hammond organ
- Andy Smith / bass
- Gavin Griffiths / drums

- Troy Donockley / low whistle (5), uilleann pipes (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Bryan Josh and Suzanne Bielby

CD Mostly Autumn Records ‎- AUT0341 (2012, UK)
2CD Mostly Autumn Records ‎- AUT0340 (2012, UK) Bonus CD with older compositions in new arrangements, mostly acoustic

Thanks to NotAProghead for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MOSTLY AUTUMN The Ghost Moon Orchestra ratings distribution

(142 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(51%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

MOSTLY AUTUMN The Ghost Moon Orchestra reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lazland
4 stars The Ghost Moon Orchestra is the latest release by perennial British band, Mostly Autumn, and the second to feature the talents of Olivia Sparnenn. In my review of this album's predecessor, Go Well Diamond Heart, I speculated whether that or this follow up would be the one to really break the band into the big time where I, for one, feel they properly belong.

Well, sadly I think not. Does this mean it is a bad or disappointing album? Not a bit of it. It is recognisably Mostly Autumn with those familiar lilting female vocals, some excellent musicianship by the usual cast of thousands, and, of course, the unique vocals of Bryan Josh and his trademark guitar sound. It is just that I can't see it breaking the band beyond their, admittedly frantically loyal, fan base, and that is a little bit of a shame.

However, it certainly doesn't seem to bother Josh or his cohorts. He has a musical vision, and he very doggedly and admirably sticks to it. Some of the mainstream press reviews I have seen seem to suggest that this is Mostly Autumn doing an Opeth, I.e. that they have morphed into a kind of metal prog band. I personally don't see that at all. Yes, there is a harder edge to much of this material, but not really any more than in albums such as Storms Over Still Waters. In essence, tracks such as Drops Of The Sun and The Devil & The Orchestra are tracks which take a great deal from classic heavy rock bands such as Rainbow and Purple, with a great deal of the Josh progressive treatment added in. In other words, they rock, and they rock extremely well, and I personally welcome the direction, and that is speaking as someone who joined because of the wonderful folk and Celtic rock tendencies shown in classics such as Passengers.

However, those tendencies are not gone. Take the lush and lovely title track, which has some beautifully delicate piano and a lovely flute turn by Anne Marie Helder, all accompanying a wonderful female vocal. Take also the fragility of Things That We Notice.

The main feature here, in fact, is just how good those vocals are. I know that Josh's vocals are an, ahem, acquired taste (I personally like them), but no one can doubt at all that this is the album which well and truly showcases Olivia's exceptional talent as a vocalist. She shines throughout, and is a joy to listen to, equally adept at the fragile and the powerful, of which there is a good mix everywhere here. Witness especially her performances on the chorus of King of the Valley, a rip snorting carousel of a track which she makes her own and the stunning Wild Eyes Skies. Heather Findlay? Who she?

The album is a loose sort of concept about some ghouls and ghosties congregating around a campsite, and was inspired by one of the apparently frequent such trips the band members enjoy under the stars. No doubt there were some interesting substances inhaled as well, but here Josh shows how good he is as a storyteller, and, to me, this can actually be regarded as very much a follow up from his exceptional solo album in spirit and feel. This especially applies to the wonderful This Ragged Heart, a track featuring lush harmonies between the two main protagonists in addition to a moving main vocal from Josh himself, backed up by a musical piece that cries out its solitude and yearning. Quite exceptional stuff, alongside the equally impressive Tennyson Mansion, which rocks and emotes in equal turns, and has at its heart some incredible symphonic keys backing a huge electric guitar solo.

So, what we have here is another very good release from this great band, who keep motoring on and on in much the same spirit as days of yore. If you enjoy them, you will find a lot to enjoy here. If not, well I don't think this will persuade you much otherwise, but for those readers who are looking to see what the band are like for the first time, or after a lengthy absence away from them, this is a very good place to start. Yes, there is a harder edge to much of it, but there is also much of that English and Celtic folk that we took to all those years ago.

Four stars for this, another excellent release from a band who really should attract a damn sight more attention on this site.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mostly Autumn have released an excellent album with "Ghost Moon Orchestra" that features all that have made the band popular over the years; Celtic influences, folk lyrics, spacey atmospherics and heavy guitar riffs. The album features the inimitable sweet vocals of Olivia Sparnenn and Bryan Josh's guitars augmented by the keyboard finesse of Iain Jennings.

From the outset the atmosphere is ethereal, beginning with ambient pads on 'Unquiet Tears'. The guitars are heavy at times such as on 'Drops of the Sun'. The lyrics are often whimsical and even jaded with nursery rhyme motifs, on 'Unquiet Tears' we hear "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder who you are, Dying burns in the sky, Hush little baby, don't say a word, The orchestra is here, run!" The mood is portentous and rather dark with such lyrics merging with some epic melodies. The band play around with lyrics about the devil on tracks such as 'The Devil And The Orchestra', where Bryan Josh gets a chance to sing with his raspy technique.

The drawcard for me is always the angelic voice of Olivia and she shines on tracks such as 'The Ghost Moon Orchestra'. The lyrics are intriguing; "Don't go down to the woods today, you really have no choice, the orchestra demands your presence, strictly on your own, stand to your potential is the death to your soul, I hope you've been good, boys and girls". This 7 minute song is a feast featuring beautiful melodic sweeps on keys and an incredible lead guitar solo at the end; a dynamic sound and definitely a progressive highlight of the album.

There are acoustic driven songs such as 'This Ragged Heart', written and sung by Bryan Josh, and featuring lovely flute passages by Anne-Marie Helder, and low whistle by Troy Donockley. The lyrics are potent; "Sat alone on all these lands, there'll be plays on the hill, there'll be laughter in the halls, and I know it's all because of her, I open my eyes to love, say it's a lie, so a lie, and I dreamed of birds in the saving sky, and they showed me the way and I followed away, follow today".

'King Of The Valley' juxtaposes the acoustics and provides the rock with some energetic guitar riffs and staccato keyboard hammering. The time sig changes on this track are wonderful, the way that the vocals trade off alternating between Olivia and Bryan. There is an odd tempo in the instrumental break and very powerful shimmering organ with a vintage Hammond sound. Again this is a highlight of the album, structured with innovation and compelling melodies.

'Things That We Notice' brings the mood down with a heartfelt ballad from the beautiful tones of Olivia. I love the lyrics that have an endearing theme; "I still believe when your love was not part of the song, they carry on, inside the shimmering perfume of yesterday song, they carry on." Then the verse moves into thoughts of broken dreams and loss; "Families break up, the moment is gone, dreams that have fallen, letters from angels, answers the world will not come, and they're gone and they fall like that, they fall down the street".

'Tennyson Mansion' opens with a twanging guitar and piercing key pad. It builds with a pounding rhythm, then Olivia brings in a new nursery rhyme idea about Humpty Dumpty, cementing the idea that these are childhood memories that are focussed on, broken dreams of childhood innocence. It builds to a massive lead break with shrieking string bends and howling sustain; awesome guitar skilfully played by Bryan.

'Wild Eyed Skies' opens with the haunting Uilleann pipes of Donockley, and measured vocals from Olivia, gently at first and then more forceful in the chorus. The lyrics are repeated and given a passionate delivery; "When you run on your own, but you wanna go home, then you run on your own, but there's nobody home, every season we're knocking, there's no other soul, I will channel the dark, onto the past". I love the melody and the wonderful vocals are so uplifting, along with soaring lead guitar.

'Top Of The World' begins with minimalist piano tinkling, and a duet from Olivia and Bryan, breathily delivering a rather positive message. It is rather a sweet little song to close the album, continuing the fairytale vibe of the sound. The piece leads to an extended piano melody and strings, enhanced by soulful violining guitar reverberating beautifully.

Overall, "Ghost Moon Orchestra" is a quality production with enough beauty and rock to appease the fanbase. There are some definitive highlights and it is consistent throughout maintaining a compelling theme and accomplished musicianship. It is yet another excellent album from a band that is slowly becoming respected in the prog community.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
4 stars "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" was more or less my introduction to this prog folk band, Mostly Autumn. I've been really getting into prog folk lately, as I've been enjoying Dead Can Dance, Blackmore's Night, and I've always loved Colin Masson's work. The thing I love about prog folk is that you never know what you'll get: It's all unpredictable seeing as there are many kinds of "folk" music.

Mostly Autumn represents my favorite type of folk: Their music is rather European in its folksy style, so their music contains all sorts of violins, bagpipes, flutes, and ethereal keys. On top of that, Olivia can sing like an angel, so that helps their case even more. I do prefer her vocals over that of Bryan Josh, the male vocalist. He has an interesting, breathy voice that I like, but I don't think 90% of singers out there could hold a candle to Olivia.

All of that being said, this album in particular is sweeping, climactic, soothing, and wispy all at the same time. The soaring symphonics always goad me into the music, while the Colin Masson-ish guitar work feeds my nostalgia. I especially liked the title track, "Tennyson Mansion", and "Top of the World". It seems that Mostly Autumn wears their poetic influences on their sleeves, but I can't help but wonder if The Carpenters were an influence here as well. Something I can't put my finger on tells me that. Either way, this is a great album that really lives up to its title, and it also rather handily earns 4 stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars After a couple of albums that followd the departure of Heather Findlay and that personally I haven't liked much, Bryan Josh tries to resurrect the old successful formula with Olivia Sparnenn and Anne-Marie Helder replacing Heather and Angela Gordon. The result is better than the previous two attempts. The songs seem to fit more with Olivia's voice which is absolutely good but is different from Heather.

The main problem with this album is that Josh seems to be running out of ideas; a number of songs are nothing else then rewriting of songs from his first solo project. "Drops Of The Sun" seems a cover of "When Cowboys Ruled The World". It's ok, it's not the first time that a composer recycles his own ideas, but choosing to represent the weaker trakcs of his solo album is a bad choice.

As usual, despite having excellent singers in the band he insists in singing. I understand that whoever writes a song likes to sing it, too.. But it's a band. If you have better singers available, just give up and let them do their job.

Don't get me wrong. There's also good music here. It's just that some songs sound "already listened". Helder and Grffiths are of course in perfect sintony having been together in PANIC ROOM and KARNATAKA. What is really missed is the arrangements of Angela Gordon. Anyway the tracks are well played. Josh and Davison aren't surely the last of the prog guitarists, and Iain Jennigs does a very good job as usual.

What is different from the previous albums is that there' more rock than usual. The band's style is less close to Pink Floyd and parts of King of the Valley sound closer to Deep Purple than to PF. There are highlights. One is "Things That We Notice", a long song that shows many influences but not one in particular. There is also a song like "Wild Eyed Skies". On this song Olivia makes an excellent vocal performance and the song itself is ate the level of the best Mostly Autumn. The guitar solo is reminding of "Mother Nature" as well as the change of scale which is similar to those on the final of "The Spirit of The Autumn Past".

The closer starts like a lullaby, a little boring initially, but the second half of the song is itroduced by a Pink Floyd like passage and ends in a guitar solo of the kind that made this band famous at the end of the 90s.

So it's not a masterpiece album, but it's not a waste. Surely better than the previous two, just not at the level of albums like The Last Bright Light. If you are new with Mostly Autumn, start with that.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 651

"The Ghost Moon Orchestra" is the tenth studio album of Mostly Autumn that was released in 2012. This is the second album recorded with Olivia Sparnenn as their lead singer. This time she succeeded in sounding even stronger than on "Go Well Diamond Heart". It's remarkable that this is a studio album with the same line up of their previous ninth studio album "Go Well With Diamond Heart", which isn't a very common with this group. The only other occasion that it happened before was with their second, third and fourth studio albums "The Spirit Of Autumn Past", "The Last Bright Light" and "Music Inspired By The Lord Of The Rings" respectively, on which all three albums have the same line up.

So, the line up on "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" is Bryan Josh (lead vocals, lead rhythm and acoustic guitars and keyboards), Olivia Sparnenn (lead vocals and percussion), Anne-Marie Helder (vocals, keyboards, flute hand drum and percussion), Ian Jennings (keyboards, piano and Hammond organ), Liam Davison (vocals and electric and acoustic guitars), Andy Smith (bass guitars) and Gavin Griffiths (drums). Troy Donockley (low whistle and Uilleann pipes) also participated on "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" as a guest musician, as is usual with many Mostly Autumn's albums.

"The Ghost Moon Orchestra" has ten tracks. The first track "Unquiet Tears" written by Josh, Jennings and Sparnenn opens the album wonderfully. It begins with the crystalline voice of Olivia accompanied by a dramatic piano and some bass notes. After a couple of minutes the full band comes up and explodes into a very beautiful symphonic piece of music. The second track "Drops Of The Sun" written by Josh and Jennings is a song that returns to a more familiar territory of the band. It's another rock song with vocals shared beautifully between Josh and Sparnenn. This is a song with a similar vein with the other previous short numbers from the group. The third track "The Devil And The Orchestra" written by Josh is a song that follows the same mood of the two previous songs. It's a very powerful track with some heavy musical atmosphere and with some nice guitar work. This is a heavy rock song with a Deep Purple's style and which is only sung by Josh alone with his very own vocal technique. The fourth track is the title track "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" and was written by Josh and Sparnenn. This is a song with very sinister lyrics and musical atmosphere, in a perfect line with the title of the song. It's another great and very dynamic song with a graceful vocal and piano melody and an excellent lead guitar solo at the end. This is one of the best progressive tracks of the album. The fifth track "This Ragged Heart" written by Josh is a semi-acoustic pastoral song with the low whistle, and the flute harks back to the folk sound of their earlier studio albums. This is a song with great melody and has one of the most uplifting tunes that Josh has penned for many years. The sixth track "King Of The Valley" written by Josh represents the back to most hard rock songs with Sparnenn displaying just the right emotion level all over the song. It's a song with some reminiscences of "Heart Full Of Sky" and where the Hammond organ solo performed by Iain is absolutely impressive. The seventh track "Things That We Noticed" written by Josh is a very beautiful ballad, reflecting upon the change and the loss, and is an understated thing of beauty, really. It represents on the album a relatively breezy song with another strong and beautiful vocal performance of Sparnenn and it has also nice chorus. The eighth track "Tennyson Mansion" written by Josh is a multi-part epic track that opens with a mellow guitar sound providing the land for the great evocative main theme with lush keyboard work on the backdrop, and it includes also a terrific Josh guitar job. This is probably my favourite track on the entire album. The ninth track "Wild Eye Skies" written by Josh and Sparnenn is a song with a Celtic musical atmosphere, provided by the Uilleann pipes performed by Troy Donockley. It has a soaring chorus and a great guitar work, and is, in my opinion, a perfect song for Sparnenn's voice. The tenth and last track "Top Of The World" written by Josh is another great and beautiful track that shows a hauntingly good vocal duet by Josh and Sparnenn, and again, a truly impressive extended Josh guitar work. This is a song that closes perfectly and beautifully this magnificent album.

Conclusion: "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" is a great album and finally and fortunately represents the return of Mostly Autumn to their great musical works. I'm sincerely convinced that "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" is, without any doubt, the best studio album made by the band since 2006, the year of "Heart Full Of Sky", and that it was very close to be a masterpiece, like that album could have been. "The Ghost Moon Orchestra" continues the trend of the recent studio albums from the group, remodelling themselves for the 21st century with a look over the shoulder to their musical past heritage. With this album Olivia Sparnenn proves that she is a stunning, vocally and visually, front female member of the band that replaced Heather Findlay perfectly well. The album also proves that Bryan Josh remains the great alive creative force beyond the group despite some excellent and significant contributions of some other band's members.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars Strangely enough no review has been posted yet for 'The ghost moon orchestra', the latest rendition by Mostly Autumn. Strangely because this prolific band from Yorkshire has built up a huge following over the last years and rightly so. They even survived the departure of their eye- and earcatc ... (read more)

Report this review (#816243) | Posted by Theo Verstrael | Friday, September 7, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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