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The Merlin Bird

Prog Folk

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The Merlin Bird Chapter and Verse album cover
3.83 | 23 ratings | 3 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. To the Unknown God (4:12)
2. Chapter and Verse (2:56)
3. Chapter 3 (0.17)
4. Words Across the Sky (1:14)
5. In Dreams of Egypt (1:23)
6. Of Night and Day (4:59)
7. The Word That Was (3:30)
8. The Turning (5:20)
9. Truth's a Lady (3:09)
10. Backburner (6:52)
11. Unto Rome (4:17)
12. Another Story Told (7:17)
13. To Be Continued...? (1:24)

Total Time 46:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Geoff Dawes / vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Daniel Moloney / drums, percussion, keyboards

Releases information

Released as a digital download and on CD by CD Baby Music Store, April 2014.

Thanks to yam yam for the addition
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THE MERLIN BIRD Chapter and Verse ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE MERLIN BIRD Chapter and Verse reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Merlin Bird is another addition in the prog-folk category, though the style is quite unique and original. Australia already is famous for Goth alternate super group Dead Can Dance, with whom The Merlin Bird has a few affinities, as well as the recent Resonaxis crew that has the audacity to feature church organ as the main instrument. The difference here is clearly more medieval with the inclusion of renaissance harpsichord and mostly, terrific vocal work both lead and choir that does exude this monastery feel that is quite ravishing. Legend's Beck Sian is one of the vocalists (distant cousin of Kate Bush) and if you enjoyed their latest "Spirit", this will feel very comfortable indeed, as she has a stellar voice.

Geoff Dawes and Dan Moloney make up the core, as composers and main instrumentalists, getting support from a guitarist, a bass player and a drum maestro, as well as a slew of vocalists. The album must be listened to as a whole, a suite if you wish with multiple variations, snippets, reminders and progressions. The atmospheric style combines electronic effects, classical and modern instruments, hints of prog classic bands as well as melodies that will stick to your brain. Both the male and female vocals take over the senses on the splendid opener "Prologue- To the Unknown God", a rollicking organ?fed piece that really sets the tone for the album, a series of highly melodic, unusually vivid and expertly played blend of folk and prog. The thrilling voice on the title track is enough to provide erections to every single hair on your body (if you have no hair, be prepared to experience some serious physical eruptions), the miraculous piano extolling the virtues of musical beauty, modern beats to keep things fresh. Then choir work kicks in, thrilling and expansive. Oboe is often highlighted, its woody warm tone doing wonders to the hurt soul. When the glorious harpsichord gets into the spotlight, my heart cannot fail to flutter, just for a moment as the emotion becomes palpable through the gorgeous lead vocal courtesy of Shakira Searle on "For Night & Day". This is an absolute masterpiece, a track that overpowers the romantically-inclined listener, augmented by some spectacular male backing vocal work. Hypnotic, intoxicating and simply lovely, the anthem defines the strengths displayed and the exuberance of the performance.

Things also get medieval and spooky with pieces such as the melancholic "The World That Was" and its companion "The Turning". The first has spiraling voices that give way to a rock guitar a la Martin Barre, heavily poached in milky mellotron, deliberately cinematographic as a lonely whistler looks for the passageway to another universe. The second piece is the gate that keeps the adventure flowing, a male vocal that is aided by some tubular bells and a sprightly feel, "lala-lalala", at times obsessive like an acoustic Gentle Giant song. A raging organ solo really hits the mark, as a bulbous bass keeps the piano in check. The relative complexity is a joy to behold, as the music has buts and brawn, proven by an intricate axe solo that does some nice sonic damage. "Truth's A Lady" offers a bit of barroom sophistication, probably closer to the Beatles or Al Stewart, with the effected vocals and the pub song atmosphere. This soon veers into a more religious angle (the irony is delicious) and really kills it in the saloon of social prog.

A longer track is the piano-led "Backburner", supported by some electric guitar and another powerful vocal choir display from all the singers, obsessive and harmonically elaborate. 'Take it to the night' is repeated with great effect, plenty of ebb and flow, voice effects, odd noises and swirling choirs. It's a lot rockier, perhaps more accessible and proggy, thus providing the proceedings with power and breath. This bleeds right into "Unto Rome", a purer form of folk but still a mixture reminiscent of classic Fairport Convention coupled with a Dead Can Dance mood, replete with various poetical narrations, swirling effects and generous melodic expanse. "Another Story Told" is the longest and proggiest track, clocking in over 7 minutes and pretty much encapsulates the mystique behind this amazing band from Down Under. Male and female voices blend together in respectful harmony, intertwined like two lovers who have nothing but desire for one another. Fascinating musicality and suspenseful emotions! 'Whichever way we go, we are climbing the mountainside of life' lyric is recurring with massive bells in support, howling winds in the background and an incredible sense of beyond.

This phenomenal disc is laid to rest by the classic "To Be Continued?" which only bodes well for the future, as this is as sumptuous a recording that one will find this year. Together with Ion's Immaculada which I only discovered recently, this is why the prog-folk genre still beats strongly. Appropriate artwork adorn the package and in all, this is a prized item in my collection. This is one of those crossover albums that may influence the progressive rock newbie into delving further into the wonderful world we call prog. If you enjoy vocals, this is a fine little oasis of pleasure in the middle of nowhere. Fans of Kate Bush in particular should not miss this.

4.5 avian magicians

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Australian band THE MERLIN BIRD has a history going back a decade or so, but without too much recorded material to their name so far. They released an initial EP back in 2003, and then a lapse of more than a decade occurred before they were ready with their debut album, "Chapter and Verse", which was self-released in 2014.

With something of a foundation in folk rock, The Merlin Bird is a band that perhaps will have the greatest appeal amongst those, who generally tend to favor the more folk-oriented varieties of progressive rock. At the same time, their style isn't such that it can be described as a conventional band in that part of the progressive rock universe either, and their compositions include a fair share of classic progressive rock elements as well. But as far as a key audience is concerned, those with a taste for bands blending elements from folk music with progressive rock should be the ones that most easily will be swayed by the charms of this recording.

Latest members reviews

4 stars The Merlin Bird captured my attention with their name, that sounded somehow promising to me and I felt I should check them out. And well, sometimes, our feelings lead us to great desicions.. Chapter and Verse is their first full length album although they have been around making music for al ... (read more)

Report this review (#1182333) | Posted by Mind_Drive | Monday, June 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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