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White Willow

Symphonic Prog

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White Willow Future Hopes album cover
3.63 | 83 ratings | 2 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2017

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Future Hopes (4:30)
2. Silver and Gold (4:04)
3. In Dim Days (11:04)
4. Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss (1:59)
5. A Sacred View (18:16)
6. Animal Magnetism (7:15) *
7. Damnation Valley (3:16) *

Total Time 50:24

* bonus tracks on CD/Digital editions

Line-up / Musicians

- Venke Knutson / vocals
- Jacob Holm-Lupo / guitars, synths, Mellotron, drum machine, Fairlight sampler, vocoder, bass (6), vocals (1,5), producer
- Lars Fredrik Frøislie / Hammond (3,5), Wurlitzer (3), synths (Minimoog, ARP Pro Soloist, Prophet-5, ARP Solina/Axxe, Modular Moog) (5-7), Mellotron (5,7), piano & Optigan (7)
- Ketil Einarsen / EWI, flute (3)
- Ellen Andrea Wang / bass
- Mattias Olsson / drums & percussion, EBow (1), noises (4)

- Kjersti Løken / trumpet (1)
- Hedvig Mollestad / lead guitar (3,5)
- Ole Øvstedal / guitar (4)
- David Krakauer / clarinet (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP The Laser's Edge ‎- LE1078-LP (2017, Norway)

CD The Laser's Edge ‎- LE1078 (2017, Norway) With 2 bonus tracks

Digital album (2017)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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WHITE WILLOW Future Hopes ratings distribution

(83 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

WHITE WILLOW Future Hopes reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars `Looks can be deceiving', `Don't judge a book by its cover' and so on are clichés that are easy to attach to Norwegian symphonic/folky prog-rockers White Willow on their seventh album, 2017's `Future Hopes'. Founding WW member Jacob Holm-Lupo spoke recently on the Prog Archives of his pride in having their new album adorned with legendary prog- associated artist Roger Dean's instantly recognisable art on the front cover, to sit alongside so many other artists in the genre over the decades that have done so, but it's actually somewhat misleading. For `Future Hopes' is anything but some predictable and safe `Dad-rock' retro-prog throwback that the artwork perhaps suggests, and instead it twists symphonic- styled prog in so many skewed directions and fuses it with electronics, indie-rock and all the melancholic introspective atmospheres the group has become known for over the last twenty-plus years, whilst taking White Willow in fascinating new directions and delivering one of their very best works.

Right from the first seconds of opener `Future Hopes', it offers hints that this album will be particularly dominated by Lars Fredrik Frøislie's electronics, be it twitching programming, spiralling upfront soloing or ambient background coatings. This title track is a fine showcase for new vocalist Venke Knutson, a Norwegian pop singer of note, and she fits in alongside the ranks of White Willow's previous female leads perfectly. She exudes earthy femininity, aching longing and great heart, and perfectly conveys the rich lyrics that are exquisite with detail that has become a trademark of the group. The piece, not too far removed from a female fronted band like Frequency Drift, is an icy-cool indie-rock reflection with moments of heavier guitar grunt and ethereal multi-layered harmonies, and we also get the first signs of a wild flurry of former Anglagard member Mattias Olsson's busy drumming that tapers off in so many skittering directions that carries through the entire album.

Delicate and pristine `Silver and Gold' is a sweetly wistful folk ballad with little hints of shadowy unease creeping in around the edges. The first of the longer pieces that all prog fans crave, the eleven minute `In Dim Days' mixes gothic touches with dark slithering electronica, ripples of panning loops and rambunctious drumming rumbling in and out, oddly briefly calling to mind Italy's Universal Totem Orchestra. A stormier epic, Venke's purring voice conveys one of White Willow's darkest lyrics to date, guest performer Hedvig Mollestad of her own Trio offers deliciously tortured and serrated guitar ruminations, and Ellen Andrea Wang's closing bass come-down over Ketil Vestrum Einarsen's huffing flute solo wraps the first half of the album with haunting sophistication.

The flip-side of the LP opens with the carefully infernal instrumental `Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss', a glacial 'Tron and guitar distortion interlude that at not even two minutes will leave fans begging for more! But then it's straight into the eighteen-minute epic `A Scarred View' that takes up the rest of the side, and it drifts through long stretches of everything from serene ambient/prog-electronic expansive aural landscapes, Venke's romantic musings backed by exotic percussion and frantic programmed beats. Whirring keyboards spiral with bliss (parts even surprisingly take on a Kitaro-like ambient sweetness!), Jacob's strangled guitar twists ring into the heavens during the lengthy instrumental stretches, and while the lengthy piece works in those gloomier and intense moods that White Willow are legendary for, it ultimately proves hopeful and deeply romantic as all their best music does.

But (for once!) not to be ignored are the two bonus track that come with the CD and download versions. A surprising cover of the Scorpion's `Animal Magnetism' off their 1980 LP of the same name pulses with bristling electronic programming, waffling clarinet and heavy churning guitars that take on a Hawkwind-like danger, and `Damnation Valley' is a gorgeous solo piece from keyboardist Lars, a short but haunting instrumental of fragile piano, fizzing Minimoog and glorious Mellotron choirs that come ever-so-close to Rick Wakeman's solo works - so perhaps there are little retro flavours on the disc after all!

Running a welcome vinyl length, melodic and accessible whist retaining intelligence and class, and proudly `proggy' without being a mere retro throwback, `Future Hopes' is a glorious and eclectic work sure to appeal to both older and younger listeners. Equal parts fanciful, noisy, intense and unpredictable with a decidedly modern touch that crosses over into many genres all at once, it's not only another superb White Willow release from a band that always delivers high quality discs, but it's one of the strongest progressive rock works of the year.

Four and a half stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is the seventh and most recent studio album from WHITE WILLOW released in 2017. They keep things status quo you could say when compared to the previous album "Terminal Twilight" from 2011. That is my favourite record from this band with "Sacrament" the runner up. The big change on "Future Hopes" is the new female singer Venke Knutson who is also the vocalist for OPIUM CARTEL another Jacob Holm-Lupo project. We've had several female singers come and go from this band and she fits the style and sound for sure like the rest did.

And how about that Roger Dean cover art? Man that is something to be proud of in fact I read where Jacob was mentioning an art tour that Roger Dean was doing across America and the opening art for the exhibit in Miami was this album cover, pretty cool. Lars Fredrik Froislie is back on keyboards and while the guest list doesn't impress as much as the one on "Terminal Twilight" we do have guitarist extraordinaire Hedvig Mollestad playing lead on the two longest tracks. The album "sounds"amazing I will say that. We have Mattias Olsson back on drums but they do add fake beats for some reason which I find annoying.

I feel like lately I am being taken to task over my stance on bonus tracks in that they are normally worthless but again that SCORPIONS cover "Animal Magnetism" is the best track on here and a lot of that has to do with the guest clarinet player who is so adventerous and innovative that I wish he was part of the band. I know that would change their sound but he's that good. The title track to open the album opens and ends in a spacey manner but some beautiful music in between including Mattias adding some e-bow.

"Silver And Gold" is kind of folky with acoustic guitar and laid back vocals to open and end the song. "Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss" is a 2 minute piece with spacey sounds and guitar. The two long pieces involve Hedvig on guitar playing in different styles. "In Dim Days" is 11 minutes long and features some electronics from Lars, lots of beats and of course some excellent guitar. Some heaviness and a haunting section too with piano and atmosphere. The closer "A Sacred View" is over 18 minutes long. Again we get plenty of spacey music, vocals, guitar and keyboards over that time.

This just doesn't connect with me like "Terminal Twilight" does or even "Sacrament" for that matter but you just can't go wrong picking up any of WHITE WILLOW's albums as they are of quality. Hopefully we'll see a new recording from this band soon.

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