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The Guildmaster biography
Status as of Jan 2021: Active

The Guildmaster emerged as a pan-European project after conversations between Kimmo Pörsti (The Samurai of Prog, Paidarion, Mist Season) and Rafael Pacha (collaborator with TSOP, Last Knight, Circle Project and Manoel Macía) as a result of the collaboration in the Kimmo's latest solo album Wayfarer.
The idea was to work with the languages of different Folk traditions in a progressive context.

Marco Bernard (TSOP) enthusiastically joins in on his powerful prog basses, and connects with Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak, Camel) whose latest solo album (The Lion's Dream) fits into the spirit of this album, The Knight & The Ghost .
The additions of Peakfiddler (Chris Perry, fiddle), Alessandro Di Benedetti (composition and piano), Ariana Valdivié (Voice and lyrics), Manoel Macía (Baroque Guitar), Rubén Álvarez (Electric guitar), Camilla Rinaldi (Voice), Kristiina Poutanen (Composition), Esa Lehtinen (flute) and Martti Törnwall (violin), make up a map that includes Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, and Greece (for the environment), an example of how much we Europeans have in common, including musical language.

From the first talks to the mixing and mastering of their debut album (by Kimmo) were a few months of hard work, interaction and harmony between all the participants, looking for differences but finding coincidences, especially looking for the benefit of Music.
The cover is a product of the Art of Ed Unitsky.

Thank you to Matti for the bio.

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4.15 | 8 ratings
The Knight and the Ghost

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Knight and the Ghost by GUILDMASTER, THE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.15 | 8 ratings

The Knight and the Ghost
The Guildmaster Prog Folk

Review by BrianS

5 stars Steeleye Span led the way by combining folk and electronic instruments; these guys have taken the idea and increased it by an order of magnitude.

This is a magnificent album, the composing and performances are top rate (including the rare vocals, but then I'm a sucker for a good female voice). The album gets a little heavier and rockier towards the end but pride of place still belongs to the medieval instruments, especially the baroque flutes and recorders.

Most of the tracks blend nicely from one to the other giving you a complete journey through a medieval banquet (with an electric guitarist and modern-day drum set hidden away on the musician's gallery); as a result it's hard to single out specific tracks, but there are brilliant sections in all of them. I just wish that as we leave this past year of sorrow the final track (which is moody and sad) was a little more uplifting.

This is a must for anyone who is a fan of folk prog.

 The Knight and the Ghost by GUILDMASTER, THE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.15 | 8 ratings

The Knight and the Ghost
The Guildmaster Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars They say timing is everything. It can also cause a fair amount of last-minute stress, when you FINALLY receive a long-awaited album, delayed by the current global discord, compounded by the late integration on your top prog album of the year lists, having to refurbish your choices at the last minute (thank you January!). Such is the case for The Guildmaster and its album "the Knight & the Ghost". I landed on this per chance on another site and then saw the angst that troubled our colleague Matti in getting this included on PA, a not always effortless request, in the best of times. But a little nod and wink got everything done, almost by synchronicity in the last few weeks.

Well, it was certainly worth the wait, especially for fans of medieval-folk prog, a sub-genre where a heady mixture of instrumentation, stylistics and atmosphere merge together to delight and enthrall those who seek sonic adventure. The presence of Ton Scherpenzeel (of Camel and Kayak fame), whose 2013 solo album "the Lion's Dream "was an ear-opening foray into the Middle ages that I found very tasty. Together with gifted multi-instrumentalist Rafael Pacha from Spain and the ultra-prolific Kimmo Porsti , as well as guest (and my friend) Alessandro di Bennedetti (of Mad Crayon and Inner Prospekt) on piano and composition, this package is one of the finest progressive albums of 2020 , as it has everything going for it to be a huge moment in this kind of music style. From the beautiful artwork from the incredible Ed Unitsky, the magical compositions, and the overall mood of the sounds, to the crisp production, this is quite a whopper. While definitely inspired by the Middle Ages, the instrumentation relies on modern accoutrements, where electric guitars mingle with delicate synthesizers, deft drumming that provides meat (and the odd potato) as well as the traditional flutes and violins. In many ways, this work draws itself close to Minimum Vital's style, very Renaissance/ Baroque and muscled along by strong rhythmic assault. The themes wander around medieval Europe, from Spain, to Scotland, then to Finland and back down to Italy. Polyrhythmics abound with even a 6/5 tempo (the track "Six and Five"), clever movements including a dash of polka with occasional female vocals that really hit the spot.

All the tracks flow from one to another, much like a 15th century banquet, where the jongleurs, the raconteurs and the troubadours share the stage with the musicians, torch-lit delightful entertainment, goblets full and a hardy time had by all. Fans of Gryphon, Gentle Giant, Blackmore's Night. Afforested, Amazing Blondel, Asgard , Avaric, Malicorne, Tri Yann, Dan Ar Braz, Bededeum, Gian Castello, The Morrigan, Colin Masson and Mike Oldfield, etc ... will find this much to their liking. I am particularly fond of this music because it can also serve as urgent background music that can set quite the mood, instead of all the other lackluster possibilities out there (ambient can actually be a distraction at times!)

For technical fans, here is a list of other instruments played: baroque flutes and recorders, Venezuelan cuatro, psaltery, bouzouki, mandolin, viol de gamba, darbouka, bodhran, tin whistles, tenor banjo metallophone & penaparda drums, with maybe an odd Robin Hood kitchen sink!

Thank you Matti and Kennethlevine

4.5 Spectral Jousters

 The Knight and the Ghost by GUILDMASTER, THE album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.15 | 8 ratings

The Knight and the Ghost
The Guildmaster Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I don't know if this international collaboration will remain a one-album project only or will there be more. In any case, the architect of the project is one of the hardest working musicians I know: drummer, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Kimmo Pörsti of THE SAMURAI OF PROG (and formerly of Paidarion and Mist Season). Pörsti also released the first album (The Wayfarer) under his own name last year, and since this album we're dealing with right now was released several months ago, it comes as no surprise that Pörsti and his TSOP partner, bassist Marco Bernard (who's naturally also involved here) are again working on new album project(s?). It's inevitable they keep doing it for the love of music. I'm also glad to say that the CD releases in Pörsti's record label Seacrest Oy are always done with extra dedication to covers and booklets as well, the internationally respected artist Ed Unitsky being a constant collaborator.

The Guildmaster is mainly a unit of Pörsti, Bernard, Spanish guitarist/multi-instrumentalist and composer Rafael Pacha plus keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel (KAYAK). In addition to them, The Knight and the Ghost features many co- musicians from various countries, like in The Samurai Of Prog tradition. Whereas TSOP is oriented to symphonic prog, The Guildmaster explores the folk elements. The instrumentally oriented, approx. 62-minute album contains thirteen tracks.

'Puppet Dance' (written by Scherpenzeel) is strongly flavoured by the Renaissance [the era, not the band] featuring Pacha's recorder and Baroque flutes. 'Saaristo' (= archipelago in Finnish) is a serene and romantically melodic composition by Kristiina Poutanen. It was originally included in Kimmo Pörsti's first own album (Maahinen: Ihmeellinen iltapäivä, 1997), and since it resonates with Finnish folk music, it was reworked for this album. Violin and flute sound lovely! 'The Hare' composed by Rafael Pacha has connotations to a horn-pipe.

The album's title song by Alessandro Di Benedetti is the longest one (9:14) and features the beautiful vocals of Camilla Rinaldi. If you're fond of mostly peaceful folky prog with female vocals, you'll love it. Pacha's next piece is based on the old musical form of La Folia, and it gives a good example of the album's way of combining old instruments with modern rock environment. It would have been nice if the rock/modern side would have been left completely out of the equation somewhere along the album, but still the folk approach is very much in the fore. On Scherpenzeel's brief 'Six and Fives' Pacha plays both acoustic and electric guitars-- as on the album in general --, plus recorder and darbuka (a.k.a. chalice drum). Fiddle is again well present on Pacha's composition 'The Search', in which he himself plays proggy keyboards in addition to several other instruments.

The second vocal song 'Camino de Luz (Path of Light)' was composed by Kimmo Pörsti and sung in Spanish by Ariane Valdivié. A beautiful, soothing piece not without some rock dynamics too. 'Noughts and Crosses (Scherpenzeel) reminds of the opening tune in its Renaissance flavour. Pacha's 'The Fairy Pole' indeed is resembling a Finnish polka, a joyous dance form. 'Ghost Dance' originates as a Pörsti composition from Mist Season's first album (2004), but the latter part was newly composed by Pacha. On 'The Sun Rises Again' the composer Pacha plays also a pentatonic kantele. The closing piece by Scherpenzeel is a serene and moody little piece in which Pacha plays viola da gamba and recorder.

This is a truly pleasant album mixing old music instruments & flavours and various forms of folk music with contemporary [rock] environment, and the production is good -- maybe a bit too polished? In the end the whole feels slightly too determined and safe (ie. continuing rather unsurprisingly in the chosen style), which perhaps would have been avoided by either letting go of the rock side here and there or by increasing the progressive rock approach. 3½ stars rounded up.

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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