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ASGARD

Prog Folk • France


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Asgard biography
Not to be confused with the British outfit from the early 70's and also the much-later neo-prog Italian outfit, this is a trio playing mainly acoustic folk not unlike countrymen MALICORNE. All types of acoustic instruments ranging from the cello to the flutes and dulcimer and guitars are present on the first album. For the second album, they were joined by a synth player but the album stayed in the line of their debut. One will also think of great Irish folk duo TIR NA NOG.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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In the Realm of AsgarIn the Realm of Asgar
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ASGARD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ASGARD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.45 | 6 ratings
L'Hirondelle
1976
3.92 | 12 ratings
Tradition & Renouveau
1978

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ASGARD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tradition & Renouveau by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.92 | 12 ratings

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Tradition & Renouveau
Asgard Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars 70's French Prog Folk act from Caen, for which little is known other than they had a good contract, recording for Warner Bros.The begun as a trio of Patrick Grandpierre on guitar/vocals, William Lawday on bass/violin and Bernard Darsh on percussion/vocals/flute and with this line-up they recorded the 76' ''L'hirondelle'' album, released both in France and Canada, said to be in a traditional Folk/Folk Rock path.By their next album they had added Guy Printemps on keyboards, eventually ''Tradition & renouveau'' was released in 1978, again both on French and Canadian grounds.

Album's title is a bit prophetic, because at this point Asgard retained much of their traditional influences, but stretching them a bit further with the addition of keyboards and the prominent use of electric guitars.Actually they sound to my ears as the French equivalent to PERERIN, an extremely ethereal approach on electric Folk Rock, led by excellent mono- and multi-vocal parts and a sweet touch on guitars with a bit of lovely keyboard lines.The tracks are full of melodious textures, romantic flutes, some light violin doses and an almost constant electric/acoustic enviroment.The addition of Guy Printemps has only made good to the band and his discreet piano and synth lines complete a mellow, but still pretty attractive musical background.Traditional, reworked Folk tunes meet with the sharper edges of Rock instrumentation and the album contains very nice instrumental combinations between keys, guitars, flute and violin.The best is saved for the flipside, where the band makes a slight turn towards more dramatic pieces.''Ce soir Francois Villon'' is a bit like ANGE in its theatrical approach, featuring dark electric backgrounds, GENESIS-like synths and majestic Mellotron choirs over a poetic singing performance, while ''Les landes d'Harou'' features a similar atmosphere, albeit a bit more melancholic, with storytelling vocals, calm flute-based and electroacoustic moods and a bombastic, cathartic ending section with a symphonic vibe, based on heavy bass lines, flutes and keyboards.

I do not know what actually happened to this group, but their second album is among the real goodies of French Prog Folk.Intense, melodramatic and sweet instrumental and vocal performances with excellent songwriting.To be discovered without hesitation.

 Tradition & Renouveau by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.92 | 12 ratings

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Tradition & Renouveau
Asgard Prog Folk

Review by João Paulo

4 stars An album in Prog Folk vein from seventies decade. Beautiful compositions with a very melodious singer. Some inspiriation in sounds of Middle Ages are made by the flute but all compositions are very sober with piano and guitar parts. The whole album is very beautiful with compositions very harmonious and pleasant to hearing. Short tracks made a not boring album, good to listen in calm nights and deserves apreciate the music composition that are very good because have some spacey and involving parts. One special adiction for all Folk Progressive collectors because it's one of the beautiful albuns in this vein. I have the M2U edition with a very good record sound. I give 4 stars because it deserves
 L'Hirondelle by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.45 | 6 ratings

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L'Hirondelle
Asgard Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars A French Amazing Blondel!

This is the album that convinced me to quit trying to review French-language music. I don’t understand a lick of it, and even when trying to discern/translate some of the lyrics the idioms and nuances are unfortunately lost. I get that most of these seem to be traditional folk tunes, but really that doesn’t help much since those are the kinds of songs most likely to have difficult-to- understand idioms.

The one thing that surprised me was the occasional emergence of electronic keyboards. Also I’m not sure what’s going on with the (obligatory) flute, but it sounds very tinny and strangely amplified. Not unpleasant, but definitely unusual.

The harmonies are pleasant enough to listen to, but if you can’t follow the lyrics then you tend to notice more that they veer closely to barbershop quartet territory at times, and particularly on “Automne” and “La Payse”.

With apologies to our French members, the spoken tracks like “La Dame des Landes” remind me of a cross between the wonderful Armando Tirelli ‘La Profeta’ album and an Inspector Clouseau dream sequence. All in good humor.

“l'hirondelle” has some beautiful acoustic guitar on the other hand, and “La Dames Des Landes” ends with a synth swirl that’s pretty unusual for a folk album.

So I’m not writing this to take shots at the album, nor to promote it since my listening skills give me no ability to judge a musical work without a clear understanding of its lyrics and meaning. The point is more to raise awareness than “Asgard” was a fairly common band name at one time, and unless you are a French-speaking folk prog fan then it is highly likely this isn’t the Asgard you are looking for. As prog folk it is mildly adventurous, but for the most part seems to fall along fairly traditional folk lines. For that I’ll say two stars and take my leave.

peace

 L'Hirondelle by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.45 | 6 ratings

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L'Hirondelle
Asgard Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Asgard's first album in no doubt harder to find than its successor, having never found (to my knowledge, anyway) a Cd re-issue. Asgard was still a trio when they recorded this almost trad-folk album, where the majority of tracks belong to the public domain and are part of the traditional repertoire of many folk artistes. But Asgard does actualise all this tracks while remaining fairly faithful to the original spirit of the songs. Not only is there a rock drums (when necessary), but the bass play is often enhancing the enthralling medieval ambiances, and the odd use of synths (which will much more present on their next album) layers bringing a well needed modern touch. A naïve pastoral artwork and the recording sessions in Paris are more contrasting evidence giving you this cool mix of influences. On the English front, Asgard would be more of much proggier version of Steeleye Span, avoiding the permanent jigs trap.

If you ever wondered what French trad folk might sound like without veering in the horrendous Bal Musette with accordions or the endless waltz of jigs and other tacky clichés, Malicorne, La Bamboche and Asgard are your winning trio, with Asgard being the more modern aesthetically speaking. From the first side, I will point out one of my all-time fave Automne with the superb Colchique Dans Les Prés air. Asgard did take care to hava continuity by placing two different versions of La Dame Des Landes on each side of the vinyl even if the narration on the first side's version is close to being cheesy, but nothing appalling, sounding much like but much better and less corny than Magna Carta's Lord Of The Ages.

The second side is more personal to Asgard, as some of the traditional tracks are extended by their own compositions (this is more than arranging or adapting, IMHO), showing a more confident approach, but none of the tracks go beyond the 4'30" mark.

While L'Hirondelle is only Asgard's first step to Tradition & Renouveau (their second and last), it is obviously more naïve, more even, but clearly less accomplished as they played it safe here. If you are into semi-medieval folk but not looking for a purist approach, this type of album is for you.

 Tradition & Renouveau by ASGARD album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.92 | 12 ratings

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Tradition & Renouveau
Asgard Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Rounded up to the upper fourth star!!

Asgard's Tradition & Renouveau is really a fitting title for this great folf-rock album. France had quite a few excellent groups in the late 70's that picked up on Fairport Convention , Steeleye Span and Pentangle had left on English traditional folk music. In France , mainly Malicorne and Alan Stivell & Dan Ars Braz (but the last two were definitely more Celtic ) were the main attraction . Malicorne was never really into Keltia and concentrated more on older material going back even to mediaval times and did a few re-worked and rocked-up classics from "Rondes , Gigues et Danses De France" and were followed by a few groups who did not manage quite the same commercial success. Among these were Ripaille (one fabulous album) and Asgard.

Right from the first track Le Branconnier (The Poacher) , you are swung into a different century so much that only some of the instrumentation can remind you that this was 78. All of the tracks are acoustic and are about regional folklore (beit Normandy or Britany) but relaying the ever same concern of the times , the hardship of life in those times but alsothe nature around the backcountry.

On the second side however (except for the opening francois Villon) , the tracks seems to be a little less "historical "and a little more personal relaying more fantasy themes. Most progheads looking for a little more than faithfull medieval music reproduction (such as the first two or three Gryphon albums ) will appreciate this second side best.

Althogh not quite as progressive as one might wish it , this album remains a very enjoyable listen for folk-minded progheads but clearly this does not reach the level of Ripaille's "La Vieille Que L'On Brula".

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