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OBERON

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Oberon biography
OBERON
Bernie Birchall - Bass
Robin Clutterbuck-Vocals,Guitar
Nick Powell-Percussion
Jan Scrimgeour-Vocals,Guitar
Julian Smedley-Vocals,Violin
Chris Smith-Acoustic Guitar
Charlie Seaward - Flute
All except one member (Jon Scrimgeour) were students studying at Radley College,Oxford.They recorded this there only album,album during the Summer of 1970.Beset by printing and pressing problems and the demise of the manufacturing company,the band managed to eek out just 99 copies of A Midsummer Night's Dream,which were then circulated amongst family and friends.
At this time (1970-71), the band were gigging regularly and played support,bizarrely,to The Pretty Things.They then seemed to disappear off the radar.They performed a collection of traditional folk songs and covers in a style not unlike a cross between Fairport Convention and Pentangle.
Highly recommended

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Midsummer Nights DreamMidsummer Nights Dream
Sommor Records 2015
$14.14
$14.13 (used)
Midsummer Nights DreamMidsummer Nights Dream
Sommor Records 2015
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SonnetSonnet
Koch Records 2000
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Oberon
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OBERON discography


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3.08 | 17 ratings
A Midsummer's Night Dream
1971

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OBERON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Midsummer's Night Dream by OBERON album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.08 | 17 ratings

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A Midsummer's Night Dream
Oberon Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars A lovely obscurity from the early Seventies, U.K seven-piece male and female member band Oberon's sole release `A Midsummer's Night Dream' from 1971 is a rough little gem of eclectic folk, jazz and psych pieces. A mix of traditional interpretations and fragile original pieces, the album finds a curious balance of murky darker and gently uncompromising material with dirtier edges and more approachable sunnier tracks by way of both a modern and old-world quality throughout, as jazzier electric guitar soloing weaves in and out of traditional folk instrumentation supplied by violin, flute and acoustic guitars.

The late period medieval folk song `Nottanum Town' is the five minute opener, a piece that has been more popularly covered by folk group Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch of Pentangle, and here Oberon give it a fairly gloomy interpretation. A faraway percussive beat rumbles behind lightly melancholic flute and soft voices sighing wordless chants with contemplative violin themes carefully reprised throughout, and female singer Jan Scrimgeour's downbeat vocal falls between brittle and stark. `Peggy' is a warmer and lightly playful acoustic guitar instrumental interlude from Chris Smith dedicated to his pet dog, before the daring nine-minute `The Hunt' weaves a dreamy and disorientating spell that aims to capture a very Gentle Giant- flavoured medieval touch. Spurts of momentum and jumps in tempo are delivered by chiming acoustic guitar shimmers, rising cymbal crashes, rattling drums, searing violin and jazzy electric guitar licks, but the production moves between crisp and putrid, and an ambitious mix of vocals remain just a little too shambling - it's never dull though! The first side is then closed with `Syrinx', a brief solo flute interpretation of a Claude Debussy piece that almost takes on a psych-folk fragility.

The second side mostly proves to be instantly more accessible, and it opens with a cover of the well-known George Gershwin showroom piece `Summertime' given a mellow sunny makeover with a jazzy pattered saunter in its step and breezy falsetto vocals, and there's frequent jamming instrumental bursts by way of twirling flute and some subtly versatile bass playing from Bernie Birchall. `Time Past, Time Come', possibly the highlight of the disc, is a pretty and glorious instrumental where infectious acoustic guitars, spiralling flute and searing violin weave a magical spell together. The eight-minute `Minas Tirith (Parts I & II)' is a mix of folky acoustic fragments and darker improvised flourishes. A plaintive wistful vocal, stirring violin and sweetly murmuring bass eventually (and somewhat disappointingly) trail off into an overlong segment of cacophonous drum soloing before lifting again with jazzy guitar flights. `Epitaph', written in tribute to a fellow schoolmate of the group at the time of recording that had unexpectedly passed away, is a warm acoustic ballad performed by Robin Clutterbuck singing Hughie Lupton's reflective words, and it's a hopeful and reassuring close to the LP.

By no means essential and likely to frustrate some listeners with its schizophrenic approach and production inconsistencies (although that often just gives the music a raw honesty), `A Midsummer's Night Dream' is one to be appreciated by fans of experimental folk groups like the Incredible String Band and Malicorne rather than something tidier and more instantly melodic like Steeleye Span or Fuchsia. But adventurous prog-folk fans looking to fill their collection with worthwhile little- known works should absolutely investigate Oberon's sole contribution, as there's fleeting little bursts of real magic popping up here and there throughout it.

Three stars - and bonus points for the lavish booklet from the 2014 Sommor Records reissue containing lovely photos and a nice recent interview with some of the performers!

 A Midsummer's Night Dream by OBERON album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.08 | 17 ratings

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A Midsummer's Night Dream
Oberon Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars It's not often that the sound quality on a modern disc can be so bad that it actually has serious repercussions on my ability to provide a fair review, but this CD reissue of the limited pressing obscure 70s release is a case in point. Some of the muddy, muffled sound might actually been intentional, part of a desire to replicate the sounds of "deepest England", so the result is it sounds as you might hear it from several hundred yards away in a misty glade. The choice of material is eclectic, from traditional folk to show tunes standards, but the sound is very early 70s UK folk, unfortunately not in the same league as any of the better known names. Some decent fiddle and flute playing occurs here and there, with sprinklings of psych electric guitar, but overall this is a somnolent affair of interest to musical historians. If "minstrelsy from days of yore", as quoted on the CD cover, sounded like this, we didn't miss a whole lot in entertainment value.
 A Midsummer's Night Dream by OBERON album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.08 | 17 ratings

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A Midsummer's Night Dream
Oberon Prog Folk

Review by Man Erg
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The only release from these ex Radley College,Oxford students starts with a Pentangle- esque version of the traditional,'Nottanum Town'. Slow in pace with male/female vocals interweaving around each other, the song takes on a lilting,drifting journey accompanied by flute and violin.

The next track, 'Peggy', is a Jansch/Renbourn-ish solo acoustic guitar piece that is summery and languid and a sort of introduction to the next song,The Hunt.Male vocals dominate this jazzy piece.The violin solo is very Stefan Grapelli/gypsy in style.In other words Folk/Jazz/Hot Club de Paris.The guitar on this track is especially beautiful.Again ,jazz chords are the order of the day;not to dis-similar to Richard Thompson's on the first Fairport album track,Sunshade.

'Syrinx' is next up.A version of the piece written by Claude Debussy.

Gerswin and Heyward's 'Summertime' from Porgy and Bess gets the next tribute treatment.IMHO, It's probably the weak point of the album.Jan Scrimgeour's breath control on this is not good. The track's saving grace is probably the violin solo,which,once again revisits The Hot Club de Paris.

'Time Past,Time Come' is a beautiful instrumental that involves bass,flute, violin and acoustic guitar. From Summertime into autumn,you can almost see the leaves turn to gold,red and amber whilst listening to this.Utterly sublime.

'Minas Tirith.' Imagine if Dave Swarbrick and Ian Anderson had played with Pentangle,well this,I should imagine is what would have transpired.Robin Clutterbuck's vocals are a dera-ringer for those of Bert Jansch's.The problem that I have with this track is the drum solo.Not a very well executed one at that.There are a few,very audible mis-hits.In it's defence,time and money in the studio may have put paid to any re-takes .The song then resumes with jazzy flute and guitar.For all of the previous comparisons with regard to the sound of this track, the nearest I can think of is Giles,Giles and Fripp!

The final track,'Epitaph', sounds uncannily like Sandy Denny's ;Who Knows Where the Time Goes? ' Robin Clutterbuck plays and sings beautifully in what is a fitting end to a very curious but albeit,beautiful album

Thanks to Man Erg for the artist addition.

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