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MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE)

Neo-Prog • United States


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Magus (The Winter Tree) biography
MAGUS is something of an alchemist, fusing atmospheric soundscapes with progressive rock. Essentially a vehicle for guitarist/vocalist Andrew Robinson, the band's '90s output included drummer Steve Perkins and keyboardist Rue Yamauchi on the releases "Magus," "Traveller" and "Highway 375" (the latter featured songs based on Frank Herbert's Dune series, which had earlier inspired KLAUS SCHULZE). Following 2001's "The Green Earth" (which was augmented by flute and violin), Robinson emerged with a new set of collaborators on the concept album "The Garden." Often likened to PORCUPINE TREE, the music of MAGUS has cast its spell on listeners who like a little space in their progressive rock.

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MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) discography


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

MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Magus
1995
3.00 | 5 ratings
Traveller
1997
3.30 | 8 ratings
Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999
1999
2.51 | 3 ratings
The Green Earth
2001
2.57 | 6 ratings
The Garden
2002
2.76 | 13 ratings
The Winter Tree (as Winter Tree)
2011
3.55 | 11 ratings
Guardians
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Twilight of the Magicians
2013

MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Highway 375
1998
3.05 | 3 ratings
Lucid Dreamer
2005

MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Winter Tree  (as Winter Tree) by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.76 | 13 ratings

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The Winter Tree (as Winter Tree)
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars The Winter Tree is a project formed in 2010 by the leader of Magus and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres (aka Andrew Robinson).Entering the group were his former Magus keyboardist Debbie Moore-Bond along with guitarist and singer Mark Bond.In February 2010 the trio entered the Mill and Hidden Valley Studios to record the first official release of the new project.A year of work passed and in 2011 The Winter Tree's self-titled debut sees the light on ProgRock Records.

Laitres' decision to change the name of Magus wasn't followed actually by a change in the previous music style.Furthermore there is no true development either, as The Winter Tree's music is still plagiarazing the music of PINK FLOYD, filled with mid-70's FLOYD-ian soundscapes, too much depending on lyrics and vocal harmonies and with not enough room for instrumental work, although you wouldn't call ''The Winter Tree'' the most accesible album of this mighty world.The overall sound is very close to the ''Wish you were here'' days with a smooth atmosphere, based on lyrical textures, spacey keyboards with a RICK WRIGHT vibe and mellow electric guitars.Laitres' produces some good melodies and the vocal work is rather sensitive with clear and decent voices, but the similarities with PINK FLOYD hurt the band's image.Some acoustic parts and sampled flutes have a light GENESIS flavor, while a couple of tracks lean towards Electronic Music with loops and synthesizers in evidence, making the album pretty diverse.What this work lacks though is trully strong songwriting and some passionate musicianship to support some of its rather nice melodious themes.The lack of originality is a problem too, but this one is also a minus for hunderds of bands being influenced by PINK FLOYD.

''The Winter Tree'' faces the same problem as most of Magus' efforts.Solid music to go along with a pair of smooth melodies, however the absence of some real instrumental power and the static timeline of the band's style hurt it as a result.I would still recommend this to dedicated fans of PINK FLOYD or similar-sounding groups...2.5 stars.

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 Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999 by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.30 | 8 ratings

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Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars Virtually none of the songs on this CD have been available before, as they are either remixes, demoes or just previously unreleased in any format. Magus is for the most part Andrew Robinson, although others do make valuable contributions. He appears now to again have a band around him so the future looks bright. I have always enjoyed his albums, and this collection gives the opportunity to look over the length of his recording career. While most of it is instrumental, it manages to maintain interest throughout, sometimes using samples or tactile ideas. The guitars and keyboards work in perfect harmony, and it is possible to just close the eyes and drift into this surreal world and become part of it.

Originally appeared in Feedback #61, Feb 01

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 Traveller by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.00 | 5 ratings

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Traveller
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars Andrew Robinson formed a live line-up for Magus with Debbie Moore on keyboards and Jeff Costello on drums and after three gigs he begun writing material for a sophomore release.During the process both Costello and Moore left Robinson alone and he completed the recordings with the album's engineer Bryce Chicoine.When the album was completed Andrew signed with the progressive label InEarVisions and released ''Traveller'' in 1997.

The album opens with the melodic ''You Know The Way'', very much in a PENDRAGON/TWELFTH NIGHT vein, featuring good vocals and catchy grooves, but this Neo Prog approach was just the exception.The rest of the album sees Robinson exploring again the Space Rock territory with Electronic touches here and there, like on the eponymous track with its steady guitar rhythm and the use of sound effects.''Into The Unknown'' and ''108 Steps to Babaji'' are fully FLOYDIAN with hypnotic guitars and background synthesizers creating dreamy soundscapes.The long ''Until the Sun Burns Out'' is another example of Robinson's musical preferences, that unfortunately comes as a total failure.Space/Electronic Rock in the vein of SHAMALL with a stable groove, distorted vocals and atmospheric synths, which suddenly ends in the 6 minute mark, followed by a 7 minute narration (!!!) only supported by cosmic electronics.The even longer epic ''Riff'' has its moments, but it is way overstreched to be appreciated as a succesful composition.The opening minutes are definitely in the vein of PORCUPINE TREE with interesting heavy guitars, soon to be replaced by a long part with acoustic guitars and electronics.By the middle the interesting guitar work of Robinson returns in Heavy/Psychedelic/Space Rock mood with a nice combination between flashy synths, cosmic electronics and hard guitars.This groove will eventually soften along the way before its grandiose return at the end.

A slight improvement over the boring self-titled debut with some cool parts, but again Robinson's difficulties during the recording of the album are obvious.The music is often monotonous and uninspired and the sound effects are used more than they should be.Strictly for fans of FONYA, SHAMALL, PINK FLOYD or PORCUPINE TREE...2.5 stars.

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 The Winter Tree  (as Winter Tree) by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.76 | 13 ratings

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The Winter Tree (as Winter Tree)
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars US band THE WINTER TREE is the latest creative vehicle for composer and instrumentalist Andrew Laitres. Following twenty or so years with his previous band Magus this new project is a small entity, consisting of Laitres himself plus Mr. and Mrs. Bond. Their self-titled debut album was picked up and released by Progrock Records in the spring of 2011.

Soft symphonic art rock with nods in the direction of folk music is what The Winter Tree explores on their debut album, music pastoral in spirit and expression, emphasizing gentle moods and careful melodies in a manner that should appeal well beyond the art rock universe. Not the most challenging material around, but with lots of charm and something of a 70's spirit in sound and expression.

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 Magus by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Magus
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars Much of a one-person project,US act Magus was formed in 1985 by multi-instrumentalist Andrew Robinson after his circuit in several cover bands in order to focus on writing original material.The project released a number of demos between 1987 and 1993,before the encouraging return of Progressive Rock forced Robinson to record the self-titled debut of Magus.This saw the light in 1995 on Sky Pine Music with the help of sessions musicians on keyboards and piano.

Very far from being adventurous,intricate or ambitious,''Magus'' heads to an atmospheric,slightly spacey and even New-Agey rock attitude with strong use of vocals and down-tempo compositions with extended guitar parts,thus reminding of PORCUPINE TREE's approach,PINK FLOYD's spaceness,MIKE OLDFIELD's atmospherics and even CAMEL's commercial days.The sound however is too modern to say the least with surreal synthesizers,cheap sound effects and very plastic drumming throughout,somewhat burying some of Robinson's interesting guitar ideas.The compositions differ from electric material with spacey synthesizers to acoustic work-outs with plenty of vocals,far from anything memorable and without any strong sense of melody.Additionally some of the synth-based instrumental material is over-stretched and slightly boring along the way.

Not exactly a progressive release,Magus' debut is a journey through atmospheric soundscapes,led by long electric solos,electronic treatments and sensitive vocals, without being anythning trully interesting or captivating and with a few changing moods throughout.Recommended only for specific daytimes,when you are in a mood for some hypnotic,atmospheric musicianship.

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 The Winter Tree  (as Winter Tree) by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.76 | 13 ratings

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The Winter Tree (as Winter Tree)
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A strong start!

The Winter Tree is the new moniker for the American outfit formerly known as Magus. Both are the main creative vehicle for composer/musician Andrew Laitres, and his latest collaborators Deb Bond (keyboards) and Mark Bond (vocals and guitars). Magus dates back to the mid 1980s and has many full length releases, but in 2010 Andrew changed the name to The Winter Tree after a song from one of his favorite bands, Renaissance. I can detect a bit of Renaissance influence I believe, and The Winter Tree also reminds me of other independent progressive projects like Willowglass, Epignosis, Syd Matters, and Us. It also reminds me a little of the Yes track "Turn of the Century" and at times Alan Parsons Project.

This is really a very fresh album given the retro sensibilities I perceived upon my first listening and viewing of the wondrous cover art. Laitres blends many musical styles and flavors, from 70s Renaissance and Ant Phillips/Jon Anderson territories, to folk, electronic music, ambient soundscapes, world/ethnic tones (Babylon) and indie rock/pop. The comforting/pleasing (though not mind blowing) vocals of Bond and Laitres are backed by great synth atmospheres and e-piano, from swirly and spacey to pulsing and a bit of new age, but mostly just a knack for beautiful presentation of the melodies. An abundant acoustic guitar presence is bolstered by the occasional ripping electric guitar solo, full of welling emotion. I don't ever pay much attention to lyrics but here they often seem very uplifting and positive. "Stranger" is an exception, a rather devastating piece about missed opportunities (I think) which reminds me of Supertramp's Rick Davies. The closer "Prince Caspian" is pure fun, a full prog rock ride with a playful instrumental spirit.

Laitres is an eclectic composer who likes to mix things up. Just when you think the album could slip into a predictable single mode, he throws in some ambient sound or electronic part that breaks the mold and skips off sideways a bit. Yet it manages to not sound contrived, which is a problem sometimes when composers try too hard to be clever. Here the oddities and morsels all work well with the more grandiose pastoral prog pieces to create an experience I enjoyed much more than I anticipated, given my usual tastes. Another contrast at work is that there is complexity in the music but lightness to the sound. The components of the songs are very well thought out, interesting, complex, but not buried in mud or density. Music which can take you to some distant imaginary realm while staying tethered to the modern. Not always an easy trick to pull off.

The Winter Tree is a great debut for the next chapter of these musicians, who have just been signed to ProgRock Records and are working on new material. The album should please fans of sweeping, beautiful prog who like relaxing and pastoral adventures, but with some unexpected twists. 7/10

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 Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999 by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.30 | 8 ratings

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Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Earlier reviewers already mentioned Porcupine Tree as resembling bands to Magus. I agree but I would like to add space band Between Interval and state that Magus is actually a blend of these two. But all in all Magus is pretty hard to define because if you compare opening track Traveller for instance to the ballad She's the Lady it's a 100% difference in style and atmosphere.

But mostly it's spacy prog that Magus is performing throughout the album and even though the high level of Porcupine Tree isn't really reached most of the time I think one can safely call this a very good effort. Highlight is The Earth Sharp Edge in my opinion and I wish the band played this style all along on this release. This song reminds me of MK II, another pretty obscure neoband. Also Polish Xenn has things in common with Magus. If you happen to know these bands or if you are PT fan and want to check out some bands that are alike I can recommend Magus to you. Itīs on average (like I said, there are different styles on `Echoes..' ) a very good album, close to 3,5 stars but I will round down because itīs neither excellent nor essential.

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 Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999 by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.30 | 8 ratings

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Echoes From The Edge Of The Millennium: 1987-1999
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I have MAGUS' 2002 release "The Garden" which was pretty good so I thought i'd check out this 1999 compilation release of tracks recorded between 1987-1999.These are mostly re- mixed and previously unreleased songs so this is definitely of interest to MAGUS fans. Cool album cover as well.

"Traveller" is spacey as this beat comes in reminding me of early PORCUPINE TREE. The vocals are almost spoken and don't arrive until after 5 minutes but they're brief. "Waterfall" has this electronic beat as atmosphere, bass and guitar join in. "Sandman" has these heavy outbursts that come and go then organ,bass and drums come in before a minute. Spacey synths too. It's spacey with acoustic guitar before 3 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in. "Until The Sun Burns Out (Part 1)" opens with sampled words like from a news report. A nice heavy rhythm comes in before a minute. Percussion and vocals follow. It's spacey with those word samples again for the last minute. Cool tune. "Messiah" has a beat with spacey synths and guitar. It kicks in and picks up around 3 minutes. A spacey calm after 4 minutes to end it. "Children Of Dune" is a short piece with mainly guitar and a beat. "Incubus" has a heavy and catchy beat with guitar.This is short as well.

"She's The Lady" features strummed guitar and vocals. It's ballad- like really. "The Earth's Sharp Edge" has vibes, a beat, guitar and spacey synths early on.The guitar starts to solo 2 minutes in.The beat stops and we get this spacey soundscape.The beat with guitar is back after 5 minutes. It turns surprisingly haunting 6 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Spanish Waters" is my favourite. I love the guitar as it reminds me of OPETH during their mellow sections. A beat with chunky bass joins in then vocals. It's fuller before 3 minutes. "The Infinite" has these spacey waves with sparse piano. I like this a lot as well. "Rif (Edit)" is the longest track at 12 1/2 minutes and I really like this one as too. A beat with synths and more to start. Great sound when it gets louder after 2 minutes. It calms right down before 8 minutes and waves of sound come and go. A beat with guitar takes over then it picks up 9 1/2 minutes in. A nice guitar solo a minute later. "The Last Flight Of Saint-Ex" is spacey with a beat. "Highway 375 (Revisited)" is again spacey as an electronic beat joins in. A calm before 5 minutes with some atmosphere.

Yes I used the word "spacey" over and over again as there is a definite psychedelic flavour to many of these songs. Like a modern Psyche / Pop record almost.

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 The Garden by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.57 | 6 ratings

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The Garden
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Andrew Robinson's Magus alternates between echoey Floydian acoustics and spacey Tangerine Dream electronics on this 4 track CD, with a few metallic references. Unfortunately this is not as good as it sounds. The bulk is taken up by the 12 part title suite. Ambitious though it is, the delivery and end product have an amateurish quality and a lack of finish, unless you count a synthetic sheen. The production is as crisp as the best morning bacon, but the only reminder of having indulged is an unpleasant aftertaste and a promise to self to limit consumption. Magus would do better to focus less on sound "quality" and processing and more on the composition itself and its development. Good passages occur here and there, especially in the middle parts of the suite, where some juicy bass accompaniment adds to the atmosphere, and in "The Stone Circle", but in general it's a bit too much about atmosphere, and the melodic creativity is lacking. This garden needs an infusion of organics to flourish.

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 The Garden by MAGUS (THE WINTER TREE) album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.57 | 6 ratings

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The Garden
Magus (The Winter Tree) Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I have sort of a love / hate relationship with this record. My biggest problem is getting past Andrew Robinson's vocals.They are fine actually, but they sound so much like a Canadian folk singer I don't like, it's hard to get past that.The good news is that it's only on one track where they sound like that,the bad news is the track is over 24 minutes long. There are several guests on this recording including Thomas Hjort from CROSS playing drums. Gary Strater from STARCASTLE playing bass. Lynette Shelley from RED MASQUE adding some vocals. There are others who are not so well known.

"The Garden" is that song I was talking about. It is divided into 12 sections, and is a story Robinson made up about a fellow named John and his friends. One day a band of bad men who travel around kidnapping and killing people came into our John's area wreaking havoc when they are confronted by a good man and his followers. The battle happens as John and his friends hide in a cave. The good guys win the battle and our subject eventually gets married and goes back to dream often in the garden he spent a lot of time in as a child. The song itself changes a lot, from the spacey beginnings to the vocal sections that are folksy in nature, to some scorching guitar before 7 minutes. Piano melodies follow, before a long section of bass and drums. Flute after 15 minutes followed by a spacey passage. I love the synths late in the song. With a story this long you know the song is going to twist and turn instrumentally with different climates and tempos.

The last three songs really impressed me. I just wasn't expecting to be wowed after the "epic" that didn't do a lot for me. "The Sailor On The Seas Of Fate" is a very spacey and experimental track. I like it. The synths before 3 minutes are a highlight. This is about creating a soundscape, and not about melody. I like these types of songs if they are done well,and this is. "Grains Of Sand" opens with acoustic guitar as drums come in before 2 minutes. This has such a catchy beat to it. The guitar after 3 1/2 minutes is well done. It is quite aggressive for a change. "The Stone Circle" has those female vocals for about a minute.The atmosphere is dark. Some good guitar and synths. Spacey sounds abound as we get some electronics after 4 minutes.This is great !

So 3 stars seems fair to me.This is good and some might think it's excellent. I could see some reviewers liking the main song a lot and not liking the three shorter tracks. It's all about your taste in music isn't it ?

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