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THE GIFT

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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The Gift biography
THE GIFT are a Symphonic Prog band from, London, formed after Mike Morton (vocals, 6/12 string acoustic guitar, piano and string arrangements) and Leroy James (lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals, samples, effects and programming, piano and string arrangements) came up with the idea of creating a band and making a concept album at the same time.

The concept was devised by Mike Morton and was initially meant to be just one piece.
They brought in other musicians to help with the recording, viz. Jim Thomas (bass), Rod Haverhill (keyboards) and David Storey (drums) and THE GIFT was born.

The band made some initial demos and pressed on with the idea. They sent the demos out to various places and general opinion was positive. So positive in fact, that the Cyclops label (responsible for bands such as Mostly Autumn, Pineapple Thief, Saens and Tr3nity) gave them a deal.

THE GIFT had the desire and conviction to record the album itself. The idea initially was to record one multi-themed piece (a suite called Awake and Dreaming), about "savagery and war and the final triumph of piece" (as their MySpace biography notes), but Cyclops felt it need to be longer and asked them to record a slightly extended finish. This ended up as another suite (of 30 minutes in length), called Fountains of Ash about "domestic violence, again seeking solace in the human spirit" (from their MySpace bio).

Their sound is quite varied, but takes on a definite symphonic rock air to it. They have hard rocking sections, pastoral songs, and "complex time signatures, wild key changes and ambitious concepts."

Their progressive rock influences include Pink Floyd, Genesis (Gabriel era), Yes, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Tangerine Dream, Rush and Dream Theater. They also take influence from non-prog bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, The Who, Beatles, Massive Attack, U2, Sex Pistols and Prince.

Their debut album (a double CD) Awake and Dreaming, was released on October 9, 2006, by Cyclops.

James R. Yeowell


Discography:

Awake and Dreaming (2 CD album) - 2006

The Gift official website

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THE GIFT discography


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

4.02 | 46 ratings
Awake And Dreaming
2006
3.80 | 46 ratings
Land Of Shadows
2014

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

THE GIFT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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THE GIFT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars London-based band, established in 2003 by singers and multi-instrumentalists Mike Morton and Leroy James, the two of them had been working together for two decades in mainstream groups.Immediately they started working on a 45-min. epic piece, influenced by the invasion in Iraq, called ''Awake and dreaming''.As they felt during the process that they would need some help with this project, they recruited Jim Thomas on keyboards, Rod Haverhill on bass and ex-The Enid David Storey on drums.Two years later the piece was complete and sent to Cyclops.Malcolm Parker, owner of the label, was really surprised, but asked the band to offer some more minutes of music to complete a long CD issue.The Gift came up with a second epic, the 30-min. ''Fountains of ash'' and eventually their debut ''Awake and dreaming'' was shelved in 2006.

While listening to the title-track (the final version of which clocked at about 40 minutes) I can see plenty of reasons why Cyclops' boss wanted to sign the band instantly.This is a great, well-composed and socially sensitive piece of modern Prog with Neo and symphonic references along the lines of SPOCK'S BEARD, ARENA, MAGIC PIE and the likes with a rich sound and a vast palette of atmospheres, delivering at moments some superb musicianship.The music is melodic, grandiose and dreamy with emphasis on refined piano arrangements, bombastic keyboards, guitars with both an angular and more laid-back edge and some decent blinks to the past with a few organ themes.The same occurs for the vocals, which are clean and expressive.''Awake and dreaming'' is divided in 12 short movements with a tight coherence and the result is pretty close to compatriots ALSO EDEN, music evolving from the 70's but served in a contemporary way.Lovely work indeed."Fountains of Ash" is pretty nice as well, albeit a bit less strong than the opening epic, and divided in 7 segments.The band retains the standard British flavor of the sound, which comes a little closer to PINK FLOYD at moments and offering again some beautiful lyricism.Musically it stands a bit on the edges compared to the previous piece, characterized either by mascular guitar work and powerful keyboards or smooth musicianship with piano, vocals and mellow guitars in evidence.Despite the more pronounced use of vintage keyboards like organ and Mellotron and some discreet string sections, the overall style flirts more intensely with classic British Neo Prog like PALLAS, QUASAR or PENDRAGON.The melodies are striking and memorable and the arrangements are well-performed with a good balance.

Great first step for The Gift.Dense but always melodic Neo/Symphonic Prog with fantastic vocals and tight musicianship.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Land Of Shadows by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.80 | 46 ratings

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Land Of Shadows
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by PH

5 stars THE GIFT returns with the superb follow up to 2006's debut 'Awake And Dreaming'. This time round we have a founder member Mike Morton (vocals, keyboards, 12 string guitar, flute), David Lloyd (electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards) and Joseph Morton (drums & percussion), accompanied by several guest musicians. Definitely, like its brilliant predecessor, CD 'Land Of Shadows' is a work of art to be savoured. From the narrative opener 'I Sing Of Change' to desperate 'The Willows', from the dramatic tension of 'Road Runs On 'Til Morning' to the soothing lushness of 'Walk Into The Water', from the nimble tempo of 'Too Many Hands' to restrained ballad 'You Are The Song', from 19-minute plus epic 'The Comforting Cold' to the bright sadness of closure 'As', all compositions here are well conceived, expertly arranged and have a synergy effect. The band demonstrates ability to produce very emotive and intriguing material full of details that demand for conscious listening. With diverse influences from the 70's era of British progressive rock, but with an eye to the horizon, mainman and his partners pack the great style meandering through a myriad of strategically placed changes. There are plenty of majestic keyboard passages, tasty drums and virtuoso guitar licks, encircled by string components (violin, cello, viola). Whilst elsewhere, the piercing riffs allow the sound to be harder but not too heavy. The hypnotizing vocals of Mike Morton bring a special charm to provide the ideal combination between gentle atmosphere and dynamics. A powerful medium, indeed... In summary. It's a vast well of inspiration from which The Gift draws. As was to be expected, CD 'Land Of Shadows' basically continues the style of the debut release. But the group have grown in their joint creation. This is a new chapter encrusted with jewels of love and care. Just follow my advice. Check out and be captivated!

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 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by Anon-E-Mouse

3 stars Firstly, I'd like to give credit to James, who wrote the band's Bio. He is spot on and leaves me to provide an opinion/preference, only.

This band is like a kaleidoscope of numerous influences, many of whom are considered as Prog giants. The only problem is that THE GIFT appears to be focused on elements of their peers' works that represent the least exciting bits. Like a sandwich with no meat in the middle.

Make no mistake, they are quite capable musicians - except that their work here fails to excite me. Indeed bordering on what puts people off Neo-Prog which it essentially is. Boring to the point of irritating, this is not something I'd put on returning home at the end of the day - rather the opposite.

Judging by the high ratings this work has appeal to many. Well, I am not one of them, but in fairness I am prepared to rate it as a 3, a piece I will probably disregard as somewhat irrelevant to be part of my rather extensive collection of more pleasing works.

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 Land Of Shadows by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.80 | 46 ratings

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Land Of Shadows
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The Gift is back after a long hiatus due to reasons that are the usual garden variety of life struggles and making music that won't really pay the bills and provide a rock 'n roll lifestyle of wasteful debauchery and stuttering stupidity (Hey, Ozzie!). Their previous 2006 effort "Awake and Dreaming" was a progressive rock revelation, an original collection of sharp and exciting songs expertly played and sung with immense talent by Mike Morton. To witness such an album of complex symphonic prog played with flair and a strong sense of masculinity is a treat to any progressive rock fan worthy of such a lofty title. Their debut remains a perennial monument in this reviewer's prog pantheon of fame. The interim years have revamped the line-up with entirely new musicians, save for the microphone king.

Enter new guitarist David Lloyd, owner of a distinctive tone and style that is both hard and soft (which was also present with first guitarist Leroy James) and the main vehicle for Morton's aural assault, ably supported by keyboardist Howard Boder and bassist Kirk Watson. Morton's relative Joseph handles the drum kit. Apparently Mike Morton and Lloyd are the only ones left and have already new members lined up for upcoming 2014 gigs. Musical chairs, wot?

After a brief spoken intro, the epic "the Willows" arrive in archetypal The Gift style, piano and voice articulating 'the sweetest song' , Mike Morton displaying why he is the most underestimated British prog vocalist, a clear and resonating voice that owes little to the usual suspects in terms of tone and style. Soon, the mood invariably becomes metallic and rambunctious as Lloyd's guitar carves hard and relentless, the bass fiendish and reptilian, the drums along for the booming ride. Synthesizer flutterings, change of pace and soaring electric leads intermingle with fresh expectations of symphonic splendor. Children musing about some harsh lullaby, twangy guitar licks (they like to sprinkle slight country music attitudes as a tasty condiment), something the Strawbs enjoyed greatly on occasion. Just a sterling epic piece of 'finesse' prog.

The monumental mellotron blasts unafraid to announce the "Road Runs on Til Morning" , another delicious Morton vocal , a 7 minute ride that has all the ingredients for a successful tune, great lyrics, expert delivery and a slight rock 'n roll feel that will frankly never grow old. Lloyd then zips off a slinky solo on the 'gueetar', crystalline and adventurous, exuding a sense of courage and passion. This is what makes the Gift so appealing, very British yet also very American, as if a perfect hybrid. Dibble dabble, let's play scrabble!

Things get really proggy with the mercurial "Walk Into Water" , parping keys and pomp, yet governed by simplicity and a certain elegance that gives elevation to words such as 'wash away the pain, so much pain' and finish off with an extended killer perfect axe solo, sensitive and soaring towards the stars. Miam miam! Repeat button activated!

"Too Many Hands" has a hushed vocal that 'sweetens the song', morphing into a pretty classic mid-tempo rock 'n roll ballad that has a fiery instrumental section (including another wicked guitar spot) and suave contrasts in the pained gentle vocal parts, crowned by a typical British style buoyant chorus . This is followed by a somber piano-led sliver of gorgeous melancholia, "You Are the Song", a fragile showcase Morton tune that clearly divulges his distinctive voice, graceful mellotron sweepings and dignified lyrics. The instrumental breakout is colossal in its restraint and aching beauty.

"The Comforting Cold" is the epic monster that gives this release its full prog credentials, a whopping nearly 20 minute romp that encompasses all the classic prog moves (slow build- up, mellotron strings, contrasting sections, alternate melodies etc?) , all sugared by the Gift's gift for style and tone. Things get tight and hard as the guitar assault flexes its mighty muscles, hauling the remaining crew along for the ride, impetuous bass carving hard and providing Morton to really show off his various accents and stylings, perspiring profusely about near-death paranoia, Kafka-esque dysfunction and the eternal damnation of the soul. The arrangement goes off into tangent universes that utilize the full panoply of synthesized keyboard colorations, confident of proposing ambient intervals of ponderous thought of space and time, undoubtedly the band finest creative exploration. Trepidation vocals, church-organ solemnity and resurrection guitar scouring, this is one hell of a prog classic. The raunchy guitar rampage dive-bombs through the murky clouds, dropping an arsenal of explosive rhythms and deadly lead missiles, both tortuous and deranged synth barrages and supreme heavy metal convulsions that wink at classic Thin Lizzy. When you least expect it, the song returns for another spin at the front of the stage, Morton really doing a cleverly convincing job on the microphone. Pretty impressive!

As befits their reputation, the album ends in a brief farewell, lush with fragility and sheer beauty.

A fine follow up to a masterful debut that remains iconic, so any comparisons are rather unfair and quite unnecessary, it's just another present from Mr. Morton, a new adventure to place under the gilded prog tree.

4.5 Parcels of Obscurity

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 Land Of Shadows by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.80 | 46 ratings

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Land Of Shadows
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by Hutchy123

5 stars The Gift return after an eight year hiatus following the much lauded 'Awake and Dreaming', After many highs and lows and line-up changes, including a new co-collaborator (David Lloyd), frontman Mike Morton has produced an album that touches on dark themes but always has hope and dynamism.

Starting the superb stentorian spoken word introduction of 'I Sing of Change', we then move on to the first of the albums two epic tracks, 'The Willows' shows Mike at his minstrel best, imagined playing his guitar on a lonely mountain top moaning the fate of modern Britain. A post-apocalyptical scene in the cultural sense. There is a hint of the theatrical about 'Road Runs on Until Morning' cleverly paced with a catchy chorus and distinctive guitar.

The Gift and Mike Morton become expressive and soulful on 'Walk into the Water' an ode to Mike's late father-in-law. The whole song is cathartic, peaceful and radiant. A great example of the light shining through from the darkness. 'Too Many Hands' is upbeat and fast paced yet still dark in its initial nature.An ode for a modern age sung by a modern-day bard. The guitar solo follows a theme that David and Mike have introduced wherein it imitates the vocal line, very clever.

Sublime and ardently beautiful, 'You are the Song' is the most directly ballad like track on the album. It really plucks at your heartstrings, exquisite and perfectly formed.

The second epic on the album 'The Comforting Tale' tells the story of man close to death who is brought back to life. Based on the Lazarus myth, it asks the question that, if this man has had a happy and fulfilling life, should we really be bring him back? Would he prefer to be left to go to the afterlife. Mike has a fascination with near death experiences and this is his homage to it. Another brilliantly written and performed track. Harmonious and inspiring, it is a truly emotional journey. The final track 'As' is a sentimental and touching and a gentle finale to a superb album.

'Land of Shadows' carries on from the amazing 'Awake and Dreaming' and takes The Gift to another level of brilliance. It is uplifting, life confirming and, tantamount to genius.

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 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by barp

4 stars ****1/2 An album that gets better the more you listen to it! Extremely well written and performed, the CD consists of two long suites AWAKE AND DREAMING and FOUNTAINS OF ASH - both are emotionally charged and full of interesting changes. One of the most appealling things to me about the recording is that Leroy James manages to play exciting modern- sounding guitar without falling into the over- processed sound so prevelant in a lot of modern recordings.All of the band are excellent musicians and they are augmented by superb violin playing provided by Neil Catchpole. One of the best releases from 2006!

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 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I am awake and I am not dreaming! This is a gift recording that I intend to treasure for along time, still stunned by the splendor of the creativity, the style and the audacity of the musicians dedicated to wrapping this up in so much style and substance. The Gift would be an ideal present to bequeath to a prog pal, a dizzying multi-flavored concoction that truly defies pigeon-holing, a progressive onslaught reminiscent of some of the more edgy current breed (the new Galahad, Arena, PTree, Pure Reason Revolution, Nemo, Xang etc.) offering some first-rate neo-prog ("Little Red Rooftops", "Turning of the Tide") , some classic mellotron-infested prog (the awesome title track , the frantic "Quickening Pulse" and the frenetic "Lune de Miel") with hints of a proggy Jackson Browne (on the brilliant Auld Lang Syne-ish "Doubt") , a union of high-octane Allman Brothers with a dash of punky Stranglers (the brash "The Dance of Denial"), some bar room Killer Queen Brit rock ("The Carpeted Corridors"), a sizable dose of Roger Waters ("Nocturne", "No One Came"), a taste of Blue Oyster Cult like rapid-fire guitar boogie (the delirious "Escalation"), a little Genesis here ("Close to Angels"), a little Camel there ("Adoration") and a bloody partridge in a proggy pear tree ! Mike Morton's high quality vocals and lyrics are compelling and typically British, Leroy James provides some polyvalent at times snarling guitar stylings, with hard-stun rhythm blasts jockeying with corkscrew searing solos with the accent on the dramatic and the powerful. Keyboardist Jim Thomas sprinkles squeaking synth gurgles, with occasional mellotron blankets and slinky piano promenades. The bass and drums are a well-lubricated tandem that kicks, screams and rumbles in the best prog tradition. The slow, moody passages lightly camouflage a highly apparent sense of darkness, which only serves to service the harsher contrasts, making this a constant roller coaster of astounding sounds and amazing musical snapshots. This is a fine example of the growing exhilaration coming with repeated listens, a trait particular to progressive music where there are so many layers to peel away , making it such a spirited adventure each time out . There are many highlights but this is really one long extended piece of music that just flows naturally. A definite Gift for any proglover. 5 presents

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 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I´ll describe this CD in 3 words: beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. A rare mix of symphonic, neo, ambient, folk, classic rock all wrapped up in such a package that brings tears to your eyes. My god, such an emotional music! Mike Morton makes you believe in every single word he says, his music touches your very soul... A great conceptual CD with lots of shifting moods and lanscapes. The music is varied and the musicians are outstanding. Sometimes is hard to believe is the same band playing on the whole CD. And this is only their debut! I´m really looking forward for their next works. If they keep this quality they´ll be very big! A perfect mix of modern music and the best of classic styles, forging something very original. One of the best CDs of 2006. 4,5 stars.

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 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by alextorres2

4 stars This album is full of excelent music. Reference points for older readers would be music such as early Genesis or Camel circa Nude period. More recent comparisons, in terms of sound, would be artists such as Midlake and Guillemots. These are just reference points, the band are strong enough to have developed their own sound. Well worth a listen - beautiful melodic music with good guitar and keyboards - a great find!

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 Awake And Dreaming by GIFT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.02 | 46 ratings

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Awake And Dreaming
The Gift Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Rather overlooked, but there are reasons for it. First of all, I still remember all the hype around it - "a blend of all influences" etc...Give it up. If you mean Neo mixed with Symphonic Prog, than OK, this is your unique blend.

Musically THE GIFT reminds me of MIKE OLDFIELD's early works - the same way melodic, accessible and boring closer to the end. The closest band comparable to THE GIFT is PENDRAGON, though Mike Morton' vocals are way behind Nick Barret's ones (rather average as for me). Hence the music itself reminds me of PINK FLOYD, PENDRAGON and some other Neo bands who work on that Side of the Neo ;) - PF-inspired concept works are what they adore. I was amazed by the level of melodism first, but the more I listened to it the less enthusiastic I became. Good, but definetely non-essential. Recommended, especially for FLOYD fans

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Thanks to The Symphonic Team for the artist addition.

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