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PENDRAGON

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Pendragon biography
PENDRAGON were formed in Stroud, England in 1978. Originally known as ZEUS PENDRAGON it was decided fairly early on to drop the "ZEUS" as co-founder Julian Baker felt it was too wordy to fit on a t-shirt! There were several line up changes in the early days, members included Julian Baker (co-founder/guitar) Nigel Harris (drums) Stan Cox (bass) Robert Dalby (bass) John Barney Barnfield (keys) Rik Carter (keys). The one constant key element was Nick Barrett. The line up then remained the same for almost 20 years, featuring : Nick Barrett (guitar/lead vocal) Clive Nolan (keys) Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (drums), until 2006 when PENDRAGON and Fudge Smith parted ways.

Todate there have been 21 releases from PENDRAGON who set up their own label "TOFF RECORDS" in the late 1980's following the release of "The Jewel" and "KowTow" (as well as a couple of mini albums). "The Masquerade Overture" is probably their most acclaimed work todate. Although a recent change of direction with "Believe" has seen opinions somewhat split, it is definitely a remarkable album and maybe showing a move away from classic Neo-Prog.

I would highly recommend this band to anyone enjoying neo-prog.

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Men Who Climb MountainsMen Who Climb Mountains
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$24.99
IntroducingIntroducing
Recall Records UK 2013
Audio CD$5.31
$8.80 (used)
PassionPassion
CD+DVD
Snapper Madfish 2011
Audio CD$7.64
$5.89 (used)
BelieveBelieve
Madfish Records UK 2011
Audio CD$6.45
$13.90 (used)
Window of LifeWindow of Life
Madfish Records 2014
Vinyl$24.31
$39.44 (used)
Not of This WorldNot of This World
Madfish Records UK 2012
Audio CD$6.32
$13.58 (used)
WorldWorld
Snapper Classics UK 2005
Audio CD$6.31
$4.45 (used)
Pendragon: Past and PresencePendragon: Past and Presence
Multiple Formats
Mvd Visual 2007
DVD$12.43
$10.25 (used)
Out of Order Comes ChaosOut of Order Comes Chaos
Metal Mind 2013
Audio CD$10.78
$18.20 (used)
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PENDRAGON shows & tickets


  • Ramblin' Man Fair on 25 Jul 2015

PENDRAGON discography


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

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

3.29 | 234 ratings
The Jewel
1985
2.57 | 177 ratings
Kowtow
1988
3.76 | 325 ratings
The World
1991
3.90 | 361 ratings
The Window Of Life
1993
3.95 | 508 ratings
The Masquerade Overture
1996
3.86 | 382 ratings
Not Of This World
2001
3.54 | 332 ratings
Believe
2005
3.89 | 534 ratings
Pure
2008
3.72 | 455 ratings
Passion
2011
3.61 | 122 ratings
Men Who Climb Mountains
2014

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

3.18 | 48 ratings
9:15 Live
1986
2.33 | 32 ratings
The Very Very Bootleg Live In Lille France 1992
1993
3.58 | 41 ratings
Utrecht ...The Final Frontier
1995
3.97 | 41 ratings
Live In Krakow 1996
1997
3.33 | 49 ratings
Acoustically Challenged
2002
3.90 | 23 ratings
Liveosity
2004
4.07 | 59 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.12 | 41 ratings
Out of Order Comes Chaos
2013

PENDRAGON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.16 | 49 ratings
Live At Last ... And More
2002
3.97 | 51 ratings
And Now Everybody To The Stage
2006
3.93 | 59 ratings
Past And Presence
2007
4.43 | 82 ratings
Concerto Maximo
2009
4.56 | 32 ratings
Out Of Order Comes Chaos
2012

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

2.87 | 35 ratings
The Rest of Pendragon
1991
2.38 | 7 ratings
1984-96 Overture
1998
2.50 | 32 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 1
1999
2.41 | 28 ratings
Once Upon A Time In England Volume 2
1999
3.42 | 25 ratings
The History 1984-2000
2000
4.09 | 4 ratings
A História
2001
4.29 | 7 ratings
The Round Table
2001
4.67 | 3 ratings
Introducing Pendragon
2013

PENDRAGON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 44 ratings
Fly High Fall Far
1984
1.64 | 21 ratings
Red Shoes
1987
2.27 | 17 ratings
Saved By You
1991
2.41 | 8 ratings
Nostradamus
1993
3.64 | 75 ratings
Fallen Dreams And Angels
1994
3.38 | 59 ratings
As Good As Gold
1996

PENDRAGON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pure by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 534 ratings

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Pure
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Pendragon always was a rather typical neo-prog band, with an epic fantasy sound, distinguished perhaps by gratuitous amounts of solo guitar in the bluesy Pink Floyd/Camel singing guitar style, courtesy of band mastermind Nick Barrett. Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Pendragon turns to heavy and singing about disgruntled teenagers.

Indigo, Eraserhead, and the Freak Show are examples of Pendragon's new heavy riffs/melodic guitars alternating style, usually beginning up-tempo and finishing with a melodic tension release. It's only me is a lo-oong ballad. Comatose, in three parts, is supposed to be something of a master stroke. It moves rather briskly between wildly alternating styles, all quite catchy and interesting, I might add, before settling down for the last 6 minutes for a drawn-out spacey section, which, while logical by the song's development, seems overlong and kind of mars the overall impression.

Overall, it's a testament to Pendragon's talents that for their 30-year old existence they still show no weak side. Rare band can boast of the same.

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 Passion by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.72 | 455 ratings

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Passion
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Continuing the neo-prog/metal direction of Pure, Passion adds even more eclecticism to the mix (I imagine how people would react if Pendragon started the album with the furious riffing of Empathy, thankfully, they placed it second). Rapping, screaming, throat singing, yodeling, electronic effects all can be found here, but luckily in small doses, not distracting from the trademark melodic sound. Song structures are complex enough, with many changes and details, yet never forget about accessibility. Praise is usually reserved for 13-minute Green and Pleasant Land, however I find that piece somewhat repetitive, like an extended beer chant with a silly yodeling outro. I'd chip in my 2 cents for Skara Brae, which, while shorter, sounds truly epic, like a Celtic Iron Maiden-neo prog hybrid.

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 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 122 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars And there are those who say Pendragon, the quintessential escapist neo-prog band, doesn't change. After the metal/neo-prog hybrid of Pure and Passion, I half-expected Men Who Climb Mountains, with its less than elves-and-magic cover, to be similar. And there are brief moments where that heavier/lighter approach is present (Beautiful Soul, Faces of Darkness). But the vast majority of this album is slow and reflective. Sometimes its highly melodic, sometimes seems overextended. Everything here - bass, vocals, guitars, melancholic keys, is clear and shines, though. There are complaints from people about Nick Barrett's low hillbilly kind of voice. People, relax. He sings fine, and his unusual tone is actually welcome for a change. Fits that folksy vibe always running through his music, and nowhere its more fitting the mood than here.

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 The Masquerade Overture by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.95 | 508 ratings

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The Masquerade Overture
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars I've been meaning to review Pendragon's latest, Men Who Climb Mountains, but as usual went back a bit to refresh... Why I want to pinch in my 2 cents is that the Masquerade Overture is my favorite. Every song is a winner here, though they do have a tendency to sound long-winded, patchy and overrepetetive in their melodic moments (but usually catchy as hell). But the real reason for my fondness is whereas some neo-prog bands strive to sound dark (Arena), or self-absorbed or wimpy (Marillion in both incarnations), Masquerade is filled with folksy and baroque fun. Its not all merry dance all the time of course, as we get our share of dramatic and lullaby-esque Genesis and Pink Floyd moments, but in the end I'm left with a bright and satisfied feeling.

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 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 122 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Deathangel

3 stars More than just 'E for Effort'

I've been trying to come up with a nice way of saying what I want to say about this album as I do like Pendragon. Their previous efforts have been patchy to say the least, but they do always make me think that the world is a better place with them. They've never been the most original band in the world: they've deftly moved from Camel clones to (wannabe) Porcupine Tree clones. Fair enough, its good to see a band evolve, I'd just like to hear more Pendragon and less anyone/everyone else.

With Men Who Climb Mountains they seem to have spread their musical 'influences' wider to incorporate Coldplay (Faces Of Light), film soundtrack (Belle Ame & Beautiful Soul / 28 Weeks Later theme) and a host of other Artists. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does become a bit blatant at times, although not as much as on previous albums.

For a lot of people the Pendragon sound is all about Nick's guitar and it must be said there's some very nice playing here. I particularly like the leads in In Bardo and Netherworld (although its a pity to downplay the great keyboard lead sound in Netherworld with so few notes!).

Not a bad album, and definitely good to hear Pendragon trying something a little different - some interesting twist and turns in stand out track Come Home Jack, with a very tasty guitar solo at the end - so its definitely more than just an 'E for Effort' album. The biggest letdown, as always: the vocals (sorry Nick). I really want to like Pendragon a lot, but the vocals always come across as slightly comedic. This seems to work on the lighter, more traditional prog tracks, but for the kind of material on Men Who Climb Mountains you need some real conviction in the vocal department and I'm not convinced that Nick is capable of that kind of performance.

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 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 122 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A new Pendragon album is always, for this long-term fan, a big event. And, as ever, Nick Barrett and his cohorts do not disappoint with yet another class slab of thoughtful progressive rock.

I ordered this from my favourite progressive rock store, Caerllysi Music, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the double cd had Nick's signature emblazoned over it.

It is a rarity that I mention bonus cd's, which is what, in effect, the second disc is, being an acoustic set performed by Nick at a mate's boozer. It is far better than that sounds. In fact, some of it is a revelation, given that the expansive sound we have always associated with Pendragon would not, you would have thought, lend itself to such a stripped out environment. Listening to Green and Pleasant Land, the standout track from Passion, is incredible. The lyrics, and the brilliant anger generated against the knobheads running my country, bringing it to the sorry state it finds itself in, is expressed even more pointedly in this setting than in the original, which I would not have thought possible.

But, to the main event. When you have opening tracks which sing and mourn as to how your beautiful soul will be saved, and end with such an expressive paean to the human condition, then you know that you are in for another treat. Every single review I read from professional journalists always seem to make an excuse for Nick Barrett somehow not having a particularly fine voice, but, patronisingly, state "hey, it works well here". Take no notice of them. There is nobody on God's earth capable of expressing this man's lyrics and music in such a poignant fashion as the man himself, so just enjoy.

The key to this album is the emotion generated from wildly divergent moods, and, with all emotional albums, it requires damned fine playing to bring it to life. Barrett is one of rock music's finest unsung guitar heroes, and his work here is staggering. Some of Clive Nolan's piano work, especially, is enough to bring the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, and listening to his staggering keys work on In Bardo makes you realise just how important a musician he really is. The rhythm section of longstanding bassist Peter Gee, who makes his instrument sing like a lead instrument in parts, and new drummer, Craig Blundell (replacing the incredible Scott Higham), move things along at a fair old pace. Blundell, by the way, is more suited to this album than Higham would have been. I believe, listening to this, that we have the reason why he left.

That is not a criticism of Higham. It is just that I believe, in about three albums time, or so, we will regard MWCM as being as important a change of direction as we now know Believe was when Barrett took the band from its overt symphonic leanings to a far heavier and experimental direction. This one retains much of what was good about that new era, but takes it in a far more song orientated direction, and the end result is a pleasing amalgam.

Some of the riffs on Come Home Jack, for instance, are thunderous, but are tempered by some quite exquisite moments, and the lost yearning inherent in the lyrics and guitar bursts is quite moving - this is not an album about mountaineers, per se. This is an album dealing with the human condition, written by a master songsmith going through a period of deep contemplation. No more, no less. As you listen to the song this segues into, In Bardo, the differing emotions come to the fore, the title itself suggesting a transition between differing states and phases.

The following two tracks constitute, to me, all that is best about this band and album. Two pieces of music which have to be enjoyed and contemplated as one, dealing with hugely diverse emotions. Firstly, we have the uplifting, major key, Faces of Light, which has the return of the delightful Tiggy accompanying Barrett on vocals. This leads into the altogether darker affair of Faces of Darkness, probably the one track on this album which comes closest to the musical ferocity of recent predecessor albums, and the sense of betrayal inherent in the lyrics and mood of the music is biting. The contrast between these two tracks is progressive rock at its best; thoughtful, challenging, and bringing something new to the table with each listen.

I have never been particularly good at interpreting lyrics, as such. That is not a bad thing, or a particularly personal criticism of myself. After all, the only person who really knows what he, or she, is writing about, is the author. What I can say, though, is that I am 50 next month, and it is fair to say that I have been rather thoughtful and reflective in the last couple of years, with close friends no longer with me. You could call it a mid-life crisis, I suppose. The lyrics and music on this fine piece of work shout to me. I get them. I understand, without necessarily knowing precisely what Barrett means by a particular set of words. The incredible final track, Netherworld, that destination of souls not quite saved enough to reach heaven, in particular, means so much to me, because I know I am not perfect, I have faults and fears. This album shouts out to me that one of my favourite band's and lyricist's is still able to move me and I can still relate to him and them in the same fashion as I could as a callow young man when they first delighted me with their music. Not a bad testimony to Pendragon, is it? It is very keenly meant on my behalf. You know, I often tell myself that "God only knows", as Barrett opines on Explorers of the Infinite, the longest track on the album. The music, in particular the symphonic soundscape created by the ensemble, simply oozes feeling and yearning.

Four stars for this. An excellent album which, I know, will be a precursor to a fine and outstanding new era for a fine and outstanding band. This is 64 minutes of pure and utter pleasure, and comes highly recommended.

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 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 122 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Honestly, this is one came across as a big disappointment. I tried very hard to like this CD and, in a way, I did. ThatĀ“s exactly the problem: I had to push too much. Believe, Passion and Pure might have not be masterpieces, but they did have some real good stuff on them. I mean, they all had at least one very strong tune that you can call a "real" Pendragon gem. This one does not. Please, donĀ“t get me wrong. ItĀ“s not bad. the problem here seems that all tracks start very well but donĀ“t go anywhere, thereĀ“s a kind of build up that never reaches a climax, it just keeps going on and on and on. The only exception to the rule, but not much, is the 11 minute Explores of The Infinite that at least has a fine melody that holds well throughout the whole song. The remaining stuff sounds ok, but either appearing to be half baked or, more often, like discarded tunes from their other albums.

ItĀ“s really a pity to hear such outstanding band, a real prog legend, delivering so little. Ok, maybe IĀ“m being too harsh: theyĀ“ve been around a lot and for a group that released so many prog classics, I guess itĀ“s only natural that one day theyĀ“d fail to meet such gigantic expectations (letĀ“s face it, most of us DO expect them to produce something as powerful as The Masquerade Overture or The Windows Of Life, to name only two). Stylistic, their previous two albums proved they could tackle different musical paths and still maintain some quality. Here they seemed stuck in a rut: you heard it all before, itĀ“s nice, but simply the songs go nowhere. And for a band who delivered such perfect rounded stuff like Pendragon , this is a real letdown. Specially if you notice that the performances themselves are spotless and the vocal parts are great, probably the best of their entire career.

So in the end I found this CD pleasant enough not to keep pushing the "next track" buton, but it does not made me want to listen to it again like all the others did (even with Believe, which was a big disappointment only because it could not compare to the trio of blockbusters that preceded it). I guess I should rate it 3 stars, since there is not really bad stuff on Men Who Climb Moments. It only sounds unfinished, composition wise. However, IĀ“ll give it 2, since I feel the need to balance some reviews here that gave it 4 or even 5 stars that I canĀ“t really understand why. The fact that the band is great, and that the music here isnĀ“t bad does not mean itĀ“s on par to what they did before to give it such praising, at least thatĀ“s my point of view.

Listen carefully before buying it.

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 Men Who Climb Mountains by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.61 | 122 ratings

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Men Who Climb Mountains
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by David Luddington

5 stars For me, this has to be one of the best from Pendragon. Having followed these guys from the beginning and seen them live on many an occasion I love the fact they keep true to their roots. Masquerade Overture reached a pinnacle and since then they have experimented with slightly different directions but always kept the same Pendragon feel. I felt Not of this World dipped slightly but since then they just get better. Men Who Climb Mountains is, I believe, their best yet. I loved Passion and Green and Pleasant Land was an absolute masterpiece but this album represents a return to the slightly softer more subtle Pendragon of Masquerade Overture. Nick's guitar is just wonderful.

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 The Masquerade Overture by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.95 | 508 ratings

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The Masquerade Overture
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by Radagast

4 stars Hi, this is my first review in Progarchives and I want to start with this amazing work, "The Masquerade Overture". This was the first album I heard of this band, because of that I have special appreciation but I try to be as objective as possible. I have always considered this group with a very fresh and original sound distinguishing it from many other neo prog bands of the 90's. I believe however this work is the highest point of the long career of Pendragon. This album has great vocal arrangements , beautiful melodies and a good balance in all tracks. The highest points are the solid "As good as gold" with a great intro, the very melodic "Paintbox", the beautiful celtic melody "The Persuit of excellence", the magnificent "Gardian of my Soul" with very good guitar riff, solo synth and good melodic arrangements (very nice work of Nick Barret in this track), the last 4 minutes of "Master of Illusion" are tremendous and finally , the jewel in the crown, the emotional "The Shadow" :

(Looking for somewhere that's home to me now The king of the castle and his sacred cow I've travelled the world and by chance this is how The lies became true Between me and you Free spirit I've travelled so follow me now)

I have no words , I can only say WOW, thx Pendragon for this Masterpiece

(Please sorry for my bad english)

4.5

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 The Window Of Life by PENDRAGON album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.90 | 361 ratings

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The Window Of Life
Pendragon Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I revisited "The Window of Life", this venerable classic, as I was somehow placed in a nostalgic mood for some outer-worldly experience that would relax my body and indulge my mind in unassuming fantasy. Pendragon needs little introduction, a fellow consolidator of the prog ideal at a lonely time in rock history, to be perfectly polite. 1993 was a revolutionary period, with very little excitement in terms of music, listening to stuff like still great Tangerine Dream, Oldfield doling out the Crises album, Saga's Heads or Tales and Solstice(prog) but precious little else, until the now-mythical "Script of A Jester's Tear" was unleashed on a totally unsuspecting public later in the year . Pendragon leaped to such higher echelons with this Pink Floyd meets Genesis album, a vehicle for Nick Barrett and Clive Nolan to make their music come hell or high water, a stand for which they were both adored and reviled. Finicky market. The fuse was lit and much to the chagrin of all the prog-rock haters (and trust me, there were many at the apparent funeral, spitting gobs of vitriolic abuse), the inevitable renaissance of prog was underway.

On the sleek "The Walls of Babylon", the lads even had the audacity to quote Supertramp's "Hide in Your Shell", a ballsy move that could have cost them a few quid had Hodgson and Davies been greedy bastards. While the sound certainly owes a lot to former icons, truth is the material was expertly played and muscularly delivered, conscious of the rock ethos needing to be preserved. Bassist Peter Gee and drummer Fudge Smith certainly pounded hard and fast when prompted, leaving Nolan's keys and Barrett's axe do all the brain damage. On the moving "Breaking the Spell", the fret-meister goes on a nice elongated foray, nothing too technical but oh so loaded with emotional discourse. A little hint of wah-wah and some spirited soloing really gets me every time, even 20 years later.

Epic monuments you ask, "The Last Man on Earth" is a nearly 15 minute colossus, with explosive vocals from Mr. Barrett (who never sounded better, before or after), mammoth Nolan symphonic bombast and mobile rhythmic agility from both Gee and Smith. This is, simply put, eternal and utterly fabulous, loaded with incredible imagery, dense space for contrast and breath, featuring glittering soloing, I mean the whole nine yards. Details, details, Watson! Slipping in some delectable harmonica, soothing backing vocal choir and some more overbearing emotions just steals the show, a true classic. The final earthshaking solo is gorgeous. In all honesty, this ought to have been the final cut (Oops!, sorry Roger), ending the album on an orgasm. "Nostradamus ?Stargazing" should have been inspiring with such archetypical prog subject matter but suffers from having to compete with the previous megalith, an unfair positioning makes this song seem weak in comparison. Guitar manipulations take their time in setting the controls to the heart of the song, but it's a fine diversion, The poppish texture should be more exciting in a live setting (in fact, Pendragon likes to do this in concert) but it's the necessary cream between the cookies. The final piece "Am I Losing You?" is delectable , a Pendragon ballad that finds itself drenched in serious bluesy affectation, a simple story that searches out all the questions we all ask ourselves, about love, life and the impossible pursuit of happiness. The Steve Howe ?like guitar motif sounds like a slip from The Gates of Delerium, these are clever lads indeed, reminding me of that classic Picasso quote "a good artist copies, a great artist steals", a little nasty perhaps but oh so true.

The upcoming Masquerade Overture remains my favorite Pendragon album, though I must admit I have lost interest after that. Maybe I should investigate, my dear Watson?

4 Panes of existence

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