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Symphonic Prog • Norway

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White Willow biography
Formed at Asker (Oslo), Norway, in 1992/93 -

WHITE WILLOW are the leading Norwegian band of the 1990's Prog revival and were begun in 1992 by guitarist Jacob Holm-Lupo. The band was based around a nucleus of Holm-Lupo (guitars), Jan Tariq Rahman (keyboards, bass, guitars, wind instruments) , Audun Kjus (wind instruments, vocals), Sara Trondal (vocals), Eldrid Johansen (vocals), Alexander Engebretsen (5 string bass), Tirill Mohn (violin, classical guitar) and an unnamed drummer as well as a collection of guest musicians. Over a period of 2 years from December '92 to September '94 the band recorded a number of songs that would form their fist album, Ignis Fatuus, released in '95 by The Lasers Edge, the start of a long partnership with the American label, and signalling them as one of the leading groups in the revival of Progressive Rock along with bands like ANGLAGARD and ANEKDOTEN. The sound of this first album is largely characterised by mid paced, acoustic guitar and mellotron led Folk Prog, bringing to mind GRYPHON but with a touch of the more acoustic nature of early GENESIS and KING CRIMSON's first line-up. However, the two "epic" songs that close out the album showed a full electric band with a much more staunchly Symphonic approach. If there is two words than can be used to describe the bands music though, its melancholic and beautiful, two characteristics that would remain with the band and become the signature of their sound.

Because of the extended nature of the recording time for the album Ignis Fatuus and with the band members having very informal roles, it has a feeling of a solo project at times but also of a young band trying to find their sound. In the following three years the band was reformed around the core of Jacob Holm-Lupo and Jan Tariq Rahman, with Frode Lia joining on bass and Mattias Olsson (ANGLAGARD) on drums. Sylvia Erichsen would join as vocalist and for many fans would become the voice of WHITE WILLOW for years to come. The second album Ex Tenebris would be released in '98 and featured a changed sound from the début. The mid paced, melancholic atmosphere would remain, but it featured a much more sparse, striped-down sound with a slightly more Symphonic Rock touch added to the folk. Following this release the band would also see more success on tour, attracting wide acclaim for their performances at a wide variety of Prog festivals across Europe. Following the touring, many members once again left the band with on...
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Future HopesFuture Hopes
$14.39 (used)
Sacrament (Expanded Edition)Sacrament (Expanded Edition)
$13.95 (used)
Ex Tenebris (Expanded Edition)Ex Tenebris (Expanded Edition)
$13.52 (used)
Storm SeasonStorm Season
Laser's Edge 2004
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Ignis FatuusIgnis Fatuus
TDNE 2007
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Signal To Noise [VINYL]Signal To Noise [VINYL]
Pancromatic (Broken Silence)
Ex Tenebris (Expanded Edition) by White Willow (2014-09-15)Ex Tenebris (Expanded Edition) by White Willow (2014-09-15)
Code 7 - Termo Records
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WHITE WILLOW discography

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

3.75 | 131 ratings
Ignis Fatuus
3.25 | 92 ratings
Ex Tenebris
3.88 | 148 ratings
3.95 | 161 ratings
Storm Season
3.53 | 111 ratings
Signal To Noise
3.92 | 262 ratings
Terminal Twilight
3.50 | 57 ratings
Future Hopes

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

WHITE WILLOW Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

3.40 | 5 ratings
Animal Magnetism


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Future Hopes by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.50 | 57 ratings

Future Hopes
White Willow Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars `Looks can be deceiving', `Don't judge a book by its cover' and so on are clichés that are easy to attach to Norwegian symphonic/folky prog-rockers White Willow on their seventh album, 2017's `Future Hopes'. Founding WW member Jacob Holm-Lupo spoke recently on the Prog Archives of his pride in having their new album adorned with legendary prog- associated artist Roger Dean's instantly recognisable art on the front cover, to sit alongside so many other artists in the genre over the decades that have done so, but it's actually somewhat misleading. For `Future Hopes' is anything but some predictable and safe `Dad-rock' retro-prog throwback that the artwork perhaps suggests, and instead it twists symphonic- styled prog in so many skewed directions and fuses it with electronics, indie-rock and all the melancholic introspective atmospheres the group has become known for over the last twenty-plus years, whilst taking White Willow in fascinating new directions and delivering one of their very best works.

Right from the first seconds of opener `Future Hopes', it offers hints that this album will be particularly dominated by Lars Fredrik Frøislie's electronics, be it twitching programming, spiralling upfront soloing or ambient background coatings. This title track is a fine showcase for new vocalist Venke Knutson, a Norwegian pop singer of note, and she fits in alongside the ranks of White Willow's previous female leads perfectly. She exudes earthy femininity, aching longing and great heart, and perfectly conveys the rich lyrics that are exquisite with detail that has become a trademark of the group. The piece, not too far removed from a female fronted band like Frequency Drift, is an icy-cool indie-rock reflection with moments of heavier guitar grunt and ethereal multi-layered harmonies, and we also get the first signs of a wild flurry of former Anglagard member Mattias Olsson's busy drumming that tapers off in so many skittering directions that carries through the entire album.

Delicate and pristine `Silver and Gold' is a sweetly wistful folk ballad with little hints of shadowy unease creeping in around the edges. The first of the longer pieces that all prog fans crave, the eleven minute `In Dim Days' mixes gothic touches with dark slithering electronica, ripples of panning loops and rambunctious drumming rumbling in and out, oddly briefly calling to mind Italy's Universal Totem Orchestra. A stormier epic, Venke's purring voice conveys one of White Willow's darkest lyrics to date, guest performer Hedvig Mollestad of her own Trio offers deliciously tortured and serrated guitar ruminations, and Ellen Andrea Wang's closing bass come-down over Ketil Vestrum Einarsen's huffing flute solo wraps the first half of the album with haunting sophistication.

The flip-side of the LP opens with the carefully infernal instrumental `Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss', a glacial 'Tron and guitar distortion interlude that at not even two minutes will leave fans begging for more! But then it's straight into the eighteen-minute epic `A Scarred View' that takes up the rest of the side, and it drifts through long stretches of everything from serene ambient/prog-electronic expansive aural landscapes, Venke's romantic musings backed by exotic percussion and frantic programmed beats. Whirring keyboards spiral with bliss (parts even surprisingly take on a Kitaro-like ambient sweetness!), Jacob's strangled guitar twists ring into the heavens during the lengthy instrumental stretches, and while the lengthy piece works in those gloomier and intense moods that White Willow are legendary for, it ultimately proves hopeful and deeply romantic as all their best music does.

But (for once!) not to be ignored are the two bonus track that come with the CD and download versions. A surprising cover of the Scorpion's `Animal Magnetism' off their 1980 LP of the same name pulses with bristling electronic programming, waffling clarinet and heavy churning guitars that take on a Hawkwind-like danger, and `Damnation Valley' is a gorgeous solo piece from keyboardist Lars, a short but haunting instrumental of fragile piano, fizzing Minimoog and glorious Mellotron choirs that come ever-so-close to Rick Wakeman's solo works - so perhaps there are little retro flavours on the disc after all!

Running a welcome vinyl length, melodic and accessible whist retaining intelligence and class, and proudly `proggy' without being a mere retro throwback, `Future Hopes' is a glorious and eclectic work sure to appeal to both older and younger listeners. Equal parts fanciful, noisy, intense and unpredictable with a decidedly modern touch that crosses over into many genres all at once, it's not only another superb White Willow release from a band that always delivers high quality discs, but it's one of the strongest progressive rock works of the year.

Four and a half stars.

 Terminal Twilight by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.92 | 262 ratings

Terminal Twilight
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It is autumn and winter is closing in. It's time for things to wither, for things to die. It's time for the twilight of the living year. Terminal twilight. Death to come with the dark.

White Willow's sixth album sees the return of Sylvia Skjellestad (formerly Erichsen) on vocals. The theme of the album is the end of things as we know them. Almost every song is about the world coming to an end somehow. From "Hawks Circle the Mountain" we have "Walked through the rubble, the smog and decay / Up where the sky is not auburn but blue".

In "Red Leaves" we hear "No-one saw it coming / Like a shadow across the land / Will you stand here with me / Hold my hand and you will see / Brace for heavy landing / And the sky will come crashing down".

"Searise" is as you can imagine about a global scale inundation: "Tuesday the last folks left / embarked from the roof of the downtown mall / Everything's sinking, or is the tide on the rise? / She has been thinking / Of rowing her boat to the western hills".

The world experiences a major deep freeze in "Snowswept": "They are calling it a white-out / All the experts on TV / Snow is general from Waikiki to Qatar / But they do not know what scarecrow / Whispered in my frozen ear / Here's a winter that the spring will not relieve".

My favourite of the lot and the song that drew me back to this album again and again until I had properly absorbed it all is "Floor 67". Exactly what ending has come here, I am not sure but it seems to be about watching that ending come from the 67th floor of what seems to be a skyscraper no longer used for the purpose it was built. The lyrics speak of "Dark October" and "Winds that howl and holler / Like a lost and lonely beast". The building was "Once a proud endeavour" but "Now there's nothing here that lingers / But the cold, hollow cries of a market that died". In the end, the first person in the story dances on floor 67 "While you watched the curtain fall".

The only song that doesn't seem to directly deal with doom is "Kansas Regrets", a beautiful, melancholy song sung by Tim Bowness. The song does conclude with the line "You'll never hear your baby's cry". The other two tracks are instrumentals. The re-issue has the bonus track "The Howling Wind".

This is obviously not an album to fill you with cheer and put colour in your cheeks, but it is quite a beautiful piece of work. The folk-based days of the debut are long gone, but I recently purchased "Sacrament", "Storm Season" and "Terminal Twilight" all in the same week, and it seems to me that "Sacrament" mixed some of the folk sound and the heavier styles that cropped up on the debut with more pop and synthesizer-based sounds. "Storm Season" was the heavier album with some songs coming very close to being metal, which was ultimately the reason for Sylvia leaving in the first place.

"Terminal Twilight" has managed to find an excellent balance of all sounds, using some gentle acoustic guitar, adding some pop-like melodies and synthesizer, and melding in some heavier moments. As usual, we also get some very Norwegian prog moments. The longer songs, in fact, are mostly stages for the performances of progressive rock compositions with the actual songs being lyrically rather short. I will admit that there are times where the song lyrics capture my imagination but the music seems to go off on another journey, and at first I try to imagine how the music is continuing or telling the story but later I get lost and my attention wanes. I have to think that a lot of the instrumental sections are actually not trying to tell the story but meant to be a prog feature. My favourite track "Floor 67" has this very pretty melody and sweet, melancholic music but suddenly goes into a kind of weird prog zone before becoming an great moment of progressive rock instrumental music. It almost doesn't work at first but the song comes back round to the lyrics and actually wraps up very suitably for the story.

As I listen more, I find myself sinking deeper under the spell of the album. Listening to this one with "Sacrament" and "Storm Season" on one playlist, it took me some time to distinguish this album as my favourite. But now "Termimal Twilight" has become a preferred purchase of the latter half of this year. I can't quite give it five stars, at least not yet, because some of the "prog jam log jams" (a phrase used by one critic for the latest Iron Maiden album) do set my mind free to wander elsewhere. I expect, however, that this might just be the best White Willow album. At least for my taste.

 Sacrament by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.88 | 148 ratings

White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by toilet_doctor

5 stars Prog Treasure.

This is review of 2014 Remastered Expanded Edition, that came in gorgeous 3 panels Digipack with small booklet in the trunk, tastefully done mostly in classy black and white style. (Black spine will protect the cover from the sunlight - nice touch.) I've been waiting for 14 years for this remaster and it was totally worth it. It sounds great in my hi-end system, smooth and warm. Bottom end finally opened up, reviling prominent bass line. Such a good remastering job should be used for future High Resolution release. Sacrament deserved it.

I have all of White Willow albums, but Sacrament is my favorite. I am not fan of folk, to be honest. However, unlike Prog Folk bands, who use folk music in their compositions as is, WW used stylization of it, smoothly blended into Symphonic Prog, like master-painters use stylization of floral for their paintings. Result is amazing: solid Symphonic Prog with light folk flavor and small nod of traditional Scandinavian prog melancholy. Add to it excellent Sylvia's vocal and inspirational playing.

Sacrament is and always will be Golden Fund of female fronted Symphonic Prog, standing next, in prog history, to Renaissance's Turns of the Card and Scheherazade albums. I don't like loud phrases myself, but it is - what it is: Timeless Masterpiece of Progressive Rock.

I'd like to thank everyone, who took part in this Remastered Edition. 5 Brightest Nordic Stars.

 Sacrament by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.88 | 148 ratings

White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Come 2000 and Holm-Lupo would whip up the musicians for a third White Willow production.Sylvia Erichsen was the only person remaining from the previous album and she was to be surrounded by a fresh core, like unknown keyboardist Brynjar Dambo, who has to fill the shoes of the departing Jan Tariq Rahman, bassist Johannes Saboe, drummer Aage Moltke Schou and flutist Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, future member of Jaga Jazzist, The Opium Cartel and Kaukasus.The album was titled ''Sacrament'', released again on Laser's Edge.

Six rather long pieces with Folk and Classical orientations, offered via the spectrum of progressive music, are what White Willow were best at and ''Sacrament'' continues this extended tradition of electroacoustic soundscapes by the Norwegians, fronted by the charesmatic talents of Homo-Lupo.It's something that should be called actually like Rural Scandinavian Winter Prog, as the music contains soundimages from the Scandinavian countries along with a wide range of different emotions depending on the piece, mostly the melancholic nuances of the North-European lands.But the ethereal, childish voice of Ketil Vestrum Einarsen make her sound like a fairy in a world of woods.''Sacrament'' is above all a deeply symphonic album, speaking about the way the compositions are arranged, even if the Folk inspirations are more than evident.The tracks are full of Mellotron, light organ parts, carefully used synthesizers and pianos, featuring also domestic sounds coming out of Einarsen's flute with Holm-Lupo being responible basically for the electroacoustic moves on guitar.Once you will get used to the sweet themes of the flute, piano and acoustic guitars, a little explosion will transform you into the electric world of White Willow with the impressive interplays and the monster symphonic lines of the Mellotron and Hammond organ, delivering a grandiose atmosphere reminiscent of ANGLAGARD and MARCO ANTONIO ARAUJO.Beautiful music indeed with a couple of stunning pieces like ''Anamnesis'' and ''The reach''.

Another solid album by White Willow, the band deserves every penny if you buy the album.Dark Symphonic Rock with an acoustic background, flavored by a nice female singer.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 Ignis Fatuus by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.75 | 131 ratings

Ignis Fatuus
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Although I bought the reissue with the bonus disc, I am going to review only the original album as that first disc has captivated my ear and the second disc has yet to really sink in enough to demand playing time from my brain.

It was quite likely that I was not ever going to get a White Willow album. Coming from a heavy metal background, I prefer bands with a fair bit of electric guitar in the mix and tend to have less interest in folk-based bands, especially those who get a little too traditional, meaning renaissance or medieval. I mean, having that kind of music in your ear buds is okay but you can't be blaring medieval folk music from the car windows while stopped at a light next to, well, nearly anybody except the season one version of Black Adder. However, I read about this album in a book of prog rock history and good starting point albums, and after buying and liking Anekdoten and Anglagard, I decided to give this album a chance even though the sample listening I had done had me worried.

Surprise, surprise, I quickly discovered that this album really appealed to me. The acoustic guitar, flute, and piano parts are very clearly recorded and lovely to listen to. But there is a good mix of electric sounds too and especially delightful are the heavier parts with distorted electric guitar and classic heavy prog organ. I think it is exactly because the album has so much traditional music (folk, renaissance, medieval) that the heavy electric parts really stand out. But more than that, White willow seem to know what they are doing. They change their singing style to suite the age and style which they are trying to capture. Both the male and female vocals do a very fine job at adapting to the styles too.

Some of the longer songs give the band more room to move around and it's common to find the style and atmosphere changing once or twice. "The Withering of the Boughs" is for the first four minutes a sombre folk ditty of sorts but it changes into a wonderful jig (or is it a reel?) on flute with a simple bass playing alongside. Then some simple percussion joins and then, oh beautiful idea, a moog solo plays overtop the jig. I love flute jigs (or are they reels?) and am a fan of the Scottish/Irish/Celtic folk/rock band Spirit of the West, but here with a moog played over for the last minute, I loved it!

"Now in these Fairy Lands" is not so long but after a slow folksy beginning it turns into an upbeat seventies acoustic guitar bit with organ which also has enchanted my ear.

As for the heavier parts, "Cryptomenysis" and "John Dee's Lament" stand out for me in how they incorporate the heavier guitar into the band's more acoustic style. One point I particularly enjoyed is how the drumming changes in "Cryptomenysis" as the same music is played in different styles. When it's heaviest, the drumming follows a 70's proto-metal style, but as the style lightens up the drumming changes accordingly. It seems to me that this incarnation of White Willow really paid close attention to detail which makes this creation a great joy to listen to.

Though I wouldn't say the entire album appeals to me through and through, I do find it to be excellently executed. In the end, this album has left a bigger impression with me than Anglagard and Anekdoten who were mentioned together with White Willow in the book I read. Though the folk element presides over much of the album, there are plenty of nice surprises elegantly interwoven throughout. A very solid four stars from me.

 Ex Tenebris by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.25 | 92 ratings

Ex Tenebris
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by MJAben

2 stars I wish I could rate this three stars, giving it only two stars seems to imply that the music is weak or that the album is without effort. Nether of which are the case, in fact this is a compelling, interesting and well thought out idea that, unfortunately, did not translate into a strong album.

Perhaps it could be blamed on the recording quality, the relative density of the music / subject matter or the (at times) monotonous vocals but regardless you can't help but get a sense of a failed vision on this record, something that could be far greater than what it is.

 Storm Season by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.95 | 161 ratings

Storm Season
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by agla

5 stars The name of the White Willow is closely linked to that of groups such as Anglagard and Anekdoten, when the Norwegian group gave his fundamental contribution to the birth of this extraordinary season (for the progressive rock) that have been the beginning of the nineties .

Now in its fourth album , the White Willow impose a significant change of direction in their sound , without denying their roots folk rock and progressive , but grafting on this solid foundation elements that might make it desirable Storm Season, even to lovers of other genres .The guitars are much heavier than in the past and doom for the entire album and the atmosphere is very gothic and decadent (and not just for the cover ... )

This is mainly due to the guitarist Jacob Holm - Lupo , author of almost all the music of this album and excellent musician , capable of alternating along the seven lengthy tracks of this work relaxed atmosphere in pure gothic rock , classic arrangements , and explicit references and progressive folk , thanks to the important part that they Mellotron , Hammond and mini- moog within the work . A job for fascinating and varied , just to prove the absolute value of Scandinavian prog!!!

 Ignis Fatuus by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.75 | 131 ratings

Ignis Fatuus
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Ignis Fatuus" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian progressive rock act White Willow. The album was released through The Laser's Edge in 1995. White Willow are one of the most prolific acts from the 90s Norwegian progressive rock scene.

The music on "Ignis Fatuus" is 70s influenced progressive rock packed in a warm and organic sound production. There is a vintage analogue feel about the album which is further enhanced by the inclusion of instruments like violins, pipes, flutes and vintage keyboards/synths (some of which also provides the music with an occasional folky edge). There are both male and female vocals on the album but they are generally pretty sparse (and delivered in both English and Norwegian). The musicianship is on high level.

The atmosphere is generally on the darker side of the progressive rock fence. Even to the point of being sinister at times. Especially the violin adds an eerie darkness to the sound, but also the distorted bass and the heavy drumming does a great job at creating a gloomy sound. White Willow are much more than that though and the album also features more "light" sections. It´s actually quite a varied release and might require a few spins before it sinks in. Featuring 12 tracks and a 66:34 minutes long playing time, "Ignis Fatuus" is also a rather long album, but as the material are as intriguing, well played and well produced as it generally are, that´s not necessarily a weakness and of course not at all uncommon in progressive rock either.

The tracks range from 2 to almost 12 minutes in length. Some of the shorter tracks work as interludes between the longer tracks. There are several standout tracks on the album but the two longest tracks on the album, "Cryptomenysis" and "John Dee´s Lament" do stand out the most to me. Fans of dark 70s progressive rock should find a lot to like about "Ignis Fatuus" and overall it´s a high quality release by White Willow. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

 Terminal Twilight by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.92 | 262 ratings

Terminal Twilight
White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars White Willow's Terminal Twilight album kicks off with some downright intriguing keyboard textures from Lars Fredrik Froislie which made me hopeful for the rest of the album and anticipate a refreshed and revitalised sound from the band; unfortunately, once the performances get under way the album feels more like business as usual for White Willow. It's a competent enough collection of songs and fans of the band certainly won't go away disappointed, but to me it felt a little too often that the band were stuck in a rut and kind of phoning it in, failing to emotionally connect with me as a listener. Bland, but passable.
 Sacrament by WHITE WILLOW album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.88 | 148 ratings

White Willow Symphonic Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Wow! I went into this album with absolutely no expectations, and White Willow blew me away handily. This symphonic prog band is also very folksy, and this can be seen in the intense flute and stunning arrangements. This album may contain the best flute I've ever heard, and that's really saying something.

The female vocals are also particularly beauteous. The thick, fairy tale atmospheres are broken by the sharp and gorgeous vox. They really balanced each other well. I was also highly impressed with the funky bass lines that give the whole album some zip and zap.

Honestly, halfway through the first track, Anamnesis, I was still confused. Suddenly, everything made sense, and the rest of the album floored me. My favorites are the aforementioned track, Paper Moon, and Gnostalgia. These tracks are simply rich, playful, and quite impressive as well on a technical basis. I'll be sure to listen to the rest of this band's discography.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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