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THIEVES' KITCHEN

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Thieves' Kitchen biography
THIEVES' KITCHEN is a modern British line-up that is special because they could get away from the neo progressive influences that his mentor had (with a lot of talent), developed in GREY LADY DOWN. The sound has neo influences put also with strong and fully orchestrated arrangements. The musicianship is complicated but very much in the band spirit. This is a very good blend of traditional prog and newer prog. Recorded in 1999, "Head" sees in "Argot" an excellent second part.

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Water RoadWater Road
Import
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2008
Audio CD$19.99
$24.99 (used)
HeadHead
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2007
Audio CD$19.10
ArgotArgot
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2007
Audio CD$19.99
$15.00 (used)
ShibbolethShibboleth
Thieves' Kitchen Records 2007
Audio CD$19.99
$15.98 (used)
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THIEVES' KITCHEN discography


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THIEVES' KITCHEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 26 ratings
Head
2000
3.59 | 44 ratings
Argot
2001
3.40 | 36 ratings
Shibboleth
2003
3.68 | 74 ratings
The Water Road
2008
3.90 | 101 ratings
One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
2013

THIEVES' KITCHEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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

THIEVES' KITCHEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Water Road by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.68 | 74 ratings

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The Water Road
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I was actually quite surprise that finally Thieve's Kitchen has transformed their music into something truly a progressive rock music after I was quite disappointed with their previous album "argot" and I did not give high rating on it. This one is really different as the music, composition-wise, is quite mature even though it moves quite slow in tempo. But it does not matter at all as prog music not necessary a dynamic one or energetic. You might not be patient listening to for example the opening track The Long Fianchetto (21:01) as it has a slow movement at the start> But in my case I really love the piano solo at the beginning of the track which sends a strong message about the classical nuances of the music. But actually I was wrong thinking like this as when the guitar enters the scene it indicates me another style of music that is different with what I previously expected. I enjoy the guitar work, really. The female vocal by Amy Darby makes the song fulfills its role nicely throughout the long duration.

On thing unique about this album is that the fact that I am not aware how changes have happened from one track to another as the second and third track happen naturally as they are part of the already very long opening track. So basically in a total of 34 minutes I enjoy the flow of the music in its entirety without any intention to stop it at all.

I finally only realized that I reach track four Om Tare (7:44) as musically and energy-wise it's totally different from the previous three tracks. This one is really a killer as it moves in relatively fast tempo in the vein of Finneus Gauge music. You might put this fourth track as your best track as it has very strong in composition and it's dynamic and energetic and it has many tempo changes. You won't believe this one is featured in this album by Thieve's Kitchen. It then moves beautifully to the fifth track Tacenda for You (9:34) through nice female vocal and wonderful combined work of keyboard / mellotron and guitar with some flutework as well. Oh this is beautiful really!

As for lineup, I knew the man behind this band: Mark Robotham from his tenure in neo prog band called as Grey Lady Down, as well as Anglagard's Thomas Johnson who plays keyboards with mellotron-like sounds throughout the album.

To me this is an excellent prog music that blends nicely many elements like folks, symphonic prog as well as jazz-rock fusion. It's basically a blend of many kinds of music and overall it's really an excellent result. I highly recommend this prog album. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 101 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kurtrongey

5 stars Over two months of listening to "One for Sorrow, Two for Joy," I've been transfixed by its beauty. What an emotionally satisfying listen. This album is another affirmation of the welcome revival of outstanding music from the UK (see also Sanguine Hum and Big Big Train). Phil Mercy's writing has continued to develop depth and sophistication. The stately (but not lugubrious) pace the album takes for much of its length makes it easy to settle into for an uninterrupted listen.

If I were to describe the music, I would say it takes the harmonic approach of the first two National Health albums and folds it into a verdant English pastoral mood. The textures are usually "lush" but never thick and congested, always supporting and never overwhelming Amy Darby's beautiful singing. I can't help comparing her to Amanda Parsons in the climax of "Of Sparks and Spires." There's plenty of shifting terrain for the rhythmic section (half of Sanguine Hum's "Diving Bell" configuration), but never in a tricky way, always following the contours and shapes of the melody and drama. The melodies stick with me and float pleasingly throughtout my mind long after a listen. It's lovingly recorded with a wonderful sense of texture and naturalness and no hint of producer-itis.

If you have a taste for sophisticated symphonic prog with that unmistakable British thing about it, you really owe it to yourself to have this album.

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 The Water Road by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.68 | 74 ratings

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The Water Road
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars An interesting thing about the album when checking out the reviews on PA, is that among the Collaborators alone, this has been ranked at everything from 1* to all 5. This was their fourth album, released in 2008, but I have only just come across it. Having enjoyed their most recent album so much, I knew that this one had to be worth investigating and since receiving it have played it a great deal. I fully understand why there has been such a variance in the marks awarded to this album as musically it is incredibly diverse, with the music sometimes in perfect harmony with Amy, and at others she is almost at odds, while for many passages she is absent as both Phil (guitars) and Thomas (keys) are more than happy being right at the forefront of proceedings, driving the music onwards.

Ah, the music. Both Thomas and guest Anna Holmgren are from Anglagard, and there is plenty of angular Swedish sounding prog on this album, with solid keyboards and lifting flute. But, there are also times when these guys remind you that they are very much a rock band with driving guitars and pacy runs. This was Mark Robotham's final album with the band, and when I think back to the time when he played me a pre-release tape of GLD's debut album, his drumming has changed beyond all recognition as he is fully aware of the need for space and what he doesn't play is as important within the overall sound and context as what he does play.

Opening song "The Long Fiachetto" clocks in at more than 21 minutes and is a real statement of intent, but for me the highlight is the fourth song, "Om Tare". It commences with a multi-tracked chant, but after the initial six seconds the guys burst forth with a complex burst of jazz rock that took me back to my teenage years. Somehow, towards the end of the Seventies I ended up with a copy of Colosseum II's 1977 album 'War Dance' in my collection. It was an album that I often listened to, wondering in the interplay between rhythm section of Jon Hiseman and John Mole, with keyboard player Don Airey and guitarist Gary Moore blasting over the top. There was no need for a singer, as there was definitely no room for one, and if I had just heard the passage from TK with no knowledge of who it was I would have bet my life that it was from CII.

But, that is the only song like it on the album, and therein lies what for me is a strength but others may find confusing, in that this is an album where the band quite definitely refuse to sit within one musical style and instead want to expand their wings, developing and progressing as they go.

I awarded 'Shibboleth', the album immediately prior to this one, 4*'s and 'One For Sorrow', the one after it, 5 *'s and this is yet another fine example of an album worthy of top marks. It is definitely worth seeking out. www.thieveskitchen.com

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 101 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars I love Thieves' Kitchen! Vocalist Amy Darby is so unique--kind of a cross between THINKING PLAGUE's vocalist from 1996-2008, Deborah Perry, and the great ANNIE HASLEM. She has a strong, soothing voice that delivers her lyrics clearly, cleanly and yet with a melodic styling that is both unusual and interesting. On this new album the band is joined by some (ex-?) ANGLAGARD members to great effect--Thomas Johnson's keyboards, though mostly serving in a support role, and Anna Holmgren's flute contributions are quite welcome and provide a warmth and fullness that support Amy's vocals quite wonderfully. As always, I absolutely adore the pastoral themes--both musically and lyrically--that Amy and Rob explore.

Favorite songs: the gorgeous epic 5. "Germander Speedwell" (14:32) (10/10) which is a welcome addition to my all-time favorite prog epic list; the simple yet perfect folk song "The Weaver" (4:33) (10/10) and 2. "Deor" (7:51) (9/10). "Hypatia" (8:56), "A Fool's Journey" (8:19), and the jazzier "Of Sparks and Spires" (12:49) are each solid, interesting, and pleasurable 8/10 songs.

A 4.5 star album that I'm not (yet) willing to elevate to "masterpiece" status. Give it some more time. Highly recommended.

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 Argot by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 44 ratings

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Argot
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars I met Mark Robotham a few weeks ago and he told me how well this was selling, a fact also confirmed by Malcolm Parker at GFT. I was determined to give this a good hearing so I waited until I was in the car for a long drive and put it on. There are only four songs, but the album is over an hour in length, and they have decided to print the lyrics, but each song in a different language! (My good mate Artur Chachlowski provided the translation for "Escape").

"John Doe Number One" kicks off the album, and at twenty minutes plus I settled in to be impressed. You can tell that there is a 'but' coming, can't you. It's not my fault. I really wanted to like this album, I was determined to do so, but it cannot be my type of prog. I found that my attention kept wandering. Passages that should have gripped my attention just didn't. I know that there are going to be some who feel that this is a wonderful album, bringing together bands as diverse as King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Genesis, but it just didn't do anything for me.

Originally appeared in Feedback #63, July 01

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 101 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I was on www.progarchives.com the other night posting up some old reviews, and one of these was for TK's 'Shibboleth'. It was only then that I noticed that they had a new album out, so I went over to their website and after swapping some emails with guitarist Phil Mercy I ended up with a copy of 'One For Sorrow'. I originally got involved with TK when they formed in the late Nineties as I knew drummer Mark Robotham who had previously been with Grey Lady Down, but he is no longer with the band. 'Shibboleth' was their third album, and to my ears easily their best, although I did question at the time as to whether the band should consider becoming an instrumental group as I felt that their complexity didn't always leave enough room for vocalist Amy Darby. Apparently there has been an album between this and the last one I heard, and there have also been some line-up changes in that while Thomas Johnson (keyboards, ex-Anglagard) is there with Amy and Phil, the rest of the band are currently guests with Paul Mallyon (drums), Brad Waissman (bass) and Anna Holmgren (flute, also from Anglagard).

But, this doesn't come across as a project in any way as this is a band that know exactly what they are about. The music is incredibly complex, and at times has a hard rocking neo- prog guitar edge while at others it is much more symphonic. However, the big difference for me is that there appears to be a far greater understanding of the nuances of atmosphere and delicacy, combined with loads of control. This means that Phil and Thomas are quite happy to take the lead on instrumental passages yet also know when to rein it in and provide just the right amount of space for Amy. She has an incredible voice, particularly in regard to her breath and note control so that long drawn out sections is not an issue for her. At these times her voice is very much to the forefront, lifted over the maelstrom that is going on behind her. Thomas uses a great deal of different keyboard sounds and textures and that definitely adds to the picture that they paint.

As always, Rob Aubrey has done a sterling job with the production, so it doesn't matter if it is a quiet passage or bombastic, everything can be clearly heard and give the right emphasis. If I had to pick just one band for comparison then the obvious would be Renaissance, but with Amy singing more contralto than Annie's soprano. I am extremely reticent to provide more than one album with a 5 * rating in a sitting, and I have just done that with the new Comedy of Errors CD, but in all conscience I can't give it any less. I love it. www.thieveskitchen.com

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 Shibboleth by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.40 | 36 ratings

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Shibboleth
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars It is probably fair to say that over the years I have not been TK's biggest fan, so when this arrived in the post I was in no rush to put it in the player. However, a long drive home one day gave me the opportunity to listen to this all the way through in one sitting. But even from the first delicate notes and drum introduction of "The Picture Slave" I felt that something quite dramatic had changed either in the music or in my appreciation of it. There is a feeling of sense of purpose ? the band knows what they want to achieve and are going to get there, no matter what. This is complex prog with the entire band linking in at a very high level indeed. This hearkens back not to the heady days of neo-prog but further back to the time of bands like ELP where musical ability and a lack of knowledge or caring of boundaries made the prog scene so vibrant and exciting. There is more than a hint of jazz (particularly in some of the keyboards), and one is kept looking for the next stage.

The one thing that the band now needs to consider is whether or not they need to become one of those very rare beasts, an instrumental prog outfit. It isn't that Amy's vocals are poor, just that for most of this album there is no room for her, and even when she makes an appearance the vocals aren't as high in the mix as they might be. But, this does give the music a different edge to many.

This album has certainly caused me to have a major rethink of TK, and I am sure that many more progheads will be turned onto the band by this superb album. With one track nearly twenty-four minutes in length there is something here for everyone, with enough twists and turns to make this constantly interesting. This is an album that I have really enjoyed and which has made me look forward to the next one, which will get onto my player with far more alacrity. For more details visit the web site at www.thieveskitchen.co.uk.

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 101 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Kicking off with a magpie-themed nursery rhyme, One for Sorrow, Two for Joy marks the point where Thieves' Kitchen have become periliously close to being the proverbial axe whose head has been replaced five times and whose handle has been replaced three times; with the departure of Mark Robotham (replaced by guest drummer Paul Mallyon), only Phil Mercy remains from the "Head" lineup. In addition, it's also the first album to follow the departure of the Andy Bonham/Mark Robotham rhythm section which had underpinned the band's sound since Argot, and in fact the album is recorded with a "guest" rhythm section.

Of course, bands have survived lineup fluctuations before and thrived (see the example of Renaissance, for instance), and arguably Thieves' Kitchen have never quite managed to actually deploy a stable lineup from album to album. However, the lineup troubles since The Water Road have resulted in something of a musical regression, with the band essentially reverting to a sound reminiscent of Argot or Shibboleth. Despite Anna Holmgren's presence on flute, the band seem less keen on chasing the intriguing explorations of earlier prog - particularly protean prog sounds from the early days of the scene - which had made The Water Road such an engaging listen. I suppose this one will pass muster in the eyes of the band's fans, but I can't help but think the band are treading water and not actually getting anywhere.

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 101 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by Ursa Minor

4 stars It's been a long lay off for Thieves' Kitchen, Phil Mercy's hand tendon problems have made it five years since the band released the very well received "The Water Road". They return in January 2013 with this album featuring the same line up. After the first track which is just a rendition by Amy of the children's nursery rhyme about magpies it's on with the music. This is a good album with thoughtful lyrics and likeable songs, many of the lyrics seem to be influenced by ancient British mythology and paganism. Phil Mercy's guitar playing is a bit overstated and showy at times but in general he does find the right balance. On the other hand, the keyboards of Thomas Johnson, a long time member of Anglagard, are certainly more understated and stay mostly in the background. He does contributes an excellent mellotron solo midway through the track "Fool's Journey" and he makes a vital contribution to the jazzy sounding parts of the track "Of Sparks And Spires". This track and others also features lovely flute work by another Anglagard member, Anna Holmgren . Johnson's keyboard work is integral (even when in the background) to the success of this album as are the terrific vocals of Amy Darby. The tracks "Germander Speedwell" and "The Weaver" are mostly tranquil and acoustic in nature with the former praising the beauty of the light blue flower of that name while the latter includes pagan and Anglo-Saxon phrases in its lyrics to tell of the weaving of ancient tales. In conclusion, a very nice album, a little bit like Solstice in style, well worth buying and giving an extended listen.

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 One For Sorrow, Two For Joy by THIEVES' KITCHEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.90 | 101 ratings

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One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Thieves' Kitchen Eclectic Prog

Review by brotherjohn

4 stars The fifth album from Thieves' Kitchen finds them further exploring the jazzy symphonic fusion feel that marked their previous gem, 'The Water Road', and, like previous albums, 'One For Joy, Two For Sorrow' has a personality of its own. The flute adds a lot to these fine compositions, particular in the concluding opus, 'Of Sparks and Spires', and my favorite track, 'Hypatia', which I think is a fantastic piece of music, marked my great melodies, superb composition, and lovely vocals. 'Deor' comes in very strong as well, but the chorus might be repeated a time too many, so that by the end of the song I wasn't quite as enamored as I was during the first half of the song. 'Germander Speedwell' is another great track, featuring acoustic guitar, and reminding me a bit of 'Cirrus Bay'. 'The Weaver' is the one short track, a pretty acoustic piece that is growing on me, and 'A Fool's Journey' is a heavier piece, reminiscient of their earlier music. Overall, an excellent album throughout, with a whole lot more to offer than most of today's music, even among the prog world. 4 1/2 stars.

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