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SHADOWFAX

Crossover Prog • United States


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Shadowfax biography
SHADOWFAX. Nice name for a progressive rock band. At least that's how they started off. Named after Gandalf's a horse in Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings. They are often classified as new age, but their first album really wasn't, it was rather quite like a more rocking version of OREGON and had a mixture of hard and soft songs. And really their latter albums weren't completely although they lost some of their harder edge and devoted themselves to more mellow fair.

Three of the founding members actually got together four years earlier in 1972, CHUCK GREENBERG - winds, G.E. STINSON - guitars, and PHIL MAGGINI - bass. DOUG MALUCHNIK joined on keyboards in 1973 and finally STUART NEVITT, who had worked with MALUCHNIK, came along in 1974 for drums/percussion and the ensemble was complete. Their first album, "Watercourse Way", was recorded in 1975 and released in 1976 on the ABC/Passport label. This album may not have been well know among progressive music fans, but with its spectacular cover art and well crafted music, it was a treasured item in the collections of those that knew them at the time. So much so that it was commented on in the CD liner notes of the re-release that fans were always showing up with well worn copies of the album requesting new versions be made available.

The band disappeared for a few years after they debut and then resurfaced on the Windham Hill label in 1982 with a self-titled album of new material. MALUCHNIK was out but they brought in a few extra musicians who contributed additional instrumentation on various songs. In 1983 they released "Shadowdance", which saw them getting a little heavier. JARED STEWART was brought in for full time keyboards along with JAMIL SMADZINSKI, who had contributed to a couple songs on the previous albums, as a violinist for all the tracks. Once again they had several guest musicians on board. They even brought back two pieces from their first Passport albums. Next came "Dreams Of Children", 1984, which is probably the Windham Hill album that comes closest to the heaviness present in of some of the music on "Watercourse Way". DAVID LEWIS replaced their keyboardist from the last album. 1986's "Too Far To Whisper" saw the band returning to a more 'new age' style overall. The core band remained the same, except for the violin seat, filled by CHARLES BISHARAT, and had another set of special guests contributing to various tracks. They moved on to another label and cranked out five more albums.read more

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Buy SHADOWFAX Music


What Goes Around: Best ofWhat Goes Around: Best of
Sbme Special Mkts. 1991
Audio CD$1.56
$2.25 (used)
ShadowdanceShadowdance
Windham Hill Records 1997
Audio CD$38.49
$0.87 (used)
Dreams of ChildrenDreams of Children
Windham Hill Records 1990
Audio CD$23.69
$0.95 (used)
Too Far to WhisperToo Far to Whisper
1986 Windham Hill Records 1990
Audio CD$14.99
$0.24 (used)
Pure ShadowfaxPure Shadowfax
RCA 2006
Audio CD$1,998.99
$3.78 (used)
EsperantoEsperanto
Warner Bros. 1992
Audio CD$12.70
$0.95 (used)
ShadowfaxShadowfax
Windham Hill Records 1997
Audio CD$39.95
$0.01 (used)
Magic TheaterMagic Theater
MFLP 2011
Audio CD$15.99
$11.94 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Shadowfax - Folksongs For A Nuclear Village - New Promo LP in Orig Shrinkwrap US $20.00 Buy It Now 2h 51m
SHADOWFAX WINDHAM HILL PROMO SINGLE VINTAGE 1984 US $14.99 [0 bids]
3h 52m
SHADOWFAX Watercourse Way reissue of the 1975 recording US $2.99 Buy It Now 3h 56m
SHADOWFAX THE DREAMS OF CHILDREN 1984 WINDHAM HILL WH-1038 LP NEW AGE LP US $9.99 Buy It Now 11h 40m
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SHADOWFAX THE DREAMS OF CHILDREN CASSETTE OOP JAZZ US $2.40 Buy It Now 13h 42m
Shadowfax by Shadowfax (CD, Apr-1997, Windham Hill Records) US $0.99 [0 bids]
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The Best of Shadowfax What Goes Around CD US $1.99 Buy It Now 14h 27m
SHADOWFAX TOO FAR TO WHISPER VINYL LP RECORD NEW SEALED US $16.87 Buy It Now 16h 47m
Shadowfax - The Dreams Of Children - Tape US $5.00 Buy It Now 17h 38m
SHADOWFAX THE DREAMS OF CHILDREN / 1984 WINDHAM HILLS RECORDS WH-1038 US $4.99 Buy It Now 18h 14m
Shadowfax by Shadowfax (CD, Apr-1997, Windham Hill Records) US $3.00 [0 bids]
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Windham Hill Collection - 7 LP LOT (George Winston/Shadowfax/Michael Hedges/etc) US $20.00 [0 bids]
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21h 11m
SHADOWFAX Folksongs for a Nuclear Village CASSETTE US $0.99 [0 bids]
22h
Lot of 94 Jazz FUSION Hiroshima Shadowfax Bohemians Chieftains Dave Koz Valentin US $403.72 Buy It Now 23h 20m
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Shadowfax "Folksongs for a Nuclear Village" Windom Hill/Capital 1988 CASSETTE US $5.00 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX SHADOWDANCE LP US $14.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Esperanto by Shadowfax (CD, Sep-1992, EarthBeat) US $9.95 Buy It Now 1 day
1984 SHADOWFAX - THE DREAMS OF CHILDREN Windham Hill WH-1038 Vinyl LP Album US $3.36 Buy It Now 1 day
Shadowfax "The Dreams of Children" LP US $4.95 Buy It Now 1 day
SHADOWFAX DREAMS OF CHILDREN 1984 CASSETTE ANOTHER COUNTRY SNOWLINE SHAMAN SONG US $3.99 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX We Used To Laugh/Firewalker 12 Inch 1988 US $6.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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SHADOWFAX - Too Far to Whisper LP Windham Hill SEALED co US $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
WILLIAM ACKERMAN,SHADOWFAX,GEORGE WINSTON Japan 1984 Laser Disc+Obi WINDHAM HILL US $29.99 Buy It Now 2 days
WILLIAM ACKERMAN,SHADOWFAX,LIZ STORY + Japan 1986 Laser Disc SEASONS US $29.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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Shadowfax : The Odd Get Even CD (1990) US $6.98 Buy It Now 2 days
Shadowfax Watercourse Way US $2.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax Live CD US $6.35 Buy It Now 2 days
SHADOWFAX Shadowdance 1983 Near Mint US $7.99 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX self-titled WINDHAM HILL LP '82 OG Scott Cossu Alex de Grassi US $2.00 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX same self titled s/t LP Vinyl Windham Hill WH-1022 Jazz 1982 NEAR MINT US $7.98 Buy It Now 2 days
What Goes Around /The best of SHADOWFAX (CD, 1991, Windham Hill) US $5.99 Buy It Now 2 days
SHADOWFAX - SHADOWDANCE, VINYL LP RECORD, JAZZ US $7.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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LOT OF (2) SHADOWFAX NEW AGE ALBUMS US $9.99 Buy It Now 3 days
Vinyl - Rock Shadowfax Watercourse Way, 1976 Passport Records PPSD US $7.45 [1 bids]
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CD WORD OF MOUTH DIGITAL SHADOWFAX BOB JAMES RARE/MINT! US $15.99 Buy It Now 3 days
SHADOWFAX - "Folksongs For A Nuclear.." 1988 CD Long Box - 1st US PROMO - SEALED US $29.88 Buy It Now 3 days
Shadowfax by Shadowfax (1997, Windham Hill Records) CD & PAPER SLEEVE ONLY US $4.99 Buy It Now 3 days
SHADOWFAX - MAGIC THEATER + THE ODD GET EVEN US $4.50 [0 bids]
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AROMASOUNDS RELAX A Windham Hill Collection NEW CD Yanni Paul Winter Shadowfax US $9.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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Various Shadowfax Liz Story Malcolm Dalglish - Windham Hill Sampler 86 LP VG+ US $5.90 Buy It Now 3 days
Shadowfax Shadowdance Windham Hill Records Vinyl LP Record Free Shipping US $12.50 Buy It Now 3 days
AN EVENING WITH WINDHAM HILL LIVE / Shadowfax SHADOWFAX 2-LPs W. Hill 1026 NM- US $14.95 Buy It Now 3 days
Shadowfax Too Far to Whisper Windham Hill Records Vinyl LP Record Free Shipping US $12.50 Buy It Now 3 days
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Shadowfax - Esperanto (CD, EarthBeat) MINT US $3.95 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax - Too Far to Whisper (CD, Windham Hill) MINT US $3.95 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax LP Too Far To Whisper US $8.00 Buy It Now 4 days
Shadowfax Live ~ 1995 US $2.99 [0 bids]
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Magic Theater by Shadowfax (CD, Jan-1994, EarthBeat) US $5.99 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX - "Watercourse Way" LP 1976 ORIG 1st US PROMO (Orig. Cover - Passport) US $25.88 Buy It Now 4 days
SHADOWFAX Windham Hill WH 1022 12" record album LP 80's alt acoustic US $2.99 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax - 1982 Release [ 33 rpm vinyl ] US $5.00 [0 bids]
US $7.00 Buy It Now
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Shadowfax - Too Far To Whisper - LP - EX US $4.99 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX: Too Far To Whisper LP WINDHAM RECORDS WH 1051 US 1969 NM US $7.99 Buy It Now 4 days
Shadowfax by Shadowfax (CD, Apr-1997, Windham Hill Records) US $9.99 Buy It Now 4 days
SHADOWFAX: TOO FAR TO WHISPER - ORIGINAL 1986 WINDHAM HILL DOLBY HX PRO CASSETTE US $2.95 Buy It Now 5 days
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Windam Hill SPA MUSIC Instrumental SHADOWFAX Gold-Stamp PROMO 33 LP Record MINT US $11.99 Buy It Now 5 days
Shadowfax US $2.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax Shadowdance US $2.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax US $2.00 [0 bids]
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The Dreams of Children Shadowfax US $2.00 [0 bids]
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Vintage LP Shadowfax Watercourse Way 1976 Passport Original US $3.00 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX 3TRK SAMPLER w/ RARE FIREWALKER EDIT 1988 USA PROMO DJ CD Single US $24.99 Buy It Now 5 days
Shadowfax US $3.51 Buy It Now 5 days
Shadowfax Folksongs for a Nuclear Village rare Cassette US $5.37 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX Too Far To Whisper on Windham Hill 1051 PROMO US $3.99 Buy It Now 6 days
Shadowfax "Shadowdance" New Age LP US $4.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax Watercourse Way US $9.95 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax - What Goes Around-Best Of CD US $10.09 Buy It Now 6 days
SHADOWFAX cd SHADOWDANCE windham hill records Ghost Bird New Electric India US $19.99 Buy It Now 6 days
Shadowfax The Odd Get Even US $3.00 [0 bids]
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SHADOWFAX, MICHAEL HEDGES AND ESTEBAN 4 CD'S US $19.99 Buy It Now 6 days
Shadowfax / Shadowdance US $8.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax / Watercourse Way / Near Mint US $10.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax / The Dreams Of Children / Near Mint / 1st Edition US $10.00 [0 bids]
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Shadowfax - Too Far To Whisper (1986) - Used - Compact Disc US $0.99 Buy It Now 6 days
Esperanto by Shadowfax (Cassette, Sep-1992, EarthBeat) Jazz US $3.99 Buy It Now 6 days
SHADOWFAX SHADOWDANCE WINDHAM HILL 1983 US $3.99 Buy It Now 6 days
Shadowfax - Windham Hill Retrospective (2010) - New - Compact Disc US $2.88 Buy It Now 6 days
Magic Theater, Shadowfax, Good US $5.98 Buy It Now 6 days

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SHADOWFAX discography


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

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

3.82 | 29 ratings
Watercourse Way
1976
3.15 | 4 ratings
Shadowfax
1982
3.24 | 11 ratings
Shadowdance
1983
2.19 | 8 ratings
The dreams of children
1984
2.67 | 3 ratings
Too far to whisper
1986
2.13 | 4 ratings
Folksongs for a Nuclear Village
1988
2.67 | 3 ratings
The odd get even
1990
2.00 | 2 ratings
Esperanto
1992
2.00 | 1 ratings
Magic theater
1994

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live
1995

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Pure Shadowfax
2006

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Orangutan Gang (Strikes Back)
1986

SHADOWFAX Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shadowfax by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.15 | 4 ratings

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Shadowfax
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by zwordser

3 stars This self-titled album was my introduction to the band. I admit that I found it at random, and the only reason I got it was because I liked the name (yep, as far as I know, named after Gandalf's horse); I had no idea what the band sounded like. However, as this was a Windham Hill release, I was expecting something light, perhaps new age sounding, which is basically what I got. However, upon listening a little closer a few more times I noticed that it wasn't just your average new age: there was something a little more to it. I heard shades of familiarity, however distant, with some of my more prized prog rock music. And after a bit of research, I came to find out that Shadowfax indeed began their career in the 70s with the much more progressive sounding Watercourse Way (review of which I have also submitted), and did not release Shadowfax until 6 years later in the early 80's. They veered a bit away from prog in the 80's, except instead of moving towards pop (like many prog bands did) they went to new age/easy listening. Pretty much perfect for a Windham Hill release.

I've come to think of the album as "prog lite". There are parallels with the lighter tracks from Watercourse Way, but gone are the truly jazzy themes, vocals, hard drumming and electric guitar. The music is, for the most part, calming and evocative of a peaceful natural world. The best songs to my ears are the first two tracks: Angel's Flight and Vajra, which are two of the slightly proggy tracks that have a touch of off-beat rhythm and some excellent acoustic guitar. There are no exceptionally memorable tracks, but the album is good either for background listening (when you are doing something and don't want to be too distracted or emotionally swept away) or perhaps it could be good for meditation. It's a good album for those who appreciate prog, but occasionally like to dabble in or chill with light new age a bit. I give it 2.5 stars.

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 Watercourse Way by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.82 | 29 ratings

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Watercourse Way
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by zwordser

4 stars For my very first album review on Progarchives, I've decided on one of the better albums I've heard that seems to be less well-know and perhaps doesn't get quite the attention it deserves. In fact, I'm a little surprised; it's really, really good, one of the better jazz-rock/symphonic albums that I have heard to date. True, Shadowfax is classified as "crossover", and considering their later career, I suppose they are. But Watercourse Way is much heavier, and to my ears, sounds more passionate than at least some of their later albums (four of which I have heard as of writing this review). Shadowfax went much lighter, more like New Age music after this album. Perhaps thats why Watercourse Way does not get as much attention. I wouldn't say the band's path was necessarily a mistake , as I don't know the details of their history and can't judge. However, after hearing Watercourse Way, I can't help but wonder if they could have become one of the more preeminent prog acts had they chosen to continue with a similar sound, rather than moving into new agey territory.

In any case, Watercourse Way is worth a listen for anyone who really likes jazz/rock, symphonic, and/or eclectic prog. It just sounds so progressive, with all the elements: multiple instruments, (including ethnic ones like the sitar), shifting time signatures, a mix of harder and softer tunes, and complex arrangements, which are, IMO, very good ones, on par with many of the best prog bands of the 70's. As it is, I suppose the album could be classified as a "hidden gem". A solid 4.2 stars.

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 The dreams of children by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.19 | 8 ratings

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The dreams of children
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by Argonaught

3 stars OK, this may not be the glorious Shadowfax of their earlier fusion era, but still a very decent and pleasant album nevertheless.

If The Dreams of Children were to be judged solely on the basis of its level of "proggyness", it could easily be found lacking ... but for those who don't mind - for a change - a short New Age intermezzo in their "prog" spiritual diet, this Shadowfax album may feel refreshing.

I wasn't disappointed. Matter of fact, the Shadowfax evolution between their debut Watercourse Way and The Dreams was a lot more palatable than that of some bands, who shape-shifted into commercial pop outfits in the 1980's.

No less that 3 stars for The Dreams, therefore

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 Watercourse Way by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.82 | 29 ratings

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Watercourse Way
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Most here would agree that punk was the antithesis of prog and find few examples of artists that represent the missing link in the great transformation of 1976. Almost as many here would find new age music that dominated baby boomer nighttime programming through much of the 1980s to be similarly unrelated. Yet in SHADOWFAX we find a band that recorded a largely heavy prog album in 1975 and did not resurface until 1982 on Windham Hill Records in a style that allowed yuppies to feel somewhat connected to Eastern mysticism and palatable spirituality after all. But this is about the distant debut "Watercourse Way" aka the one with the lovely cover.

The music herein is more like a blend of mid period KING CRIMSON, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, OREGON JAN AKKERMAN, JADE WARRIOR and CAMEL. The first two tracks lean more to the former including the only one with vocals "Linear Dance" which I actually think is one of the better contributions here. The gentler side of the group is in the medieval sounding and titled "Petite Aubade" and the acoustically oriented title cut. In between all of these lies the monster closer "Song for my Brother", an ANDY LATIMER styled instrumental ballad that shuttles from ambient mood setting to riveting lead solo.

Unlike the MIKE OLDFIELDs and TANGERINE DREAMs of the prog world SHADOWFAX never got much chance to establish itself as a prog force before crossing over into new age. Hence "Watercourse Way" represents a damned river that can barely be recognized or even remembered 7 years downstream.

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 Shadowdance by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.24 | 11 ratings

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Shadowdance
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by gr8dane

3 stars Since I don't have to talk to 'YOU' face to face ,I don't mind admitting that I was along for the New Age ride.There indeed was some pleasant music to be had.I was particularly fond of Patrick O'Hearn of Zappa fame.Also had me some Yanni,Andreas Vollenweider and some quality stuff released on the German 'Erdenklang' label that was really nice, along with the Peter Bauman run Private Music and of course Windham Hill.

At that time in the early 80s I think I heard Shadowfax on the local university radio station and quite liked it.This was the only one of theirs i had at the time.Like most New Age it is very light fare.These guys are a little hard to describe ,but I guess some jazz rock light sorta mellow Jean Luc Ponty,Passport and Mike Oldfield at times, along with the odd dash of folky Hobbit'ish music. TCat's go an agreeable description,so I won't go track by track myself.

So if you wanna sit by a lake at dusk with a nice bottle of wine and mellow out with some background music,you can't go wrong with this.

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 Magic theater by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Magic theater
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

— First review of this album —
2 stars Shadowfax ended their recording career with an album slightly better than the previous "Esperanto". Just slightly. And to be completely honest, this band, aside from their first album, were just about the opposite of progressive. They recorded one great fusion album, and six years later reappeared as new age darlings on the insipid Windham Hill label. From that point on, they rejected excitement in their music, and created background sounds.

This album, like the majority of Shadowfax output, declines to have any character. Light, ambiguous ethnic beats form the backdrop of slight unchallenging melodies. The majority of the creativity went into the song titles, like Hey! Your Hat's On Backwards and How Much Does Zimbabwe?.

Get "Watercourse Way, don't bother with any of the others.

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 Esperanto by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1992
2.00 | 2 ratings

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Esperanto
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

2 stars This album starts out in a promising way. Not great, by any means, but promising.

The album is called "Esperanto", after that manufactured language that was supposed to (in it's creator's mind) to become the world's universal language (good luck with that - I bet more people speak Klingon). The first two tracks, possibly in honor of the album title, are based on ambiguous tribal rhythms, with new agey synths filling out the sound. They are not bad, but, in this band's style since they became Windham Hill darlings, very unassuming.

After those two songs, the album reverts back to the new age groove (yawn), emphasizing Kenny G-like soprano sax. The worst offenders are the placid, oops, I mean flaccid songs written by bassist Phil Maggini. That he somehow convinced L Shankar to appear on one song, Tanah Lot, is a miracle (but it doesn't really help).

There are a few more "world beats" that pop up in some of the later songs, but the melodies played over them don't let the songs flourish.

I really hoped that leaving the WH label would allow these guys to break out, and get back to their roots (their first album, "Watercourse Way", was excellent). Sorry.

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 The dreams of children by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.19 | 8 ratings

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The dreams of children
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

1 stars This album is a dissapointment in comparison to Shadowdance. It's as if they moved from their original sound to take on the label they had been given, that of being a new age band. I'm not saying that the album is not listenable, there are still some nice explorations, but the sound is getting to be more like the new age bands that shared the Windham Hill label, which is a shame.

The first track is "Another Country" which tries to sound like world music but is nothing like anything from another country. It's simple 4/4 time and the only "world-y" thing about it are the cool percussives. The melody seems mostly taken on by a flute and it tries to copy the sound in the previous album's title track, but doesn't come close. "Snowline" is nothing but a popular jazz sound and doesn't really do much. "The Big Song" starts out slowly and sounds like it might actually go somewhere, it even sounds like it's exploring new territory, but then the drums join in, the theme establishes itself and it becomes nothing but a rock instrumental. Nothing exciting here past the first minute. "The Dreams of Children" is nothing but a copy of mellow new age which is the opposite of the Shadowdance album...the Shadowdance album demands to be listened to while this title track only demands to be background music. Nothing special here either. "Word from the Village" contains vocals in what sounds like a tribal language and can almost be passed off as world music, but it sounds too polished and the sax actually ruins what could have been a nice piece. Fortunately, the middle part of this track loses the sax and becomes enjoyable until the sax comes back with some very light improv which messes up the song again. Heavy bass and keyboards introduce "Kindred Spirits". This horrible song sounds like an introduction to some terrible 80s hit song and you almost expect Peter Cetera to start singing one of his lousy top 40 songs that ruined the band "Chicago". "Shaman Song" has got the cool percussives again and is led by a violin. At least in this track, the violin doesn't try to spin off a traditional pop sound. This is the best track on the album and almost sounds more like it belongs on the Shadowdance album. Everything works together very nicely in this track and it doesn't sound like the typical new age faire that was around at the the time. This is the direction you wish the rest of the album would have went. "Above the Wailing Wall" is also another great track with an exciting guitar lead in the beginning. The violin takes over with a distintive sound that follows no real theme but is very interesting anyway. The guitar comes back with the original theme, then wanders off into variant forms along with the violin but it fades out all too soon.

So, other that the last two tracks, this is mostly just convoluted new age music. New age music did have some highlights, but there is nothing new here, it's just the same tired worn- out formulaic sound over some nice percussion. I would recommend the previous album "Shadowdance" over this one by quite a large margin. Too bad the band did not continue exploring the sounds and complex rhythms from that album. Instead they attempted to lighten their sound and go to where the money seemed to be, but this probably helped ruin their reputation of what might have been a great jazz/prog band.

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 Shadowdance by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.24 | 11 ratings

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Shadowdance
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by TCat

3 stars My introduction to this band was through a Windham Hill sampler. The composition featured on the sampler was definately the stand-out track on the collection for me at least...it was Shadowdance from this album. It interested me enough to check out their music a little deeper.

I have to say that it doesn't surprise me to see Shadowfax in the ProgArchives because out of the Windham HIll catalogue, which consists mostly of New Age music, this is the band that approaches prog closer than any. I have never heard the debut album, which is apparently the album that put them on this site. It is more highly reviewed than any of their other albums at least here among the proggers. But, quite frankly, I have to say I enjoy their music quite a bit. In this album, they do explore some tricky rhythms which change throughout within individual songs. They give some nice jazz-prog treatments to their compositions. They use many instruments that are unconventional. At least, as far as this album is concerned, I don't understand why this band is disliked among the proggers here.

"New Electric India" is the first track and is sounds pretty much they way the title suggests. It has a nice Indian feel to it and pays homage to the music. I'm not sure what the featured instrument is here, but it does sound almost sitar-ish. I'm definately not a fan of Indian music nor the sitar, but I do love the sound of this track. I feel there is a nice mix of eastern and western influences apparent in this track and some interesting sounds provided by Chinese water symbols and something called a kanjgerra. "Watercourse Way" is the second track and I have noticed that this track is also on the first album, but the timing is different so I don't know if this is a different version of the same composition or not. Either way, this one has more of an ensemble feel to it adding in more violin to the mix. It is nice to listen to, not really a stand-out track, but very fine nonetheless. "Ghost Bird" takes a different turn and is more atomospheric with a very heavy bass pattern. The bass continues to dominate throughout, but is parallelled almost exact by a tenor sax which provides a very unique sound and ambience to the piece. I also believe a bariton violin joins in there too. "Shadowdance" is definately a stand out track here and seems to be a favorite of many people that have heard it. It has a very interesting meter which I believe is something like 9/8 which switches back and forth with a 7/8 time signature, definately very prog-gish. The percussion stands out here throughout the piece where the strongest beat in each meter comes at the end of the meter and not at the beginning as most songs in every genre (except reggae). This makes for an interesting beat especially since the time signature changes back and forth. Percussion here consists of paiste gamelon gongs, bass flapamba, metal and bamboo angklung, and wood block marimba. Now that is definately non-traditional. The main theme of this piece is repeated several times in a sort of "verse" format even without words, and each "verse" adds in other instruments and sounds making this track very innovative and exciting. "Brown Rice/Karmapa Chenno" is the only track on the album with vocals, but the vocals are mostly in the background as a whisper. The longest track here is "A Song for My Brother" which is also on the Watercourse Way album, but again I don't know how much this version is changed from the original. This is also a very interesting track and very prog-like with some nice rhythms and instrumentation.

There really is a lot to hear on this album. It's a shame that since this music has been labeled new age that most people will only hear it as background music. If you listen to it that way, you are really missing out. You really have to listen to this music to appreciate it and to hear how much is going on here. This is not music to listen to while driving because you have to concentrate on it to appreciate it. These musicians are definately underappreciated because of the label given them and I think if those who appreciate good music really sat down and gave this album the attention it deserves, that the real depth of this music would be discovered. Give these musicians a chance and listen to this music the way it was meant to be listened to and not as background music. This really is great stuff! Maybe it's not essential to prog, but it should be better appreciated in my opinion.

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 Watercourse Way by SHADOWFAX album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.82 | 29 ratings

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Watercourse Way
Shadowfax Crossover Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars Now we're talking about category jazz-rock/fusion, aren't we ? And instead of later releases (presented under same name, but they sounds completely different), there is electric guitar, interesting drumming and, most importantly, idea. Many ideas actually, because this is it. I personally think that it's their only masterpiece, in sharp contrast to their later works, which are consisted of just one element (boredom, big void, nothingless, call it whatever you like), but that's not case of this album. Which is good.

But also strange sometimes, Linear Dance is song which I don't get at all, mostly singing here. Strange structure. And also, there's another problem for this album. Its jamming sound. But not in all songs, Petite Aubade, where flute takes place as main star is more symphonic prog like, combined with acoustic guitar. Not bad, welcomed quite a lot. But in total, I can't say I'm satisfied. I expected so much, when I hear their later work and then I saw this with so high rating. I wasn't that much wrong, but it's still strange sounding album with promising potential, which isn't turned into anything worth masterpiece status by my opinion. After some listening, I have to say that I quite like it, but I don't know why. Maybe it's because of little pieces, making together this ubiquitous album.

3(+), almost 4(-), but not that much good. But still pleasant to listen.

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