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GANDALF'S FIST

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Gandalf's Fist picture
Gandalf's Fist biography
Formed in Maryport, England in 2005

UK act GANDALF'S FIST is the creative vehicle of duo Luke Severn and Dean Marsh, with varying musicians, compatriots and otherwise like-minded people affecting the proceedings apparently. And while their MySpace site inform that they currently reside in Mordor, Cumbria in England is the home turf of this act. Which may or may not be a contradiction in terms or a specification of the former, depending on point of view.

After five years of wandering to and from the studio and the literary heritage of good, old Tolkien, this creative duo decided it was time to fire up their respective creative engines, and set them to work producing material. The result of this process appeared in the shape of a concept album: The Master and the Monkey.

With their creative enginges still humming in harmony, another project was kicked off right away. And in 2011 Gandalf's Fist had their sophomore production ready, this one called Road to Darkness. What the future holds in store for this creative duo, apart from flogging ridicilous amounts of ale and indulging themselves in Tolkien's fantastic universe yet again, remains to be seen. If enough people like what they have done and perhaps even consider sending some money their way, they may be able to finance even more music in the future. Perhaps even a few ales to go, for recharging their batteries after long, draining studio sessions.

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GANDALF'S FIST discography


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

GANDALF'S FIST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.30 | 49 ratings
The Master and the Monkey
2011
3.75 | 99 ratings
Road to Darkness
2011
3.68 | 77 ratings
From a Point of Existence
2012
3.91 | 142 ratings
A Day in the Life of a Universal Wanderer
2013
3.86 | 183 ratings
A Forest of Fey
2014
4.11 | 230 ratings
The Clockwork Fable
2016
3.89 | 75 ratings
The Clockwork Prologue
2019
3.88 | 16 ratings
The (Re)Master and the Monkey
2021
4.02 | 38 ratings
Widdershins
2022

GANDALF'S FIST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GANDALF'S FIST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

GANDALF'S FIST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.42 | 15 ratings
Uprooted
2015
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Lamplighter's Tale
2016
5.00 | 2 ratings
Decennium
2021
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Clockwork Saga
2023

GANDALF'S FIST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 9 ratings
Emerald Eyes
2011
3.56 | 9 ratings
Stakes at Low Tide
2011
4.23 | 20 ratings
Songs from the Solway
2011
3.43 | 16 ratings
The Wizard's Study
2011
2.24 | 15 ratings
There and Back Again
2012
4.18 | 11 ratings
The Wizard's Study II: Balrog Boogaloo
2012
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Snows They Melt the Soonest
2014
4.50 | 4 ratings
Live from a Post-Apocalyptic Powercut
2015
4.75 | 4 ratings
The First Lamplighter (Memories of Nuclear Snow)
2015
4.50 | 4 ratings
Hearth and Ale
2016
4.69 | 8 ratings
Winter's Mourning
2017
5.00 | 1 ratings
Official Live Bootleg: Somewhere Beyond the Stars / Gardens of the Lost
2018
4.50 | 2 ratings
Leader of Men
2018
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Capture (Live at Fistival 2017)
2020
4.04 | 4 ratings
Stakes at Low Tide
2020
4.67 | 3 ratings
Witchwood
2020
0.00 | 0 ratings
There and Back Again (Previously Unreleased Original Studio Mix)
2023

GANDALF'S FIST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Widdershins by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.02 | 38 ratings

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Widdershins
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars I missed out on the early Gandalf's Fist albums ? one day I will make the effort and get hold of them ? but when I came across 2016's 'The Clockwork Fable' I was just blown away, and there is no doubt it is one of the most impressive progressive albums released in the last decade ? a perfect blend of storytelling and wonderful music. Since then, I have kept an eye out for their releases, and am now listening to their latest, 2022's 'Widdershins'. They are firmly set as a six-piece with newest recruits, keyboard player Ben Bell and singer Keri Farish who joined for 2019's 'The Clockwork Prologue', both contributing to the writing, while the rest of the line-up is still multi-instrumentalist Dean Marsh, singer Luke Severn, bassist Chris Ewen and drummer Stefan Hepe.

The music is complex, bringing in elements from different areas, so one never knows where it is going to lead, but it is likely to be unexpected and always a lot of fun. Some prog seems almost lightweight and transparent, but this is deep and weighty, with a lead singer who provides plenty of drama as she lives the story she is singing. Ben is happy playing piano or synths, but he also has a great touch on Hammond, and it is when that is to the fore that they are at their most Uriah Heep, but there is also plenty of folk and 70's prog, while the layerings and arrangements are massively complicated. This really does feel like music from a bygone age as the care and time which has gone into it is substantial. This is not quick throwaway music, but something which has been crafted and nurtured, honed and polished until there is nothing else which can be done as it shines brightly in the darkness.

We have loads of dramatic contrast, multiple singers as both Dean and Luke also take lead roles at times which given the dexterity of Keri shows the depth they have at their command, so much so that Tim "Ripper" Owens is involved in opener "Sacrament" but only on additional vocals, not lead. As with the other albums of theirs I have heard, there is a great deal to take in, and one only gets the full beauty and depth of this on the fourth or fifth time of playing, after which it happily stays on the player as it is packed so full of drama and presence. Yet again Gandalf's Fist have produced an album which is absolutely essential for those who enjoy their prog to be meaty and bold, never settling in one direction or form, but going where the story leads, never holding back or being constrained in any way.

 Widdershins by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.02 | 38 ratings

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Widdershins
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars More 1970s worship from Cumbria's #1 Tolkien tribute band.

1. "Sacrament" (7:04) Heard it before. In 1972. By URIAH HEEP or BLUE ÍYSTER CULT, I'm not sure which. I think both. Or maybe Spinal Tap. Nice rendition. Nice gritty Hammond. A band who owes a lot to late 1970s THIN LIZZY and AC/DC. (12.25/15)

2. "Widdershins" (13:32) pretty solo piano opens this one. (Is it in D minor like "Lick My Love Pump"?) Singer Keri Farish gets the first shot at lead vocal. It's a sincere attempt at storytelling that she's emoting over. At the end of the third minute the full band kicks in, establishing a steady sonic landscape that sounds as if it came right out of a theatric stage production from the West End. Keri continues her sincere Yvonne Elliman performance. Little heavy musical interlude in the seventh minute before downstepping to a slow piano-led chord progression for the eighth in which guitarist Dean Marsh lays down a decent solo with some David Gilmour/John Sykes panache. Mid ninth minute we're up and running again. More fun Hammond soloing in the 13th minute before everything stops for 30 seconds of odd quiet time. I guess they were just giving time for the audience to offer some warm applause. (26/30)

3. "The Haruspex" (8:26) a heavier, spooky Hammond-dominated opening is paused for odd sprite-like synth noises before female 'tron choir banks enter and the real song is established for Keri Farish's heavily effected voice to sing. Very nice drumming, bass, and Hammond on this one. Guitar solo in the fifth and sixth minutes sounds just like Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser. The vocals sound like Ozzie coming out of the body of Loverboy's Mike Reno. A top three song for me. (17.75/20)

4. "Dreamcatcher" (5:24) piano and jazzy fretless bass support Keri singing another sentimental vocal. Her emotions feel pretty heart-felt. (Good performance.) Nice ballad with fitting Whitesnake-like guitar wailing away. (8.75/10)

5. "Wisp" (6:56) opens with some rolling soundscape like a CURE song. Then Uillean pipes enter. Engaging melody established by the male lead singer for the first verse. This is followed by "Don't Fear the Reaper" guitar arpeggi with pipes for a brief bridge before returning to a fuller instrumental field for the second verse. The next bridge then goes for djenty power chords to establish a heavier sound before finally divulging the chorus within a medium-to-heavy weave. I feel as if I'm listening to a new take on BÍC's "I Love the Night." At 4:56 there is a stop before aggressively strummed acoustic guitar launches us into a Irish reel for the finale (with a different male vocalist--Luke?--in almost Ian Anderson-like). Interesting song. Another top three. (13.25/15)

6. "Man of Signs" (8:21) introspective piano and strummed electrified acoustic guitar open this once before male vocalist (and haunting Greek chorus choir) join in with their interesting vocal performance. A shift into fourth gear in the sixth minute provides a bouncy gallop for Marsh and Severn to duel their guitar and Hammond, respectively. The persistent dominant presence of the piano and acoustic guitar certainly give this one a different feel from the others. Weird end with bass and cymbal. Interesting. (17.5/20)

7. "Witchmonger" (4:18) another Celtic-infused song--the vocal is even organized like a folk song--with the whispery lead vocal of Dean Marsh. Not really a very good song--unless you like Fish-Marillion. (8.25/10)

8. "Cave" (19:45) all of the great sounds of the early pioneers of heavy rock/"Heavy Metal" in the proggy setting of 1980s compositional styles. I find the guitarist dueling with himself eighth minute laughable. And "Would you stir up Widdershins?" definitely deserves multiple repetitions and tubular bells. Isn't the arrangement in the 13th minute straight out of some classic song from the 1970s? Haven't puppet themes been worn out? Then a switch to "mediŠval" mode for the 15th minute. Classic gothic storytelling! (Or else classic Spinal Tap.) And what's with the three-minute computer synth piano & strings piece tacked on to the end? Shouldn't this be listed as a separate song? (34/40)

Total Time 73:46

Well produced and, I'm sure, well-intended retro rock. Everything that was great about the 1970s pioneers of heavy rock is present here--including an outstanding, if familiar-sounding, lead vocalist.

B-/3.5 stars; a nice addition to the retro-prog/rock loving music collector's music collection.

 Widdershins by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.02 | 38 ratings

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Widdershins
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars Review #117

Gandalf's Fist are not getting older; they are just getting better!

I found out about Gandalf's Fist with the release of A Forest of Fey, and I have been following their releases ever since. I thought that they reached their highlight with the release of The Clockwork Fable, but I was wrong. After the - very ambitious - Clockwork Saga, I was really curious to see what they could do next; and to be honest, I was sure that they would release a 3rd part of The Clockwork Saga. Again, wrong!

Widdershins is their brand new album, and I can see now that this is the highlight of the career! Well, until the next one, perhaps!

The band sounds better than ever, their technical and playing skills have reached a very high level, the compositions are superb, and the overall feeling is that Widdershins is a very well made and really professional album. I should also mention Keri Farish's performance, which is absolutely stunning on many occasions, and adds a lot to the album's overall feeling.

I won't get into details for each song separately; there is no reason for that. Each song has something to offer to the listener and it's up to you to discover them and chose your beloved ones.

Speaking for myself, these are the ones that I picked as the best ones: Sacrament, Widdershins, Dreamcathcer, Wisp, Wichmonger and of course the absolute 20-minute-long epic of the album; Cave.

Congratulations to Gandalf's Fist for this truly wonderful album! Ths is a top class album, and Top-3 album of 2022 for me without a doubt! Now I cannot wait for the next one, because this time they raised the bar really high! My Rating: 4.5 Stars.

 Decennium by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2021
5.00 | 2 ratings

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Decennium
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars I was late to Gandalf's Fist (one of the fun aspects of living on the other side of the world) but have no doubt that 'The Clockwork Fable' is a masterpiece which should belong in everyone's collection. Their complex progressive music which covers many different styles is a delight and keeps switching into new areas while their lyrics and stories are easily some of the best around. The concept behind 'Decennium' is a simple one (hence the use of the Latin title), to release a compilation album on 10/10/21 to celebrate 10 years of Gandalf's Fist albums. Everything on this album has been remastered or remixed and has been put together in a similar manner to a setlist in that they have included their most popular fan favourites while also undertaking some deep dives into back catalogue to please the most hardened. Of course, it also works as an introduction to people like me who have not heard their first five albums (something I really do need to correct at some point).

PA describes the band as neo-prog, but I believe they are crossover in the truest sense as they bring in so many elements from neo to symphonic and then back to folk. They have so many influences that in the end they sound like Gandalf's Fist, no-one else at all, and there is a majestic approach in all they do. There are not many neo bands who say they use a mandolin or mandola in their work, and there is often an acoustic instrument underpinning the song and providing additional depth. There are male and female singers, which again allows the band to provide variety and ensure they have the right approach for each number. It's always nice to hear Troy Donockley on an album, as although most people these days associate him with Nightwish I will always think of him as being with Iona 30 years ago!

This does not feel like a compilation album, but rather a standard release in that there is nothing which seems out of place, which shows they have been at the top of the game throughout their career. For anyone who is wondering what these guys are like then this is an indispensable introduction which is a solid delight from beginning to end.

 Stakes at Low Tide by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.04 | 4 ratings

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Stakes at Low Tide
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I was somewhat surprised when I started playing this, as while I knew it was a re-imagining of a song originally written as an instrumental back when Gandalf's Fist was first starting out, I had no idea this had more in common with folk music as it does with the progressive form for which they are so well known. It has been issued to create awareness of the forthcoming 10-year anniversary special release of 'The Master and the Monkey', which promises to be something very interesting indeed. Uilleann Pipes and whistle are provided by Faliq Auri, but everything else is by Dean Marsh (vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass, programming, synths). He says this is a special song to the band, being recorded multiple times over the years (and on the single is available in four different versions). Gandalf's Fist continue to push musical boundaries and here they are doing so by going back in time. This is definitely one which will appeal to folkies as much as it will to the progheads who think of them more for 'The Clockwork Fable'. It certainly ties in very well indeed with the folk singles I have been listening to this week!
 The Clockwork Prologue by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 75 ratings

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The Clockwork Prologue
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by LittleLotti

5 stars I first came across this band when they released Forest of Fey which featured a surprising number of well known guest musicians like John Mitchell and Clive Nolan. Since then they've release a couple of new albums and also rerecorded and reissued some old ones. The made their biggest splash so far with The Clockwork Fable, a mammoth three disc part concept album.

The Clockwork Prologue continues where that left off, or rather it finishes where that starts, because in yet another hint that this band are in fact time travellers, this album is a prequel to Fable.

The band seems to grow with every release and they're now a six piece with new vocalist Keri Farish taking over the reigns from previous guest voice Melissa Hollick and Ben Bell (from Patchwork Cacophony and Broken Parachute) providing keyboards.

Prologue is disappointingly only a double album (come on guys we were hoping for a quad album release this time) and continues the same narrative/music mix from Fable. The acting continues to be far better than it has any right to be with some hilarious turns from returning (and new) voices.

Musically the album starts on a high then seems to get better with every song of te first before changing up another gear for the thunderous Blackening. CD 2 shows no signs of slowing down and with the majestic Clockmaker being a high point and bowing out with another addition to The Lamplighter collection, "The Lamplighter Overture".

I can't wait to see what this band comes up with next. Will it be a prequel to the prequel? Will they add more musicians? Will the actors release their own solo albums? Anything seems possible.

4.5 clockwork stars, wound up to 5.

 The Clockwork Prologue by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 75 ratings

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The Clockwork Prologue
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by MrHaddington

5 stars Well well well... it took me a few months to finally find the time to listen to this one, and its successor "The Clockwork Fable" (which was released three years ago) in a row. What the lads (and the lass) do here is going the full Star Wars way - First, the Main "Movies", then the Prequels (although they state it's not a prequel) and finally (hopefully?) the final (well, album it would be in this case, but I doubt they'd be able to continue the story after everybody left Cogtopolis)...

Anyway... I think listening in release order works really well, because this way you remember all the little hints and cues they drop in the Fable, which are almost all picked up in the Prologue, so you have many "aha!" moments during the Prologue, thinking "Now THAT'S what they were referring to..." - this album really makes you want to listen to the Fable afterwards. Brilliantly done by the band.

We again meet some familiar voices (they used most of the actors present in the Fable) and also some new characters - the tradesman at the Cartoe market is the most lovely one - so hilarious... as is the whole story (once more).

Since The Clockwork Fable, Gandalf's Fist has recruited Keri Farish (Vocals) and Ben Bell (Keyboards, from Patchwork Cacophony and Broken Parachute), and boy, do they shine on this album... Keri gives me goosebumps during what I would call her "showcase" song, The Clokkemaker, while Ben and Dean (Marsh, Guitar/Vocals) have a fantastic guitar/Hammond duel during "Blackening" - very much in a Blackmore/Lord vibe. Seriously, this band is just at the start of something huge in my eyes.

I've learned they also play live occasionally, and I really try to get to one of their gigs next time. This album truly makes you want to watch them play live!

5 Stars, no less!

 The Clockwork Prologue by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 75 ratings

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The Clockwork Prologue
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars It's time to head back to Cogtopolis, for a double CD set which is being promoted by the band as an 'expansion pack' to the last album, the triple CD 'The Clockwork Fable'. As before, I find myself comparing this to both Hibernal and Clive Nolan, as what we have here is much more than just a musical release, as the words and story are intertwined with the music. This is a theatrical presentation, with different people playing their part, and I found myself thinking that there must surely be a book in here somewhere as the storyline is complex, convoluted, and with so much depth that there is certainly enough framework for it to work on that level as well. Regarding the rationale behind this, Gandalf's Fist frontman, Dean Marsh commented: 'I've loved playing video games since the 80's and the idea of creating a musical expansion-pack, in the same way game manufactures introduce new levels and new quests has been an undertaking we've all enjoyed immensely. It's been a great opportunity to finish all the wonderful ideas we couldn't even fit into a triple album in 2016 as well as been a fantastic way of collaborating on new material with our own 'upgraded' line-up with Ben and Keri. The whole thing sounds fantastic and without question has some of our finest songs to date!' Ben is Ben Bell (Broken Parachute) on keyboards, bass, guitar and various vocal efforts (it isn't often that someone can be credited with being a deranged steam conveyor) and singer Keri Farish.

Musically this is an amalgam of folk, prog, rock and theatre, with violin making a welcome presence here, acoustic guitars there, but it is more about having music which is right for whatever theme is being portrayed as opposed to attempting to stick within one particular area. It is almost impossible to pick between the songs and the narrative, as they are closely interlinked, yet both are capable of working without the other. It would be interesting indeed to hear the complete five CD set cut so that the songs were taken away from the music and one could play the story on its own, or the songs. I have only one problem with the album, and that is whenever I play it I get dragged into Cogtopolis, so much so that I need to put aside 97 minutes of concentration each time I want to listen to it. I didn't think Gandalf's Fist would again be able to match the journey they put me through last time, but they have. This isn't a progressive rock album in its normal sense, but possibly it is in its truest sense as the band refuse to be bound by the usual thoughts of what an album should be comprised of. The different styles and melodies are bound by the storyline, which in turn is brought to life by the music in a wonderful symbiotic relationship. Superb.

 The Clockwork Prologue by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 75 ratings

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The Clockwork Prologue
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars Review # 107. A couple of years ago, Gandalf's Fist surprised everybody with the release of the excellent, but kind of ambitious, The Clockwork Fable. It was a really interesting triple concept album that introduced us to the underground city of Cogtopolis and its bizarre inhabitants. That album increased their fame and the band begun to play at various festivals, such as HRH Prog in North Wales for example, where they were the headliners on the 2nd stage.

This year they returned with The Clockwork Prologue, which works as a prequel, if I got it right. The band now includes two more members in comparison with The Clockwork Fable; Keri Farish on vocals and Ben Bell on keyboards, bass, guitar and vocals.

Although The Clockwork Prologue is similar with The Clockwork Fable, it is slightly better in my opinion. Not only because it includes all the elements that we enjoyed in the previous album, like for example the theatrical narration parts that work as a 'bridge' between the songs, but also because it is shorter, therefore less 'chaotic', and it can be appreciated better and faster. There are lots of wonderful melodies throughout the album, strong guitar riffs, beautiful changes, and let's not forget the really interesting story, on which, both albums have been built.

At the very beginning of this post, I wrote that with the release of The Clockwork Fable, Gandalf's Fist surprised everybody. I'm afraid that the element of surprise is not going to work this time, mostly because now people know what to expect. But that doesn't make the album less enjoyable!

So, to sum up, The Clockwork Prologue is a great album and without a doubt a very serious piece of work! Definitely one of the best releases of 2019 so far. And as far as I've heard, this time it will be available in vinyl edition as well. Good things are happening to good bands!

Congratulations to Gandalf's Fist once more, not only for releasing really good albums, but for their hard work and for keeping their quality at very high standards. Favourite tracks (so far): Solar Huntress, Wanderer, Supplies for the Festivities, The Clokkemaker, Blackening.

My Rating: 4.5 stars (But I will rate it with 5.0)

 The Clockwork Prologue by GANDALF'S FIST album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 75 ratings

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The Clockwork Prologue
Gandalf's Fist Neo-Prog

Review by ProggyDave

5 stars I feel utterly compelled to write a review for the latest Album from Gandalf's fist for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there seem to be few and far between here and I can only conclude from this that this band is criminally underappreciated.

Secondly, befitting to this band the album stands as quite a unique concept ? attaching to their previous "triple" album 'Clockwork Fable' to produce a 5-Disc adventure. (Apparently the band themselves have likened this to purchasing an expansion pack for your favourite game, which I kinda think is a cool notion and extends the excellent story with the same hugely talented actors that were involved in the previous release.)

Finally, the music is good? damn good! From the catchy "Wardens" the folk-pop tinges of "supplies" and the symphonic brilliance of "Clokkemaker". Thankfully the production and mastering is also excellent ? subtle dynamics and not a hint of "loudness brickwalling" that we all love to hate!

I was interested to see what the first release by this incarnation of the band would bring, having now expanded to a 6-piece act . It is safe to say we are now witnessing the "classic line-up" of this prog act. Great fun.

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

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