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WILLIAM D. DRAKE

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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William D. Drake biography
Singer-songwriter and keyboardist William D. Drake first came to the attention of fans of progressive and unusual music as a keyboardist and occasional composer for cult favourites Cardiacs back in 1983. He remained with Cardiacs until 1991, before deciding it was time to explore other musical avenues. After flitting in and out of various other bands and projects (including Cardiacs spin-off group The Sea Nymphs) he released his first self-titled solo album in 2003.

Ostensibly working as a singer-songwriter, both this and his subsequent albums (with the notable exception of Yew's Paw, a suite of classical piano instrumentals) have seen Drake weave his carefree way through the outer reaches of British folk, psychedelia, prog, classical music and beyond.

In doing so, he has carved out an eclectic, charming, complex, accessible, timeless and uniquely English sound all of his own. His songs are at times (unsurprisingly) reminiscent of Cardiacs and the Sea Nymphs, as well as the likes of Peter Hammill, Gentle Giant, Robert Wyatt and a plethora of other influences from the worlds of progressive, popular, classical and folk music.

2011's The Rising of the Lights is William D. Drake's most outwardly proggy album to date, presenting a rich mixture of complex piano-laden instrumental passages and moments of catchy experimental pop.

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WILLIAM D. DRAKE discography


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WILLIAM D. DRAKE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
William D. Drake
2003
2.00 | 1 ratings
Yew's Paw
2007
4.00 | 3 ratings
Briny Hooves
2007
3.50 | 17 ratings
The Rising of the Lights
2011

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WILLIAM D. DRAKE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Rising of the Lights by DRAKE, WILLIAM D. album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.50 | 17 ratings

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The Rising of the Lights
William D. Drake Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars William D. Drake is best known for his work with the CARDIACS and "The Rising Of Lights" is his latest solo album. He is the composer here of course and is heard mainly through his piano and vocal work. This album reminded me of THE BEATLES a lot, especially early on. The vocals, piano and drums dominate the sound. The tunes are fairly poppy but well done.

"Super Altar" is so catchy and I am impressed with the vocal performance. "Ant Trees" is another light and wimsical vocal track and the keyboards sound great. "In An Ideal World" is a change as we get a melancholic mood with reserved vocals and piano leading the way. I like it ! Three excellent songs to start off. "The Mastadon" is piano and drum led and the vocals come in at 2 1/2 minutes. "Ornamental Hermit" is more of the same but there is some depth here perhaps from the mellotron samples. "Wholley Holey" is a bright and cheerful tune with vocals and piano leading. Not a fan though.

"The Rising Of The Lights" has an almost jazzy vibe with bass, piano and a beat standing out. "Song In The Key Of Concrete" is another catchy tune. It's okay. "Me Fish Bring" is my favourite. Piano to open then reserved vocals join in. Female vocals too in this one. Sounds like aboe as well. Beautiful track. "Ziegler" has an almost circus-like melody to it. "Labumum" has male and female vocals with piano. Nice. "Homesweet Homestead Hideaway" ends it in with another catchy tune with male and female vocals. Nice instrumental conclusion to this one.

A good record but not really my style of music.

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 The Rising of the Lights by DRAKE, WILLIAM D. album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.50 | 17 ratings

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The Rising of the Lights
William D. Drake Eclectic Prog

Review by The Hemulen
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars To those in the know, William D. Drake's songwriting credentials have never really been in doubt. His contributions to Cardiacs, The Sea Nymphs, North Sea Radio Orchestra and others, not to mention two exquisite solo albums of quirky, psychedelic prog-pop all attest to the fact that Mr Drake certainly knows how to write a decent tune. Sadly, none of these projects are anywhere close to being household names and Drake remains just another well-kept secret.

However, in yet another example of a theory I've espoused elsewhen on my blog, that could be about to change. For with his new album The Rising of the Lights, William D. Drake has taken a noticeable swerve towards the hallowed halls of Progressive Rock with a capital Prog, and (whether the mainstream music press likes it or not) that's a move which is likely to net you a whole load of new fans. More than ever before Drake's music invites comparisons to the likes of Robert Wyatt, Gryphon, Gentle Giant, (and naturally enough Cardiacs, The Sea Nymphs, NSRO etc.), whilst still remaining uniquely his own sound.

The Rising of the Lights retains everything about his previous album Briny Hooves which made it the accessible, sparkling, psychedelic wonder that it is whilst noticeably upping the ante when it comes to complicated twiddly bits, lengthy instrumental excursions and downright strangeness. The result is nothing short of a marvel; a patchwork quilt of rock, folk, chamber music and popular song, twisting and turning in a constant flurry of ideas and oozing breezy charm with every note. It's a bundle of opposites, forever veering madly between catchy, hummable ditties and knotty complexity, between playful irony and soul-wrenching sincerity.

Mr Drake seems admirably unaware of musical fads and fashions, which gives the album a sense of complete timelessness. Songs like Super Altar, Wholly Holey and Ornamental Hermit reek of the music hall and oak-panelled libraries without ever fully letting go of those subtle psychedelic undertones, and just when you're comfortably ensconced in a bit of woodwind-laden chamber music such as Song in the Key of Concrete in comes a fat, scuzzy synth to hurl you forward by several decades. It would be easy to accuse Drake of adding quirks for the sake of quirkiness, but the album's more hushed, reflective moments, such as the achingly gorgeous Me Fish Bring, are thankfully free from such flights of musical fancy, and get by just fine with their unadorned, wayward melodies. For all its eccentricity, this is an accessible album, and a surprisingly moving one too.

It is a testament to this album's consistently high standards that I've almost concluded this review without even mentioning three of my favourite tracks, namely the crackpot complexities of Gentle Giant-esque almost-instrumental The Mastodon, the time signature jumping surrealist pop gem Ant Trees, and the delightfully pompous album closer Homesweet Homestead Hideaway. Truthfully, I have yet to find a single dud or dull moment on this record, and that is a rare thing indeed. This is music to be cherished, to huddle up to on cold nights for warmth. I sincerely doubt I will encounter a finer album this year.

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 The Rising of the Lights by DRAKE, WILLIAM D. album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.50 | 17 ratings

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The Rising of the Lights
William D. Drake Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

3 stars Finally William D. Drake makes the PA grade! But: "eclectic prog"?! More like crossover prog, indie, or eccentric pop. Yes, there are some GENTLE GIANT familiarities ("The Mastodon," "Ziegler") and there are the odd instrument or two used to play off the ubiquitous piano, but mostly this is piano-based rock more in the vein of early BILLY JOEL or early ELTON JOHN. Some of it sounds like lyrically-clever songs from MONTY PYTHON or BENNY HILL ("Super Altar," "Wholly Holey," "Ziegler") and some sound continental 1930s KURT WEILL-ish ("The Rising of the Lights"). While I like the album overall, the steady piano beating and basic drum work leave me a bit cold. The gorgeous "In an Ideal World" and "Ornamental Hermit" are my favorites. Odd that the album's longest songs are bunched together at the end. Love the TONY BANKS-like sections in "Homesweet Homestead Hideaway."

5 star songs: "In an Ideal World," "The Mastodon," and "Ornamental Hermit."

4 star songs: "Ant Trees," "Laburnum," "Ziegler," "Me Fish Bring," and "Homesweet Homestead Hideaway." 3.5 stars rated down cuz I'm not finding it very proggie nor very progressive.

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