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THE MERLIN BIRD

Prog Folk • Australia


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The Merlin Bird biography
THE MERLIN BIRD were an Australian quintet playing a highly progressive rock that combined elements of classic progressive rock (JETHRO TULL, YES) with folk nuances in a modern electronic setting. In recent years the group has been reduced to a duo with many outside contributors and influences.

>> Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth) <<

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Chapter & VerseChapter & Verse
CD Baby 2014
Audio CD$7.89
Chapter & Verse by Bird, Merlin [Music CD]Chapter & Verse by Bird, Merlin [Music CD]
CD Baby
Audio CD$31.38
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THE MERLIN BIRD discography


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THE MERLIN BIRD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 10 ratings
Chapter and Verse
2014

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3.66 | 4 ratings
Reason and Rhyme
2003

THE MERLIN BIRD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Chapter and Verse by MERLIN BIRD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.89 | 10 ratings

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Chapter and Verse
The Merlin Bird Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The Merlin Bird is another addition in the prog-folk category, though the style is quite unique and original. Australia already is famous for Goth alternate super group Dead Can Dance, with whom The Merlin Bird has a few affinities, as well as the recent Resonaxis crew that has the audacity to feature church organ as the main instrument. The difference here is clearly more medieval with the inclusion of renaissance harpsichord and mostly, terrific vocal work both lead and choir that does exude this monastery feel that is quite ravishing. Legend's Beck Sian is one of the vocalists (distant cousin of Kate Bush) and if you enjoyed their latest "Spirit", this will feel very comfortable indeed, as she has a stellar voice.

Geoff Dawes and Dan Moloney make up the core, as composers and main instrumentalists, getting support from a guitarist, a bass player and a drum maestro, as well as a slew of vocalists. The album must be listened to as a whole, a suite if you wish with multiple variations, snippets, reminders and progressions. The atmospheric style combines electronic effects, classical and modern instruments, hints of prog classic bands as well as melodies that will stick to your brain. Both the male and female vocals take over the senses on the splendid opener "Prologue- To the Unknown God", a rollicking organ?fed piece that really sets the tone for the album, a series of highly melodic, unusually vivid and expertly played blend of folk and prog. The thrilling voice on the title track is enough to provide erections to every single hair on your body (if you have no hair, be prepared to experience some serious physical eruptions), the miraculous piano extolling the virtues of musical beauty, modern beats to keep things fresh. Then choir work kicks in, thrilling and expansive. Oboe is often highlighted, its woody warm tone doing wonders to the hurt soul. When the glorious harpsichord gets into the spotlight, my heart cannot fail to flutter, just for a moment as the emotion becomes palpable through the gorgeous lead vocal courtesy of Shakira Searle on "For Night & Day". This is an absolute masterpiece, a track that overpowers the romantically-inclined listener, augmented by some spectacular male backing vocal work. Hypnotic, intoxicating and simply lovely, the anthem defines the strengths displayed and the exuberance of the performance.

Things also get medieval and spooky with pieces such as the melancholic "The World That Was" and its companion "The Turning". The first has spiraling voices that give way to a rock guitar a la Martin Barre, heavily poached in milky mellotron, deliberately cinematographic as a lonely whistler looks for the passageway to another universe. The second piece is the gate that keeps the adventure flowing, a male vocal that is aided by some tubular bells and a sprightly feel, "lala-lalala", at times obsessive like an acoustic Gentle Giant song. A raging organ solo really hits the mark, as a bulbous bass keeps the piano in check. The relative complexity is a joy to behold, as the music has buts and brawn, proven by an intricate axe solo that does some nice sonic damage. "Truth's A Lady" offers a bit of barroom sophistication, probably closer to the Beatles or Al Stewart, with the effected vocals and the pub song atmosphere. This soon veers into a more religious angle (the irony is delicious) and really kills it in the saloon of social prog.

A longer track is the piano-led "Backburner", supported by some electric guitar and another powerful vocal choir display from all the singers, obsessive and harmonically elaborate. 'Take it to the night' is repeated with great effect, plenty of ebb and flow, voice effects, odd noises and swirling choirs. It's a lot rockier, perhaps more accessible and proggy, thus providing the proceedings with power and breath. This bleeds right into "Unto Rome", a purer form of folk but still a mixture reminiscent of classic Fairport Convention coupled with a Dead Can Dance mood, replete with various poetical narrations, swirling effects and generous melodic expanse. "Another Story Told" is the longest and proggiest track, clocking in over 7 minutes and pretty much encapsulates the mystique behind this amazing band from Down Under. Male and female voices blend together in respectful harmony, intertwined like two lovers who have nothing but desire for one another. Fascinating musicality and suspenseful emotions! 'Whichever way we go, we are climbing the mountainside of life' lyric is recurring with massive bells in support, howling winds in the background and an incredible sense of beyond.

This phenomenal disc is laid to rest by the classic "To Be Continued?" which only bodes well for the future, as this is as sumptuous a recording that one will find this year. Together with Ion's Immaculada which I only discovered recently, this is why the prog-folk genre still beats strongly. Appropriate artwork adorn the package and in all, this is a prized item in my collection. This is one of those crossover albums that may influence the progressive rock newbie into delving further into the wonderful world we call prog. If you enjoy vocals, this is a fine little oasis of pleasure in the middle of nowhere. Fans of Kate Bush in particular should not miss this.

4.5 avian magicians

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 Chapter and Verse by MERLIN BIRD, THE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.89 | 10 ratings

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Chapter and Verse
The Merlin Bird Prog Folk

Review by Mind_Drive

4 stars The Merlin Bird captured my attention with their name, that sounded somehow promising to me and I felt I should check them out.

And well, sometimes, our feelings lead us to great desicions..

Chapter and Verse is their first full length album although they have been around making music for almost 9 years now. But with only two members left, they seem to have everything a well balanced and versatile band needs.

The album carries a very special aura of enchanted places, promising endeavours and sacral, medieval times. The haunting female voice is just a pleasure to the ear and when they both sing along or in canon its very beautiful!

They crafted a skillful blend of smphonic, folk and even electronic elements with soothing vocals that sometimes remind of ancient monastery chorals.

Many of the intriguing melodies are highly memorable and please everytime I revisit this album. The more calm songs still evoke heartwarming feelings of longing and security making this debut a very special and beautiful journey.

For all, who want to discover a rather exceptional approach to folk prog with a surpisingly convenient output, I highly recommend this little overlooked gem!

4.2 / 5 Stars!

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 Reason and Rhyme by MERLIN BIRD, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.66 | 4 ratings

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Reason and Rhyme
The Merlin Bird Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars I don't even know if this group plays Christian rock, and the title of their recently released first full length album implies such, but this all too short EP from some years back evokes a sense of wonder and awe that one would expect to find more in popular devotional music. From the lush production to the harmonious vocals to the Olde English styled melodies, this is a true delight from down under. They bring to mind FARPOINT from the Southern USA but their male and female vox are less at odds, and they radiate a much more united stylistic vision.

Here we have basically three short tracks interspersed with three...er..shorter tracks, such that one barely stumbles into the glade before getting spun back out onto the sidelines. The opening of "Rhyme to Reason" eerily recalls early MOODY BLUES psychedelia, but MERLIN BIRD is able to wed this ethereal quality to earthiness with breathless verses and hypnotically rhythmic acoustic textures. A well placed lead guitar interlude ups the progressive rock ante. Still, the EP really crests on "The Father of Storms", a dignified ode to natural and human unpredictability as the pure source of their beauty. Those who enjoy earth centered music will willingly acquiesce.

It took a number of listens for me to realize just how short changed I feel, but I'm glad to have discovered "The Merlin Bird" now at a time when the band/duo has actually issued a proper release called "Chapter and Verse". Reasons to be cheerful.

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 Reason and Rhyme by MERLIN BIRD, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.66 | 4 ratings

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Reason and Rhyme
The Merlin Bird Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The Merlin Bird started basically as a duo in Melbourne, Australia.Keyboardist and singer Geoff Dawes and drummer Dan Maloney were the headquarters of this project, but their first work would be finished with the help of female singer Shakira Searle, guitarist Dave O'Toole and bassist Dylan Stevenson.It would be the short EP ''Reason and rhyme'', released in 2003, mainly as a digital download with a few supporting CD copies.

The most impressive thing about this first effort is actually the most important one: Great and consistent songwriting.The Merlin Bird's style follows the colors of IONA's music and the ingredients of this excellent EP are mixed almost with perfection.Beautiful vocals, both based on lyrics and wordless chants, smooth acoustic textures and ethereal Celtic-inspired tunes.These would be supported by some melodic electric guitars and a fair amount of background keyboards, eventually creating majestic and cinematic soundscapes.As no other instruments are used, traditional echoes from bagpipes and harps are delivered through the keyboard equipment, having a decent, natural sound.MIKE OLDFIELD is also another name to spring to mind, listening to this album.The romantic electroacoustic changes, the discreet use of piano and the grandiose, Folk-flavored textures are offered with sincere passion and sensitivity, complemented by some of the best vocal melodies you can listen to.This is an album based on nostalgic atmospheres with enough elaborate and cleverly composed stuff to regard it as progressive.

Clocking at only 17 minutes, ''Reason and rhyme'' can do nothing else than leave the listener wanting for more.Amazing Neo Prog/Folk with the only negative factor being its extremely short length.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Reason and Rhyme by MERLIN BIRD, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.66 | 4 ratings

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Reason and Rhyme
The Merlin Bird Prog Folk

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Merlin Bird are an Australian band I have been aware of for some time, but I had actually thought they were rejected so it's nice to see them arrive here on PA.

So far this is their only release, 17 minutes of charming, melodic folk music. The music is largely vocally driven, but there is a good variety of vocalists carrying this torch, including multiple male and female vocalists. The opening track, for example, is carried forward by the lead male vocals and the drumming, but swirling layers of female vocals behind it give it great character.

I discovered these guys because of their opening and closing tracks (Rhyme to Reason and Reason to Rhyme, respectively), which were included on the CD in an issue of Classic Rock Presents Prog. But the entire album is up to the quality these tracks hinted at, with lush arrangements and lovely, melodic music. The frail female vocals in "Father of all Storms", singing "All will be well, I know somehow all will be well" are a particular emotional highlight.

The only downside is that, being an EP, this album will be over long before you are ready for it to end. I know that for me, it definitely got many back-to-back listens for this reason! Let's hope that the band is able to complete their next record soon.

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Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the artist addition.

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