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Of Wondrous Legends (O.W.L.) picture
Of Wondrous Legends (O.W.L.) biography
Founded in Chicago, USA in 1968 - Disbanded in 1971 (?) - Reunited briefly in 2009

Chicagoan Stephen Titra was a young art student in 1971 when he composed and recorded his only music studio release 'Of Wondrous Legends'. The project was financed with a small advance from Universal (aka Decca Records), who subsequently decided to not release the album. Titra would complete his studies and go on to a lengthy career as a painter and illustrator, primarily of portraits and landscapes often with religious or historical themes.

Fast-forward more than thirty years and Locust Records chief Dawson Prater (also a Chicagoan) discovered a test pressing of the record and was intrigued. After tracking down Titra he eventually released the music under the name O.W.L. in 2008, both on CD and vinyl.

Progophiles who identify with similar rediscovered obscure gems such as SPRING, OLIVER and SILMARIL will likely find something enjoyable here. The music is heavily steeped in the psych, folk and ambiguously spiritual sounds that were quite prevalent in the very early seventies.

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

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4.08 | 6 ratings
Of Wondrous Legends

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 Of Wondrous Legends by OF WONDROUS LEGENDS (O.W.L.) album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.08 | 6 ratings

Of Wondrous Legends
Of Wondrous Legends (O.W.L.) Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Most "lost classics" at least had their day to be judged by more than just greedy capitalists, although one could argue that many of these received so little exposure and promotion that they were essentially deep sixed until the CD/MP3 era. But here before us we have an unloved and roundly rejected psych-folk offering that sat dormant for 37 years in the undignified time capsules of dusty attics and thrift stores...until its accidental discovery by someone with enough interest and influence to right earlier wrongs.

O.W.L is really writer, singer, and visionary Stephen Titra and his Chicago-based collective of skilled musicians formed around 1968, who performed live at local venues for several years. Titra's influence was more ancient Western European than American midwestern, so even the polished wee hours studio sessions of 1971 failed to impress some of the eminent record labels of the day, and the tapes languished. I'm not saying this isn't of its time, but it also seems so self contained, in its own atmosphere in which sound waves do not necessarily adhere to the laws of physics or memory. The tasteful vocals, flute, string, and keyboard arrangements exude both fragility and resilience, and a faith in themselves to weather the coming decades of isolation.

Most of the songs here are on the mellow side, with Olde English folk influences, the best of these being the trad-influenced "Tale of the Crimson Knight" and the hypnotically astounding "On the Wings of Gabriel". Of the 2 or 3 uptempo numbers, "Midnight Carnival", at 8 plus minutes, would be of most interest to prog folk fans, with its shifting phases and eerie motifs, but the bombastic "Everyman and the Philosopher King" is equally impressive.

Several otherwise simple folk tunes are embellished by expressive bass and jazzy electric piano, notably "Be Alive" and "Breton Landscape", both of which refuse to choose the road well travelled with their warm melodies. For points of reference if not outright influences, I would look to the mellow side of early KING CRIMSON as well as PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, TIR NA NOG, MAGNA CARTA, SIMON AND GARFUNKEL, NICK DRAKE, FOREST, FAIRPORT CONVENTION, and STRAWBS.

Those into prog folk or early pastoral psych music would be wise to pick up the sole recorded work of O.W.L.

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

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