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Prog Folk • United Kingdom

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Magicfolk biography
Formed as the songwriting duo of Michelle and Ben GLOVER in 2003, the UK group MAGICFOLK have expanded both their sound and lineup over the years, and in the process released three albums as of 2015. The band's sound ranges from refined, almost chamber-like folk to more modern rock-infused music, all layered with influences of fantasy, folk and sometimes mysticism. Their songs include both original and reinterpreted traditional material.

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

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MAGICFOLK discography

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
4.00 | 2 ratings
Tales of Power
4.95 | 3 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Magickfolk by MAGICFOLK album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.00 | 2 ratings

Magicfolk Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Magicfolk's 2007 debut shows a mature band that after years of honing their craft in live settings , have decided quite judiciously to immortalize their work on plastic. Formed in 2003 by Michelle and Ben Glover, the band has a rather electric vision of the prog-folk tradition, infusing their acoustic-based storytelling with some energetic guitar motifs that add energy and spice. The list of songs vary in length from 8.21 to 2.35, a nicely sprinkled variety throughout. What makes them different from other traditional folk bands is their very progressive tendency to go beyond local lore and tackle more universal themes, both historically and geographically with themes such as 'Sheba', 'Persephone' ,'Heliopolis', 'Egypt', 'Narcissus' and 'Sea Priestess'. The sweeter shorter sections are closer to old-style folk pieces than the more elaborate and developed arrangements that give the progressive stamp a raison d''tre.

Led by Michelle Glover's suggestive voice, the songs evoke immediate passions marshaled by spirited acoustic guitar accompaniment, dashes of bucolic flute, and a light rhythm section of bass and drums. Unexpected thunder clasps of electric guitar soloing only adds to the thrill. On a mystical track like the adventurous 'Sheba', various desert aromas come to the fore, laden with sun-drenched voices, glassy percussion and languid guitar sizzles to create an oasis of feverish passion. A tremendous piece of music, unfurled by Michelle's belly-dancing voice. 'Persephone' is the venerable Greek goddess of the underworld, Zeus' daughter and a wonderful inspiration for a short but emotional tune that combines all the Magicfolk suspects, the rampant flute, buzzing guitar and suave rhythmic pulse. Ethereal treat this is.

On a song like 'Aibo', the band is not afraid to show their futuristic colours as well, describing that android dog (AIBO stands for Artificial Intelligence Robot) developed by Sony corporation as a mechanical pet. Highly exploratory and creative, to say the least.

Stretching out nearly 7 minutes, 'Heliopolis' is definitely one of the proggiest tracks here, a slick platform for some eccentric soloing, guitar and synths in particular asked to task, taking the listener again back to the desert of Egypt. A musical and geographical relative of the 'Sheba' track, the complex simplicity is in the rather brilliant use of voice tones to great a sense of magnificence and timelessness. A latter track, 'Egypt' will complete the trilogy in fine fashion, another escape into the bleak but resourceful Saharan universe.

A brief mention of the succulent beauty of 'Angel' a fabulous little piece with incredible vocals and a delectable theme. Also 'Furies' seeks to reconnect the Greek underworld theme with screeching mythological spasms, adding a blitzing electric guitar solo to the Hellenic feel.

On a track like 'Narcissus', the inclusion of saxophone really gives the subsequent guitar solo a partner in pleasure, another Greek mythology anecdote that is utterly satisfying. Modernity reappears in 'Diving Bell', a modern search for ancient treasures, seeking to better understand the past, featuring a languorous piano that evokes the calm waters needed for safe plunging into the depths.

The grand finale and the longest piece her clocking in over 8 minutes is 'Sea Priestess', thus truly showing off all the ingredients that make this band tick, the sweeping and convincing vocals, solid drums from Geoff Charlton, evocative keyboard work and some overt and exiting electric guitar soloing that sends a rock message to those who might think this to be a tad fluffy. It isn't, as Lee Morant smokes throughout the searing arrangement, a trait that he, among others, will provide on future Magicfolk albums!

A sensational debut and a harbinger of even better things to come. If you have not discovered Magicfolk yet, you are missing out on one of prog-folks best kept secrets.

4 fairy-tale traditionals

 Tales of Power by MAGICFOLK album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 2 ratings

Tales of Power
Magicfolk Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars When trekking through the various labyrinths and mazes that litter the progressive sub-genres scene, the weary musical traveller can easily get lost among all the different styles, even within a specific group, let alone the entire cosmic prog universe. Thousands of bands to choose from worldwide, many espousing their own experimental take on traditional music. As I have mentioned before, the tradition of haunting music from Celtic, British, Norse, Breton, Hungarian and Slavic sources have shaped classical and modern music since the dawn of time, often legendary (read: fairy) tales of love, courage and magic. Thanks to my admiration and adulation for British musician Colin Mold, whose albums have soothed many a sad night's pains, as well as always have an affinition for medieval- tinged folk music, I was tempted to explore Magicfolk, a loose group of merry musicians that Colin often plays with. The reward was 'Saltarello', a rather stunning release, which ended up #2 on my top 30 prog album list for 2015, not exactly a poor way for prog by any stretch, actually quite the contrary. A thoroughly exhilarating voyage into the folky marshlands, windswept torrential rains, opaque and dense rolling fog and the sweet smell of nature's virtue. Yes, bands like Norway's Shine Dion, British band Iona, Germany's Ougenweide, Italy's Gian Castello as well as Malicorne and Seven Reizh (France) are just some names of incredible prog-folk that begs to be adored.

The distinctively unique 'Call Time' with its tilted meter, barking dog, growly guitar riff and suddenly exploding chorus 'a beautiful day to say goodbye', a dash of guileless flute from Amber Curtis and Michelle Glover's distinctive voice, all in all a prefect wake up call. A lovely and breezy electric folk intro to more great stuff.

'Nagual' is where things get really serious, a nearly 7 minute romp that exudes passion that stretches to both extremes, sweet redolence on one end and raunchy rock guitar to finish off the unaware listener. The delicate flute weaves simplicity and beauty once again, daring one to 'never leave'. Michelle breathes passion into her sweet lament , telling another story to keep dreaming, cascades of mellotron come through the valley, bursting forth with unescapable abandon, as the sizzling 'eyes like a snake' guitars scorch along in its overtly bluesy tone, I thought it was Eddie van Halen for a sec, what a surprise! Thoroughly impressive.

Sounding like a bloody traditional tune where elves dance ,'The Faery Ring' is your typical British folk song, pastoral and colorful, a kaleidoscope of emotions expressed by both the lyrics, narration, the hushed voices and the intense instrumental display. Male and female voices duel for the spotlight, ever so convincingly, flute dabbling once again, as the story unfolds. Pastoral, medieval and ethereal music.

Piano takes over the stage with ornate delicacy and bravado, hints of romanticism and a slight bluesy feel, the arrangement evolves with voice and rhythm section gently pushing along a deliriously celestial chorus. 'Lion Tamer' hypnotizes and enthralls, Michelle in particular coming through with conviction. A strident guitar solo from lead soloist Lee Morant, who shines brightly throughout the disc.

Another lovely piece is 'the Desert Song', where the mystical female voice is hauntingly mysterious and vaporous, loaded with forlorn melancholia and simple structure where massive acoustic guitars, flute and gentle percussion shuffle that languorous voice along. The shrill guitar hits all the nerve endings, nothing too technical but heavy on emotion and buzz. Swooping orchestrations dominate and a certain feeling of arid escapism pervades the whole. Amazing!

'Into the Blue' is a shocker, harmonica bellowing a more countrified air, something American-sounding that the Brits do traditionally very well, a burping Matt Gamble bass , honky-tonk piano, and shuffling beat from drummer extraordinaire Geoff Charlton.

The crowning track is the amazing 'Dragonspell', another 7 minute affair that exudes all the essential ingredients that make Magicfolk, well, magic! , complex simplicity, instrumental elegance, classic folklore standards punched along by buzzing rock guitar duel, another barrage of succulent solos, full of energy and pace, tortuous and audacious. An acoustic mid-section quietens down the mood, gently windswept and pensive, giving Michelle her chance to shine. A masterful piece of prog-folk, this is.

'Wiccan's Dance' suggests a wider variety of assorted instruments, such as sax, accordion and violin and featuring Colin Mold on smoking lead guitar, a nice little jam fest where everyone gets to burn down the barn door and have a jolly good time! Jazz, rock and folk blowout that is just plain fun.

The tempestuous 'Death & the Maiden' is a shorter rocker, almost gothic in inspiration, very haunting and driven, guitars abuzz with little restraint, until a docile flute calms things down albeit only briefly as the storm then rages on once more. Axemen Stephen Scott and Lee Morant carve hard, slashing furiously.

Inspired by a poem 'the Last Oracle', the swirling symphonism of 'Winged Bull' is glaringly attractive and keyboard 'laden, narration, harp all combining to elevate the arrangement, giving Colin the opportunity to shine on lead guitar with a positively spiraling solo spot. Guest violinist Dorothea Bergman also gives a dazzling performance, a real sensorial expression of devotion and passion. Definite highlight!

Finale comes in the form of the diminutive folk ditty 'Dweller', another chance for Colin to show off his violin skills, the flute also takes on the bulk of the melody before gently fading into the mist. A wave of hand and see you again.

There is little doubt that 'Tales of Power' show the building blocks of what would become their next album, the afore mentioned 'Saltarello', which at the price of repeating myself is a true prog-folk masterpiece. Variety, short and epic tracks, a truly nice mix. I would urge fans to hunt down Saltarello and if enchanted like I was, move on to purchase their back catalog.

4 stories of energy.

 Saltarello by MAGICFOLK album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.95 | 3 ratings

Magicfolk Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Once upon a time, there was a group of musicians who openly embraced the medieval traditions of minstrels playing music with gentle vibrancy, and infused a fair amount of magical tendencies. They called themselves Magicfolk. Led by multi-instrumentalists Michelle and Ben Glover, the prog-folk tradition lives on mightily, composing original material as well as new readings of traditional themes. A merry cast of guest players adorn the rich compositions, including my good friend Colin Mold on guitar, bass, mandolin and violin. "Saltarello" is their third release and a landmark within the prog-folk universe, loaded up with vibrant instrumental reels that scream out their Brit/Celtic heritage, voice-propelled ballads that conjure up images of raconteurs and troubadours and even a full-blown epic prog-rock finale (Babylon) that yearns for even more distant adventures. Michelle Glover's voice has a highly melodic tone that convinces immediately and the arrangements are rich and stimulating, within a kind of complex simplicity that is utterly endearing.

Well within the glorious treasure chest of other prog-folk masterpieces such as Minimum Vital's "Sarabandes" and the recent "Pavanes", as well as works by Shine Dion, Blackmore's Night, Bededeum, Gian Castello, Merlin Bird, Motis and even Loreena McKennitt, this tremendous album is a pure joy to listen to, even as gentle background music in conducting daily activities. The musicianship is stellar, passionate and, well ? magical! The songs are complementary to all styles, a wide variety of moods and styles such as the Byzantine/Middle Eastern influences that are obvious on tracks such as "Kozanis" and "Mekhutonim Tants". Instrumental intermezzos such as "Maggie in the Woods", "Parson's Farewell", "Horses Brawl" and the opener title track all wink at classic folk mannerisms and are instantly gratifying. Then contrast all that splendor with energetic and hypnotic folk vocal gems such as the flute-driven "Dance of the Honey Bee", the sensational "Beltaine (Calin Mai)" and the rollicking and rocky "Bedlam Boys".

"Babylon" is a six minute extravaganza that is perhaps closer to British band Iona, a vocal-led musical adventure that conjures sonic images of the Holy Land and beyond, a historical voyage that reeks of coffee, sand, cardamom and dates, a bizarre bazaar of flutes, mandolins, violin and a dual guitar barrage that evokes khamsin-like winds, a thoroughly ethereal trip into the faraway fantasy of the past.

The artwork conveys the unpretentious loveliness that the music contains, a lush, vibrant, joyous and exalting collection of wondrous music. When your mood shifts away from the tectonic shelling of prog-metal and various other purveyors of athletic heaviness, Magicfolk will heal your weary bones and aching muscles. A stunning surprise that deserves a wider audience.

5 enchanted vernaculars

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the artist addition. and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates

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