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ILL WICKER

Prog Folk • Sweden


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Ill Wicker biography
ILL WICKER are a 5 piece band from Sweden who owe a significant debt of inspiration to acid folk of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but with modernized production. On their first album from 2014, Ill Wicker does a fine job of replicating the dark and sinister tones of COMUS, and its title, Under Diana, references a popular track from that long gone classic. Recommended first and foremost to COMUS fans but also to aficionados of the INCREDIBLE STRING BAND and SPIROGYRA.

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UntamedUntamed
Import
The Sign Records 2016
Audio CD$6.60
$14.06 (used)
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ILL WICKER discography


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

3.95 | 2 ratings
Under Diana
2014
4.50 | 9 ratings
Untamed
2016

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ILL WICKER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Untamed by ILL WICKER album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.50 | 9 ratings

BUY
Untamed
Ill Wicker Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars A very welcome addition to the 2016 catalog of prog releases because this is a sound that is, unfortunately, all too rare in prog world today. This is true Prog FOLK music. The band uses a lot of acoustic instruments and multi-voice vocals weaving in and around each other in a manner that is quite reminiscent of the original folk bands who tried electrification, who tried "progressive" experimentation--and especially those bands that used more complex and idiosyncratic instrumental weaves, like THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, SPIROGYRA, and COMUS. From Sweden, this is the band's second release after the encouraging debut of 2014's Under Diana. The band's sound and lyrical choices are the closest thing I've heard to Germany's pagan folk masters, FAUN, yet singing mostly in English as opposed to Faun's German and many old and ancient language explorations.

1. "I Was Here When The Sea Was Young" (2:40) is a fast-moving upbeat tune with some very complicated weaves of both instruments and vocals. A great opener and my favorite song on the album. (10/10)

2. "The Charm On Your Chest" (8:07) opens with a brisk pace but then turns into an exercise in subtlety and beauty. Throughout the second, third and fourth minutes I am filled with feelings of walking alone in an enchanted and beautiful woods. At 4:10 when the percussion hits intimate a change, I envision coming out of the woods to the vision of a beautiful lake below me and mountain hillsides beyond. But then the music makes feel as if I need to run--as if I am being pursued and need to escape. Violin, mandolin, and acoustic guitar shine above the organ and percussion as the pursuit becomes more intense in the seventh minute. Horses! closing in! Is it me they're after? The voice of a spirit enchanter asks me what I'm experiencing--why I'm choosing this adventure. And I stop--all sources of terror and fear disappear--they were all of my own creation. Nice journey. (9/10)

3. "Untamed" (6:29) opens with the instruments establishing a perky pace like a ballad, but then, surprise!, when the vocals (presented in multiple voice harmony) take their turn the instrumental support becomes quite sparse and quiet. This pattern continues, somewhat, though the instrumental support becomes more prominent ver the course of the song. The instrumental section that begins at the end of the third minute is quite nice, with some surprise chords thrown in beneath the soloing violin. And then, at the beginning of the fifth minute, the vocals return in a joyful and unusually constructed four- or five-part harmony. The collective instrumental and vocalise play to the songs end is rather steady and beautiful. Great song. (9/10)

4. "Silent Impulse" (7:13) starts out as a slow song with kind of eery, drawn out multilayered vocals singing over some simple instrumental accompaniment (acoustic guitar and violin). But the second half of the song--about the time the singers finish their work--turns into a jam with a build up of slowly increasing speed and dexterity. (8/10)

5. "Earth Child" (7:59) opens with quite a medieval feel and sound as hand drums and acoustic instrumentation repeat a brief little pattern a few times. The song then develops into more of an instrumental jam until, surprisingly, at 1:19 some very playful, festive (drunk?) vocals (led by a bacchanalian male) enter and follow along with the jamming instruments. Just as quickly and surprisingly, the music slows to a crawl at the two minute mark. The music and ensuing vocals sound almost ritualistic, give cause for a little fear and trepidation. But then the forward march signal is given and the band returns to cantoring along the path. Definitely the most COMUS-sounding song I've heard on the album. The mandolin soloing at the end of the fifth minute is refreshing. The wild orgy continues until at the end of the seventh minute everything slows, quiets, like the calm after all of the drunken regalliers have fallen asleep and the fire's flames begin to die down for lack of attention. Cool musical story tellling! (9/10)

6. "The Trials Of Madame Dillner" (5:11) opens as a kind of traditional folk song with standard accompaniment, single vocalist (male), and brief bridges of instrumental soli (mostly violin) between the vocal verses. In the second half of the second minute female background singers mirror the lead vocalist and mandolin joins the violin's melody making. AT 2:45 there is a shift in the foundation to more broadly fill the bass end (congas, bass, organ, lower register violin play). The vocals begin sounding so Dylan-cum-Judy Dyble-esque! Nice traditional folk song. (8/10)

7. "Min Levnads Afton" (6:36) a gorgeous MEDIÆVAL BÆBES-like rendering of a traditional Swedish folk song. My second favorite song on the album. (10/10)

These are very polished and professional folk musicians, people! Well worth checking out. And this, their second album, shows much improvement in composition, performance refinement, and sound engineering. An album that deserves to be heard--and one that deserves to be ranked among Prog Folk's classics!

 Under Diana by ILL WICKER album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.95 | 2 ratings

BUY
Under Diana
Ill Wicker Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars A brilliant debut album in the true folk-oriented prog folk tradition like those bands in the 1960s who first tried electrifying their music. The vocals are a little less polished and synchronized than their follow up,2016's Untamed, but the raw energy and passion that these youths have for their music comes busting through.

1. "Fret" (7:53) elaborate hand percussion, glockenspiel, accordion, guitar, and four-part vocal harmonies fuel this one. Solos come from from both fiddles, glock, and percussion. When compared to their 2016 sophomore album, the vocals sound much more frenzied and unpolished. (8/10)

2. "Vassal of the sun" (8:13) opens like a dirge with organ reed organ and accordion holding long low chords while the voices and guitar fill the middle and a lonely mandolin ditties around the high registers. The instrumental mid-section steadies and soothes with guitar, glockenspiel and mandolin weaving together a fabric over which the fiddles can take turns gently soloing. This is awesome! A key shift moves the song into vocal range for the final two minutes. Nice song! (9/10)

3. "Iblissa" (7:18) starts off quite unremarkably but then takes one on an amazing journey with its emotional and eery second half. Glimpses of things to come and easily the best song on the album. (10/10)

4. "Under Diana" (5:21) slow to unfold, this is more of a song of prayer to their goddess. (8/10)

5. "Nicor" (10:27) Guitar, fiddle, viola, mandola, and incidental percussion (shells, etc.) support Emil's solo vocal on this one. Good folk song with lots of frenzy and free form play in the instrumental sections. The soft four part harmonizing in the the "lie du die du die" section and the crazed vocals that follow are my favorite parts. Unfortunately, the song is lacking a bit in the way of memorable melody lines. (8/10)

6. "Darkling woods" (7:25) guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bowed double bass and harmonium support Emil's storytelling vocal on this one. It feels traditional. A second fiddle and hand percussion comes later. Emil certainly does have a totally unique singing style: the nasal part is all Dylan, the way he whisps the tail of some words--especially at then end of lines--is akin to Bulgarian folk style singing or even Leon Thomas. (8/10)

Much more crazed and untamed--like COMUS--than their next release--and less polished vocal performances and engineering/production, as well, but still, it is wonderful to hear young people of the 21st Century picking up the folk torch of the artists of the 1960s who first caught the prog bug. And these guys are serious, seriously talented, and committed to their craft. Give this one a listen. Then move to the real treat, Untamed.

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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