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White Willow - Ignis Fatuus CD (album) cover


White Willow


Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 136 ratings

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4 stars Norway fascinates the adventurous and inquisitive mind like few other places. Their people have traveled far and wide, centuries before Columbus, sailing the wild Atlantic seas on brilliantly crafted ships called "drakkars" (that still are regarded by shipbuilders as the epitome of hand-made naval engineering). They fiercely fought of challenges from aggressive neighbors and today enjoy one of the highest living standards anywhere. Their people are modest, quietly charming, exceedingly healthy, sports-minded and have some wonderful progbands (for such a small population): from the veterans Kerrs Pink, Fruitcake and Host to the brilliant Kvazar, the stunning Gazpacho, the astounding Shine Dion, the prolific multi-instrumentalist Bjorn Lynne, the abrasively angular Ravana, as well as the new Vikes on the Block: Wobbler, Magic Pie and Retroheads. White Willow's debut album relies on strikingly beautiful folk atmospherics, incorporating a multitude of classical instruments (violins, krumhorns, recorders, bagpipes) with the traditional progressive arsenal (electric guitar, assorted keys, bass and drums). The end result is a mystical musical voyage that reflects the towering fjords, the lush yet frozen forests, the pristine lakes and streams, the billowing fog banks and the endless arctic horizons. Sara Trondal's shimmering voice entrances and beguiles, ("warm my bones beside the fire" as David Gilmour once so famously sang), with a deeply melancholic and serene kaleidoscope of sounds to elevate the compositions to exhilarating heights. Occasionally guitar flights and the rock solid syncopations of the rhythm section keep the prog ship steadily on course, so one never wanders off into outright folkdom. There is also a very muted hint of despair or perhaps numbness, which is typical of all Nordic civilizations, that is hard to pinpoint on this disc but the following albums will reveal a heavier dose of angst (the cold wind of Thor?) , a characteristic that seems to permeate all Scandinavian progbands , whether from Finland, Sweden, Denmark or Norway. All the tracks deserve applause, with the extended epics "Snowfall", "The Withering of the Boughs", "Lord of Night", "John Dee's Lament " and "Cryptomensys" being particularly haunting, the overall quality of the musicianship is absolutely topnotch, led by group leader, composer and guitarist Jacob Holm-Lupo. This is perfect autumnal musical fare that can only elicit repeated pleasure from those proggers who like mood, atmosphere and fantasy. I am overjoyed to notice the obvious glee my esteemed PA reviewer sinkadotentree holds for this record. Like me, he is most obviously a "Melancholy Man". And that's cooler than the arctic winds.. 4.5 auroras
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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