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William D. Drake - Yew's Paw CD (album) cover


William D. Drake


Eclectic Prog

3.05 | 3 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Yew's Paw is a piano solo album by William D. Drake of Cardiacs fame. I wonder how people would have assessed Yew's Paw around 1900, when there was a lot of good and innovative piano music. The compositional vocabulary of Drake extends beyond the romantic period but at least here he stays away from all too experimental and atonal stuff that came up in the 20th century. He's not quite Debussy but has something to add to Liszt, I'd say (not that I'm the best expert to assess this; surely in terms of tonality and hamonies this is closer to the present than what you hear from some other prog composers and instrumentalists). Then there's some more easy going pop stuff in his piano music than in the music of the "high brow" giants of the time. The rhythms are somewhat sharper, and melodic elements are at times very simplistic, think piano music that accompanies some silent movies from the 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, with somewhat more adventurous chord changes. I don't think Mr Drake would be bothered by having his music characterised in comparison to stuff that is 100 years old. It may even be that he consciously attempted to use elements of that era, and a good era it was for progressive (!) music. Surely his unique composing personality shines through at times, and as somebody who listened to quite a bit of his music before Yew's Paw (much of which actually appeared later), I can see the connections clearly. Still, Yew's Paw is currently a very unique thing in his catalogue, and has a pretty independent life on its own; and this life is probably best characterised by the reference to early 20th century piano work, nicely located between the elitist and the popular, although in this day and age this kind of stuff would probably be branded intellectual and elitist by most. Surely it has a certain "study"/"exploration" feel; Mr Drake's later solo efforts feel more emotional and direct despite all the fun bits that can also be found in here.

Many on this site may not find this album all too relevant, but overall it is an interesting original piano solo album that is nice to listen to. Although I've got to admit that there is not enough of a virus in it that makes me want to listen to it again and again, it just flows on without putting an all too strong anchor into my ears, which I'd expect from a four star album. Therefore this one gets well deserved three of them.

Lewian | 3/5 |


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