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Gryphon - Midnight Mushrumps CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.74 | 271 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Midnight Mushrumps' bridges the gap between the folk of their first album and the jazzy prog of their forthcoming albums. Its centerpiece seems to be the title track, a 19- minute excursion that never seems to get off the ground completely. Most parts are delicately presented, dynamics on a pretty even keel, everything generally quite mellow. Most passages are based around acoustic guitar, bassoon, krumhorn (!) and recorders. Most of the segments sound like intros, wanting to build into something much grander than they actually become. It's a wonderful pastiche, but the flow is a bit uneventful. There's no real climactic center, no theme strong enough to latch onto to. It seems to wander like a minstrel, and given the band's forest-dwelling, mushroom- loving medieval image on front and back cover, maybe that's the idea.

The second half of the album begins with "The Ploughboy's Dream", a song that would've easily fit on Strawbs' 'From The Witchwood'. This is a traditional piece that Gryphon arranged to fit their approach, and one of the very few times you'll hear vocals on a Gryphon song. Next is "The Last Flash Of Gaberdine Tailor", a rather sleepy piece written by guitarist Graeme Taylor. It seems incomplete to me--good ideas, good playing, but no real resolution. Somehow it reminds of something from Anthony Phillips' 'The Geese And The Ghost', which is a good companion album to 'Midnight Mushrumps' if you're in such a mood. Finally, the album stands up and asserts itself with three very good tracks. "Gulland Rock" is a beautiful dramatic piece. It is mostly without beats, which helps to attain an angelic, floating kind of feeling. It offers a nice juxtaposition between tension and peacefulness. "Dubbel Dutch" offers something a bit complex. Its busy symphonic arrangement makes for an engaging listen, some excellent synergy between the stringed instruments (guitar, bass and mandolin) and tasteful percussive embellishments from David Oberle. Album highlight "Ethelion" ends things on an exciting note, reminding of the less traditional folk-jazz-prog mix that would come on 'Red Queen To Gryphon Three'. Lots of parts and a wide variety of instrumentation, utilizing just about every instrument listed in the credits. Regal and bold, "Ethelion" is quintessential Gryphon, which is more than you can say for a majority of this album. A textbook example of an enjoyable yet flawed "transitional" album.

slipperman | 3/5 |


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