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The Chronicles of Father Robin - The Songs & Tales of Airoea Book I: The Tale of Father Robin (State of Nature) CD (album) cover

THE SONGS & TALES OF AIROEA BOOK I: THE TALE OF FATHER ROBIN (STATE OF NATURE)

The Chronicles of Father Robin

 

Symphonic Prog

4.29 | 132 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Primarily the long lost remnants of a band called Fangorn that never really went anywhere in the early 1990s, THE CHRONICLES OF FATHER ROBIN is a Norwegian supergroup that has salvaged the musical ideas and themes of Fangorn and resurrected for the modern retro prog scene of the 2020s. Basically a work in progress for three entire decades and initially inspired by not only 70s prog bands but the Swedish revivalists such as Anglagard, Anekdoten, White Willow and Lanberk, the ambitious three album set THE SONGS & TALES OF AIOREA chronicles the tales of the band's namesake, FATHER ROBIN and delivers a stunning mythological journey into an alternate universe that is enshrouded in the classic retro sounds of the 70s and 90s prog scenes.

THE SONGS & TALES OF AIROEA - BOOK 1 was the first to emerge in 2023 followed by the second and just recently in 2024 the third. With members from Wobbler, That Samuel Jackson Five, Tusmørke and Jordsjø adding their signature sounds to the mix, THE CHRONICLES OF FATHER ROBIN is a vibrant and exuberant example of modern prog implanting the traditions of the past while cross-pollinating more modern developments. Mixing aspects of symphonic prog and folk with moments of heavy rock and other progressive attributes, AIROEA delivers a veritable blend of the various prog elements that each member delivers from his retrospective band origins all the while engendering a mystical lyrical procession through a classic fantasy world which emulates the golden age of prog.

AIROEA - BOOK 1 is like a veritable time capsule of classic prog with pastoral folky passages reminiscent of 70s Genesis, stellar keyboard-oriented prog rock workouts from the classic Yes as well as the modern Wobbler playbook, extended jams bringing some of the newer bands like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizzard to mind and of course aspects from all the bands from which the individual musicians came from. Starting off somewhat clumsy with a noise and instrumental introduction, the album springs into action on "Eleision Forest" and then doesn't let up for the entire album's 46 minute run. Alternating between folk and heavy symphonic prog with flutes accompanying both contrasting styles, the band showcases a mature songwriting style that challenges the listener with prog complexities without sacrificing the melodic folk inspired melodies that prevail throughout the album's run. BOOK 1 covers the landscapes of AIROEA whereas "Book 2" covers the watery realms of the world. "Book 3" the air and ascension.

True that Andreas Pretmo's vocals make the album feel more like a Wobbler spinoff than anything especially since much of the music also could easily fit into the Wobbler playbook but something about THE CHRONICLES OF FATHER ROBIN that keeps it from straying to far into the "Hinterland" and the discipline focus keeps the album sounding rather distinct from any of the bands that the members are associated with. The album delivers an excellent set of cleverly crafted compositions that nurture ideas to their fruition and then make the necessary changes to keep things from becoming stale. Nice prog workouts are strewn about to keep things from becoming too much in the lullaby realms with extra kudos toward the near 16-minute "Twilight Fields" which features the band's most demanding workouts as well as running the gamut of the diversity of styles exercised on AIOREA - BOOK 1.

Overall this is a brilliant set of six tracks that once it hits you doesn't let up until the very end. This is the kind of prog that will appeal to everyone. It's ridiculously melodic but in a sophisticated way that allows classical, jazz and folk to play together in harmony, it has stellar prog technicalities to wow fans of demanding workouts and it has an excellent thematic delivery that is not only believable but not so alienating that the entire thing comes off as convoluted. Norway has been the hotbed for creative modern prog in the last decade or so and it seems unlike with bands like THE CHRONICLES OF FATHER ROBIN popping up that its' in any danger of losing its wellspring of creativity. A very well crafted album in the traditional prog styles of an era gone by but done ridiculously well to keep it all relevant in the present.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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