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Espers - II CD (album) cover

II

Espers

 

Prog Folk

3.95 | 38 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars The Pennsylvania-based Prog Folk band led by Greg Weeks and singer Meg Baird release their second album. With II the trio is "officially" expanded to a sextet.

1. "Dead Queen" (8:13) eerie space notes drop like water droplets before a "Stairway to Heaven"-like guitar enters at the end of the first minute. Multiple voices singing in amazing harmony weave enter at 1:35. The verses are very slow and methodic like one of MEDIÆVAL BÆBES' slower, more delicate songs. Violin and fuzzy electric guitar duet in the instrumental section, left and right channels, respectively, before recorder-like stringed instrument instrument joins in the left (and continues playing harmonics beneath the next vocal verse and successive instrumental section). A whole mess of odd instruments (see "Instrumentation" list) join in to create quite an unusual sonic landscape through to the ending fadeout. (13.5/15)

2. "Widow's Weed" (6:51) raw electric guitar dominating the acoustic instruments at work in the wings, this is dark music rises and falls over three minutes before "settling" down to a slower, more spacious soundscape in which Meg sings in a dreamy-downer voice. (13/15)

3. "Cruel Storm (5:17) a bluesy base with acoustic instruments, electric bass and electric guitar, precedes the entrance of the amazing voice of Meg Baird. This sounds like a song from 1970-71--from the likes of GAY WOODS or Maddy Prior from The Woods Band, BARBARA GASKIN (Spirogyra), or even Judy Dyble, Jacqui McShee, or Sandy Denny. A simple song but astonishingly beautiful. (9.5/10)

4. "Children Of Stone" (8:54) opens with a more traditional folk rock instrument palette, including drums and bass, before male-and female chorus of voices enter in a gorgeous wave of woven harmonies. Flute and picked guitars create a bit of "I Talk to the Wind" sound/feel in the third minute and carry it forward beneath the next verse of vocal weave. AT 3:05, after the end of the second verse, an eerie old synth screams single notes portamento-style until 4:10 when the next vocal verse begins. In the sixth minute a couple voices take the lead while a very low synth portamento note counterposes, singing in a foreign language. Other instruments--including beautiful solo vocalise threads--join in and build a fairly thick soundscape--though all and every instrument and voice somehow remain distinct and distinguished. Very cool, beautiful, and memorable song. (18.5/20)

5. "Mansfield And Cyclops" (5:57) another gorgeous song that sounds like it came from 1971 with another incredible vocal from Meg. The difference between this and "Cruel Storm" is that the instruments' contributions are significantly more enriching and noteworthy: drums, multiple guitars, and other stringed instruments. This feels like it could come from a TIRILL MOHN album. (10/10)

6. "Dead King" (8:02) guitars, hand percussives, strings, and flute open this one before Meg enters and sings an English-style folk ballad. There is an odd "organ" and "synthesizer" as well as some background vocal help. This one drags a bit and is more interesting from the instrumental perspective than the vocal or lyrical presentation--especially as it moves into the middle when creepy, eerie, even scary sound embellishments take over. (13/15)

7. "Moon Occults The Sun" (6:47) opens simply, weaving several traditional folk instruments together, before cello and drums enter and move the music into a more forward direction. Around the one-minute mark a male vocal enters in the lead department (with some far background support from Meg). The active drums and cello make for some interesting bridges between the verses until the three-minute mark when another strange fuzz-embellishment to an electric guitar teams up with a different sustain-prone guitar to give us a very interesting, beautiful weave. This goes on for a full two minutes (of prog bliss) while the band jams beneath. Cool! Things calm back down for the final minute and the final vocal verses. (13.75/15)

Total time 50:01

A-/five stars; a veritable modern masterpiece of refreshing Prog Folk; definitely an essential addition to any prog lover's music collection.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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