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PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Prog Folk definition

In the wake of the 1960s, a Folk revival started on both sides of the Atlantic, and got quickly linked with a protest movement, not always, but often linked to more left-wing tendencies, which did not sit well with the authorities. BOB DYLAN, JOAN BAEZ, WOODY GUTHRIE, JOHN DENVER, BUFFY STE-MARIE, but also the FARINA couple Richard and Mimi for the US and SHIRLEY COLLINS and EWAN McCOLL (mentor of BERT JANSCH, JOHN RENBOURN ) for the UK and HUGUES AUFRAY in France. In Quebec, there was the "Chansonniers" phenomenon among which CLAUDE LEVEILLE and FELIX LECLERC were the most popular, waking up the sleepy "Belle Province" and stand up for itself from the English rule. The English part of Canada also brought up JONI MITCHELL, LEONARD COHEN (although he was from Montreal) and NEIL YOUNG.

As DYLAN turned electric with his Highway 61 Revisited album, much to the dislike of purists who yelled for treason, Folk Rock was born, opening the floodgates for younger artists to turn on the electricity. As DYLAN soon abandoned to style to create Country Rock with his next album, his British equivalent Scotsman DONOVAN stayed true to Folk Rock. In the US, THE BYRDS were the main promoters of the style by now, culminating with the superb "Eight Miles High" track with a lengthy (for the times) guitar solo of almost one minute. But countless other bands on the west coast, such as LOVE, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE (and later its spin-off HOT TUNA), GRATEFUL DEAD, QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, and TIM BUCKLEY all started in the folk rock realm. Even San Fran's SANTANA with its Latino traditional music and, on the east coast, NY's THE LOVING SPOONFUL had folk roots. Notwithstanding the immense popularity of SIMON & GARFUNKEL and their delicious harmonies, Folk Rock was appealing only to the rock public as the older generations turned their backs in folkies.

In the UK, following on their countrymen DONOVAN, many Scotsmen were very influent in exploring new grounds for folk rock: INCREDIBLE STRING BAND (led by Scots Palmer and Williamson) with their two highly influential albums "5000 Layers Or The Spirit Of The Onion" & "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" and THE PENTANGLE (led by other Scots Renbourn, Jansch and McShee and their superb bassist Danny Thompson) and its incredible fusion of folk, blues and jazz style were very instrumental in developing the style to the same extent as FAIRPORT CONVENTION and STRAWBS who by that time were still more conventional US "west-coast folk rock". The single artistes in folk rock became known as Folk Troubadours were also numerous and often presented a more progressive side of folk: AL STEWART, NICK DRAKE, ROY HARPER, TYRANOSAURUS REX (actually a duo of Steven Took and Marc Bolan) , JOHN MARTYN etc.

However, the real angular album that will lead to further change of Folk Rock is FAIRPORT CONVENTION's "Liege & Lief" album, that proved to be highly influential for another generation of groups: this album concentrated into electrifying seminal English traditional folk and retained that quaint Englishness taste. It is interesting to see that both leaders of FAIRPORT quit the band after this success to go their respective way: Sandy Denny to a solo folk songwriting career and Ashley Hutchings to a very traditional folk rock. By this time, most connoisseur were talking of Acid Folk, Psych Folk, and Progressive Folk, all having limited differences and no particularly drawn-out limits or boundaries, but all relying on experimental or groundbreaking adventures and good musicianship but not necessarily of an acoustic nature.

Groups like THE THIRD EAR BAND and QUINTESSENCE relied on eastern Indian music influences and, sometimes, medieval tones. Other groups like the weird COMUS, TREES, SPIROGYRA, FOREST, the superb JAN DUKES DE GREY but also TRADER HORNE, TUDOR LODGE, FOTHERINGAY, MAGNA CARTA, and TIR NA NOG were out to break new ground but with less commercial success as their predecessor. By 1972, all of the glorious precursors bands were selling fewer records and had problems renewing themselves and a newer generation of groups was relying in a more Celtic jigs or really traditional sounds. Such as HORSLIPS, DANDO SHAFT, STEELEYE SPAN, AMAZING BLONDEL, ALBION DANCE BAND and SPRIGUNS OF TOLGUS. Although JETHRO TULL had some definitive folk roots right from the start, their only albums that can be regarded as Prog Folk are 1977's Songs From The Woods and 1978's Heavy Horses. Ian Anderson (another Scots) was very keen in acoustical traditional songs. Some Folk Troubadours such as TIM BUCKLEY and JOHN MARTYN started turning records more and more axed towards fusing jazz and folk (a bit in what THE PENTANGLE were doing) , others became more and more electric and they started to be referred to as Singer Songwriters especially those with country rock influences.

In Germany, HOELDERLIN (and their fantastic debut album), EMTIDI, OUGENWEIDE, CAROL OF HARVEST, WITTHUSER & WESTRUPP were exploring German folk while KALACAKRA , SILOAH and EMBRYO were indulging with Indian music. In South America, most notably in Chile, LOS JAIVAS (very bent upon Andean Indian music) and CONGRESO (more Spanish-Latino folklore) were using folk in their rock, so much that some press talked about them referring it with the hateful term Inca Rock. In Quebec, the progressive movement exploded with the cultural identity and the Chansonniers tradition and this was carried out with LES SEGUIN and HARMONIUM and so many more. In France, many groups were out for folk rock such as CATHERINE RIBEIRO AND ALPES, TANGERINE, and ASGARD. In Spain, Flamenco playing a dominant role as well as Basque folk, TRIANA, ITOIZ and HAIZEA were the head of the movement once the Franco regime fell apart after his death.


There is also a very important medieval music influences dimension in some groups as the term Medieval Folk was also mentioned for a while but apparently dropped by musicologists. Among the UK groups are obviously GRYPHON, GENTLE GIANT and THIRD EAR BAND, in France: MALICORNE and RIPAILLE and in Scandinavia: ALGARNAS TRADGARD and FOLQUE.


Hugues Chantraine
with hyperlinks and updates by Ken Levine December 2017

Current Team as of December 2017

Bob Moore aka ClemofNazareth
Ken Levine aka Kenethlevine
Sean Trane

Prog Folk Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Prog Folk | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.63 | 3094 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.35 | 2433 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 1329 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.26 | 187 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.39 | 76 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.20 | 300 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.21 | 203 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.15 | 583 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.14 | 517 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.15 | 317 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.13 | 313 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.42 | 44 ratings
LUCAS
Araújo, Marco Antônio
4.05 | 1160 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.21 | 92 ratings
I A MOON
North Sea Radio Orchestra
4.15 | 121 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.07 | 277 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.03 | 1090 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.03 | 1125 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 125 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.44 | 35 ratings
AVE SANGRIA
Ave Sangria

Prog Folk overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Prog Folk experts team

GUSLIAR
Pesniary (Pesnyary)
A CANDLE FOR JUDITH
Way We Live, The
GEOFFROY
Emeraude
FRESH MAGGOTS
Fresh Maggots

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Black of the Ink by WOVEN HAND album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.66 | 6 ratings

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Black of the Ink
Woven Hand Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars David Eugene Edwards, originally from the band "16 Horsepower" has, up to the release of this book/CD, has released 6 full length albums under the moniker "Woven Hand". This release is not a "proper" album per se, as it is a reimagining of 6 previously released tracks, one track from each of the 6 albums. The CD is more of a collection or an EP. The main draw for this release is the 110-page book that features lyrics from his previous songs and some nice artwork.

As much as I like David's neo-folk music, I can't really consider this anything but a collectable item of interest mostly to fans. The music itself remains pretty much acoustic throughout, with David's unique voice and minimal instrumentation. The songs are good, but nothing special really, and as to why these particular songs were chosen I can't say, because they are not necessarily the best tracks off of the individual albums, and in reality, I like the originals better. I believe this was done to make things feel more personal, and it is almost like a private "unplugged" style concert.

The lyrics deal with the usual things, religious, yet dark, which is one of the unique things of the music of Woven Hand. I think a new listener would not be very appreciative of this release however. You would be better off looking for a different full length album from the band than this one. Only for collectors and fans.

 Billy Liar by DECEMBERISTS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
2.05 | 7 ratings

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Billy Liar
The Decemberists Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Billy Liar" is a short EP, or the bands first single. It consists of 2 songs from the album "Her Majesty" and 2 b-sides, not available anywhere else as far as I know. The first track is "Billy Liar" and is the same version as what is on the album. It is an upbeat, jaunty tune. "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" is also from that album in the same version. This is a nice tune, again upbeat with strumming guitar and other accompanying instruments, and features a harmonica solo reminiscent of Stevie Wonder mixed with strings. It seems both of these songs deal with child-ish perversions.

The last two tracks are unique to this EP. "Everything I Try to Do, Nothing Seems to Turn Out Right". It starts out with keyboards and repeating chords and vocals. Some guitar and percussion is added later. It stays at a midtempo. There is some nice slide guitar in the instrumental breaks. "Sunshine" has a retro sound, but again deals humorously with someone's butt. Again, it is a bright tune, mostly acoustic.

The songs fit together well, but do very little to hold my interest. There is no semblance of prog here, and, as a matter of fact, not much folk either. Just bouncy pop songs with a mostly acoustic flavor. The best surprise is the slide guitar in the 3rd track. But, all in all, it's not really worth searching for. The 2 b-sides are really nothing special. This one is for the fans and collectors.

 Dionysus by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.04 | 19 ratings

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Dionysus
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars At last, Dead Can Dance released their new album 'Dionysus' 6 years after their last studio release and their 9th studio release overall. Seeing as I am a huge fan of Dead Can Dance, I've been waiting for this one patiently. I was hoping to be the first to review it here, but I see Silly Puppy beat me to the punch, but that's okay. It's good to see others here with a passion for this music. Besides, I'm sure I'll get my revenge 'Bwah-hah-hah'! This album is made up of two tracks, or Acts, each one having subsections, or divisions.

The first Act has 3 parts, while the second has 4 parts. The first act is called 'Sea Bourne' and is about Dionysus's voyage by boat. The subsections are 'Sea Bourne' (6:44), 'Liberator of Minds' (5:20) and 'Dance of the Bacchantes' (4:35).

'Sea Borne' starts with waves and a deep bass rumble representing a fog or ship's horn. Soon a tribal rhythm starts up with the sound of various traditional and modern instruments and a percussive pattern. There are some wordless vocals that are probably processed into harmonics almost in a classical choir style. Immediately, the music carries you away, as their music seems to do. The music is mostly instrumental and the vocals act as another instrument here. The music is also surprisingly accessible and bright.

'Liberator of Minds' continues with a slower rhythm and a more folkish feel to it, sort of a middle eastern and European vibe mix. There are also natural effects that we have heard in past albums and more wordless vocals. 'Dance of the Bacchantes' has a quicker rhythmic pattern established early on with tribal vocals and atmosphere.

This first act has very little vocals except as used in an instrumental style, and when they are used, they are not at the forefront as much as they are used as atmospheric purposes. This half of the album takes you away on a voyage and works well as music to meditate to or just lose yourself in. It would also work well as background music, but DCD's music always demands to be listened to for the absolute quality of the music.

Act II is called 'The Mountain' and is made up of 4 subsections called 'The Mountain' (5:34), 'The Invocation' (4:56), 'The Forest' (5:04) and 'Psychopomp' (3:53). This act is about Dionysus' birth, transformation to a God and afterlife.

'The Mountain' starts off with a low drone which is soon joined by a lone celtic instrument. A slow dirge-like rhythm starts to drive it forward and other instruments join. Both Brendan and Lisa start singing together for the first time on this album. Lyrics are in the band's usual language which stresses the voice as more of an instrument. Then we hear the drone softly with chimes ringing as things turn ambient for a short time.

'The Invocation' starts with Lisa's vocals alone and then accompanied by bass and percussion with a tribal choir. Soon a beautiful melody on plucked strings starts in between Lisa's verses and this alternates for a while. Other interesting sounds continue as traditional instruments are introduced into the song. This is the music that we all come to Dead Can Dance for! Simply amazing.

'The Forest' starts with natural sounds and then Brendan's vocals come in accompanied by a mid tempo percussion, still keeping the tribal feel that has been prevalent throughout the album. There are also harmonized vocals behind everything. The addition of more harmony is a huge plus on this album. Also, the fact that this time around there are no English lyrics make everything so much more authentic. But even so, the album continues to be easily accessible and beautiful. Strings are very prominent in this track and give everything a very lush feeling.

'Psychopomp' is a slower and more ambient track with a repeated percussive pattern and Brendan and Lisa singing together. It closes the album on a peaceful note that resonates with the listener after all is finished.

Overall, this album has a very tribal feel, yet remains accessible and lovely throughout. If there is a band that does World Music at it's best, it is Dead Can Dance, who proved they were more than just a typical Gothic rock band, who even after all this time, still proves that they are the ones who everyone should think of when someone mentions atmospheric world music with beautiful tribal rhythms that can take you places that you may never physically visit, but still feels familiar to you. They continue to produce music that does not follow the norm, as they are not ones to follow any fad. They are authentic Prog- Folk musicians who don't compromise their sound.

 Dionysus by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.04 | 19 ratings

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Dionysus
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars DEAD CAN DANCE started out all the way back in 1981 and would eventually captivate the world with their unique blend of African rhythms, Celtic folk touches, ethereal otherworldly atmosphere and dualistic vocal approach of Lisa Gerrard's tender angelic siren effects alternating with Brenden Perry's suave crooning sensuality remnant of a mix of Frank Sinatra and Chris Isaak. While they may have had their heyday in the 80s and 90s, they have proved themselves not to be a relic of the past when they emerged from nowhere with 2012's "Anastasis" which found former full band turned duo revisiting their neoclassical darkwave past that slipped away on 1996's "Spiritchaser." While the band hadn't abandoned the richness of the world music smorgasbord effect that they had so deftly thrown in the salad bowl, it was great to hear the darkened 80s atmospheric touches that made them stand out from the alternative pack.

While "Anastasis" may have seemed like a one off and as time elapsed possibly the last artifact to emerge from this now classic musical act, lo and behold DEAD CAN DANCE rise from the grave for a night on the town with their newest ethnically fused neo- darkwave of the 21st century, DIONYSUS, which is a concept album that unfolds a two act set of mini-suites. With a decorated past that began in gothic rock and then experimental neoclassical darkwave which finally gave way to a complete emergence into ethnic worldbeat, it would've been impossible to predict where DEAD CAN DANCE would go next if anywhere. Well, after finally releasing a new unexpected album to an unsuspecting public so late in their game (Gerrard is married in Australia while Perry resides in Ireland), it is a thrill to find that they have taken a cue from much of their past minus the goth thing unfortunately.

Once the initial atmospheric touches lead the way, the groove immediately takes us on a polyrhythmic journey with African beats, Middle Eastern musical scales, wind instruments, Gaelic folk and finally Gerrard's vocal style reminiscent of the Bulgarian Women's Choir with the distinct Eastern Orthodox polyphonic chanting style. After the first act nears its completion and i cogitate upon the concept of a tribute to DIONYSUS who was the ancient Greek god of wine accompanied by one ethnically infused cadence after another, it finally occurs to me: DEAD CAN DANCE have become the acoustic equivalent of the psybient electro group Shpongle! While not as brash and far reaching as the electronic duo from the UK, DEAD CAN DANCE provides the same mesmerizing groove that seamlessly weaves myriad cultures as if they are the conductors on the world's playground and it's time for recess.

Rhythmically speaking, DIONYSUS has much more in common with the overall flow of the album "Spiritchaser" as it has a slow and steady groove that marches along nonchalantly as it's joined by the the rest of the world showcasing their musical contributions to humanity. Atmospherically though, the duo brings back some of that deliciously darkened neoclassical darkwave ambience so deftly dominant on albums like "Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun." Vocally, this one is pretty much wordless (in English at least) and vocals are only present to provide supplemental instrumentation. While Gerard dominates "Act I," Perry finally joins in on "Act II" where the duo provide a call and response effect that is surely summoning the proper gods for more wine! DIONYSUS is truly the Gerard and Perry show. They play all the instruments heard and the ethnic musical styles range from Iranian and Turkish folk to Byzantine chant, Balkan and Greek folk and their usual ambient and new age atmospheric dressing.

After all is listened to and done, it is apparent that nobody can crank out an ethnically charged quite like the dualistic synergy of Lisa Gerrard and Brenden Perry. While clearly not as dark or anywhere as gothic as their earliest recordings, DIONYSUS is a beautifully presented journey into the beauty of planet Earth through music. The music creates a fairly danceable (in a bellydance sort of way) rhythmic parade into the world of ethnic folk which implements many sounds from field recordings to augment the authenticity of this caravan throughout the world. While some may find this to be a tad cheesy and belongs on something like the Putumayo label or something, i would have to wholeheartedly disagree but then again i'm an ethnomusicologist at heart and have a soft spot for exotic musical sounds from all across the world and this one delivers a masterful mix of those sounds in perfect harmony without missing a beat. While i personally liked "Spiritchaser," this one is a bit more dynamic and diverse. In short, a great comeback.

 Garden Of The Arcane Delights by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.65 | 27 ratings

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Garden Of The Arcane Delights
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars DEAD CAN DANCE found their break in London in early 1984 when they were signed to 4AD Records which released their eponymously titled debut in February. The band started out completely differently than what they would become known for. On the first album, the band was more in sync with bands like The Cure and The Cocteau Twins as they delivered a unique blend of gothic rock mixed with dream pop and 80s underground alt rock techniques, however hiding in the nooks and crannies were plenty of the ethnic influences that would dominate their later albums and help define them as one of the most original bands of all the 80s.

As if they were chomping on the bit to head in that direction, the band which was now dominated by the prevailing creative forces of the duo Gerrard and Perry, released an EP in August of the same year. This one took its name from the last track of the debut album and thus GARDEN OF THE ARCANE DELIGHTS was born. While the debut album debuted some of the band's signature traits, this one debuted another: highly symbolic features that take their meaning from mythology, history and natural law. The cover art was created by Perry represents a deep nebulous concept of primal man grasping for knowledge in the garden only to be set off course by a serpentine adversary.

Stylistically, GARDEN OF THE ARCANE DELIGHTS follows the debut in every way. Gerrard and Perry trading off vocals on different tracks with Gerrard's sounding like The Cocteau Twin's ethereal dream pop and Perry's sounding like an alt rock version of Frank Sinatra. This EP only contains four tracks and were probably intended to be tacked onto the debut album if technology of the day would have permitted, however with the advent of the compact disc, this one has indeed appeared as the ending of the debut full- length. This one follows suit also with the ethnic touches inserted with the most prominent coming from the finale "Flowers Of The Sea" with a thundering procession of congas and the Chinese yangqin, which is a trapezoidal hammered dulcimer derived from the Iranian santur.

The EP is a bridge of sort as it deemphasizes the Gothic rock dominance of the debut and puts more focus on the dreamier etheric touches of Gerrard's diva gymnastics and the thick otherworldly atmospheric touches. This is another one that i find underappeciated as it clearly finds an interesting timeline between two distinct phases of the band's career but despite being an in-between sort of thing, is still extremely beautiful to listen to. Luckily this was simply attached to the end of my debut album on a beautifully remastered CD but even if it wasn't i would spend the time and effort to hunt this down because it is a beautiful listening experience that i never tire of. Every bit as good as anything else DEAD CAN DANCE have released. Just different.

 Dead Can Dance by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.30 | 83 ratings

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Dead Can Dance
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Once upon a time, DEAD CAN DANCE was a nebulous concept in the founding members' fertile imaginations that had not yet transpired all the way down under in their native Australia before forming in 1981. Long before the Australian turned British act that would relocate to London and become one of the most successful experimental neoclassical dark folk ambient musical acts of all time, this ethnic inspired fusion band would emerge quite differently. Originally founded as a quartet with not only Lisa Gerrard (ex- Microfilm) and Breden Perry (ex-Marching Girls), but would also include Paul Erikson on bass and Simon Monroe (also of Marching Girls). Once in the UK however, Monroe would soon be replaced by Peter Ulrich who was a multi-instrumentalist, a trait shared by many members of the band throughout the years.

While DEAD CAN DANCE is best known for their unique experimental approach on the timeless ethnic infused style of neoclassical darkwave wrapped in ethereal ambient dressing, the band initiated their humble beginnings as an early 80s post-punk band with extra helpings of gothic rock and darkened dream pop. It didn't take long after they landed a record deal with the alternative rock label 4AD and release their eponymously titled debut in 1984. While clear influences that range from The Cure and The Cocteau Twins are at full front on album #1, DEAD CAN DANCE emerged as a rather unique sounding band right out of the gates with a dreamier space pop based production that fortified a rather darkened ambient atmospheric presence. Despite the gothic touches, DCD was already showing signs of its love for ethnic folk and international flavors in not only the music but by the ritual mask from Papua New Guinea that the album cover sported alongside Greek letters that added an artistic flair to their name.

Despite DCD founding as a band, the pecking order was quickly established since back then Gerrard and Perry were a couple who clearly dominated the musical development with their own sense of direction. Some things were already set at this stage, namely Gerrard and Perry would tradeoff vocals with one track featuring Perry's rather one-trick-pony style of his famous Frank Sinatra type crooning augmented with a touch of new wave hipness from the likes of Paul Humprheys from Orchestral Monoeuvres In The Dark. Lisa Gerrard, on the other hand, has always been the showcase with her sly as a fox adaptability vocally speaking and on this debut, she perfectly blends her ethereal feminine touch to the darkened space pop fueled Gothy darkwave with ease. In fact, the tracks that feature her remarkably resemble a Cocteau Twins edge especially from the "Victorialand" phase which wasn't released for several years yet. The gothic touches mostly result from the frigid industrial beats accompanied by a thick atmospheric haze.

Despite all the references to the contemporary alt rock scene in the form of goth and dream pop, DEAD CAN DANCE were already incorporating world influences from the beginning. On this debut there are ample samplings of Indian percussion and Celtic folk stringed instruments. Despite all the little touches that in hind sight point the direction in which the band would be heading, the clear and dominate sound of this debut is clearly the heavy rock guitar which makes this album not only the band's heaviest but also the only one that clearly could be exist in the rock universe. Having coming to this debut well after all the albums that follow, what struck me most was how Perry pretty much sounds exactly the same despite the radically different instrumentation swirling around his singing style whereas Gerrard was already an extraterrestrial angelic force with talents too great to be contained by the somewhat forced display of musical performances in a rock music prison.

While the DEAD CAN DANCE debut is clearly the odd album out of their eclectic canon with its primeval focus on the early 80s underground, it is an eerily entrancing album nonetheless and an excellent display of experimental touches being teased out within the context of the era. Clearly the more inspiring albums that followed would garner international attention and success for their total out of the box unorthodoxies, but the debut album by DEAD CAN DANCE remains a musical mastery in its own right for its interesting blend of gothic grooves, dream pop atmospheric and sprinklings of ethnic influences that would become more prominent very quickly. For my money, this debut is just as interesting as many early Cure albums and much better than some of the Cocteau Twins lackluster offerings. While the album may not be as cohesive as others from the era, it doesn't suffer from the barrage of ideas finding their way into the mix as they aren't stuffed into every nook and cranny. Instead the music is composed as rather period piece and fortified with experimental offerings. This one is very much worth exploring.

 Benefit by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.91 | 978 ratings

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Benefit
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Benefit' was the 3rd album by Jethro Tull, released between 'Stand Up' and 'Aqualung'. The band considered this one a lot easier to make than 'Stand Up' because it was more a product of the record company demanding an album and the band members didn't have the freedom they had with 'Stand Up'. Ian Anderson also said it was a dark album because of their frustration with the heavy schedule of touring and frustration with the music business. It also was the first album to feature John Evan on keyboard who Anderson said was so much better to work with and gave him more freedom to do what he wanted. Evan, at the time of recording, was only a session musician, but would become a regular member afterwards.

This is more of a hard rock oriented album than a progressive album as they hadn't quite established that sound yet. It was released at the same time that so many riff oriented artists were releasing albums, thus, to follow suit, Anderson also considers this a riff-oriented album. It definitely is more guitar oriented and based off simpler rock riff than what their later albums would be, but it also shows a natural movement towards the more folk and progressive side. It also shows a more natural progression towards the upcoming and ever popular 'Aqualung' album to come.

It starts out with 'With You There to Help Me' and with an echoing flute and a folk-ish lilt, you can hear the beginning of the sound that they would become famous for. There are also hints of the progressive music to come with non-standard chord changes aplenty. The song stays in the folk feel but with occasional bursts of guitar throughout. There is a nice call and answer section at the extended instrumental ending between flute and guitar that make things interesting.

'Nothing to Say' starts with a weaker guitar riff, but the vocal melody is decent enough. It's in this track that the weakness of the album starts to show through. The music just doesn't have the flair of the previous track and is not very memorable. 'Alive and Well and Living In' is more acoustical guitar and piano with bursts of flute and electric guitar. 'Son' is heavier with a more complex melody, but this fades strangely enough and is taken over by an acoustic section and then returns to the original heaviness. 'For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me' is also mostly acoustic with a softer and folkier feel and a meter that changes alternatively from one section to another.

'To Cry You a Song' returns to music based on a few heavy riffs. It features processed vocals. It is a little closer to a progressive song with some nice hooks, but it seems as if it's missing any soul or emotion, almost clinical. It could have been a much better song with a little more work, but it was probably rushed. 'A Time for Everything?' sounds too much like the track before it, except for a little more flute, but at least it's a bit shorter. 'Inside' is a bit better, based off of a repeating flute riff and a nice and memorable folk melody. 'Play in Time' is a toe tapping flute and electric guitar riff playing together with a great rock feel. There are some interesting textures that seem to be achieved by backward recording that gives it a psychedelic flavor.

Last of all, at least on the original release, is 'Sossity; You're a Woman'. It starts as a nice acoustic tune with a baroque feel. It's a perfect song to close the album with the nice acoustic feel all the way through.

The 2001 CD reissue added 4 more tracks that were b-sides and outtakes to this that help to flesh out the album a bit more. 'Singing All Day' is a great, yet simple song that I feel would have made the perfect single. 'Witch's Promise' is also acoustic with a flourishing flute and a more complex melody than the previous one. It utilizes a mellotron later on in the track. This was a non-album single. The third bonus track is a short little ditty called 'Just Trying To Be'. Last of all it the UK mix of 'Teacher' which was substituted (in a slightly different mix) for 'Alive and Well and Living In' on the US release of the original album. It is has a theme that is somewhat familiar in the states.

This album is good, with a few great highlights in 'Sossity' and 'With You There to Help Me', and it works well as a bridge between the albums that came before and after, and it has some echoes of where the band would go after this, but it still doesn't come close to the brilliance of 'Aqualung' and isn't quite as well thought out as 'Stand Up'. But it shows a band in flux and under the influence of the music industry. Fortunately, the next album 'Aqualung' would prove to be the first album to really put the band into the spotlight in a great way.

 Birth by CIRCULUS album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.00 | 2 ratings

BUY
Birth
Circulus Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Given the 9 years recording hiatus, it's perhaps not surprising that this English outfit has moved in a new direction. The CIRCULUS sound remains folk based for the most part, with plenty of synthesized accompaniment as before, but the influence of neo folk and ambient styles are evident for the first time.

The opening number 'The Ecstasy of Digging in Graveyards' signals the shift immediately, with vocalist Michael Tyack's new narrative style and a minimalist approach musically. While it works well here and on the mystical 'Seeking out the Sacred Sites' and 'Stories from my Book of Dreams', what should be the prog centerpiece, 'Creation Wears a Golden Coat', at 10+ minutes, is at least 3 or 4 minutes too long, and I'm being generous. While the running time is higher than past efforts, the repetitiveness and the higher ratio of instrumentals do pad the output. Luckily, both the medieval 'Scarlatti', with its harpsichord-ish leads, and the space age 'Earth Disco' triumphantly confirm the band's continued prowess. In the meantime, the single, 'Tintagic', is nigh as delightful as anything we've heard from them, whimsical and addictive in both lyric and melody.

One aspect of Circulus remains intact, their ability to distinguish themselves in a crowded field while never quite threatening to capture the flag. On most days, that's good enough for me, and reason enough for them to be born again in whatever form.

 The Book Of Invasions - A Celtic Symphony by HORSLIPS album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.00 | 73 ratings

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The Book Of Invasions - A Celtic Symphony
Horslips Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The Book of Invasions is one of the best albums by the Irish Rockers Horslips. It's very difficult to place this melodic Celtic rock album alongside any of the prog masterpieces of the era like Yes' Close To The Edge or Selling England By The Pound by Genesis as Horslips were just not that type of electric/symphonic prog group. However, The Book Of Invasions does have many prog motifs such as it's concept of Celtic mythology driven battles and a sense that the music might just jump head long into long improvisations even if it never quite reaches that musical apex. But a stellar collection of anthemic rockers that showcase lead guitar and flute melodies playing together to create an eerie other worldly hybrid on "Trouble With A Capital T", a charging B3 driven organ riffing on "The Power And The Glory", along with the weariness felt after a battle that's expounded in the dreamy ballad "Sideways To The Sun", all puts one in mind of the grandeur that can only be found in progressive rock music.

But make no mistake, The Book of Invasions is full blown Celtic rock that owes as much to it's heritage as Fairport Convention owes to British folk music. The music of Horslips' forbearers is just so entwined that even a full blown rock song like "The Rocks Remain" cannot help but exhibit the echo of traditional melodies from Irish folk songs, reels and slip jigs. If you enjoy Jethro Tull's Songs From The Wood then the Book Of Invasions is right up your alley, Or bog. 4 stars as the album's production is also top notch.

 El Paso de los Andes by GENESIS DE COLOMBIA album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.00 | 2 ratings

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El Paso de los Andes
Genesis de Colombia Prog Folk

Review by Br4v3r

4 stars in Colombia, the proggresive rock is very unknown and we don't have a lot of bands of this genre, but there's a few famous bands in the underground scene that a lot of people like, Genesis been the most important one. In this album el paso de los andes (the way of the andes), Humberto Monroy create his songs whit a lot of influence of the indigenous people of the centre of the country in the andes mountains, as we can see in all the instrumental and lyrics of the album. The lyrics in more than half of the album talk about love, which is a very common theme in colombian folk, and in the rest of the songs, Humberto sings about the life, the nature, the streets and the people of Colombia and latinamerica, except in el paso de los andes and la guaneńa, those are instrumentals, and the most progressive ones. And talking about instrumentals, the thing that i most like about the album is the flute, but the guitar, drums and other instruments are very good too. Fun fact: my music teacher is Cosme Castańeda, the guy who make the flute in this album, and he is also the reason of why i met this band
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Prog Folk bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
0.720 ALEACION Mexico
3 DAFT MONKEYS United Kingdom
AALTO Finland
RABIH ABOU-KHALIL Lebanon
ACCOLADE United Kingdom
ACCOLADE United States
ADARO Germany
AFFORESTED United Kingdom
AFION Croatia
AGAPE Canada
AGINCOURT United Kingdom
AIGUES VIVES Germany
AKTUALA Italy
NICU ALIFANTIS Romania
ALMÔNDEGAS Brazil
ALVA Multi-National
AMANITA Italy
AMAROK Spain
AMAZING BLONDEL United Kingdom
AMBER United Kingdom
AN DRO Germany
ANACRUSA Argentina
IAN ANDERSON United Kingdom
THE ANGELS OF LIGHT United States
ANNAMY Sweden
APARECIDOS Multi-National
AQUAPLAN Finland
AQUARIUM Russia
DAN AR BRAZ France
MARCO ANTÔNIO ARAÚJO Brazil
DAN ARBORISE United Kingdom
THE ARBORISTS Canada
ARIA PALEA Italy
ARMY OF BRIARS United Kingdom
ARTSRUNI Armenia
ASGARD France
ASHADA Japan
ASHTAR Brazil
ASI SOMOS Puerto Rico
ATMAN Poland
AUCAN Argentina
AVALANCHE Netherlands
AVE SANGRIA Brazil
AZAHAR Spain
BABADAG Poland
BABY WHALE Multi-National
BAMBIR / THE BAMBIR Armenia
BANDA DO CASACO Portugal
A BARCA DO SOL Brazil
BARR Sweden
TOMAS BATISTA Argentina
BAYON Germany
BEAT CIRCUS United States
BEDEDEUM Italy
BERNARD BENOIT France
BIG LOST RAINBOW United States
BLACKMORE'S NIGHT United Kingdom
BLOPS Chile
BLUEHORSES United Kingdom
BOULE DE SON Canada
BRAN (BRÂN) United Kingdom
BREAD LOVE AND DREAMS United Kingdom
BRECHE Canada
PAUL BRETT United Kingdom
BRÖSELMASCHINE Germany
BUCIUM Romania
TIM BUCKLEY United States
VASHTI BUNYAN United Kingdom
C.O.B. United Kingdom
CAEDMON United Kingdom
CALIBAN United States
CÁLIX Brazil
CAMELIAS GARDEN Italy
CAN AM DES PUIG Multi-National
CANDIDATE United Kingdom
CANO Canada
CANZONIERE DEL LAZIO Italy
MARCELLO CAPRA Italy
CARMEN United Kingdom
CARNASCIALIA Italy
CAROL OF HARVEST Germany
GIAN CASTELLO Italy
PHILIPPE CAUVIN France
CHAC MOOL Mexico
CHALIBAUDE France
CHERCHE-LUNE France
CHIMERA Netherlands
CHRYSALIDE France
CIRCULUS United Kingdom
CLANNAD Ireland
CLOGS Multi-National
COMUS United Kingdom
CONGREGACION Chile
CONGRESO Chile
CONNIVENCE Canada
CONTRALUZ Argentina
CONVENTUM Canada
CORDE OBLIQUE Italy
DAVE COUSINS United Kingdom
CREMATORIUM Russia
CRYSTAL PHOENIX Italy
CRYSTAL THOUGHTS Greece
CURRENT 93 United Kingdom
DAEMONIA NYMPHE Greece
DANCER United Kingdom
DARNAKES Greece
DAWNWIND United Kingdom
DEAD CAN DANCE Australia
DECAMERON United Kingdom
THE DECEMBERISTS United States
DEMI-HEURE Canada
DETEKTIVBYRĹN Sweden
DIEGO DE MORON Spain
DODSON AND FOGG United Kingdom
DR. STRANGELY STRANGE Ireland
DULCIMER United Kingdom
DUN AENGHUS Multi-National
DUNWICH Italy
JUDY DYBLE United Kingdom
EDEN Germany
ELANE Germany
ELECTRIC DESERT Israel
ELFONIA Mexico
NANCY ELIZABETH United Kingdom
EMERAUDE France
EMTIDI Germany
ENBOR Spain
ENGEL (MIGUEL ANGEL DE LA LLAVE JIMENEZ) Spain
L' ENGOULEVENT Canada
RÓBERT ERDÉSZ Hungary
ERGO SUM Chile
ERROBI Spain
ESPERS United States
ETERNIDAD Argentina
LA FAMIGLIA DEGLI ORTEGA Italy
FARAWAY FOLK United Kingdom
FARPOINT United States
FAUN Germany
FAUN FABLES United States
FAVERAVOLA Italy
FAVNI (FAUNS) Germany
FEATHERS United States
THE FELLOWSHIP Italy
FERN KNIGHT United States
FIABA Italy
FIELDS BURNING United States
FIORI-SÉGUIN Canada
FLAIRCK Netherlands
FLIBBERTIGIBBET South Africa
FLOR DE LOTO Peru
FOLKLORE Australia
I FOLLI DI DIO Italy
FOLQUE Norway
FORENINGEN TIL LIVETS BESKYTTELSE Denmark
FOREST United Kingdom
FORSETI Germany
FRACTAL (CHILE) Chile
FRAGUA Spain
FRED United States
FRESH MAGGOTS United Kingdom
FUCHSIA United Kingdom
FUREKĹBEN Denmark
GAIA CONSORT United States
GALADRIEL Australia
GALAHAD Germany
GALLERY United Kingdom
GALLEY BEGGAR United Kingdom
GARMARNA Sweden
GAROLOU Canada
GENESIS DE COLOMBIA Colombia
THE GENTLE SOUL United States
THE GHOST United Kingdom
GJALLARHORN Finland
GLAZ France
GORGO Ukraine
GRAAL France
THE GREEN CHILDREN Italy
LARKIN GRIMM United States
GROVJOBB Sweden
GROWING DREAM Canada
GRYPHON United Kingdom
GUALBERTO Spain
GURNEMANZ Germany
GWERZ France
HAIZEA Spain
ROY HARPER United Kingdom
HAWK South Africa
HAZARI Yugoslavia
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L' HERBA D'HAMELÍ Spain
HEXVESSEL Finland
HOELDERLIN Germany
HORIZONTE Argentina
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IBIO Spain
ILL WICKER Sweden
ILOUS & DECUYPER France
BRIAN IMIG United States
IN THE LABYRINTH Sweden
THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND United Kingdom
INDACO Italy
IONA United Kingdom
IRAKLIS Greece
ITHACA United Kingdom
ITOIZ Spain
ITZIAR Spain
IZUKAITZ Spain
JACK O' THE CLOCK United States
LOS JAIVAS Chile
JAN DUKES DE GREY United Kingdom
JESTER United Kingdom
THE JESTERDAYS Greece
JETHRO TULL United Kingdom
NIGEL MAZLYN JONES United Kingdom
JOX France
JUSTINE Multi-National
KAAMOS Finland
KADWALADYR France
KARNATAKA United Kingdom
CHRIS KARRER Germany
KATALENA Slovenia
KEBNEKAJSE Sweden
KERRS PINK Norway
KING FISH CROW United States
KLADIVO KONJ IN VODA Slovenia
KOLIBRI Germany
KOLINDA Hungary
ATTILA KOLLÁR Hungary
KONTRABURGER Poland
KORMORÁN Hungary
KOSMOS Finland
JUHA KUJANPAA Finland
BRUCE LAMONT United States
JÉROME LANGLOIS Canada
LAURELIE Belgium
LEAFBLADE United Kingdom
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LI TROUBAIRES DE COUMBOSCURO Italy
LISA O PIU Sweden
LISKER Spain
LONG LIVE DEATH United States
LOT LORIEN Bulgaria
LOUDEST WHISPER Ireland
CLARE LOUISE France
LUCCI MARSOLA TATINI AND BURANI Brazil
LUMSK Norway
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MAJA DE RADO & PORODICNA MANUFAKTURA CRNOG HLEBA Yugoslavia
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JOHN MARTYN United Kingdom
MARY JANE United Kingdom
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LE MATCH Canada
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ME AND MY KITES Sweden
MELIMELUM Argentina
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MESSENGER United Kingdom
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DRAGO MLINAREC Yugoslavia
MOĞOLLAR Turkey
COLIN MOLD United Kingdom
MONSEIGNEUR Switzerland
MONTREAL Canada
MOONSTONE Canada
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MOVING HEARTS Ireland
MR. BROWN Sweden
MR. TOAD Israel
MUNDI DOMINI Canada
MUSHROOM Ireland
NIRGAL VALLIS Mexico
THE NOCTURNES United States
NOMADS OF HOPE Sweden
MICHEL NORMANDEAU Canada
NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA United Kingdom
THE NOVA PROJECT United States
NUEVO MEXICO Mexico
NUIT CALINE A LA VILLA MON REVE Belgium
NYA LJUDBOLAGET Sweden
GAVIN O'LOGHLEN & COTTERS BEQUEST Australia
O.W.L. United States
OBERON United Kingdom
OCTOBER PROJECT United States
OLOFERNE Italy
OMNI Spain
OPEN EYE BAND Finland
ORFANADO Italy
ORPHEUS GHOSTSONG United Kingdom
ORYZHEIN Canada
OUGENWEIDE Germany
P. G. SIX United States
PAN-RA Germany
PARADOX Poland
EMMANUELLE PARRENIN France
PARZIVAL Germany
PASTORAL Argentina
PATANGA Germany
JEAN LUC PAYSSAN France
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE United States
THE PENTANGLE United Kingdom
PERERIN United Kingdom
LINDA PERHACS United States
PESNIARY (PESNYARY) Belarus
PHOENIX Romania
PIERROT LUNAIRE Italy
PIIRPAUKE Finland
PLANKTON WAT United States
POSITIVE WAVE Finland
A PRESENÇA DAS FORMIGAS Portugal
PRINCIPAL EDWARDS MAGIC THEATRE United Kingdom
PROVIDENCE United States
PRUDENCE Norway
PTARMIGAN Canada
THE PUDDLE JUMPERS United States
QUICKSAND United Kingdom
QUINTAL DE CLOROFILA Brazil
QUINTETO ARMORIAL Brazil
RABBIT RABBIT (CARLA KIHLSTEDT & MATTHIAS BOSSI) United States
RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Russia
RAGNARÖK Sweden
RAMASES United Kingdom
RASPUTINA United States
REBEKKA Germany
RED JASPER United Kingdom
REIFROCK Germany
REVERIE Italy
RIPAILLE France
RITMIA Italy
ROGER RODIER Canada
BERNARDO RUBAJA Argentina
KARI RUESLATTEN Norway
RUJA Estonia
S VREMENA NA VREME Yugoslavia
SAD MINSTREL Italy
SAGA DE RAGNAR LODBROCK France
SAINT JUST Italy
SAKRE Spain
THE SALLYANGIE United Kingdom
SCAPA FLOW Finland
SCARLET THREAD Finland
NATE SCOBLE United States
SECOS & MOLHADOS Brazil
SECRET GREEN United Kingdom
SEDMINA Yugoslavia
SERPENTYNE United Kingdom
GILLES SERVAT France
SHANNON France
SHAVE THE MONKEY United Kingdom
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SHINE DIÓN Norway
SILMARIL United States
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SINTESIS Cuba
JIMI SLEVIN Ireland
SMELL OF INCENSE Norway
SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS United Kingdom
SORNE United States
SPARIFANKAL Germany
SPIRES THAT IN THE SUNSET RISE United States
SPIROGYRA United Kingdom
SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) United Kingdom
STACKRIDGE United Kingdom
VLATKO STEFANOVSKI Macedonia
ALAN STIVELL France
STONE ANGEL United Kingdom
STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES Iceland
STRANGE DAYS United Kingdom
STRAWBS United Kingdom
PEKKA STRENG Finland
STRING CHEESE United States
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STUMARI Georgia
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SUPAY Peru
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TANGERINE France
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LOU MAXWELL TAYLOR United States
TEA AND SYMPHONY United Kingdom
TEMPEST United States
TENHI Finland
TERRA MYSTICA Slovenia
BOB THEIL United Kingdom
THE THIRD ESTATE United States
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THOBY LOTH Finland
THORK France
THURSAFLOKKURINN Iceland
TIR NA NOG Ireland
TIRILL Norway
TORNAOD France
TRADER HORNE United Kingdom
TREES United Kingdom
THE TREES COMMUNITY United States
TREMBLING BELLS United Kingdom
TRI YANN France
TRIO DAG Yugoslavia
TROCARN Switzerland
TROISIČME RIVE France
TROISSOEUR Belgium
TUATHA DE DANANN Brazil
TUDOR LODGE United Kingdom
TUIMA Finland
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TYRANNOSAURUS REX (NOT T. REX) United Kingdom
U I BLUE United States
UDRAYA France
UNCLE DIRTYTOES United States
UNGAVA Canada
UNITED BIBLE STUDIES Ireland
STEVE UNRUH United States
UQBAR Argentina
US AND THEM Sweden
VEGA Spain
VIIMA Finland
VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS United Kingdom
RYLEY WALKER United States
JUNE WALLACK Canada
WATER INTO WINE BAND United Kingdom
WATERTOUCH Sweden
THE WAY WE LIVE United Kingdom
LEAH WAYBRIGHT United States
WERWOLF (WEREWOLF ART ROCK) Germany
WITTHUSER AND WESTRUPP Germany
WOVEN HAND United States
WURTEMBERG France
WYRDGENES United Kingdom
GABRIEL YACOUB France
YAVANNA Germany
YGGDRASIL Germany
YOKE SHIRE United States
YOU AND I Hungary
ZAGUAN Spain
ZARTONG Armenia
ZAUBER Italy
ZEIT Italy
ZLYE KUKLY Israel
ZRNI Czech Republic
ZYWIOLAK Poland

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