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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 | 3122 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.34 | 2454 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 1339 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.26 | 190 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.39 | 77 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.20 | 304 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.16 | 593 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.21 | 207 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.14 | 521 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.14 | 321 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.13 | 315 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.43 | 45 ratings
LUCAS
Araújo, Marco Antônio
4.21 | 93 ratings
I A MOON
North Sea Radio Orchestra
4.05 | 1172 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.15 | 121 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.14 | 127 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.03 | 1099 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.07 | 279 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.03 | 1132 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1374 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull

Prog Folk overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

SÓLO FUE UN SUEŃO
Omni
HAUL AR YR EIRA
Pererin
VALHEISTA KAUNEIN
Scarlet Thread
ODGIPIG
Sindelfingen

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Dionysus by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.87 | 54 ratings

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Dionysus
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Lisa and Brendan are back with what may well be their best Dead Can Dance album ever. Though partitioned into two suites, I cannot help but treat each "movement" as its own entity, its own song, as they each have very separate sounds and stylings.

ACT I (16:39)

- "Sea Borne" (6:45) typical layering of simple Middle Eastern and medićval tones, melodies and instrument sounds which is augmented by a many-layered "chorale" of Lisa's vocal tracks. Relaxing, joyful, processional, cinematic, and beautiful. (9.5/10)

- "Liberator of Minds" (5:22) a different set of Middle Eastern "instruments" with different pacing and feel. Though possessing several nice melodies and a nice hand drum pace-setter, this one lacks strong, central vocal presence. (8.5/10)

- "Dance of the Bacchantes" (4:32) feels more contiguous with "Liberator" due to the use of the same hand drum for the rhythm setter. More vocal use--some imitative of animals and human revelry--coupled with a brisker pace make this one a bit more interesting. (8.75/10)

ACT II (19:27)

- "The Mountain" (5:35) slow meditative Middle Eastern music making me feel as if I'm walking through a desert village with the very real chance of running across Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi. Both Brendan and Lisa's voices are used here in a kind of slow call-and-response format. The sound of the bleating of mountain goats and animal neck bells join this song to the next. (9/10)

- "The Invocation" (4:51) with only hand cymbols and djembe-like bass to provide rhythm, Lisa uses multiple tracks to present a vocal-based music quite like the female choir of Bulgarian folk singers known from the Le Mystčre des voix Bulgares albums of the 1980s. Hammered zithers, bowed rabab (?) and hand drum and clap tracks eventually join in to fill the sections between Lisa's Bulgarian sections. Masterful. (10/10)

- "The Forest" (5:31) opens with electro-pop synth drums before African male singing enters. Brendan's vocal track(s) are backed by electro-pop bass and drums while alternated by zither and rabab like synths. Later, the Youssou N'dour-like voice is joined by multiple tracks of female choral singers á la MIRIAM STOCKLEY from the ADIEMUS records of the late 1990s. Electro-synth "jungle" noises are used to bleed this song into the final one. (8.5/10)

- "Psychopomp" (3:30) involves some very simple single voice singing by both Brendan and Lisa, in separate tracks playing off of one another, all performed over a very simple, austere soundscape of breathy flutes and hand percussives like shells and nuts, rainstick, bass drum, and Hamza El-Din like frame drums. (9/10)

A masterpiece of electro-simp world folk music rated down for its 36-minute length.

 Current 93 & Nurse With Wound: Bright Yellow Moon by CURRENT 93 album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.09 | 7 ratings

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Current 93 & Nurse With Wound: Bright Yellow Moon
Current 93 Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Current 93 has collaborated many times with "Nurse with Wound" and with "Bright Yellow Moon", it happens again, this time for a full album. The lyrics in this one were written by David Tibet while he was recovering from a near death experience with appendicitis. While in the hospital, Tibet claims he had visions of the angel of death, and thus wrote the lyrics based on those visions. Steve Stapleton (Nurse with Wound) and Michael Cashmore are along to help out with this dark album.

"Butterfly Drops" is a short introductory piece with an acoustic guitar and spoken word from Tibet.

On the opposite end of the time scale, the next track exceeds 17 minutes total with the track "Disintegrate Blur 36 Page 03". This one starts slowly in dark ambience with softly ringing cymbals, minimal bass and guitar. Soon, Tibet starts singing softly in his unique singing/speaking voice. The cryptic vocals are easy to discern, but hard to understand. This continues meandering as such for the entire duration. Move along, not much to hear here.

Next is "Mothering Sunday (Legion, Legion)". A carnival type organ plays and fades out quickly while Tibet's spooky spoken word with scary sound effects. This is perfect for Halloween entertaining. "Nichts" begins with the phrase that ended the previous track "Your time is mine" which fades out to the sound of a railroad train, which in turn morphs into a noise drone. This all turns into repeated spoken phrase loops and processed noises forming a collage.

"Die, Flip or Go to India" begins with ambient synths and processed atmospheric sounds. Processed spoken word vocals start at 7 minutes as the minimalist noises and voices effects continue. When it all ends after 11 minutes is the highlight of the track. The last track on the original album is "Walking Like Shadow". This is another minimal acoustic track with Tibet's singing/speaking vocals.

The Special Edition of the album contains 4 bonus tracks which were outtakes. It starts with a continuation of the previous track "Walking Like Shadow II". This continues with the same feeling as the first part, but much clearer this time. "Disintegrate 36 Page 00" is more minimalist instrumental sounds this time for over 7 minutes. "Nichts II" returns to the noise collage of the first one, it just pretty much fades in where the other one left off. "Disintegrate 19 Page 03" is more like an industrial style of minimal experimentation. A little more interesting, at least if you are still awake.

This one is not quite as intriguing as others in Current 93's discography. Its not that it's experimental or minimistic, it's just not that interesting. But with Tibet, its always hit or miss, sometimes its great and other times its "meh". This one resides in the "meh" category.

 The Trials Of Van Occupanther by MIDLAKE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.88 | 38 ratings

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The Trials Of Van Occupanther
Midlake Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'The Trials of Van Occupanther' is the 2nd full length studio album from the band 'Midlake'. Released in 2006, it followed their debut album, which was compared to bands like 'The Flaming Lips' and 'Mercury Rev', with a less psychedelic sound and a more folk-ish, classic 70's style sound earning comparison to 'Fleetwood Mac' and even 'Alan Parsons' and the like. The bands strengths like in their vocal harmonies, their periodic use of non-standard melodic structures and use of traditional instruments that still give the album a current vibe.

This album starts out with a track that turned out to be the popular 'Roscoe'. This one is a mid-tempo indie pop style song. This is the track that seems like Alan Parsons with it's standard interesting and catchy foundation not unlike 'Eye in the Sky', but the vocals have that indie vibe to them, vocals that demonstrate an interesting melody and just a little vulnerability. The lyrics introduce the main character of this concept album. The guitars become a bit more intense towards the end of the song.

'Bandits' follows up with an airy and more acoustic sounding track with strummed guitars and piano surrounded with cello, flute, synths and light percussion. Beautiful harmonies are sung on the chorus. 'Head Home' has that pre- Nicks/Buckingham 'Fleetwood Mac' sound, an easy up tempo beat with the light feeling that was present on the 'Bare Trees' album, complete with a fuzzy guitar solo during the instrumental break. In fact, the track would have fit comfortable on that album and no one would have known it was a different band altogether.

'Van Occupanther' moves to the folk sound that the band is labeled under for the Prog Archives site. The flutes and harmonies here, along with the mostly acoustic instruments give it the authentic flavor for that genre with a soft and pleasant sound. A violin starts off the track 'Young Bride' and a tapping drum fades in with the vocals. This is one of my favorites off this album, with a non-standard vocal harmony giving it a unique sound, and an almost gigue-like feel and a unique melody that really grows on you. It is also another one of the singles off the album which could make it familiar to you already.

'Branches' starts off with a solo piano and melancholic vocals. Soon, drums and other instruments join in and things swell as you reach the chorus and lovely harmonies. 'In This Camp' follows with the more mellow verses with sound driven by soft and pensive instrumentals, but the chorus is more intense as the entire band joins in and flows into a more upbeat instrumental break and bridge. This track is more complex as tempos and melodies change more often. The vocals are also reminiscent of Thom Yorke from 'Radiohead'.

'We Gathered in Spring' continues with the more complex melody, but still with the overall mellow feeling. This time the track is driven by strummed guitars and synths instead of piano. 'It Covers the Hillside' returns to a more upbeat track and is driven by a piano riff. The instrumental break starts with a fuzzy guitar, but then suddenly changes to a warbly guitar and synth which seems a bit abrupt. At this point, the formula is starting to sound a bit worn out and a little variety or a change in the feel would have been welcome. 'Chasing After Deer' has some slightly corny lyrics and continues with the same overall sound, and the same is true of the last track 'You Never Arrived'.

With a strong start on the first half of this album, the songs start to sound to similar on the second half and most of the life and emotion of the first half tend to get watered down by following the same pattern. I find that I start to lose interest in the album by the time it reaches the 2nd half, though the harmonies are nice, it tends to also lose the emotional edge that worked so well in the beginning. It is a pleasant album however, and some listeners like that sound, but I would have preferred a little more 'experimenting' in bringing in some variation.

 ReInvention by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.83 | 59 ratings

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ReInvention
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

3 stars After a hiatus of 40 years folk prog rock icons Gryphon rose, phoenix like, from the flames to give us their eagerly awaited new album, ReInvention.

The line up of musicians includes Gryphon stalwarts Brian Gulland, Dave Oberle, and Graeme Taylor, and they are joined by new recruits Rory McFarlane on bass, Graham Preskett on keyboards and strings, and Andy Findon on woodwind.

I was delighted that Gryphon reformed and even more delighted when they announced a new album. I so wanted to give this album a high 4 star rating, but after much deliberation, I feel that 3 stars is more appropriate.

This is a very enjoyable album with good tracks throughout and no weak track on the album.

The problem is that there is no truly stand out track on the album. No track that you can point to as a 5 star track that draws you back to the album again and again.

All of Gryphon's previous albums had a standout track: The debut album had "Juniper Suite", Midnight Mushrumps had "Ethelion", Red Queen to Gryphon Three was excellent throughout, Raindance had "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben", and even the disappointingly pop effort Treason had "Spring Song".

I have played this album over and over for many months trying to find the star track, but I have had to accept that this album just does not have one.

The two longer tracks "Haddocks' Eyes" and "Sailor V" come close, but they are just not quite able to generate (for me) the same emotional connection to the music that tracks like "Ethelion" and "Heldenleben" were able to achieve.

After their ill advised foray into pop rock on their final album of the 1970's, "Treason", the band, fortunately, get back to their roots on this album, with a folk rock fusion which shows off their diverse range of instrumental talents. What's more there are lots of crumhorns on the album, with Brian Gulland on bass crumhorn and new band member Andy Findon taking up the soprano krumhorn (which Brian told us in concert had to be specially made before the album could be completed).

However, fans hoping for an album with a strong medieval flavour are likely to be disappointed, as the album ranges over a variety of musical styles, including more contemporary folk influences and even, on "Sailor V", a celtic folk inspired piece.

Surprisingly, there are rather more vocals on this album that you might expect for a Gryphon album. Whilst, for me, vocals were never one of Gryphon's strong suits, the vocals on this album are, on the whole, marginally better than on some of their other albums. The lyrics are playful in typical Gryphon style, although sometimes rather twee.

My favourite track on this album is actually the unusual and interesting "Hampton Caught" by Graham Preskett, with its use of harpsichord and church organ and strange but interesting rhythms. It's also the most medieval sounding track on the album, which also draws me to it.

ReInvention is absolutely a worthy addition to the Gryphon canon and very much recommended to Gryphon fans and also to fans of folk prog alike, but it will not displace "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" or "Midnight Mushrumps" in my estimation of the very best Gryphon albums.

 Treason by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.45 | 140 ratings

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Treason
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

2 stars Henry VIII sent those who committed Treason to be hung, drawn, and quartered, and, after hearing this sell out of an album, he would surely have dispatched the whole bally lot of Gryphon by oxcart to Tyburn for immediate execution.

It is sometimes said that it is about the journey and not the destination. That must certainly be true of Gryphon, because their journey from medieval folk troubadours to pop rock tune meisters was a wonderful ride full of beautifully crafted music, combining medieval folk and progressive rock in amazing ways, but, if this album is the final destination, then I would prefer to see the troubadours back out on the road again.

Of course no band can keep doing the same thing over and over again, and all bands that want to flourish must explore new musical territory and new musical directions. However, not all new directions are the right direction, and this album is definitely a wrong turn for a band like Gryphon.

Gryphon going pop rock is like Houdini announcing that he's giving up performing escapology and will instead give demonstrations of cross stitching. He might have been a great cross stitcher, but it's not what I would want to watch Houdini doing. Equally I want to hear Gryphon exploiting their talents and exploring their medieval folk prog influences to the full.

With a changed line up of Harvey, Oberle, Gulland, Foster, Davie, and Baird, Gryphon are, as always, a wonderful set of musicians, and the quality of the musicianship is again high on this album, and there are many nice enough pop rock songs on the album.

But this is GRYPHON!! This is not an average pop rock ensemble. We know that Gryphon are capable of creating incredible albums fusing medieval folk with progressive rock music in the most glorious ways, so why would they want to change their style and produce okay but fairly average pop rock that so many other bands were already churning out?

When you have your own niche and a style that is absolutely unique in music, why would you want to become ordinary and like every other pop rock band?

Of course, those listeners who dislike the medieval folk inspired albums will probably prefer an album like this, but, medieval folk is the very essence of Gryphon, and there are plenty of other bands to turn to if toe tapping pop rock is the order of the day.

Gryphon had been touring with Yes, and they clearly craved the success that Yes were having. They hoped for bigger audiences and main stream appeal. Unfortunately a band as specialised and inimitable as Gryphon were never likely to top the charts, and the experiment failed. There is no surprise that the band called it a day soon after this album.

"Spring Song" is of course the highlight, and the only highlight, of the album. It has nice use of bassoon from Gulland and a good uplifting melody. The chorus section of "Spring is the dancer..." has a nice catchy refrain and the song is pleasant and memorable. Even so the track is a little disjointed in places and, good as it is overall, it is not enough to rescue the album.

Is 2 stars a bit harsh? Possibly, and in all honesty, if I was reviewing this album on a purely stand alone basis, it would probably merit 3 stars, but this is Gryphon and I know what they are capable of. I cannot reward an album that has sold out on a wonderful musical heritage for cheap popularity that in the end it did not achieve. What's more, I would only recommend this album to someone who was a committed fan of Gryphon and who had already heard all of their other albums.

For this crime of Treason I sentence Gryphon to 40 years of banishment, after which they shall be required to ReInvent themselves.

 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.28 | 195 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Chaser

4 stars Gryphon's journey from outright folk band to pop rock ensemble reached its perfect equilibrium in the magnum opus that was Red Queen to Gryphon Three.

Here, in their next album, Raindance, the balance is tipped in favour of a more progressive pop rock feel, but still combined with some folk elements.

Let's be clear: this album is not as good as Midnight Mushrumps, and it would be a three star album were it not for one factor:

"(Ein Klein) Heldenleben"

This is the final track on the album and at 16 minutes it dominates the album and, what's more, it is a belting track that, on it's own, turns this album from an average 3 star album into a 4 star work.

I won't waste too much time on the tracks that precede "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". They are good enough, although the album overall lacks the sense of cohesion of the two earlier albums, and the tracks feel a little thrown together with no real unifying theme.

Listeners hoping for the strong medieval influence present on the earlier albums will be disappointed, as the band opt instead for mostly pastoral style folk rock.

But then we get to the main event, (Ein Klein) Heldenleben, and it's definitely worth the wait!

This is pure prog rock and is executed superbly. Graeme Taylor's electric guitar simply soars on this track, and, combined with some of the most sensational flute work you are ever likely to hear from Richard Harvey, the track builds symphonically until it finally breaks out into a triumphant chorus of crumhorns and organ that turn into soaring electric guitar. A riotous feast of pure symphonic pleasure and a truly joyous track that elevates this album to heights it would not otherwise achieve.

This is Gryphon's third best album, behind Red Queen to Gryphon Three and Midnight Mushrumps, but (Ein Klein) Heldenleben makes the entrance fee worth paying.

 Born Of The Sun by FAUN FABLES album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Born Of The Sun
Faun Fables Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'Faun Fables' is a musical project originally centered around Dawn McCarthy. After her first album under this name, she was noticed by another musician by the name of Nils Frykdahl (from 'Idiot Flesh', 'Sleepytime Gorilla Museum' and 'Free Salamander Exhibit'), who was impressed with the music she was performing. The two have been together ever since with McCarthy doing most of the vocals and other instruments with Frykdahl doing occasional vocals and other instruments. Before this album, there were other musicians in the band, but on this album, 'Born of the Sun', all instruments and vocals are done by the pair.

'Born of the Sun' is mostly a set of original songs composed by the pair. Several traditional folk instruments are used along with occasional rock instruments. For the most part, however, the sound is acoustic and well produced. Even though it is acoustic, there are several parts for many various instruments which keeps things varied and interesting throughout, even though there is very little percussion throughout the album. The sound is also a bit dark, similar to 'Woven Hand', but the theme is more of a pagean theme, not a religious theme like 'Woven Hand'.

Dawn's vocals are very beautiful, with a sultry atmosphere that make them extremely attractive and easy to listen to. At times, they are harmonized, or joined by Nils deep vocals, however, he keeps them clean, not dirty as he occasionally does in SGM. The music is beautiful also, well orchestrated and mostly simple, yet not as simple as most folk music, as there are some really nice and unique passages throughout. The music is quite organic. The overall feel is that of 'Fairport Convention', but they are also not afraid to go beyond that safe sound and venture into some stranger territory, but the music is usually quite lovely. However, things can go off the rails from time to time as Nils does get a little more aggressive on 'Ta Nasza Mlodosc' when he gets into 'character' on the track, yet he still uses restraint compared to his other projects, 'Wild Kids Rant' has some craziness that echoes 'Swans' more off kilter songs and a few others. But, its also nice to have a few surprises to keep things interesting, and it makes the serene and pastoral even more effective as in the beautiful tracks 'Goodbye', 'YDUN' and 'O My Stars'.

Overall, this is another great project that is completely different from other projects Nils has been involved in and also one that showcases Dawn's beautiful vocals and instrumental styles. It is a definite band and album to listen to, but just know that the sounds are very folkish and carry the theme of witchery, but not to an overbearing extent.

 War Child by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.33 | 783 ratings

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War Child
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by thief

3 stars Overlooked Tull albums, vol. 2.

"War Child" was one of the least played LPs in my family home. Kinda weird since everything's in place, it seems: we're in the middle of most cherished Jethro's lineup, orchestrations are numerous, saxophone leads in abundance, all served in well known ten songs format. But after dozens of listens it becomes clear not everything is clicking on "War Child".

I'll start with the good stuff, though.

Orchestral arrangements by David Palmer are just top-notch. On many songs they either lead the charge ("Queen and Country") or provide entertaining bridges ("The Third Hoorah" being the most prominent example). Saxophones are used a dozen times really, I won't bother counting all appearances. In most cases it's a welcome change, I remember sax melodies from the title track and "Two Fingers" vividly; same could be said about lovely fills on "Ladies", accompanied by castanets, strings and 'sleigh bells'.

If we take number of instruments played into account, "War Child" is an impressive album. Aside from aforementioned saxophones, rich orchestral arrangements and variety of drums and bells, we have all sorts of acoustic/Spanish guitars and noteworthy addition of accordion to John Evan's arsenal. It's often used to illustrate war-related lyrics ("Queen and Country" comes to mind), as well as evocation of circus/carnival themes. And we're treated with swaths of quirky atmosphere reminiscent of yesteryear's pastimes - trapeze artists, jugglers and lion tamers seem to pop out of every corner, especially on closing tracks. I must say I like it a lot: I was always drawn to old-fashioned (now almost extinct) forms of entertainment, be it magicians, clowns or jesters. The latter is extremely captivating, it has something to do with "jester archetype", so prevalent in Western culture. "War Child" isn't the weirdest album around, but jovial mood and circus connotations are common features here.

There is also a fair share of inspiring songs. "Sealion" is brimming with ideas - string fills, accordions, forcefully strummed guitars, it's so busy! I just adore all its moments: angular guitar riff, inert chorus melody and unforeseen bridge at 2:05. Although the structure itself is straightforward, other elements of the song point heavily in the "progressive" direction.

At times we hear tunes foreshadowing future albums. Pastoral "Skating Away" sounds like madrigals from "Heavy Horses", and "Back-Door Angels" is direct antecedent of "Black Satin Dancer" thanks to light/shade contrasting. These are all fine tracks, well worth your attention.

I happen to like most of the material here, even if I'm not ecstatic about it. The natural medley of "The Third Hoorah" and "Two Fingers" sit very well with me - melodies are spurting left and right, or perhaps the illusion of novelty is laid out perfectly. The drumming and basslines are superb, John Evan shines with accordion attacks and organs bolstering the sound. "War Child" is of similar quality, especially once the atonal main theme comes into play. (Or maybe it's not really atonal despite chalkboard scraping semitones? I need a clarification on this)

But I have complaints as well. "Bungle in the Jungle" was the radio-friendly tune and I find it dull, to put it simple. Well, it's not the worst, but I really dislike the chorus, I don't find it catchy nor enjoyable, and it spoils the rest of the song (however string arrangements are yummy). "Queen and Country" repeats itself over and over, and the sea shanties feeling doesn't help. "Only Solitaire" could be a nucleus of terrific song, but ends abruptly at 1:39. It's not "Aqualung" with TONS of good stuff - Jethro Tull couldn't afford to abort its best ideas and turn them into brief interludes!

I think the biggest flaw of "War Child" is either lack of coherence or shortage of truly groundbreaking songs. I've listed some highlights, but none of them reaches the highest echelon of "My God", "Velvet Green" or "Heavy Horses". "War Child" is very listenable as a whole album, but you will rarely feel the urge of revisiting specific songs separately. And when it comes to coherence, it feels like a bunch of songs without a common denominator - and I sense it has something to do with aborted movie project. Who knows if "War Child" wouldn't be a masterpiece if Ian worked a little more at a drawing board. If you have a remastered CD with bonus tracks, you'll find good ideas there - material potent enough to rewrite and include in original LP, wrapped under 45 minutes.

After long consideration, I decided to give it a 3 star rating, but with a caveat: that's the strongest 'three star effort' in Jethro's career. I reckon it more ambitious than "This Was", more enjoyable than "Too Old...", BETTER than anything they've done post-Stormwatch. It's not a dropped ball, not a fumble... more like being just short of a first down. Embrace its quirks, carnival atmosphere and treat it like an unique experience. Jethro Tull never went that route again, so enjoy the ride.

Almost Four!

 Pesniary IV - Byelorussian Folk Songs Arranged by Vladimir Muliavin by PESNIARY (PESNYARY) album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.46 | 15 ratings

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Pesniary IV - Byelorussian Folk Songs Arranged by Vladimir Muliavin
Pesniary (Pesnyary) Prog Folk

Review by nikitasv777

5 stars The best song on this album is my favorite is «Perepelochka» - real prog. The title track - folk song, one of the best Muliavin's arrangements. Lyrics are sung in Belarus. The rest of the album not much prog here.

The inclusion in «Perepelochka» of so much instrument's really fleshes out the sound, and gives this effort a classic Prog feel. Guitara, flute, violin, keyboards, beautiful vocals - a delectable auditory stew - a feast for the ears of epic proportions.

Without any doubt they deserve more attention from every serious prog listener.

It's a shame, this PESNIARY classic album have not been released on CD yet.

 Stand Up by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.05 | 1172 ratings

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Stand Up
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by thief

4 stars The keyword here: Excitement.

Mick Abrahams left the band in late 1968. Jethro Tull tried new guitarists, one of them being Tony Iommi a.k.a. Hand of Doom. For some reason it didn't work out, I believe Tony wanted to roll out with his silly hard rock group from Birmingham named Earth. To each his own. In late December Jethro finally found axeman of the future, Martin Lancelot Barre, and he decided to stick around for forty-something years. Good for him, good for Tull fans (and good for Earth). The new era started and nothing was ever the same.

Or maybe the new era started because Ian Anderson took over?

On "This Was", the band's direction was dependent on Mick Abrahams blues-heavy style and American influences. Ian was the leader, Ian was the frontman, BUT he wasn't the sole composer. Once Abrahams left and formed Blodwyn Pig, Anderson's creativity was unleashed and Jethro Tull's style started to blossom. "Stand Up" ingeniously displays how diverse his ideas really are - blues, hard rock, folk, classical/chamber music, historicism, ballads, traces of middle ages, renaissance and baroque... as well as sprouts of progressive rock.

"A New Day Yesterday" kicks off where "This Was" signed off. Ballsy, heavy blues rock with formidable drums and tasty harmonica licks. Bass guitar is pounding, Ian's vocals are cool and laid back, flute solo grabs attention. Solid starter, a worthy successor to "A Song for Jeffrey". Speaking of Jeff, the next song "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square" brings sweet tones of clean channel with tad of chorus, tasty percussions (is it vibraphone and bongos? I can't tell, but it works fine) and positive feelings. Let's put a smile on that face!

And then we have "Bouree". Much has been said about this one, most fans see it as a perfect mix of Johann Sebastian Bach (Sonata in E minor, fifth movement, BWV 996) and rock music. What I like here, personally, is the utmost respect of Jethro Tull for The Master. You can hear it in simplicity and honesty of this fine arrangement - clean chords, gentle rhythm section and worthy flute performance (much improved from the debut) stay true to the spirit of original composition. There is a jazzy section in the middle, but it never spoils the atmosphere, blending seamlessly into Baroque form. That's what I like about best covers - they celebrate original authors AND introduce new ideas/attitude at the same time.

I think "Back to the Family", "Nothing is Easy" and "For a Thousand Mothers" form the backbone of the album. Brazen blues closing in rapidly on hard rock territories, rabid drumming and savage flute melodies - almost riffs once you take the impact - work each and every time, especially when the group is so excited and eager to play. And all three develop in quite different ways. "Back to the Family" starts modestly, but at 1:00 minute mark someone fires the gun and the band is let loose. "Nothing is Easy" time and time again goes solo, be it Barre, Anderson and even Bunker (for a brief moment), culminating with brittle, old school rock'n'roll outro. And if you're a fan of explosive codas, nothing really matches "For a Thousand Mothers" with its ballistic flute reprise and busy drumming. It's like you were leaving the alehouse at 3:00 AM and seconds later, the doors flung open, with all your folks, minstrels and jugglers inviting you to party some more!

The other side of the coin are more folksy, intricate, often softer tunes. "Look into the Sun" and "We Used to Know" are a couple of charming, almost romantic ballads (not all love songs are considered romantic by this here reviewer). The latter treads the well known path of nasal, passionate soloing on top of acoustic guitar tireless strumming, quite similar to Neil Young's output of the time. The former is more peaceful and rural. Mental image: sunny, frosty morning in mid-January, you go out of log cabin and cheer at your hounds playing in the snow, with a cup full of favorite beverage.

"Reasons for Waiting" evokes winter as well, and does it in fantastic fashion. Acoustic parts are top notch, flutes and Hammonds create oneiric undertones, Ian's really at his best. In the middle of the song we're treated with delightful string arrangements, courtesy of David Palmer. With that set of instruments, it's easy to fall in a trap, ending up with a sugary, pointless song - but this is not the case.

Almost forgot about "Fat Man"! That is another rustic tune, full of mandolins, balalaikas, jolly vocals and primal drums (don't ask, I'm no expert!). Lovers of "Songs from the Wood" will feel at home here; the composition isn't as advanced, perhaps, but definitely gives off similar vibes. Even more proof that "Stand Up" isn't a one trick pony.

Jethro Tull was full of ideas at the time. They matured considerably since "This Was" and the result was a melting pot of influences and musical genres. While no song in itself is wholly progressive in a "Roundabout" or "Fracture" manner, the band was already on a right track. "Stand Up" is varied, accessible, and outright fun - and makes me feel like joining a band of highwaymen: having good laugh, robbing the rich, sharing with the poor!

Well, occasionally. Embroidered jackets aren't cheap, folks.

Four stars easily, 4.5 really.

Data cached

Prog Folk bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
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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
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DEMI-HEURE Canada
DETEKTIVBYRĹN Sweden
DIEGO DE MORON Spain
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DR. STRANGELY STRANGE Ireland
DULCIMER United Kingdom
DUN AENGHUS Multi-National
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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
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FARPOINT United States
FAUN Germany
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INDACO Italy
IONA United Kingdom
IRAKLIS Greece
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ITOIZ Spain
ITZIAR Spain
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LOS JAIVAS Chile
JAN DUKES DE GREY United Kingdom
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THE JESTERDAYS Greece
JETHRO TULL United Kingdom
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JOX France
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QUINTAL DE CLOROFILA Brazil
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THE WAY WE LIVE United Kingdom
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