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PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Prog Folk definition

In the wake of the 60's, 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 "Chansoniers" 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 THE 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, THE TREES, SPIROGYRA, FOREST, the superb JAN DUKES DE GREY (all listed in the ProgArchives) but also TRADER HORNE, TUDOR LODGE, FOTHERINGAY, MAGNA CARTA, TIR NA NOG (all of whom could also be in the ProgArchives) 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 77's Songs From The Woods and 78'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, WITTHEUSER & 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 EL CONGRESSO (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 Chansoniers 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 RIBEIRO ALPS, 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

Current Team as of January 1, 2015

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 | 2967 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.34 | 2313 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 1254 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.42 | 69 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.21 | 285 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.22 | 177 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.14 | 483 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.14 | 543 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.19 | 191 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.16 | 281 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.15 | 289 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.04 | 1097 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.21 | 84 ratings
I A MOON
North Sea Radio Orchestra
4.43 | 38 ratings
LUCAS
Araujo, Marco Antonio
4.08 | 266 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.15 | 118 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.16 | 108 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.03 | 1022 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1063 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1297 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

A CANDLE FOR JUDITH
Way We Live, The
AMETSAREN BIDEA
Errobi
SÓLO FUE UN SUEŃO
Omni
STONE ANGEL
Stone Angel

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 St. Radigunds by SPIROGYRA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.22 | 177 ratings

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St. Radigunds
Spirogyra Prog Folk

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

5 stars The early 70s was a magical time for the British folk scene as the contemporary folk of the 60s suddenly was infused with a burst of creative vigor that found the once placid genre branching out in myriad directions and taking on hitherto unexplored avenues of musical fecundity. Jethro Tull would launch their most successful brand of folk rock with "Aqualung" whereas the psychedelic folk scene found their best freak folk contributions to the genre with Comus' "First Utterance" and "Mice And Rats In The Loft" from Jan Dukes De Grey. Add to that, a flurry of albums by the Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and The Strawbs and this era produced some of the best musical gems this genre has ever heard. Add to this list the debut album ST. RADIGUNDS by the Canterbury band SPIROGYRA. While the regional scene was seeing a renaissance of creative whimsical jazz-rock albums launched by The Soft Machine, Gong and Caravan, SPIROGYRA went a totally different direction and produced one of the best progressive folk albums of 71.

SPIROGYRA named themselves after a species of freshwater algae that has chloroplasts in spirally twisted bands, and much like the photosynthetic aquatic organism, this musical entity twists its music into unique and captivating forms. In case you're wondering the album title is derived from the Thuringian princess Radegund (note spelling difference) who became a queen and the patron saint of several churches in both France and England and lived sometime in the sixth century. The band was the brainchild of lead vocalist and guitarist Martin Cockerham who formed it with Mark Francis and Andy Duckworth way back in 1967 but everything changed a few years later when Cockerham met Barbara Gaskin (vocals), Steve Borrill (bass) and Julian Cusack (violin) while attending the University of Kent at Canterbury. The chemistry was instantaneous which saw the new members replace the founders with only Cockerham remaining. The band had no problem finding both a record contract and management based on strong compositions and an unorthodox approach to contorting traditional English folk music into strange new concoctions. The band released their debut ST. RADIGUNDS in 1971 and found instant success selling over 200,000 copies at the time of release as it struck a chord at the peak of the psychedelic and progressive folk boom.

ST RADIGUNDS is a veritable folky feast of musical yumminess. While there are great style shifts between tracks, there are a few constants involved. Firstly, Cockerham displays his best Beatles worship and and fortifies each compositional edifice with the most infectious earworms with the full harmonic heft of the Lennon / McCartney 60s with the one / two punch of Cockerham's frantic narrative descriptive rants and sing-a-long intensity that trade off with the angelic vocal diva performances of Barbara Gaskin who provides both an ethereal backing to Cockerham but also takes full command as she ratchets up the dynamic tension when she sings lead. On lead vocals she sounds somewhat like Annie Haslam of Renaissance and it's immediately apparent that she would go on to great things after the performances on ST RADIGUNDS which would eventually lead to her great sessions with Hatfield and the North (Barbara is actually from the English town of Hatfield.)

Adding a third harmonic counterpoint to the lyrical articulation in full modulation is the incredible virtuosic violin skills of Julian Cusack who somehow plays a mean Jean-Luc Ponty channeling his inner Paganini. The deftly performed finger breakers skirt the grey areas between gypsy folk, traditional classical and the contemporary folk of the era which was one of the key ingredients that set SPIROGYRA apart from almost all other acts of the day. While marketed as a folk act, this music is so much more with touches of psychedelic organ runs as well as snippets of trumpets, strings and recorders. Steve Borrill provides the perfect antithesis to the triple harmony effect of the vocals and violin as his bass skills perfectly compliment yet exist as a counterpoint. Percussion is scarce but appears intermittently with a purported uncredited cameo appearance by none other than Bill Bruford.

SPIROGYRA are often compared to the English contemporary act Comus and in many regards it is a fair comparison as they both branched out into daring new worlds of folk music never before attempted. Surely the violin is the main glaring similarity but so is the utter unpredictability of a seemingly stable song that suddenly takes a left turn into bizarre twists and turns, plays it out and then takes yet another bizarre detour into the unknown. While stylistically similar, Comus was more a freak folk band whereas SPIROGYRA never stray far from a more stable band and would be more appropriately compared with The Incredible String Band, which was one of Cockerham's primary influences as well. While the compositions are based in catchy sing-songy types of constructs, there are plenty of time signature deviations that emerge unexpectedly as well as extended instrumental passages that display the fully engaged virtuosity of the musicians. Lyrically the poetic songwriting skills of Cockerham cover the gamut of whimsical mythology to romanticism and political protest. ST RADIGUNDS is instantly a lovable album upon first listen and an easy 4 stars from the get go, however it takes digging in a little deeper for the more subtle standoffish tracks to sink in. This has become a staple in my musical world and one that sinks in a little deeper on every subsequent spin. This is one NOT to be missed.

 Christian Lucifer by LEOPOLD, PERRY album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.74 | 9 ratings

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Christian Lucifer
Perry Leopold Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

5 stars In the realm of prog rock, we are quite desensitized to the reality that, even in the genre's heyday, many LPs were issued with the stingiest quotas, which at least kept them out of cutout bins. We can argue that, for some of these, their only virtue was scarcity. But what of releases that never escaped in any form in whole or in part? Philadelphia-born PERRY LEOPOLD boasted one of each. His first, "Experiment in Metaphysics", had only 300 pressings, which he then proceeded to give away without even testing the open market. Even more wildly, his sophomore effort, "Christian Lucifer", was cursed into purgatory for a quarter century by a defunct studio that couldn't even fulfill its final directive, that being utter destruction of all master tapes. Somehow at least one survived, becoming the essence of the first ever issue of the recording in 1999. While I can't particularly fault those company execs for balking at the time, I do question their intellectual curiosity, for from the first listen "Christian Lucifer" wove itself into my folk DNA, while craftily mutating with each subsequent iteration. The only cure is salvation, which isn't going to happen, so I'll settle for the next best thing, rapt indulgence for the next 25 years, should I be so lucky.

Somehow "Christian Lucifer" manages to be uniform but not monotonous, consistent but not predictable, highly melodic but not cloying, lyrical but not precious, earnest but not preachy, devotional but not rigid, and free thinking but not blasphemous. All of these balances are achieved on more levels than most album-a-year artists could muster in a long career. They are essential to the duality of this work. Start with Leopold's words themselves, both poetic and street smart, resplendent with allegory, and his voice is earthy with just a slight trace of Americana, given to neither excess emotion nor indifference. His omnipresent and expressive acoustic guitar is serenaded by a variety of classical instruments like oboe, flute, horn and cello, with delicate accents on synthesizer, so painstakingly interspersed that they sound as rooted as everything else.

It is rather telling that, though smatterings of influences can be discerned over the course of the 7 tracks, the only one that is really worth echoing back is in the first words of the weakest track, the ultra low PH "Serpentine Lane", taking the form of "Ground Control to Major Tom". The best are the first two epics, the wafting and hypnotic "Sunday Afternoon in the Garden of Delights", and the slightly more emphatic "the Windwill", with its sprinklings of clavinet. But my personal favorite is the relatively lively "The Annunciation", which, is styled like a mellower JETHRO TULL circa "Benefit". But this is such a unified work that picking favorites is little different from playing favorites.

Like a grand friend, "Christian Lucifer" now seems like it's always been right there at my side, or maybe in front of me, my prog folk pied piper, leading me who knows where. But it's about the journey, isn't it?

 Fresh Maggots by FRESH MAGGOTS album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.76 | 23 ratings

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Fresh Maggots
Fresh Maggots Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars The dawn of the 1970s was rife with music like this - acoustically dominated folk with string and acidic accents, and idealistic lyrics with occasional protestations. Artists like FOREST, COMUS, JAN DUKES DE GREY, SPIROGYRA, and DONOVAN passed through before or during this duo's brief brush with fame. Others like STRAWBS and NICK DRAKE had merged folk rock with strings quite deftly. Yet somehow FRESH MAGGOTS produced a single album that was distinct enough to warrant your consideration even in this overcrowded field. Their brilliant harmonies, lush strumming style, instinct around economical arrangements, and sheer youthful enthusiasm more than compensate for any shortcomings, which in any case they make no effort to hide, only accenting their off the charts likability. That they were only 19 at the time of recording is hard to fathom yet paradoxically might explain all.

With a near total reliance on acoustic guitar and a few other instruments, Burgoyne and Dolphin managed to both arrange and sequence tracks such that they appear much more musically diverse than they actually are. We start with the immediately electrified social commentary of "Dole Song", enhanced by tin whistle and fortified by several appealing changes of pace, allowing the song to flit from acid folk/hard rock to singalong to trad ditty while only raising eyebrows in a positive fashion. "Rosemary Hill" is considered by many to be the only potential classic on the disk, but such talk misses the point of the exercise. It's a lovely reflective ballad devoid of amplification which adopts a few string accents as it progresses, but, like everything else here, is fortified by the company it keeps. "Everyone's Gone to War", "Balloon Song", and "Frustration" are the other "rockers", interspersed through the rest of the album. "Balloon Song" is much lighter in content than the others, like a cross between FOREST and FUSCHIA, but with more panache. Among the other ballads, "And When She Laughs" is pure bliss, while "Spring" is like an unplugged take on the more electrified numbers, swapping lead guitar for adept acoustic picking.

The bonus cuts consist of the A and B sides of a single that flopped just like the album. "Car Song" is a ringer for DONOVAN circa 1967, while "What Would you do" has a light mid period BEATLES feel. Both are welcome here for completeness but don't really make or break the CD release.

I hold out hope that, like FUCHSIA, FRESH MAGGOTS might find a way to reward their fans and collectors after an interminable absence. By my reckoning they would only be a spry 65 at this point, so why not have a go? In the meantime, this re-release is worth much more than a fly over if you are a prog folk fan, and why else would you have read this far?

 Eulenspiegel by OUGENWEIDE album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.14 | 22 ratings

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Eulenspiegel
Ougenweide Prog Folk

Review by ibolomania

4 stars A folkish and medieval sound with some progressive features resulted in definite album for prog-folk listeners. Two gems Tills Ende und Vermachtnis and Wol mich der Stunde shift the album to prog-folk genre. Recommended!

You are more likely to love this album if you like Gryphon or Spirogyra. For the two tracks mentioned above, you will find a mixture of two bands with nicely sounded German lyrics. There is a highly presence of soft flute through the album which adds some symphonic salt to the main dish.

Last but not least, vocals are simply great (both male and female) along with very clean bass lines and occasional guitar performances, especially in Wol mich der Stunde.

I would recommend this album if you like folk but also seek for basic progressive elements and compositions.

 Iron Marsh by HEXVESSEL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
2.58 | 7 ratings

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Iron Marsh
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars This rather generous EP followed on the heels of HEXVESSEL's best album, "No Holier Temple", and bears similarities in structure to that album, with a blend of protracted epics and briefer pieces. It begins with, I suppose, it's raison-d'etre, the 13 minute "Mask of the Universe", which is denser than the longer pieces on the prior album, obsessing over droning guitar figures and repetitive incanted lyrics that break occasionally to reveal underlying themes of interest. It puts me in mind of some early FRANCO BATTIATO for some reason, that is to say, it would have been regarded as experimental 40 years ago. Today...I'm not quite sure what to make of it, only to say that I enjoy parts and am lukewarm on others.

For the rest, "Superstitious Currents" and "Woman of Salem" are both highlights, the first a stark ballad sung in a suitably stunned voice and tackling the occult, the second a cover of a YOKO ONO song made HEXVESSEL's own. It's one of the most accessible tracks they have done, which means it's still a challenge, but in a generally propitious manner, with Marja Konttinen's vocals equal to the grim task of recounting the 1692 witch trials. "The Tunnel at the End of the Light" proves that you can pluck out a mediocre old chestnut, dress it up with guitars and drums, and churn out a mediocre redux quite handily. The closing number "Don't Break the Curse" is lazily dependent on spoken word, which is a shame as it's quite compelling when it ultimately transforms itself into a song, too little too late.

Since "Iron Marsh" at best consolidates the gains made by "No Holier Temple", and since its keynote piece doesn't quite deliver what's implicitly promised in the playbill, I'm going to round down from 2.5 stars for this mildly anemic showing.

 Silence and Tears by GALLEY BEGGAR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.38 | 4 ratings

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Silence and Tears
Galley Beggar Prog Folk

Review by Tonbridge Man

4 stars Silence and Tears marks a quantum leap for Galley Beggar and in truth this their third album is the first one that prog fans and prog folk fans should consider adding to their collections. Everything is an improvement on their second effort - mixing, production values, song-writing, quality of vocals and most of all a greater tightness and focus in their approach. Their second album was an interesting but disjointed set of folk songs. Here they are reaching for greater things, still drawing on the influences of heroes of the great days of folk rock , Fairport, Steeleye and Pentangle but stamping their own mark. There is no weak song here and several standouts including a gorgeous version of Geordie, the poignant self -penned title track, the opener Adam & Eve, the haunting Empty Sky and the 9 minute long Pay My Body which references a Sailors Life slightly but is none the worse for that. Go check it out - you'll be surprised.

 Erwartung by EDEN album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.42 | 69 ratings

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Erwartung
Eden Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars Taking in German symphonic band Eden's 1978 debut `Erwatung' for the first time without any prior knowledge of the group, listeners would instantly note how joyous and spirited the male/female vocals are throughout the entire LP. Research into the band reveals that the group were Christian, and suddenly that joyful and uplifting warmth that emanates from the voices suddenly makes perfect sense! `Erwatung' turns out to be a true symphonic gem, and a very rare example of a German album that actually shares many similarities to classic RPI/Italian prog works with its use of choral voices, flute and violin creating a rich orchestral-like grandness, perhaps with Latte e Miele, Celeste and Quella Vechia Locanda instantly coming to mind. It also reminds in parts the music of German acts such as Novalis, Eloy, Hoelderlin and Epidaurus, and the band offer lyrics based around biblical texts performed in their native language.

Several themes - some sprightly, others reflective - weave in and out of opener `Spätregen' by way of sparkling piano, humming Hammond organ, stirring violin, shimmering synths and a commanding dignified male vocal. Some flighty flute alongside peppy drumming and crisp electric guitar runs instantly calls to mind Camel and Asia Minor, and there's nicely darker wafting sax and heavier grooves in the final moments. Pretty acoustic guitar strums, breezy flute and delicate electric piano tiptoes drift among `Erwartung's sobering narrated passages that remind of Eloy's `Ocean' era, punctuated by incidental ripping electric guitar bursts and groaning sitar, and the most placid of builds from a soothing male and female choir take the piece into heavens of the grandest symphonic majesty. A shorter piece then wraps the first side, `Eden, teil I', with constantly reprising prancing violin, flute and electric piano themes dancing whimsically around alternating male and female verses and subtly grumbling bass.

The second part of `Eden, teil II' fades in to welcome the second side but takes a darker turn, where a narrated passage grows in manic intensity over eerie organ and stark clarinet, and devilish treated voices and brooding synths grow in menace between punchy urgent blasts. A sole female voice trills around sombre violin and heartfelt piano, and ultimately the piece lifts into a triumphant choral fanfare (and one fleeting little moment almost drifts into King Crimson's `In the Court of the Crimson King', keep a listen out for it!). `Ein Anderes Land' is the sixteen minute epic closer, full of plenty of cascading synth runs, an uptempo momentum, snarling heavy guitars and roaring sax. Portions led by male vocals and alternating dreamy and heavier guitars remind of Novalis, the spacey synths and starker female voices are similar to Epidaurus, and in addition to some flamenco-like acoustic guitar spots, there's brisk funky diversions and a classy assortment of swooning orchestration that careens through the entire piece. An extravagant array of choral voices are favoured over too many lengthy instrumental runs, and it culminates in a big fanfare finale.

Some may find `Erwatung' just a little too vocal heavy when it could have done with a few longer and more frequent purely instrumental sections, but it still remains an impeccable work. With not only a silken production and memorable instrumental themes but some of the loveliest singing to ever appear on a German prog-related disc, `Erwatung' is a symphonic classic, and one well in need of some new belated extra attention.

Five stars.

 Walk Into Light by ANDERSON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.84 | 115 ratings

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Walk Into Light
Ian Anderson Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars In a perfect world...

Ian Anderson's obsession with early eighties' synths and drum machines reached it's climax with the 1982 Tull album Under Wraps and this solo outing from Anderson titled Walk Into Light. I don't resent Anderson's gravitation towards the music machines of the New Wave, but I do resent his sticking his nose into a musical area that he didn't help to form and develop. If I had to guess, Chrysalis label mates Ultravox would seem to be the prime motivation for Ian's new sound but you could toss in everyone from the Eurhythmics to Erasure as influences.

This outing finds Anderson paired up only with future Annie Lennox keyboardist Peter-John Vettese, while Anderson mans a Lynn drum machine and sampled bass to go along with his occasional and rare sprinkling of acoustic and electric guitars and his ever present flute which, strangely, seems right at home with plastic synth tones.

The songs themselves are not bad and some would have made excellent Tull material if they were written and recorded some 5-8 years earlier, especially "Made In England", Trains", and "Black and White Television." What is probably most annoying to me is the lack of pure musical experimentation or flight of fancy soloing that would have at least shook up the songs from their laid back pacing and carefully measured delivery. Anderson was still in fine voice at this juncture and thoughts of what could have been seem to haunt this era of his work.

To conclude, Walk Into Light would not have been comparable to the artist's work that helped to influence it. In a perfect world where Jethro Tull had never existed before Ian's first solo outing, Walk Into Light would have had no place next to the output from Ultravox, Eurhythmics and Erasure simply because it was not really Anderson's forte and, more importantly, it was simply not as good. 2 stars.

 Earth over Us by HEXVESSEL album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Earth over Us
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Released prior to their 3rd album "When we are Death", "Earth over Us" introduces one of the punchier tracks from that album, one that diverges from the more laid back doom-laden style forged over the prior full length releases. In fact, the EP "Iron Marsh" from a few years before had already done this to an extent. Perhaps the main reason for this single release, and the only reason for you to procure it, lies in the magnificent B-side "Gaia", a remake of a song by Swedish metal group TIAMAT on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. I dug up the original, and, particularly when combined with the official video with grainy black and white footage of a dire planetscape, the version by HEXVESSEL might be of greater interest to the prog rock community, more so since TIAMAT hasn't made it onto these pages.

The long intro (almost 2 minutes) is dominated by heavy droning rhythm guitar and percussion, with an expectant mood that is ultimately rewarded. When McEnerny's voice materializes, he delivers a long languid ode to Mother Earth and her ultimate power over us. The choruses provide a more harmonic, if not a lyrical, break from the despair, and are where the keyboard washes can be best heard. The instrumental breaks include distorted lead guitar runs and brass, before the coda brings it all to a somewhat abrupt end, perhaps intending to mirror our own collective (imminent?) demise.

 When We Are Death by HEXVESSEL album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.24 | 10 ratings

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When We Are Death
Hexvessel Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars If "No Holier temple" in 2012 represented a wholly successful refinement of the group's "forest folk" style, "When We Are Death" shows the HEXVESSEL of 2016 surrendering to electric abandon, with a more urban, at times danceable aspect to most of the tracks. The quality of the compositions; the instrumental performances and arrangements, many using organ and lively percussion; and lyrical substance remain as impeccable as ever. From the album title one might surmise that the band remains focused on oneness with nature, and that inference would be largely correct. They have just changed costumes and uncovered a few a/c outlets with which they are availing themselves with abandon.

Luckily HEXVESSEL has included a sprinkling of tracks that scratch the same itch as did "No Holier Temple". The best of these is the dignified "Cosmic Truth", with a refreshingly simple verse and refrain that I could hear or chant for hours, and plan to when I'm retired or telecommuting full time. "Mirror Boy" is almost as breathtaking, like one of the more mystical songs from Britain's OYSTERBAND. "Green Gold" channels JOY DIVISION via MOODY BLUES, with a sweepingly grand melody and clever turns of phrase. My version has "Hunter's Prayer" as closer, driven by a surprisingly vivacious beat and succinct lead guitar riffs, returning us to earth center.

The remaining material ranges from substance assisted pure psychedelia ("Drugged up on the Universe" and "Mushroom Spirit Doors") which does little for me, to much more interesting organ driven 1960s meets 1980s rock with a touch of blues ("Transparent Eyeball", with shades of STRANGLERS and DOORS; "Earth over Us"; and, the best of these, "Teeth of the Mountain"). It's about as distinctive as a basic rock style can get, and is certainly recommended for those who enjoy those readily accessible pleasures.

"When we are Death" is a paradoxically lively release for HEXVESSEL and, as well executed as it is, it lacks the adventurousness and unabashedly prog attitude of "No Holier Temple". A band I hope to hear more from while I am alive.

Data cached

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 ANTONIO ARAUJO 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
HEAVEN & EARTH United States
L' HERBA D'HAMELÍ Spain
HEXVESSEL Finland
HOELDERLIN Germany
HORIZONTE Argentina
HORSLIPS Ireland
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
KEBNEKAISE 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
BRUCE LAMONT United States
JÉROME LANGLOIS Canada
LAURELIE Belgium
LEAFBLADE United Kingdom
PERRY LEOPOLD United States
BENITO LERTXUNDI Spain
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
MADDEN AND HARRIS Australia
MAGDALENA Spain
MAGICFOLK United Kingdom
MAGMA Argentina
MAJA DE RADO & PORODICNA MANUFAKTURA CRNOG HLEBA Yugoslavia
MALICORNE France
BRIAN MALONE United States
MARLBORO MAN Hungary
JUAN MARTIN Spain
JOHN MARTYN United Kingdom
MARY JANE United Kingdom
MASHMAKHAN Canada
LE MATCH Canada
SHELAGH MCDONALD United Kingdom
ME AND MY KITES Sweden
MELIMELUM Argentina
MELLOW CANDLE Ireland
THE MERLIN BIRD Australia
MESSENGER United Kingdom
MIDLAKE United States
MIDNIGHT CIRCUS Germany
MIDWINTER United Kingdom
MIRANDA SEX GARDEN United Kingdom
DRAGO MLINAREC Yugoslavia
MOĞOLLAR Turkey
COLIN MOLD United Kingdom
MONSEIGNEUR Switzerland
MONTREAL Canada
MOONSTONE Canada
MORMOS United States
THE MORRIGAN United Kingdom
MOSTLY AUTUMN United Kingdom
MOTIS France
THE MOULETTES United Kingdom
MOURNING PHASE United Kingdom
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 / TOM RAPP 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
SHIDE & ACORN United Kingdom
SHINE DIÓN Norway
SILMARIL United States
SINDELFINGEN United Kingdom
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
STRING DRIVEN THING United Kingdom
STUMARI Georgia
SUBURBANO Spain
SUBWAY Multi-National
SÜNDENFALL II Germany
SUPAY Peru
SUR PACIFICO Chile
SUSSITA Israel
SYNANTHESIA United Kingdom
TALAMASCA United States
TALITHA QUMI Romania
TAMALONE Netherlands
TAMARUGO Chile
TANGERINE France
TARENTULE France
TARUJEN SAARI Finland
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
THISTLETOWN United Kingdom
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
TUNEFISH Germany
TURQUOISE Poland
TUSMŘRKE Norway
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
RILEY 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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