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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

4.64 | 2567 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.33 | 1980 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.16 | 1068 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 251 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACCHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.22 | 147 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.14 | 422 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.13 | 477 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.16 | 248 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.15 | 236 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.14 | 169 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.57 | 28 ratings
LUCAS
Araujo, Marco Antonio
4.10 | 247 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.30 | 53 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.04 | 930 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.15 | 97 ratings
EZEKIEL
Itoiz
4.01 | 1107 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 103 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.24 | 55 ratings
THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Midlake
4.01 | 876 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
3.99 | 877 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
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

THE WATERS OF SWEET SORROW
Midwinter
VALHEISTA KAUNEIN
Scarlet Thread
ODGIPIG
Sindelfingen
NYA LJUDBOLAGET
Nya Ljudbolaget

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Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Blue Camel by ABOU-KHALIL, RABIH album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.29 | 20 ratings

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Blue Camel
Rabih Abou-Khalil Prog Folk

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

3 stars This is a unique album in my collection in that it's part of the small but growing "world" music grouping. Indeed, it's quite inaccurate that this album is labeled under prog-folk as it is really a fusion of jazz and Arabic music. The album, all instrumental, blends Rabih Abou-Khalil's oud playing with saxophone and trumpet to create launch pads for extended jamming based around exotic modes.

Much of the music is very open and atmospheric though certain tracks like "Rabou-Abou-Kabou" are more lively. In terms of song structure, it's similar to albums like Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue", in that a basic 8 or 16 bar phrase will be repeated a couple of times in between elongated solo sections. The caliber of musicianship is high; all the players are highly talented and the solos are a good indication of it. The only problem I have with "Blue Camel" is that the Middle Eastern harmonies, while not being too atonal, are difficult to listen to for too long; after an hour of hearing similar sounding scales being used over and over and without a moving chordal accompaniment but instead a percussion section which adds to the volume more than adding to the beat, the soloing can become quite tedious.

This album would be highly recommended for any fans of Arabic music or very spacey, open jazz but for the average prog listener you probably won't gain very much from "Blue Camel".

 Aqualung by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.33 | 1980 ratings

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Aqualung
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars This iconic album of the early prog era reached a larger crossover audience than any other by JETHRO TULL thanks largely to the title track and "Locomotive Breath". which are also arguably the strongest. Among progressive fans, myself included, "Cross Eyed Mary" easily draws in with the others. From there, one's overall assessment of the album depends on one's opinion of the remaining long tracks and on how well the shorter pieces glue together the overall structure. Until recently, I would have fallen into the category of those who find few other highlights, but, having listened more to Aqualung the last month than in the previous 4 decades combined, my current assessment is that this is an excellent hard rock album marred by a few average pieces and acoustic bridges that detract more than they enhance.

The title cut and "Cross Eyed Mary" are both beyond flawless, featuring exemplary riffs that perfected those of unlikely peers like LED ZEPPELIN and even BLACK SABBATH, proving that prog could rock as hard as any genre, and could not only deliver socially relevant messages but tell stories at the same time. Curiously, TULL never really pursued this approach as wholeheartedly again. The title cut is similar in structure to the MOODY BLUES' "Question" which opened their 1970 album, but both its harder and softer passages are snappier. It seems to deliberately lay off the flute, which is then fully exploited in the brilliant opening to the equally alluring "Cross Eyed Mary", before it resumes the lyrical and musical themes of its predecessor.

From, here, the album is more hit and miss. The gentle and whimsical "Mother Goose",. the sing along folk rock of "Up to Me", and the aforementioned infectious rocker "Locomotive Breath" are the major triumphs. "Oh God" and "Hymn 43" work together as did the two kickoff tracks on side one, but don't stand out very well on their own. In particular, while "Oh God" eventually includes a stellar riff and technically best flute and acoustic guitar, and is more experimental, its also rather disjointed. "Wind Up" is a disappointing closer that continues the biting lyricism but is not musically worthy of a masterpiece, let alone its finale. It does marry the acoustic and electric again in one track.

To a first time listener following JETHRO TULL chronologically, it would be hard to predict where they would go from here, given the landmark shifts with every release. The classic rock mainstream has dubbed "Aqualung" the band's high water mark, and I think at least his once, those poor old sods got it right.

 Uuteen Aikaan by SCAPA FLOW album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.62 | 13 ratings

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Uuteen Aikaan
Scapa Flow Prog Folk

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

4 stars Forming in Helsinki, Finland in 1976, prog-folk group Scapa Flow delivered a sole release in 1980, their debut album `Uuteen Aikaan'. Despite containing plenty of typical acoustic folk characteristics, the band here also incorporated harder rock drumming, constant organ/synth flavours and electric guitar soloing, with flute and saxophone player Ismo Järvinen and female singer Pia-Maria Noponen alternating lead vocals, both sounding especially pleasing when singing alongside each- other. The album therefore maintains a good balance between lighter folk qualities, warm harmonies and more ambitious progressive instrumental flourishes, and it turns out to be a charming and rather special work overall.

After a haunting opening of eerie keyboards and Pia-Maria's voice full of wounded longing, `Valmiina Heräämään' springs to life with flighty flute, snappy drumming and soaring electric guitar runs, with a final ambitious group vocal around organ to close on. Rainstorm ambience backs `Salaisuuksien Satiiniverhot', Ismo's softly crooned voice accompanied by lovely chiming acoustic guitar and wafting playful flute trills, where lead guitar and synth washes take on beautiful and joyous Camel-like romantic textures. Gorgeous murmuring bass and flute prance through pleasant vocal piece `Mikä Aamu', a darker interlude in the middle bringing powerful drums and delirious synth runs with wild commanding saxophone outbursts.

The second side opens just as strong with the title track `Uuteen Aikaan', a soft yet languid acoustic guitar and flute lament. `Tuuleen Kaiverretut Portaat' is a melancholic piano ballad sung by Pia-Maria, and despite it having a noticeably poorer sound quality than the rest of the album (almost sounding like a demo), it achieves a stark and reflective honesty. `Koi' is a brief sprightly instrumental that would have easily fit alongside `Six Ate' off Camel's debut album, acoustic guitars strumming feverishly to spirited flute and leaping upfront bass. Closer `Askel Ylöspäin' is a dizzying and addictive mix of unhinged drumming, swirling spacy synth effects, frantic acoustic guitars and male and female voices singing in unison, with spikier saxophone and constant electric guitar soloing weaving in and out. It showcases the incredible talent all the band had, and it only hints at directions they could have headed in, sadly not to be.

`Uuteen Aikaan' is an ideal album for those not usually interested in folk music, as this adds plentiful progressive rock elements, making the mix much more approachable than usual. It occasionally reminds of Sandrose's self-titled album with its striking female lead over symphonic prog flavours, and its ample use of flute, organ and symphonic guitars could be warmly received by fans of Camel. It may be short at barely thirty four minutes, but each of the seven pieces quickly reveal a lavish assortment of sounds and styles with very carefully considered arrangements and skilful playing. Those progressive music collectors who already have a large amount of titles that are always on the lookout for some obscure yet utterly worthwhile additions to their collection would find Scapa Flow's album very rewarding, and this single little debut album is truly something to be cherished!

Learn to love the album, and it's well worth four stars!

 Ptarmigan by PTARMIGAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.43 | 18 ratings

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Ptarmigan
Ptarmigan Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

4 stars This is an obscure, very hard to find gem from a short-lived band from British Columbia. The Folk foundations with the classic multi-part male harmonies and acoustic (lute-sounding) guitars are brought into Renaissance world by multiple hand percussives and recorders (as well as the lute sound of Monte Nordstrom's guitars). What earns this its "prog" inclusion is its European and Indian classical music influences and California psychedelia sound (and lyrics) as well as its use of electric bass--all possibly due to the influence of the album's producer, world jazz pioneer, Paul Horn. Truly a wonderful musical excursion with some quite complex, shifting and evolving song structures performed quite tightly. Though each song or suite of songs can be listened to in isolation I prefer to hear the album in one continuous play. Still there are highlights, most due to either the beautiful two- and three-part male vocal harmonies and the interesting and diverse styles of guitar playing.
 Locomotora by BLOPS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.44 | 22 ratings

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Locomotora
Blops Prog Folk

Review by Hannibal_20

4 stars Hi boys.

Finally in 1973, Los Blops made an progrock Album, it's a pity that it were nothing but the last.

Their two first ones was acoustic and 'folkloric' but not much. more influenced by sixties rock and classical music.

This album is completely different, there is zero folk influences (despite what others Reviewers say), neither presents acoustic elements, Blops took a 180 degree turn, they created an all-electric album, where prevails the electric guitar of Eduardo Gatti, the keyboards and transverse flute, which is acoustic but is electrically reverberated, in that sense the album is fairly homogeneous, the style is maintained throughout the album, it also highlights the consistency of sound, demonstrating a maturity that was reached suddenly and very early, compared, for example, with Los Jaivas, who had many albums of improvisations (La vorágine collection) (1969-1970) and very psychedelic improvisations until 1974 in 'El Volantin'(1971), the B side of La Ventana (Todos Juntos) (1972) and the B side of "'Los sueños de America' (1974).

The first track "Allegro ma non troppo" opens the alum with this 11 minutes of amazing melodic quality and great skill in flute, keyboard and electric guitar. (Bravo for Juan Contreras in Flute).

'Tartaleta de frutillas'(strawberry pie): possibly the favorite theme of everyone, also, excellent melodic quality, Gatti opens with very pleasant vocals, singing but without transmitting any meaning, later highlighted the harmonies of voices, keyboards and flute, a great theme, one of the bests of Blops career.

'Locomotora'(Locomotive): also a good instrumental, but i think it doesnt highlights much in the album, it has the usual style of the album, skilled electric guitar and keyboard solos, without flute this time.

'Piromano' (pyromaniacal): also a good instrumental, good psicodelic harmonies of electric guitar, bass and keyboard solos.

'Sandokan'(yeah, Eduardo Gatti loved to read Salgari novels and called Sandokan to this theme): it starts with a strange words of the bassist Juan Pablo Orrego, the language sounds like German or Russian, maybe it doesn't have any meaning, IF SOMEBODY UNDERSTANDS IT PLEASE MESSAGE ME, after that little introduction, starts beautiful guitar chords of Gatti, besides his warm voice, in a soft and sweet musical amalgam, very enjoyable, which then flows into the typical instrumental development with the usual style of the group, fast, moved and good.

With her third and latest album, The blops had a musical evolution that makes him deserve the 4 stars, the consistency of their sound, are not just improvisation, not just flute, keyboards and guitar solos, but defined and high quality melodic structures, resulting in a sonic experience that is electric and warm at the same time, however, their lack of lyrics and message, makes me feel that they were in debt, a debt of sense, but what else can be blamed on this album? Besides his lack of lyrics?, perhaps the themes are a little more similar each other than they should, but it is his style and is acceptable, I think it is an excellent album.

This Album is a cult album in the Chilean progressive music, in the popular ambit it doesnt transcended, cause his musical complexity and his lack of sense, but for those who hear Chilean prog rock, this album is a must, also has influenced many young Chilean prog bands like 'Cazuela de condor' and 'Mar de robles'. This is a very rare album, only 100 copies were distributed, and the original masters were lost during the dictatorship in Chile, what we heard today is thanks to vinyls that came out before that.

Without being a sixties album, this album will transport you to the 60s remembering you groups like The Beatles and The Doors, leaving a good taste every time you hear it, regardless of the type of progressive rock that you like. Cheers

 Solid Air by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.17 | 42 ratings

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Solid Air
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

5 stars Solid Air is an album that puts on display many of the directions available to folk artists.

The album's opener, "Solid Air" (5:46) (9/10) with its xylophone accompaniment shows a very jazzy side.

2. "Over the Hill" (2:51) (9/10) is very bluegrass with its prominent RICHARD THOMPSON (FAIRPORT CONVENTION) mandolin contribution.

3. "Don't Want to Know" (3:01) (7/10) with its fully electrified rock band bleeds into

4. "I'd Rather Be the Devil (Devil Got My Women)" (6:19) (9/10) which is a kind of Beat/bluesy bebop jam.

5. "Go Down Easy" (3:36) (9/10) is one of those timeless STEVE WINWOOD-like beauties that wrenches the heart in a JEWEL-kind of way. Definitely a folk classic.

6. "Dreams by the Sea" (3:18) (9/10) puts a funky BRIAN AUGER-like vibe in your face. Very tight instrumental support from his support band.

7. "May You Never" (3:43) (8/10) is a guitar and voice solo song that became one of Martyn's signature songs and had the distinction of being covered by Eric Clapton four years later on his Slowhand album.

8. "The Man in the Station" (2:54) (9/10) is an edgy song that vacillates between quiet guitar and electronic keyboard to bluesy rock band to great effect. There is also an odd tension of jazz and Latin feel to the song. One of my favorites.

9. "The Easy Blues" (3:22) (7/10) is a very straightforward acoustic blues song in the vein of Robert Johnson and other Southern rockers. A shout out to bassist Danny Thompson for his wonderful contributions.

In my opinion, John Martyn is one of the unsung masters of the prog folk subgenre--and he produced high quality music over the course of a very long career--one in which he continued playing live performances up until just two months before his death in 2009--and one in which he put out over 20 studio albums and over 40 live recordings! Though the Echoplex guitar effects are not heard or used much, John remained fond of the sound throughout his career. I guess the Echoplex sound is one that runs hit or miss with music fans. I personally love it. The John Martyn studio sound is so warm and intimate and Solid Air remains one of my favorite John Martyn albums though it came out over 40 years ago. It makes me wish I had attended one of his concerts. At least we have DVDs to remember him with. This is most definitely a masterpiece of Progressive Folk music.

 Fools Paradise by MADDEN AND HARRIS  album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.60 | 16 ratings

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Fools Paradise
Madden And Harris Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars This Aussie teacher-pupil pairing started playing in the early 1970s and released a single some time before their sole album "Fools Paradise in 1975". Unfortunately, the re-release to which I am privy does not include the original single as bonus tracks, but, apart from nods to the Canterbury scene and parallels to the Basque movement, this sounds like it emanates from the earlier phase. It's mostly an appealing if undistinguished mixture of British Isles folk with the prog of its day, with an array of primarily acoustic instruments, requisite vocal harmonies, and Gothic atmospheres. Bands like MAGNA CARTA, TIR NA NOG, and FAIRPORT CONVENTION come to mind, but, in the more progressive moments I recall CARAVAN or PINK FLOYD. The album peters out after several solid psych pieces in the early going though, and even the partially achieved ambitions of the title suite don't fully resurrect it, heartening lead guitar and bass lines notwithstanding. For all its legendary status,"Fools Paradise" is little more than another decent garden variety prog folk album of its era

 Oltre il Sipario by BEDEDEUM album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.30 | 11 ratings

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Oltre il Sipario
Bededeum Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Once upon a distant time, when city states ruled the remnants of the dislocated Roman Empire , when powerful merchants in Venice, Genoa, Florence, Milan, Siena, Pisa and many others ruled what is now called amusingly Italy and provided the universe with talented architects, painters, scientists and inventors, the medieval arts also flourished mightily. This ancient tradition still lives on today, every time a mandolin is strummed and let us all remember once again that the Celtic bagpipe evolved from similar instruments that spanned the entire European continent , scouring into Africa (Maghreb) and the Middle East and as far away as Central Asia. Traditional folk stories were set to music and the bards and troubadours were all the rage throughout the various kingdoms of the Continent.

Bededeum seeks to rekindle the glowing candle of the past and remind us that music can be a time travel voyager of infinite discovery. Their impossible to find debut 'Brevistele' was a total masterpiece of medieval tinged genius, a selection of tunes fueled by flutes and harps that promulgated the simplicity of musical beauty. The follow-up goes deeper into more symphonic realms, adding strings such as viola and violin to the mixture of bagpipes, woodwinds and singers Micaela Guerra and Davide Lazzaroni complement each other brilliantly. The stories recall more recent events such as WW1, the Irish Troubles, a 1911 quarry disaster in the town from which this band originates (the marble center of Carrara) and some literary influences as well (Arthur Rimbaud and Umberto Eco). In true troubadour fashion, the music relies on solid stories, tales and historical events that give the work way more depth than singing about love and romance.

The first seconds of "Pietre Bianche" (the White Stones) sets that standard from the very onset of crisp acoustic guitar, flutes, Celtic Harp and Uillean pipes that prep the stage for a haunting female vocal, recounting the legend of Carrara marble. Swirling, hypnotic and intense, the music shudders, hushes and disturbs by its utter beauty. The listener is transported back in time and space with a melody that aches and inspires, an immediate immersion into a faraway realm. The male and female voices combine to spin some serious magic. The spirit of Ireland is expertly emoted on "Le Voci di Derry", a tune you would swear to be purely Celtic in all its trappings, a melody very similar to the classic Gordon Lightfoot "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" which was originally recorded by Christy Moore using lyrics written by IRA prisoner, martyr and icon Bobby Sands. Combining past and present is lovingly used to create something out of this world and the solemn words are sung in Italian and the effect of the dual vocals are stunning and imbue the melody with profound depth and passion.

"Geordie" presumably refers to the name used to define someone from Newcastle, though this is a traditional British folk song that has been played by many other artists worldwide, with a melody that many will perhaps recognized. Again the Italian lyrics give this tune a different spin, leaving the violin, flute and guitar to weave the simple arrangement. A funky slap bass guitar section will raise quite a few eyebrows.

A more epic piece is next, "Gerard Duval, tipografo" denotes the emotions of a WW1 soldier , a French 'poilu' who is about to write a final solemn goodbye to his love , before assaulting the barbed-wire, machinegun infested quagmire he must run through, obeying to some insane order from above. This swirling dance of fire even dares to include a strong sense of avuncular finality, facing assured death and immortality. An inspired instrumental "Pee Wee and the Quaker" is a combination of a take on an Irish traditional as well as some obvious American influences (all that is missing is the banjo) and showcases some furious string picking. The second part involves lots of flute and pipes, twirling like a spinning top at breakneck speed.

"Una Stagione all'inferno" suggests more somber sentiments, inspired by crazed but brilliant French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose poem (Une Saison en Enfer) is considered to be masterpiece as well as a revolutionary illustration of symbolist writing.

The mining disaster of Bettogli in 1911 caused the death of 10 people from Carrara, so this story has a great amount of historical perspective to the Bededeum crew. Needless to say that with the advent of the industrial revolution, many thousand died in mine shafts throughout Europe, inspiring artists to write songs to commemorate the events (Barclay James Harvest, the Bee Gees, U2, among many others). Between 1850 and 1914, more than 90,000 were killed in British mines, so it's not surprising that traditions of remembrance live on.

"Quando qui Distesa" has a definite Argentinian texture, a nervy dance with a strumming guitar, swerving violin and a chugging pace to provide a platform for a passionate vocal that has a real tango feel. "An dro and Dies Irae" is the highlight piece here, a two-part instrumental that has strong Breton feel (Alan Stivell, Malicorne, Tri Yann), highly cyclical in its delivery, remindful of the sameness/diversity of the sea This terrific album ends with a suave lullaby, a Tuscan classic that was altered by the band and inspired by an Umberto Eco novel, about a priest consumed by flames as he is tied to the stake. The mood is forlorn and tragic, only heightened by a prolonged silence and a hidden piece that repeats the word 'Bededeum' as if relating to a Zeuhl/Gregorian ritual. Brilliant.

Kind of ironic that two of the finest medieval folk albums in progressive rock stem from Italy, as both Gian Castello and Bededeum have set the highest possible bar, each with two stupendous releases that span time and space. Extremely original and highly entertaining.

5 Torn curtains

 Delicate Flame Of Desire by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.34 | 67 ratings

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Delicate Flame Of Desire
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by sinslice

4 stars There is also a time to enjoy this kind of music.

One of those rare gems that I initially heard without much enthusiasm some years ago and grew in importance to go appreciating the compositions and performances, good taste, and the distinctive, warm voice of Rachel Jones, perhaps the main protagonist here .. with some timely flute contributions, and guitars and keys perfectly accompanying emotions to be transmitted.

It´s true that "One Breath Away" is almost irritating, out of place here. "Heart of Stone", which beautifully and with great class closes the work, the title track (with an exciting solo guitar), "After the Rain", "Out of Reach" and "The Right Time", are essential tracks.

From progressive rock standpoint, I understand that it has not generated recognition in general. Still, it contains the required dose for progressive rock lover interest. This is rock, with Folk and Celtic Folk ingredients. A good amalgamation of Iona, Mostly Autumn, Renaissance and Clannad.

 Crest Of A Knave by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.25 | 435 ratings

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Crest Of A Knave
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars I guess this is where I hand in my prog member's card. And metal member's card given that this album beat out Metallica for a Metal/Hard Rock Grammy. And my Dire Straits card...well, you get the idea. A lot of strange press has been generated around this album for some valid reasons. And for many that are not so valid.

The authentic knock against Crest of a Knave is that some of the songs do sound a bit like Dire Straits, at least musically. Anderson has had to resort to a type of sing-speech ala Mark Knopfler due to a deteriorating voice problem. Ian doesn't sound like a third generation copy of Bob Dylan to me, only just subdued. And I agree that She Said She Was A Dancer is the most Dire Straits like song never recorded by Mr. Knopfler's band. But the other songs on this album show Anderson in a relaxed vocal state. He found a medium in which his over stretched voice could work in. And work it does.

While Anderson and Barre have stated for decades that the miserable Under Wraps album from 1984 was the album that they made for themselves, that sounds like an absolute falsehood to me. Who could have more fun then in branching out and having a license to be who or what you're not? Especially when making rock music. Barre gets his screaming Knopfler tones put to the fore along with a heavy dash of ZZ Top thrown in on Steel Monkey, Raising Steam and the heavier sections of Part of The Machine. Anderson writes and, more to the point, is able to sing some of his best lyrics on the moving Farm On The Freeway and the extremely clever Jumpstart.

This album has had many past PA reviews, so I don't want to trod on an overused path, but what simply sells Crest of a Knave for me is that even with the obvious outside influences that permeate this album, all of the songs, save the afore mentioned She Said She Was A Dancer, sound completely organic and unforced to me. And better than that, they are so seamlessly mixed with past Tull influences from stellar albums like Songs From The Wood and Strormcock that Anderson, Barre, bassist Dave Pegg, and occasional drummers Doane Perry and Gerry Conway (a few songs do have drum programming that actually do almost sound like real drums) seem to have performed some kind of rock alchemy. And that is a true rarity. There are a couple of more classic sounding tracks such as Mountain Men, that would not be out of place on Stormwatch and the Celtic tinged bonus track found on the 2005 CD remaster Part Of The Machine, which summons up visions of Songs From The Wood era JT and is a beautiful song in it's own right. I can see why it's deep nod to Celtic prog folk would not seem to fit this album, but it's initial exclusion is still puzzling.

I have to say truthfully that I fell of the Tull wagon after the Under Wraps album and only listened to Crest of a Knave after hearing Anderson passionately defend the album in an interview. He stated clearly that he could not have written songs such as Farm On The Freeway, or the proggy and classically tinged bluesy mini epic Budapest earlier in his career. Even by a just a couple of years.

That may all seem true to Anderson, but true or not, it did get my attention enough to give this album an objective listen, and I loved what I heard. 4 stars for the absolute best JT album of eighties. Metal/Hard Rock or not. (Ok, it's not, but it is very good!)

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Prog Folk bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
0.720 ALEACION Mexico
3 DAFT MONKEYS United Kingdom
A PRESENÇA DAS FORMIGAS Portugal
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
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
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
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CHIMERA Netherlands
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CIRCULUS United Kingdom
CLOGS Multi-National
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DAVE COUSINS United Kingdom
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CRYSTAL PHOENIX Italy
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CURRENT 93 United Kingdom
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DANCER United Kingdom
DARNAKES Greece
DAWNWIND United Kingdom
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DECAMERON United Kingdom
THE DECEMBERISTS United States
DEMI-HEURE Canada
DETEKTIVBYRÅN Sweden
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DODSON AND FOGG United Kingdom
DR. STRANGELY STRANGE Ireland
DULCIMER United Kingdom
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JUDY DYBLE United Kingdom
EDEN Germany
ELANE Germany
ELFONIA Mexico
EMERAUDE France
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ENBOR Spain
ENGEL (MIGUEL ANGEL DE LA LLAVE JIMENEZ) Spain
L' ENGOULEVENT Canada
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ERGO SUM Chile
ERROBI Spain
ESPERS United States
ETERNIDAD Argentina
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I FOLLI DI DIO Italy
FOLQUE Norway
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WATER INTO WINE BAND United Kingdom
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THE WAY WE LIVE United Kingdom
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WOVEN HAND United States
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