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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 | 3172 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.35 | 2495 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.19 | 1352 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.22 | 311 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.25 | 198 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.38 | 83 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.16 | 603 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.21 | 212 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.14 | 528 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.15 | 325 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.13 | 320 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.45 | 46 ratings
LUCAS
Araújo, Marco Antônio
4.45 | 44 ratings
UM HIMINJǫÐUR
Tirill
4.27 | 73 ratings
WHITE RAINBOW
Mostly Autumn
4.21 | 97 ratings
I A MOON
North Sea Radio Orchestra
4.05 | 1186 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.15 | 123 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.14 | 130 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.04 | 1110 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.07 | 282 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The

Prog Folk overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

GEOFFROY
Emeraude
VALHEISTA KAUNEIN
Scarlet Thread
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AMETSAREN BIDEA
Errobi

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Joutsenen Juju by SAASTAMOINEN, ILPO album cover Studio Album, 1976
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Joutsenen Juju
Ilpo Saastamoinen Prog Folk

Review by HarryAngel746

— First review of this album —
5 stars Rock music from the 70s still hides a lot of secrets - one of them is album Joutsenen Juju. Mr. Ilpo Saastamoinen known from Piirpauke, gathered here the cream of the Finnish jazzmen (including Juhani Aaltonen, Pekka Sarmanto, Edward Vesala). They created a very interesting and original folk-spirit album dressed in prog robes.

We start with delicate but royal fanfare announcing the beginning - idyllic folk mood surrounds us. Following instruments start the show: saxophone, vibraphone, flute and guitar playing in the background - the last of them takes the lead in the next part entering into numerous dialogues with the rest. In the middle of first track we have a moment of peace with low sounds of double bass and oriental instrument (on this album Ilpo Saastamoinen uses a large range of instruments: guitar, Domra, Zither, Yangqin) Then the guitar returns again - in her footsteps go: saxophone and all the rest of the vibraphones along with unusual vocals. The end of the song is full of silence and reverie ... interrupted by another frivolous folk melody. This dance is endless. Then, in contrast, we have an extremely sad atmosphere of a funeral epitaph at a slow pace. We can immerse ourselves in contemplation of an ethnic world that doesn't exist any more. In the second part Ilpo's guitar leads us through the memories. The third song is characterized by the entrance of the violin, which plays a melody that reminds me of something - it has a very cinematic character. The second half starts with another folk melody - we definitely are here for some fun in the inn or around the campfire. Until the saxophone starts to shine - here we have a crazy journey through the evening with the setting sun transforming into the night. Saxophone fluently intertwines with the guitar, vibraphone and all the rest... Again a sad climate, but this time some incredible mourning (more concerning the whole civilization than just old times as for me) is created by an arrangement of Bach's song - here it's quite modest, calm and spiritual. Another track unnoticed opens before us the way to cosmic dimensions. We return to earth to a sad folk (perhaps again funeral) march with somber vocals, saxophone, flute, guitar and vibraphone (an eagle-owl is sitting on a withered tree with the evil glare). At the end there is again quick folk accent that leaves us a lot of hope, warm and slight consternation.

Conclusion: excellent album with lots of flavors and giving great fun with catching the next, very richly used instruments (there are also: kantele (singing?), Bouzouki, mandolin, metallophone). The first sounds remind me of Gryphon - but only for a moment. You can compare the album to Samla Mammas Manna - but with a more introspective character, and of course it's more Finnish. I recommend it!

 This Was by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.31 | 799 ratings

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This Was
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nº 257

'This Was' is the debut studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1968. With this release, Jethro Tull became as one of the first bands that would be designated as one of the pioneers of the progressive rock music, with bands such as Pink Floyd, Caravan, The Moody Blues, Van Der Graaf Generator, Procol Harum, Renaissance and King Crimson.

The line up on the album is Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, mouth organ, harmonica, claghorn and piano), Mick Abrahams (vocals, guitar and 9 string guitar), Glenn Cornick (bass guitar) and Clive Bunker (drums). David Palmer (French horn and orchestral arrangements), appears on the album as a guest musician. Following this album, guitarist Mick Abrahams left the group after a falling out with Ian Anderson. There were a number of reasons for his departure, but the main reason was surely that he was a blues purist while Ian Anderson wanted to explore many other forms of music.

'This Was' was an album where Ian Anderson shared some songwriting duties with the guitarist Mick Abrahams. The album also contains the only Jethro Tull's lead vocal not performed by Ian Anderson on any studio album of the band, 'Move On Alone'. Mick Abrahams, who was the songwriter of 'Move On Alone', provides the lead vocals on this track.

'This Was' has ten tracks. The first track 'My Sunday Feeling' written by Ian Anderson is clearly a song with some influences of blues and even more influences of jazz. It's a song with good and energetic drumming very well followed by the flute and also by the voice of Ian Anderson used in a very unique style. The second track 'Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You' was also written by Ian Anderson and is a typical and short blues song, much slower than the previous track and where Ian Anderson changes his flute by the harmonica. This is a real cool song but when we hear the song we remain with the feeling that we had already heard this kind of tune many other times before. The third track 'Beggar's Farm' written by Ian Anderson and Mick Abrahams is a song with good instrumental parts of flute and where the voice of Ian Anderson appears entrained with a light drunken touch. It has also great combination of guitar and bass and it has also a good rhythm section. The fourth track 'Move On Alone' written by Mick Abrahams is the shortest track on the album and is a song sung by Mick Abrahams. It's a very simple song with a mix fusion between jazz and blues. The only thing I can say about it is that it's short and nice but it seems to belong to another age, the 60's. The fifth track 'Serenade To A Cuckoo' written by Roland Kirk is an instrumental track and is the lengthiest on the album. It represents, without any doubt, one of the best musical moments on the album. This is really a wonderful instrumental song that is more jazz music than blues. It has a great and perfect instrumental performance all over the song, especially by the flute and guitar. The sixth track 'Dharma For One' written by Ian Anderson and Clive Bunker is one of the most known Jethro Tull's songs of this album. It's another instrumental track on the album where Clive Bunker performed a great and inventive drum solo. This is a song with a more rock feeling than the other previous songs. The seventh track 'It's Breaking Me Up' written by Ian Anderson is another traditional and classical blues number. It has good harmonica performance, but like 'Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You', it still is also a real cool song, but when we hear the song we remain with the feeling that we had already heard this kind of tune many other times before, too. The eighth track 'Cat's Squirrel' is a traditional song arranged by Mick Abrahams, and like 'Dharma For One' is also one of the most known Jethro Tull's songs of this album. This is a good instrumental track, a blues/rock song with a nice and interesting guitar work. It's true that saw from our days it seems to be a bit dated, but I think it still remains a good song. The ninth track 'A Song For Jeffrey' written by Ian Anderson is also one of the best known tracks of the album. This is a very good song and represents one of the best musical moments on the album. We may say this is one of the first standard songs from the group that better represent the first musical period of Jethro Tull. The tenth and last track 'Round' written by Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, Glenn Cornick and Terry Ellis is the smallest song on the album. It's an instrumental and very simple track with catchy filler. But I've nothing more to say about it.

Conclusion: In part due to Mick Abrahams' influence, 'This Was' incorporates more blues and jazz influences, than the following releases of Jethro Tull. It was only after 'This Was' that was possible to see the progressive rock lines that later became as one of the best marks of the group. So, 'This Was' is practically a blues/jazz album with very few or even nothing of progressive rock music on it. I can see some similarities between 'This Was' and the debut albums of Genesis and Van Der Graaf Generator, 'From Genesis To Revelation' and 'The Aerosol Grey Machine', respectively. All these three albums aren't really great works, all have few progressivity and all have very little with what would be the future sound of those three bands. Besides, in my humble opinion, 'This Was' is with 'War Child' and 'Too Old To Rock'n'Roll: Too Young To Die!' one of the three weakest studio albums released by Jethro Tull in the decade of 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Happy Sad by BUCKLEY, TIM album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.88 | 49 ratings

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Happy Sad
Tim Buckley Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I found Tim Buckley's music in a very unusual and unexpected way, at the age of 22 years or so, when I had bought a used LP, The Doors' Soft Parade. When I played its first side, I wondered how different, so much softer (!), the band sounded this time. Soon I realized it was a faulty pressing, with some other artist's vinyl side instead of side 1 of Soft Parade (the second side was The Doors all right). Later I found out the first side was from Happy Sad by Tim Buckley. Today I know Buckley's discography pretty well, and Happy Sad is still my favourite, undoubtedly helped by that funny first acquaintance.

On this third album folk singer-songwriter Tim Buckley shifted towards looser, jazzier and more elegant kind of folk, with longer tracks, and introducing acoustic bass and vibes on the arrangement. The result is at best really mesmerizing. Buckley's soulful, beautiful vocals and the very mellow music reach almost a meditative level for the listener to float upon. The opener 'Strange Feelin'' has a lovely laid back atmosphere while the second track 'Buzzin' Fly' is a bit faster in tempo, both featuring vibes in a central role. Also the acoustic bass sounds great. The band sound is spacey and breathy in a very natural and organic way. The nearly 11-minute 'Love from Room 109 at the Islander (On Pacific Coast Highway)' has a slow and deeply meditative mid-section that I adore. Not just this track but the whole of side one gives me inner images of travelling along a summer-breezy pacific coast, free of all pressure, slighly melancholic perhaps, but mind wide open to the beauty of the world.

I have a thinner relationship to the second side and its three songs, but the slow and romantic 'Dream Letter' is a pleasant continuation for the excellence of the first side. The vibes-dominant arrangement is very sparse; sounds like there was a cello too. 12-minute 'Gypsy Woman' takes the free-form jam-based wandering perhaps a bit too far, and despite being more dynamic and psychedelic (there's a relatively intense, guitar-centred mid-section, and lots of percussion), I'm remaining rather intact to this overextended song. 'Sing a Song for You' is the shortest and the most convenient folk troubadour song here, and it could as well come from Buckley's earlier albums. If the whole album would be on the spellbinding level of the first side, my rating would definitely be five stars.

 Ten Stones by WOVEN HAND album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 21 ratings

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Ten Stones
Woven Hand Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars David Eugene Edwards started the band "Wovenhand" after there was a disagreement with his previous band "16 Horsepower" which was a gothic alt-country band that did quite well within that genre. in the beginning, the band was mostly acoustic, and would still use the leaner sound on some future albums, but the band grew over the years into a full-fledged band giving the music more depth and variety. Wovenhand continues with the dark sound of his previous band, but with more of a spiritual/religious undertone, but still continuing with a gothic feel, giving the music a fire and brimstone style. The instruments are typically western traditional, giving the music a neo-folk sound but based on the old religious attitude of learn or burn in hell. This is one of the band's better and more believable albums, containing a good amount of variety as the band becomes braver and plays around with their sound more.

"The Beautiful Axe" starts with a swirling uptempo track with intense drumming and a catchy, yet dark, sound, while the next track, "Horsetail" sounds like a slow, fire and brimstone style, almost gothic in sound. "Not One Stone" has an almost cinematic flair to it, reminding one of old western songs from the likes of Johnny Cash with an increase in intensity in the instrumental break. This one harkens back to some of the dark and heavy tracks of David's prior band "16 Horsepower", but with a urgent and dangerous religious message to deliver. "Cohawkin Road" reminds one again of the old western cinematic themes, sparser this time, yet expansive like the land this sound brings to mind. "Iron Feather" has more keyboard usage, but processed to take away the brightness of the piano.

"White Knuckle Grip" has a slow boogie style that has a rough edge to it. This gives the music a unique feel and the vocals have a frantic quality to them. There are some interesting sounds from the keys that sounds like a harsh accordion. "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars" is a cover of an old bossa nova tune, but its given the goth-cowboy feel in this interesting track. The basic beat is still there, but there is also a strange drone giving the foundation to the tune. It's always good to hear an old track made new with experimentation. "Kicking Bird" begins with a drum solo kicking out a tribal rhythm and being joined by almost sitar sounding drones, but the band doesn't resort to world music sounds, but instead they adjust the tribal style to sound like their style. It is a short, yet enjoyable variation of their goth-cowboy theme.

The mid-Eastern sound persists into the next track "Kingdom of Ice" which goes back to the frantic feel of the bands spiritual urgency. David really preaches hellfire on this track, the instrumentals go to a sparser sound to give room for the lyrics on this one. "His Loyal Love" again uses a drone-like quality under the acoustic pattern and a fuzzy guitar sound. The vocals are more subdued and in a foggy, almost psychedelic choral style with definite leanings toward psychedelic instrumentals. The last track is untitled and an atmospheric instrumental.

The overall album is quite unsettling, as Wovenhand's albums seem to be, even when at their most acoustic. But this album is quite heavy at times, at least in a foreboding way, as it sears its way into your mind. It is good to hear this much variety on a Wovenhand album, as it keeps this album sounding like some of their others giving it more character. The last half of the album suffers a bit from development, and I would have liked to have heard more expansion in those tracks, but overall, it is one of their better albums. Still, it's not quite a masterpiece, but it is an album I like to listen to often.

 Clannad 2 by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.95 | 10 ratings

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Clannad 2
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars So, "Clannad 2" pretty much starts up where the debut album left off, even though this album came out in 1975, 2 years later. Back in the 70's , most bands were putting out 2 or 3 albums every year, but Clannad was taking their time, slowly putting themselves into the limelight, but enjoying their freedom to create new versions of mostly traditional Irish music and styles. The core band of 5 remained the same, the siblings Bhronain and their twin uncles. The music remains mostly acoustic with guitar, keyboards with occasional piano, flute, mandolin, harp and everyone having a part in the vocals, but most of them done by Maire Ni Bhronain. There were additional musicians also used for backup, especially another one of the Braonains on the drums with other musicians providing additional keys, guitars, synths, percussion and vocals. As on the previous album, most of the vocals are in Gaelic with only one track in English. Their popularity and move to a more new age style was still a few years away. For now, the music was mostly pure Irish and Celtic folk music done in a traditional way, without the complex violin and orchestral flourishes and synthesized layers. It was pure heartfelt music steeped in tradition, vocal harmonics and just a slight bit of modernization to make things more current.

The album starts with "An Gabhar Bán (The White Goat)". This has the traditional dance sound of Irish music with a nice danceable rhythm established by the instruments and not so much the percussion. Acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute play along with Maire's vocals, and later providing embellished versions of the melody during the instrumental break. "Eleanor Plunkett" is a classic, Irish tune by Turlough O'Carolan, one of Irelands most famous composers and harpists who was also blind. It is a beautiful instrumental rendition done mostly by the harp and later supported by the flute. "Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómhair" is one of my favorite early Clannad songs. It is a slow moving tune sung heartbreakingly beautiful by Maire accompanied mostly by a single acoustic guitar (and a subtle support from keys) that has it's own lovely melody that plays out in the introduction and throughout.

"Rince Philib a'Cheoil" is a definite traditional song with the choruses utilizing a droning harmony. A sparse drumming keeps the lilting tempo, and besides the guitar there is a short flute section. "By Chance It Was" is the only song with English lyrics, but with a heavy Irish sound as the band was not yet compromising it's traditional sound. A slow repeating guitar line plays in support and a simple piano backs that up. The flute embellishes the simple melody in the instrumental break. "Rince Briotánach" starts off innocently with a solo harp and a flute added in later. After passing through the melody a third time, percussion picks things up a bit and other instruments come in and things speed up as it goes along. This instrumental continues to repeat the main melody, builds up and then backs off again to where we are left as we began.

"Dhéanainn Súgradh" starts off with only harp playing melody. After a while, male led vocals and "in-unison" group singing come in. After a few verses, the drums come in and continue to keep moderate time. During an extended instrumental break, we even get some electric guitar and flutes as it morphs into a folk rock track. "Gaoth Barra Na dTonn" is simply with Maire's unaccompanied vocals. "Teidhir Abhaile Riú" has the typical Irish lilt with mandolin and flute with male vocals and a mixed chorus coming in later along with sparse percussion. "Fairly Shot of Her" is a nice, moderate instrumental with harp, mandolin and flute. "Chuaigh Mé Na Rosann" closes the album with the longest track at over 6 minutes. It is a moderately slow track with mostly just Maire's vocals and acoustic guitar and bass. A nice flute solo comes in during the instrumental breaks. Other traditional sounding instruments help support as the track continues.

In my opinion, this album actually steps back a little from the debut as far as the additional of more popular elements, except for the electric guitar in track 7. The sound is more traditional and acoustic with softer melodies overall and a more folkish sound. Of course, we are still far away from the more commercial sound of their popular years and the real Gaelic attitude is prevalent. Again, this is a nice, laid back album, with still no real indication to popularize the sound of the band, yet in doing so, they were laying the foundation for a surge and longing for Irish and Celtic music worldwide.

 Clannad by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.25 | 17 ratings

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Clannad
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Back in 1973, when Clannad's first album was released, Irish (Celtic) music hadn't achieved the world wide popularity that it would later. Clannad, the band that was originally made up of members of the same family, would later pave the road for the popularity of the genre. But before the fancy synths and pop music started to infiltrate their sound, they were mostly devoted to traditional Irish music, changing things up a bit to make it more modern, but staying quite faithful to the original, simple sound. When Polydor signed them on to their label, they were quite worried that there were not many English songs on the debut album. It's good to be able to hear what they originally sounded like as the music is devoted to traditional folk sounds much more than some of their later albums would be.

The line up originally consisted of siblings Ciaran Brennan (bass, guitar, piano, vocals), Moya Brennan (lead vocals, harp) and Pol Brennan (flute, bongos, guitar, vocals) along with their twin uncles Noel Duggan (lead guitar and vocals) and Padraig Duggan (guitar, mandola, vocals). The artist Enya (Brennan), who became popular in her own right, got her start with Clannad and was also a family member, but she didn't joing Clannad until 1980 and only stayed until 1982 when she left to be a solo artist. Guests Grainne McMonagle (tin whistle) and John Wadham (drums) also helped out on this album.

"Níl Sé Ina La" begins everything on an upbeat sound with guitars, flutes, bongos and drums with a great bass solo. The Irish flavor is there in the lilting style, but the feeling is quite modern, yet in an acoustic way. Of course, Moya's vocals are there and they are quite expressive, especially backed up by the charming layers of background harmonies and vocals. "Thíos Cois Na Trá Domh" is more traditional sounding. The vocals are tender and peaceful, the harmonies are lovely and the accompaniment is simple acoustic guitar. This track is more like the pastoral sound that Clannad's early music would take. "Brian Boru's March" is accentuated by a slow percussive beat with a harp and guitars moving along in a 6 / 8 meter. Later, the mandola is added. There are no vocals on this lovely track.

"Siobhán Ní Dhuibhir" has a more complex feel to it, but still keeping with the acoustic sound and some drums. The vocals are often laced with harmonics and the melody is also not as simple as the tracks that have come previously. The harp is the main instrument in this track backed up by acoustic guitars and a flute on the instrumental break. There is a soft jazz undertone to the track also to help with the modernization of the song. "An Mhaighdean Mhara" is another traditional song with Moya's solo voice with a slight reverb with no accompaniment. "Liza" was the only track written by members of the band. It features the voice of one of the male members and has a much more modern acoustic sound to it, probably the least traditional sounding of all of the tracks, but still with that folk rock sound to it.

"An tOileán Úr" moves back to the Irish sound again and once again features male vocals. This track uses flute and guitar with a modern drum pattern. "Mrs. McDermott" was written by Irish composer Turlough O'Carolan. It is a simple instrumental Irish melody in this case played by the harp and backed by guitar. "The Pretty Maid" returns to Moya's vocals, this time in English for the first time on this album. Later the band would rely more on English vocals, but always made room for Irish vocals in most of their future albums. This is a simple Irish song with a simple acoustic backing. Male vocals are also present on this track and the singers alternate back and forth. "An Pháirc" returns to Moya's non-English vocals again, later backed by harmonic singing. The instrumental part is simple again with basic acoustic accompaniment and flute between the vocals. The harmonies are lovely and quite up front on this track. "Harvest Home" is a short lilting instrumental.

"Morning Dew" is the cover that has been done by many artists from Robert Plant to Nazareth. Clannad's version is a lovely and mysterious style with a steady acoustic guitar progression and soft bongos. Of course, there are the trademark harmonies that are so unique to Clannad. The song is soft and peaceful, but very folk-rock sounding. These lyrics are sung in English. There is a bonus track on the 1997 and 2002 CD releases called "An Bealach Seo 'Tá Romhainn". This track fits right in with the feeling of the album. It is another Irish track with a basic instrumental background using harp and acoustic guitar.

The lovely traditional folk sound on this album is the sound of Clannad before popularity started to influence their music which would transform their sound to a more soft rock sound, but the Irish undercurrent would always run through their sound, even in the most New Age-ish version of the band. There is no New Age sound in this album, however, it is pure and lovely, mostly acoustic and very traditional with some minor embellishments to make it sound more modern. But, this early in the game, the modern sounds weren't so strong as to ruin the authenticity of the music. This is one of Clannad's best albums and should be heard by those that want to know what the band sounded like when they had complete heart and soul put into their music. If you love the simplest sound of Irish folk music, this is the album for you.

 The Gypsies by CARMEN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.08 | 36 ratings

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The Gypsies
Carmen Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As I now own all three Carmen albums, I have to agree this is by far the least good of their three albums. Also there's a couple of songs with that somber tone like "Dedicated to Lydia", "Siren of the Sea" and "Joy" with the latter actually getting pretty joyful (no pun intended) towards the end. I absolutely can't stand "Come Back" it's by far the worst song Carmen ever done, I almost wondered if the warning I received about this band (by someone I used to know) being cheesy back in 1994 came from this album? Luckily the album has some winners, I do very much enjoy "Shady Lady", sounds like the band attempting a hit, and the title track is amazing. But in the end, the album, except for the godwaful "Come Back" isn't bad but this album really does pale compared to their past triumphs. It's as if the band was following the trends of 1977 in 1975 by going a more simplified direction. But between Paul Fenton and his horse riding accident and the band exhausted from hectic touring, little wonder they broke up with John Glascock joining Jethro Tull and Angela Allen singing backing vocals on "Crazed Institution" and "Big Dipper" on Tull's Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die. So it's clear that Fandangos in Space is a must have, so is Dancing on a Cold Wind, but the Gypsies is the one to worry last as it's pretty spotty, but has its moments.
 Zaguan by ZAGUAN album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Zaguan
Zaguan Prog Folk

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars "A very pleasant tribute to the Rock Andaluz sound of Triana"

This band was rooted in 1997 when the brothers Gomez, Miguel and Armando met Jose Antonio Mazo Cabeza (nicknamed Gori) in a park in the Andalusian capital Seville. As a tribute to the late Jesus De La Rosa from Spanish progrock legend Triana they started as a Triana cover band. Under the name Raices (Spanish for 'roots') the group played in different venues in Seville and they recorded a first demo in the Sound Farm studios (Seville) in 2000. Raices recorded three songs from Triana En El Lago", Tu Frialdad and Luminosa Manana) along with two other own compositions entitled Debo Culpar and Por Ti. Then Raices started to tour and shared the bill with known Andalusian Rock bands like Alameda and Mediana Azahara. During one of their live performances they met Javier Garcia Pelayo, brother of a known Andalucian rock producer Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo. He invited them to participate in a tribute record to Jesus de la Rosa (edited by Fonomusic), playing by the first time under the name of Zaguan. After this Javier Garcia Pelayo became their manager and Gonzalo Garcia Pelayo their producer, recording their first official record in 2002, three years later followed by their successor entitled Testigo Del Tiempo.

Like Jesus De La Rosa from Triana the vocals are also provided by a keyboard players who sings, Miguel Angel in this case. And he does an excellent job, what a wonderful voice, very expressive but without that typical wailing undertone as in the flamenco, an extra dimension in Zaguan its music. On their debut album it's no surprise that Zaguan presents a sound that is mighty close to Triana. But the 11 short tracks sound less in the symphonic rock tradition, more as a blend of melodic rock and flamenco, embellished with fiery electric guitar, lush Hammond and, of course, the distinctive flamenco guitar, how exciting, this is the wonderful world of the Rock Andaluz! And on their second album Zaguan even sounded better, far from original but "better a good copy than a bad original" is the perfect saying for Zaguan its very pleasant Rock Andaluz sound.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Canciones De Los Mundos Perdidos by AMAROK album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.28 | 14 ratings

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Canciones De Los Mundos Perdidos
Amarok Prog Folk

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "Another overlooked interesting Spanish prog album".

The previous studio-album Sol De Medianoche from Spanish prog band Amarok (not to confuse with the Polish Amarok) appealed very much to me, I consider it as a captivating and adventurous blend of jazz, prog and ethnic music, topped with a wide range of instruments, including lots of exotic woodwind, string and percussion instruments. This successor entitled Canciones De Los Mundos Perdidos is not a new studio-album but a reissue ((Luna Negra, Musea, 2008) from their second studio effort from 1995, including 4 bonustracks. The band was not pleased with the results in 1995, due to a lack of time and lots of stress. To me this reissue sounds as a very pleasant blend of folk and Seventies symphonic rock (elements of 70-77 Genesis and Hackett solo), very melodic and harmonic.

The opener Prologo is a good examplex how Amarok sounds on this reissue: first a swinging rhythm with percussion and celestial female vocals with a xylophone solo, then the atmosphere turns into dreamy with soaring Mellotron violins, twanging acoustic guitar and wonderful work on the violin.

The other 14 tracks also deliver lots of variety (moods, tempo, instruments).

Mellotron violins with piano, an interlude with warm violin and Glockenpsiel with Mellotron choirs in Danza Y Lamento.

Acoustic guitar, a bagpipe sound and flashy synthesizer runs in Bolero.

Dreamy with hobo (frequently used on this album), high pitched vocals and a sparkling harpsichord solo in Homenaje A J.H.T. Tolkien.

The 12-string acoustic guitar, Spanish guitar and congas in Esqui De Fondo (first bonustrack).

And the lush sound of 12-string guitars with beautiful vocals and again the distinctive sound of the Glockenspiel (just listen to Mike Oldfield his legendary Tubular Bells album) in the final composition Solo Faltas Tu (the 4th bonustrack).

In general the atmosphere is dreamy or laidback but, at some moments more powerful and bombastic, like in the alternating second bonustrack Los Bosques De Irati (church organ sound with 12-string guitar and Mellotron choirs, blended with Spanish guitar, wow!), the third bonustrack El Ciclo Del Tiempo (Glockenspiel and swirling synthesizer runs in the vein of Rick Wakeman) and the up-tempo song El Vuelo Del Pelicano (sensitive electric guitar with echoes from Steve Hackett and fluent work on keyboards).

What a wonderful, elaborate and adventurous blend of folk and symphonic rock, and the 4 bonustracks are "no fillers, but all killers!".

 Windswept by FAVNI (FAUNS) album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 5 ratings

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Windswept
Favni (Fauns) Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars In the 5 year "break" between "Awaiting the Sun" and "Windswept", FAUNS changed their name to FAVNI, which is German for Fauns, mostly to distinguish themselves from the more traditionally oriented and commercially successful FAUN, also from Germany. Otherwise, the blend of pastoral acoustic folk with occasionally acidic electric guitars and keyboards remains intact. Long gone are the carefree romps in the woods, wholly usurped by a host of more morose moods taking their cue from the likes of PINK FLOYD, MOSTLY AUTUMN, CAROL OF HARVEST, NEKTAR and even the long defunct German neo prog/folk band FAUN from the 1990s.

In spite of their homage to many who have gone before, they manage to navigate an alternative path thanks to their ability to deftly integrate the electric and acoustic. The inclusion of flutes and strings alongside the almost omnipresent acoustic guitar and occasional frenetic amplified bursts is effective, if at times they loiter a little, leading to somewhat inflated running times on a few tracks. The yin-yang of alternating lead vocals offered by Jan-Peer Hartmann and Kirsten Middeke offers additional distinction, even if neither are A-list in that department.

The album's consistency is also its flaw because, while it's all good, and frequently excellent, I can't really point to a standout track, just passages throughout that are brilliant in that ghostly familiar way. And again, as in the last album, with most tracks lying in a certain tempo range, it can take many listens to uncover the gems, the impact somewhat muted by their similarities. Still, the opener "Yearning for You" kick starts the work admirably, particularly in the vocal sections that arrive late and, well, sound like they are aware of their tardiness. The eerie Eastern Euro theme of "Leaf in the Wind" plays like the gripping soundtrack to an adult Grimm's Fairy Tale. "The Visionary" begins as a gentle mystical narrative before dialing up the intensity to a ferocious finish. "Leaving" closes the studio portion of the release in a more uniformly dreamy fashion, with a sweet melody only accentuated by the lush flutes and acoustic guitars. Three live tracks follow, all of which confirm the band's ability to perform their intricate work outside of the studio.

If you enjoy acoustic based prog folk with an edge, don't sweep this one aside. It was worth the wait.

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Prog Folk bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
0.720 ALEACION Mexico
3 DAFT MONKEYS United Kingdom
AALTO Finland
RABIH ABOU-KHALIL Lebanon
ACCOLADE United Kingdom
ACCOLADE United States
ADARO Germany
AFFORESTED United Kingdom
AFION Croatia
AGAPE Canada
AGINCOURT United Kingdom
AIGUES VIVES Germany
AKTUALA Italy
NICU ALIFANTIS Romania
ALMÔNDEGAS Brazil
ALVA Multi-National
AMANITA Italy
AMAROK Spain
AMAZING BLONDEL United Kingdom
AMBER United Kingdom
AN DRO Germany
ANACRUSA Argentina
IAN ANDERSON United Kingdom
THE ANGELS OF LIGHT United States
ANNAMY Sweden
APARECIDOS Multi-National
AQUAPLAN Finland
AQUARIUM Russia
DAN AR BRAZ France
MARCO ANTÔNIO ARAÚJO Brazil
DAN ARBORISE United Kingdom
THE ARBORISTS Canada
ARIA PALEA Italy
ARMY OF BRIARS United Kingdom
ARTSRUNI Armenia
ASGARD France
ASHADA Japan
ASHTAR Brazil
ASI SOMOS Puerto Rico
ATMAN Poland
AUCAN Argentina
AVALANCHE Netherlands
AVE SANGRIA Brazil
AZAHAR Spain
BABADAG Poland
BABY WHALE Multi-National
BAMBIR / THE BAMBIR Armenia
BANDA DO CASACO Portugal
A BARCA DO SOL Brazil
BARR Sweden
TOMAS BATISTA Argentina
BAYON Germany
BEAT CIRCUS United States
BEDEDEUM Italy
BERNARD BENOIT France
BIG LOST RAINBOW United States
BLACKMORE'S NIGHT United Kingdom
BLOPS Chile
BLUEHORSES United Kingdom
BOULE DE SON Canada
BRAN (BRÂN) United Kingdom
BREAD LOVE AND DREAMS United Kingdom
BRECHE Canada
PAUL BRETT United Kingdom
BRÖSELMASCHINE Germany
BUCIUM Romania
TIM BUCKLEY United States
VASHTI BUNYAN United Kingdom
C.O.B. United Kingdom
CAEDMON United Kingdom
CALIBAN United States
CÁLIX Brazil
CAMELIAS GARDEN Italy
CAN AM DES PUIG Multi-National
CANDIDATE United Kingdom
CANO Canada
CANZONIERE DEL LAZIO Italy
MARCELLO CAPRA Italy
CARMEN United Kingdom
CARNASCIALIA Italy
CAROL OF HARVEST Germany
GIAN CASTELLO Italy
PHILIPPE CAUVIN France
CHAC MOOL Mexico
CHALIBAUDE France
CHERCHE-LUNE France
CHIMERA Netherlands
CHRYSALIDE France
CIRCULUS United Kingdom
CLANNAD Ireland
CLOGS Multi-National
COMUS United Kingdom
CONGREGACION Chile
CONGRESO Chile
CONNIVENCE Canada
CONSTANTINE United States
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
DETEKTIVBYRÅN 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
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FARPOINT United States
FAUN Germany
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FAVERAVOLA Italy
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FEATHERS United States
THE FELLOWSHIP Italy
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FIABA Italy
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SERGE FIORI Canada
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
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FRED United States
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FUCHSIA United Kingdom
FUREKÅBEN Denmark
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GALADRIEL Australia
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GALLERY United Kingdom
GALLEY BEGGAR United Kingdom
GARMARNA Sweden
GAROLOU Canada
GENESIS DE COLOMBIA Colombia
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GJALLARHORN Finland
GLAZ France
GORGO Ukraine
GRAAL France
THE GREEN CHILDREN Italy
LARKIN GRIMM United States
GROVJOBB Sweden
GROWING DREAM Canada
GRYPHON United Kingdom
GUALBERTO Spain
GURNEMANZ Germany
GWERZ France
HAIZEA Spain
ROY HARPER United Kingdom
HAWK South Africa
HAZARI Yugoslavia
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L' HERBA D'HAMELÍ Spain
HEXVESSEL Finland
HOELDERLIN Germany
HORIZONTE Argentina
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
KEBNEKAJSE Sweden
KERRS PINK Norway
KING FISH CROW United States
KLADIVO KONJ IN VODA Slovenia
KOLIBRI Germany
KOLINDA Hungary
ATTILA KOLLÁR Hungary
KONTRABURGER Poland
KORMORÁN Hungary
KOSMOS Finland
JUHA KUJANPAA Finland
BRUCE LAMONT United States
JÉROME LANGLOIS Canada
LAURELIE Belgium
LEAFBLADE United Kingdom
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
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MAGMA Argentina
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ME AND MY KITES Sweden
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COLIN MOLD United Kingdom
MONSEIGNEUR Switzerland
MONTREAL Canada
MOONSTONE Canada
MORMOS United States
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MOTIS France
THE MOULETTES United Kingdom
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MOVING HEARTS Ireland
MR. BROWN Sweden
MR. TOAD Israel
MUNDI DOMINI Canada
MUSHROOM Ireland
NIRGAL VALLIS Mexico
THE NOCTURNES United States
NOMADS OF HOPE Sweden
MICHEL NORMANDEAU Canada
NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA United Kingdom
THE NOVA PROJECT United States
NUEVO MEXICO Mexico
NUIT CALINE A LA VILLA MON REVE Belgium
NYA LJUDBOLAGET Sweden
GAVIN O'LOGHLEN & COTTERS BEQUEST Australia
OBERON United Kingdom
OCTOBER PROJECT United States
OF WONDROUS LEGENDS (O.W.L.) 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
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PASTORAL Argentina
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PEARLS BEFORE SWINE United States
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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
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REVERIE Italy
RIPAILLE France
RITMIA Italy
ROGER RODIER Canada
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KARI RUESLATTEN Norway
RUJA Estonia
S VREMENA NA VREME Yugoslavia
ILPO SAASTAMOINEN Finland
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
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GILLES SERVAT France
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SHAVE THE MONKEY United Kingdom
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SHINE DIÓN Norway
SILMARIL United States
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SINTESIS Cuba
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SMELL OF INCENSE Norway
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SPIRES THAT IN THE SUNSET RISE United States
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STACKRIDGE United Kingdom
VLATKO STEFANOVSKI Macedonia
ALAN STIVELL France
STONE ANGEL United Kingdom
STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES Iceland
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TANGERINE France
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LOU MAXWELL TAYLOR United States
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TEMPEST United States
TENHI Finland
TERRA MYSTICA Slovenia
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THOBY LOTH Finland
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U I BLUE United States
UDRAYA France
UNCLE DIRTYTOES United States
UNGAVA Canada
UNITED BIBLE STUDIES Ireland
STEVE UNRUH United States
UQBAR Argentina
US AND THEM Sweden
VEGA Spain
VIIMA Finland
VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS United Kingdom
RYLEY WALKER United States
JUNE WALLACK Canada
WATER INTO WINE BAND United Kingdom
WATERTOUCH Sweden
THE WAY WE LIVE United Kingdom
LEAH WAYBRIGHT United States
WERWOLF (WEREWOLF ART ROCK) Germany
WITTHUSER AND WESTRUPP Germany
WOVEN HAND United States
WURTEMBERG France
WYRDGENES United Kingdom
GABRIEL YACOUB France
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YOU AND I Hungary
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ZARTONG Armenia
ZAUBER Italy
ZEIT Italy
ZLYE KUKLY Israel
ZRNI Czech Republic
ZYWIOLAK Poland

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