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Shadowfax - Shadowdance CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.30 | 19 ratings

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3 stars My introduction to this band was through a Windham Hill sampler. The composition featured on the sampler was definately the stand-out track on the collection for me at was Shadowdance from this album. It interested me enough to check out their music a little deeper.

I have to say that it doesn't surprise me to see Shadowfax in the ProgArchives because out of the Windham HIll catalogue, which consists mostly of New Age music, this is the band that approaches prog closer than any. I have never heard the debut album, which is apparently the album that put them on this site. It is more highly reviewed than any of their other albums at least here among the proggers. But, quite frankly, I have to say I enjoy their music quite a bit. In this album, they do explore some tricky rhythms which change throughout within individual songs. They give some nice jazz-prog treatments to their compositions. They use many instruments that are unconventional. At least, as far as this album is concerned, I don't understand why this band is disliked among the proggers here.

"New Electric India" is the first track and is sounds pretty much they way the title suggests. It has a nice Indian feel to it and pays homage to the music. I'm not sure what the featured instrument is here, but it does sound almost sitar-ish. I'm definately not a fan of Indian music nor the sitar, but I do love the sound of this track. I feel there is a nice mix of eastern and western influences apparent in this track and some interesting sounds provided by Chinese water symbols and something called a kanjgerra. "Watercourse Way" is the second track and I have noticed that this track is also on the first album, but the timing is different so I don't know if this is a different version of the same composition or not. Either way, this one has more of an ensemble feel to it adding in more violin to the mix. It is nice to listen to, not really a stand-out track, but very fine nonetheless. "Ghost Bird" takes a different turn and is more atomospheric with a very heavy bass pattern. The bass continues to dominate throughout, but is parallelled almost exact by a tenor sax which provides a very unique sound and ambience to the piece. I also believe a bariton violin joins in there too. "Shadowdance" is definately a stand out track here and seems to be a favorite of many people that have heard it. It has a very interesting meter which I believe is something like 9/8 which switches back and forth with a 7/8 time signature, definately very prog-gish. The percussion stands out here throughout the piece where the strongest beat in each meter comes at the end of the meter and not at the beginning as most songs in every genre (except reggae). This makes for an interesting beat especially since the time signature changes back and forth. Percussion here consists of paiste gamelon gongs, bass flapamba, metal and bamboo angklung, and wood block marimba. Now that is definately non-traditional. The main theme of this piece is repeated several times in a sort of "verse" format even without words, and each "verse" adds in other instruments and sounds making this track very innovative and exciting. "Brown Rice/Karmapa Chenno" is the only track on the album with vocals, but the vocals are mostly in the background as a whisper. The longest track here is "A Song for My Brother" which is also on the Watercourse Way album, but again I don't know how much this version is changed from the original. This is also a very interesting track and very prog-like with some nice rhythms and instrumentation.

There really is a lot to hear on this album. It's a shame that since this music has been labeled new age that most people will only hear it as background music. If you listen to it that way, you are really missing out. You really have to listen to this music to appreciate it and to hear how much is going on here. This is not music to listen to while driving because you have to concentrate on it to appreciate it. These musicians are definately underappreciated because of the label given them and I think if those who appreciate good music really sat down and gave this album the attention it deserves, that the real depth of this music would be discovered. Give these musicians a chance and listen to this music the way it was meant to be listened to and not as background music. This really is great stuff! Maybe it's not essential to prog, but it should be better appreciated in my opinion.

TCat | 3/5 |


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