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Tom Newman - Faerie Symphony CD (album) cover


Tom Newman


Crossover Prog

2.86 | 18 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Although hardly prolific, the producer, composer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Tom Newman has enjoyed a rather colourful musical career. He would start out with the universally-ignored pop-psych outfit July, a group that featured Newman in the twin roles of both lead-guitarist and main songwriter, before developing a parallel career behind the mixing desk which saw him join Richard Branson's burgeoning Virgin imprint at the beginning of the 1970's. This move would find Newman helping to engineer Mike Oldfield's seminal 1975 album 'Tubular Bells', making Newman the only other musician to feature on the notoriously reclusive and shy young Oldfield's record, a feat that would eventually allow him to produce his own solo album 'Fine Old Tom' during the same year. Although 'Fine Old Tom' would ultimately fail to find an audience, his earlier work with July would, finding popularity several decades down the line and attaining cult 21st century status, the album now regarded as one of the high points of the brief British psychedelic movement that blossomed during the latter part of the 1960's. However, whilst Newman is probably best remembered for the July album and its endearing single 'Dandelion Seeds', the Englishman's best work is to be found on his fantasy-themed second - and final - solo album 'Faerie Symphony', a sprawling, deeply-ethereal and highly-atmospheric prog-folk record from 1977. Finally issued on CD during 2009 by Mark Powell's prolific reissue imprint Esoteric Recordings, 'Faerie Symphony' is a true relic from a bygone age, a magical instrumental album steeped in the traditions of both J. R. R. Tolkien and the fantastical imagery found on the covers of early-seventies progressive rock albums. Featuring an organic, earthy sound conjured up by the plethora of different instruments - both electric and acoustic - 'Faerie Symphony' develops slowly across thirteen interlocking pieces, brewing up a unique musical experience that is probably best enjoyed under herbal circumstances. Stylistically if not sonically 'Faerie Symphony' very much resembles the earlier works of Oldfield, especially 'Ommadawn', which shares this records mystical ambience. So, as a result, this is very much for those listeners who enjoy Oldfield's 1970s material, this twinkling concoction of twittering flutes, softly tribal percussion fills and slowly unfurling rhythms the kind of album that may well take a few listens to truly comprehend. However, those who do take the time to explore what would turn out to be(so far) Newman's final work, will find a fascinating album full of dreamy melodies and dazzling instrumental landscapes. Hardly immediate stuff then, yet for some 'Faerie Symphony' makes for a truly cinematic experience quite unlike any other. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 4/5 |


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