Willowglass is 10 tracks of all-instrumental delicate, classically
styled, and extremely melodic symphonic progressive music that will find
its way onto many best-of-year lists.
And that sentence says it all.
Cover-artist Lee Gaskins's work is so recognizable that at first glance you'd
be excused for thinking this was new Pilgrym album. But nope - nothing like it. Andrew Marshall, from Holmfirth, Yorkshire, England, is an instrumental
all-rounder who composed the music and played everything except for a few of the
drum tracks. His repertoire includes electric guitar a la Andy Latimer,
acoustic guitar, bass, flute, and various keyboards - including piano, synths
and lots of Mellotrons. Marshall pays respects to the classic
instrumentals of the '70s but with the modern day production giving it an airy
feel he has clearly not set out to emulate them.
No single track stands out - they're all similarly good and a good bit
similar - although "Tower of the King's Daughter" is a pleasant 7-minute piece
you may find yourself playing again and again. The long simple keyboard
led melodies develop several intertwined themes, and in the final 2 minutes it builds a
wall of sounds with 'Tron choirs backing up a wonderful long guitar solo that
emulates Dave Bainbridge. "Remembering" is a long minor-key guitar and flute
piece that recalls Camel or the mellower moments of early Genesis. The guitar
work is slow, soft, and simply masterful.
A small criticism is that the Mellotrons may be a bit over-applied. That may be viewed as sacrilegious statement among dyed-in-the-wool prog fans,
but some of the tape frames sound simply scratchy and you may start thinking
that it really isn't necessary to fill every available open space with a 'Tron.
That's a small quibble though. A more important complaint is that at
just 46 minutes it's a very short record, and when it ends you'll find yourself
wishing there was more. So you lean over and press replay, and hope
there's another Willowglass CD in the works.
1. Peace (1:26)
2. Remembering (8:34)
3. Garden (8:15)
4. Interlude No-1 (1:36)
5. Tower of the King's Daughter (7:10)
6. Summer's Lease (0:18)
7. Into the Chase (4:29)
8. A Blinding Light (6:36)
9. Waking the Angels (5:45)
10.The End (1:46)