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Winter Tree, The: The Winter Tree

"The Winter Tree, (formerly MAGUS) is a band formed by composer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres, (a.k.a. Andrew Robinson) with vocalist/guitarist Mark Bond and his wife Deb Bond on keyboards" (, 2011). Andrew was inspired to create his own epics after visiting, "a New York City YES fan convention in 1994"

This new project for Andrew Laitres and crew really captures the power and presence of the music I grew up with as a kid. It is magical and transports you back to a time when we seemed to have more time to sit back and enjoy music to its fullest. "In May", "The Three Hills" and "A Twilight in Middle March", are poetry set to music and are some of the highlights of the album that bring back that 70s era prog. "The Other" and "The Adventures of Prince Caspian" will bring you right up to the present. This album will figure prominently on my best albums of the year list.

"Voices from a Lost Age" opens cool and mysteriously with deep dark key sounds before synthesizers whirl and swirl and build a tempest; just before softer keys take over and calm the soundscape. A brilliant and powerful opener.

Deep drums and percussion fill the soundscape with synths and keys providing the momentum to open "Babylon" perfectly. Andrew Laitres captures the glory of the poetry of Ralph Hodgson and fills it with an incredibly grand sound. "If you could bring her past to pass!"

"Keeper of 10,000 dreams don't take it all away. I never wanted anything except another day" are the wonderful lyrics that open "Guardian Angel", one of the best tracks on the album. The keys and guitars rise up to meet the power of the lyrics and vocals. Deb's electric piano and Andrew's lead vocals walk us through this song of comfort.

"Fading Shadows" is a soft and brilliant keyboard interlude. A nice bridge between songs.

"In May" is a wonderful spring song filled with flute like organ sounds and wonderful acoustic guitar. Despite the band's name this spring song captures the feeling so well in words, "And sit beneath the trees, and share my bread with birds whose homes are there", and music. Adapted from William Henry Davies poem, this is another wonderful slice of life, full of the sound of seagulls and the ocean.

Piano like organ sounds and drums fill the air for "Now That You've Flown". Mark Bond sings lead vocals on this song. He and Andrew are close enough in sound that it's hard to tell the difference. More great lyrics, "I would climb every mountain, swim across the sea. Oh, to have you with me I'd do anything". A great song of longing full of some great guitar solos and excellent key work.

"A Twilight in Middle March" is a classic song full of all the memories of prog's great past. Based on a poem by Francis Ledwidge, this is the best song on the album. Takes you right back to Trick of the Tail or earlier. The guitar work and keys are just phenomenal. The strings, bells, and chimes will send shivers. The lyrics and vocals capture all the power and imagery of the change of seasons in this mighty month. "Yet sweeter music never touched our heart". Yes, that sums it up perfectly.

Ocean and radio wave like sounds open "The Other", before a very cool Blade Runner/Tron keyboard ride. This is Deb Bond's keyboard showcase/extravaganza and she doesn't disappoint. The best keyboard song on the album, bare none."The Three Hills" is adapted from J.C. Squire's poem. All of the imagery is captured well in word and song. The keyboards and percussion will take you right back to the 70s and some of the best songs you remember from that golden age. "Where are the old hills gone?" Yes the vocals and piano - like keys bring the sympathy and feeling that just wells up and surrounds you with warmth.

Deep piano notes open the sad song, "Stranger", with a longing for a time now passed. The words are powerful, "It seems like such a long, long way to go. The end is nowhere in sight. Only love can change your life". The guitar solos really drive the emotions along with those keys.

"The Adventures of Prince Caspian" is a wonderful instrumental journey to close this epic debut album. The keys summon all the magic and power of the books and movie to build an impressive musical experience. Only complaint, it was way too short for an epic.

This one gets an easy 4 out of 5 Everyone should be gifted enough to create this powerful a debut album!

Track Listing
1) Voices from a Lost Age
2) Babylon
3) Guardian Angel
4) Fading Shadows
5) In May
6) Now That You've Flown
7) A Twilight in Middle March
8) The Other
9) The Three Hills
10) Stranger
11) The Adventures of Prince Caspian
Part I - Under a Narnian Sea
Part II - To The End of the World
Part III - Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Added: January 26th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3949
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Winter Tree, The: The Winter Tree
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-01-26 15:27:41
My Score:

This aptly named trio (formerly known by the less-likely moniker "Magus") makes its debut with a self-titled album that, at a mere 40 minutes, is too short.

The disc opens with the atmospheric instrumental "Voices From A Lost Age," featuring synths that sound like a massive organ before segueing to the international splendor of "Babylon." This is where The Winter Tree establishes itself as an eclectic act worthy of your attention. A mystical beat builds tension in the verses, evoking mid-period Peter Gabriel, and crescendos to an expansive chorus. Surprisingly, the song just peters out at the end, denying listeners a potentially powerful denouement. Meanwhile, "The Other" is a gurgling electro-instrumental with progressive overtones, "Now That You've Flown" revels in a classic AOR vibe and "The Adventures of Prince Caspian" serves as the majestic seven-minute instrumental finale.

Diverse and not really prog not really anything that's easy to classify, actually The Winter Tree blurs genres seamlessly and emerges as one of the most pleasant surprises on the ProgRock Records label.

Winter Tree, The: The Winter Tree
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-10-25 11:21:47
My Score:

The Winter Tree, formerly known as Magus, is the brainchild of Vermont-based musician Andrew Laitres. In the '90s and early 2000s Magus released a string of albums, their last being Lucid Dreamer in 2005. Andrew decided to change the band's name to Winter Tree, based on the name of a Renaissance song.

The Winter Tree consists of the aforementioned Laitres (lead vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, programming) and husband/wife team Deb Bond (keyboards) and Mark Bond (lead and harmony vocals, electric guitars).

This is one of the mellowest CDs I have listened to in a long time and also one of the prettiest and melodic. The music can be compared to classic bands like Camel and Alan Parson's Project and I also hear similarities to David Minasian's Random Acts of Beauty. This is an album full of soothing guitar (both acoustic and electric) and keyboard sounds. The Winter Tree is an apt name for the band's music as it does invoke images of late fall or winter. In other words, the perfect music to chill out to in front of the fireplace on a cold winter's night.

The album starts with the lush instrumental "Voices" with brooding synth lines and textural layers of keyboards invoking images of ancient cathedrals, a sort of gothic keyboard sound that leads directly into "Babylon" and its washes of Eastern influenced acoustic guitar and percussion. Both Laitres and Bond have warm voices and are ideally suited to the band's lush style of gentle progressive rock/pop.

With "Guardian Angel" and "Now That You've Flown" I was mainly reminded of '80s Alan Parsons with both having excellent melodies and a proggy pop feel. The latter features some pretty tasty organ sounds.

The somber ballad "In May" has another nice keyboard melody while "The Other" is a more up-tempo track with a '70s Parson's flavour and a cool electronic vibe, all crisp beats and sparkling keys.

The melancholic "Stranger" features wonderful piano and organ with emotive stabs of lead guitar while the album ending "The Adventures of Prince Caspian" is a three part suite of melodic symphonic rock featuring some of the nicest organ work on the album making this one of the best tracks here. A grandiose ending indeed.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the artwork of Minna Sundberg and Connell Byrne, it is superb and depicts the music exceptionally well.

This is an excellent CD of lush symphonic rock, richly textured and very melodic. Its pastoral elegance is second to none. One of the most relaxing CDs I have heard in a long while. Highly recommended!

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