British medieval/Renaissance/folk/progressive rock band Gryphon first burst upon the scene way back in 1973 with their self-titled debut, and over the course of four years released a total of five very varied albums that touched on all the styles mentioned above, but then disappeared into the history books seemingly forever. Fast forward to 2007 and rumors began to emerge of the bands reunion and probable first new studio album in 30 years, with a live concert in London in 2009 actually happening with four of the original founding members taking part in the event. Unfortunately, the album that the band spoke about didn't wind up happening, until 2016 when talks to once again begin work on what was to eventually become Reinvention got things in motion. Richard Harvey by this time had to drop out of these plans, which left Brian Gulland ( bassoon, trombone, crumhorn, recorder, keyboards, vocals), Graeme Taylor (guitars, vocals), and Dave OberlĂ© (drums, vocals) left to pick up the pieces, which they did by adding Graham Preskett (keyboards, mandolin, violin, guitar, percussion), Rory McFarlane (bass), and Andy Findon (winds, reeds) to round out the new line-up of Gryphon and put together what we now have in our hands, Reinvention.
Honestly, it's as if the 41 years since Treason never happened. Reinvention is not so much a 're-invention' as it is a 're-acquaintance' with an old friend. More in line with their folky 1974 album Midnight Mushrumps with a nod to their Red Queen to Gryphon Three jaunt into full-blown prog-rock, Reinvention is an instantly warm & inviting album, filled with all those lovely Gryphon characteristics that made them one of the more unique bands of the '70s. Flutes, recorders, whistles, and acoustic guitar duel & dance around each other on the complex instrumental opener "Pipe Up Downsland Derry Dell Danko", bridging the gap to the charming "Rhubarb Crumhorn", an engaging track that lets Gulland and his beloved bassoon come out and play alongside the other majestic instruments, including harpsichord. It's folky, it's proggy, but more importantly, it's just flat out lovely. Violin, recorder, keyboards, and intricate classical guitar bob and weave during "A Futuristic Auntyquarian", another can't miss instrumental that kicks off this pastoral album. Vocals make an appearance for the first time on the epic "Haddock's Eyes", a tale inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and this one floats between gentle folk to more bombastic hard prog passages, Taylor's deft acoustic guitar picking giving way to bruising hard rock riffing with Findon's sax and Prekett's violin soaring above.
For another quirky slice of medieval folk/prog, you have the enjoyable "Hampton Caught", featuring harpsichord, recorder, bassoon, crumhorn, electric guitar, and some mighty fine church organ, while "Hospitality at a Price...(Dennis)Anyone For?" drops in some crumhorn, violin, piano, and very British styled vocals. A song that only Gryphon could produce! Tricky rhythms, harpsichord, acoustic guitar, and soaring bassoon & flute drive the complex "Dumbe Dum Chit", another tune that further demonstrates just how well this band is at creating challenging music that is still pastoral in nature but containing plenty of thrilling musical passages that the prog crowd loves. "Bathsheba" lets Preskett's violin go on a tender journey, while the more Celtic sounding "Sailor V" is chock full of heart warming melodies created by pipes, violin, bassoon, acoustic guitar, and bass, with Taylor's electric guitar coming out for a fine solo at the end alongside some organ. "Ashes" is a cute little vocal piece featuring acoustic guitar picking and wispy violin, bassoon, and flute, with the haunting "The Euphrates Connection" closing things out in fine fashion, part Jethro Tull, part Gentle Giant, but ultimately all Gryphon.
Truly a wonderful & enjoyable album, Reinvention easily gets my vote for the Prog Comeback Award for 2018. This is great stuff from a band who are back in a big way, and it's also easily one of their strongest albums to date. Highest Recommendations!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Pipe Up Downsland Derry Dell Danko (4:49)
2. Rhubarb Crumhorn (5:56)
3. A Futuristic Auntyquarian (5:58)
4. Haddocks' Eyes (10:58)
5. Hampton Caught (5:12)
6. Hospitality At A Price... (Dennis) Anyone For? (3:11)
7. Dumbe Dum Chit (3:08)
8. Bathsheba (5:37)
9. Sailor V (8:37)
10. Ashes (3:32)
11. The Euphrates Connection (5:59)