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Gryphon

Reinvention

Review by Gary Hill

I recently reviewed a compilation set from this outfit. This is their new release. It is set pretty firmly in an olde-worlde folk style. That said, there are still rock, jazz and other elements at play at various points. The combination of sounds land this under progressive rock, but you might find the "rock" part of that equation largely AWOL. That isn't a bad thing by any means, though. It's just a bit of a "content advisory." The bulk of this is instrumental, but a number of songs do have vocals. If you like adventurous music that mostly leans back toward a long forgotten era, but still manages to bring it into the modern, sometimes rocking, age, this is for you.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Pipe Up Downsland Derry Dell Danko
A dancing flute (or I think more likely fife) opens this track. The cut grows out from there with a folk prog kind of sound gradually becoming the driving force. There is a lot of world music and a real playful, celebratory element here. This has a real olde-worlde vibe to it. The first three and a half minutes or so of this cut are purely instrumental. Then some olde-worlde folk music (read "minstrel") vocals join to move the piece forward. This feels very much like the kind of thing you'd hear at a Renaissance Faire.
Rhubarb Crumhorn
Classical music on a flute or fife opens this piece. The track gets into more of a folk based arrangement from there. While this has an olde-worlde tone, too, it feels a bit more contemporary than the opener did. This instrumental is classy.
A Futuristic Auntyquarian
The olde-worlde folk music elements are all over this arrangement. It has plenty of classical music in the mix, too. Yet there are also hints of progressive rock here, too. There are some parts of this that feel more like an olde-worlde ELP. The  instrumental cut also wanders into some rather psychedelic territory at times.
Haddocks' Eyes
Coming upward gradually and gently, there is an almost horror movie soundtrack vibe to this. It's quite classical in tone and style as it makes its way. As it approaches the minute and half mark some acoustic guitar brings an almost folk rock vibe to the table, but only in small degrees. The two musical element work together for a time. Then around the two minute mark this shifts to a Celtic folk styled rocker. It's acoustic based and quite classy. The shifts and changes continue beyond there with an intricate instrumental section. Then it powers up to a more energized return to the folk rocking movement. It's more folk and less Celtic this time, though. This really does have a lot of progressive things underway in the complex and ever-changing arrangement. Perhaps there isn't much "rock" music here, in the early portions. Around the six minute mark, though, electric guitar joins, and this thing fires out into some seriously hard rocking jamming that has a lot of fusion built into it. It's a real powerhouse. The vocals return over this more rocking section later. It drops to mellower stuff fairly shortly, though, carrying onward with another folk based movement. An almost marching band styled arrangement takes over further down the road, bringing an energized and playful vibe with it. Again, it grounds back to the mellower folk stuff, this time dropped way down, beyond that section. That movement takes the song to its close. This piece is an epic one, and the longest of the disc, at nearly eleven minutes.
Hampton Caught

Gentle and intricate olde-worlde music begins this cut. It grows upward gradually from there. This is more sound that seems like it would be appropriate at a Ren-Faire. This instrumental works through a number of movements and moods. At times it powers to some of the most "rock" oriented stuff here. There are some cool keyboard sounds in the mix, and the guitar solo has a great tone.

Hospitality At A Price... Anyone For?
This reminds me of the playful old-time cuts that Queen would sometimes do ("Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon," anyone?). It's an effective number with some interesting changes. Around the two minute mark they take it into an almost jazzy, but still quirky and playful motif. The piece works from there to something that feels like it would have been at home as the soundtrack to a Charlie Chaplin movie. We're taken back into the song proper from there before this draws to a close.
Dumbe Dum Chit
Another playful introduction starts this piece. It grows outward from there. The olde-worlde elements merge well on this folk prog instrumental.
Bathsheba
While the olde-worlde sounds are still at play here, they are tempered with hints of jazz and actual progressive rock. This cut has some interesting shifts and changes reflecting different moods and movements. Another instrumental, this tune really does rise more into pure progressive rock than a lot of the other pieces here do. It's a nice ride.
Sailor V
Pretty and gentle, folk music merges with olde-worlde sound here. Of course, that second element is really just the folk music of its era.  A faster paced movement later brings more rock (albeit acoustic folk rock) to the table. There are hints of Jethro Tull in the mix of this instrumental along with some real Celtic elements. The section around the five and a half minute mark really rocks. The electric guitar solo further down the road paints some great sonic artwork.
Ashes
After some strictly instrumental tunes, the vocals quickly stand this in contrast to those numbers. It's a folk styled song with some hints of jazz and classical music in the mix. It's rather intricate and energetic. It has a real old-fashioned sound at its core.
The Euphrates Connection
Coming in very mellow and sparse, this has some pretty melodic moments in this early section. Other instruments join, and the cut works to another folk styled number. It drops for an acapella vocal performance. At first it's just one voice, but then it gets augmentation. The piece works outward sans voice from there in a rather classical way. As it continues to evolve, there are some real olde-worlde sounds at play. Then around the two and a half minute mark, this gets electrified, and they move it outward to a hard rocking old school prog rock jam from there. It twists and turns along the road, hitting some tastefully strange territory. Some screaming jazz is heard, lending an early King Crimson vibe at points. After the three and a half minute mark, it drops to just keyboards to continue. The composition shifts toward more classically styled sounds as it works forward. Yet a twangy guitar at points lends some different textures. That movement eventually fades downward to end things.
 
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