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(37 min, ‘Tigermoth’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Willow's Song 4:37 2. Scarborough Fair 3:31 3. Gavotte 2:44 4. First Contact 3:42 5. Sanctuary Piano Demo 1 2:14 6. Sanctuary Piano Demo 2 1:40 7. Sanctuary Piano Demo 3 2:23 8. Pirate Section Remix 2:10 9. Ommakache Remix 3:04 10. Scarborough Fair Instrumental 3:31 11. Willow's Song Extended Version 5:50 SOLO PILOT: Robert Reed – all instruments; backing vocals With: Angharad Brinn – lead vocals
Prolusion. English composer and multi-instrumentalist Robert REED is well known to fans of progressive rock, above all for being the leader of Magenta. However, he also has two solo albums to his credit, “Sanctuary” and the one under review. The title track, Willow's Song, is a ballad by American composer Paul Giovanni from the 1973 'cult' film “The Wicker Man”.
Analysis. Both of the aforementioned records were released in 2014, although this one can’t be regarded as anything other than an EP (unlike its predecessor, even though it’s almost of the same duration). Which is not only because it is stated so on its cover, but also due to its contents, since no less than seven of the eleven tracks presented are versions, remixes, etc of some of those from Robert’s earlier repertoire. The album only features Robert on all instruments plus backing vocals and a female lead vocalist Angharad Brinn. She sings on the first three tracks here, the title one, Scarborough Fair and Gavotte (embellishing all of them with her ethereal voice), all of which show the same compositional approach and are pastoral semi-acoustic ballads, blending – mainly Celtic – folk music with elements of symphonic and ambient. The fourth track, First Contact, is very much in the same vein as the first three, the only significant difference between them being the absence of any singing here. All of these are the best compositions on the disc, revealing a fine balance between electric and acoustic instruments, although they are only proto-progressive in nature, reminding me much more of Iona than either Magenta or Robin’s previous solo work. Then follow three versions of Sanctuary Piano Demo – 1, 2 and 3 respectively – brief piano new-age pieces which, while different, sound much the same, partly because of the limited instrumentation, partly because they follow one another, instead of being interspersed among the other tracks. The titles of the remaining four tracks speak well for themselves: Pirate Section Remix, Ommakache Remix, Scarborough Fair Instrumental Version and Willow’s Song Expanded Version. Celtic folk music serves as a stylistic axis for all of these, too, the first two items the only compositions on the disc that have a rock quality to them – a comparatively distinct one, to be more precise, albeit the first of them is too jovial, and the last one too groovy to please the ‘rock’ ear. The instrumental version of Scarborough Fair comes across as a sort of piece for guitars (both acoustic and electric) and mandolin, and is the fifth – and last – of the tracks here that are more or less to my liking. Finally, what expands Willow’s Song Expanded Version is a monotonous percussion solo, which has a fairly synthetic feel to it – as most of other percussion sounds on the disc do as well.
Conclusion. “Willow’s Song” is not even a full-fledged EP, but is a compilation – a rather odd one. In any case, I only can recommend it as background music.
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