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When Gryphon were first started by Richard Harvey (recorder, keys) and Brian Gulland (bassoon, crumhorn) back in 1973 it was obvious they weren’t going to sound like anyone else, and the albums they released were a strange amalgam of medieval and progressive music, with some element of folk for good measure. The strong use of different styles of woodwind also assisted in giving their music a distinct presence, and although all five of their albums are worth investigating, the two 1974 albums ‘Midnight Mushrumps’ and ‘Red Queen To Gryphon Three’ are undoubted classics. But after 1977’s ‘Treason’ the band were no more, and Harvey made quite a name for himself firstly as a session musician before composing for theatre, TV and films. What no-one ever expected, that after a small gap of some forty years, three of the founding musicians, Graeme Taylor (acoustic and electric guitars), Dave Oberle (drums, percussion, vocals) and Brian Gulland (bassoon, bass crumhorn, baritone sax, recorders, piano, vocalisations) would feel the urge to again join together and release a brand new album. They have been joined by Graham Preskett (violin, mandolin, keyboards, harmonica), Andrew Findon (flute, piccolo, fife, soprano crumhorn, soprano sax, clarinet) and Rory McFarlane (electric and double basses) to create an album which has absolutely no right at all to be released in the 21st century, and is all the better for it. This feels more like a sequel to the classics, as opposed to something from guys who are very much older and longer in the tooth. Few progheads these days have ever experienced the delights of Gryphon, which shows just how much is lacking from their musical education, as I have loved the band for years, and a quick check of my iPhone allows me to say that I do indeed have all their albums loaded for my listening pleasure. I was in conversation with Olav one day and said I was currently listening to ‘Mushrumps’ and he was the one who told me there was a new album out, which I could hardly fathom! Mostly instrumental, Gryphon still sound just like Gryphon and like no one else at all. Progressive, medieval, folky, if nothing else this will increase the musical education of many who (like me) didn’t even realise there were both bass and soprano versions of crumhorns available! Here is a band who have stepped back onto their singular path as if they have never been away, and to say this is a delight is something of a massive understatement. I can listen to this all day and have found myself doing just that. Easy to listen to, full of light and pleasure, Gryphon are back with an album which is totally indispensable and essential. If you have not previously come across these guys then you have been missing out, and at long last there is a new album to excite and delight us all.
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