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Willowglass - 2005 - "Willowglass"

(46 min, 'Willowglass')


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Peace 1:26
2.  Remembering 8:34
3.  Garden 8:15
4.  Interlude No-1 1:36
5.  Tower of the King's Daughter 7:10
6.  Summer's Lease 0:18
7.  Into the Chase 4:29
8.  A Blinding Light 6:36
9.  Waking the Angels 5:45
10. The End 1:46

All tracks: by Marshall.
Produced by Marshall.

LINEUP:

Andrew Marshall - guitars, bass; keyboards; flute; drums
Dave Brightman - drums

Prolusion. WILLOWGLASS is a vehicle for English multi-instrumentalist and composer Andrew Marshall. The eponymous Willowglass album is his first solo release, although Andrew played in various local groups in Yorkshire over the last 20 years.

Analysis. I always treated so-called solo pilots warily, as their inability to reproduce a full-fledged Prog Rock sound already had time to become the talk of the town. So prior to listening to the album, I most of all feared that "drums" would be a drum machine. Thankfully, I was mistaken in that presupposition. Along with electric, acoustic and classical guitars, keyboards, flute and bass, Andrew plays mainly real acoustic drums, as does his only assistant, Dave Brightman (on a few tracks). With the exception of those on one composition, which I will name in due time, the arrangements for each of the instruments involved were well thought-out, with the distinct division of their 'authorities'. All in all, most of the content of this 10-track instrumental album has a saturated sonic palette and a solid, almost authentic full-band sound. To be more precise, this remark concerns five out of the six longer compositions: Remembering, Garden, Tower of the King's Daughter, Into the Chase and A Blinding Light, having much in common with each other. They run about 35 minutes, which is close to the average duration of the albums Steve Hackett did between 1978 and 1983, which, in turn, isn't an abstract conclusion. The echoes of said period of the former Genesis guitar player's solo creation can be easily heard on each of these, though the second half of Remembering is just Pink Floyd 'while visiting' "The Dark Side of the Moon". That said, only that track and Garden, which is just Hackett 'while watching' "Spectral Mornings", openly reveal derivative features. The other three are much more original and are noticeably more diverse in addition. The music is a fine combination of electric and acoustic textures, with the wide (and fully justified, to say the least) use of Mellotron samples and a good chordal and rhythmic development. While moving in a similar direction, the next to last track: Waking the Angels has no tempo changes and is the one with a drum machine instead of drums. I also disliked its follow-up, The End, where there is nothing apart from the ordinary bass solos. As to the other brief pieces, they are good, especially Interlude No 1, which is music for classical guitar. Peace and Summer's Lease are Ambient-like adaptations of Classical music.

Conclusion. The album doesn't set any new standards; there are no storms of virtuosity or highly intricate arrangements either, but nevertheless, this is a very decent debut effort overall. Fans of an average symphonic Art-Rock of the end of the '70s, above all those into Steve Hackett and Camel, might want to check out Willowglass.

VM: September 12, 2005


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