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Yoke Shire (USA) - 1999 - "A Masque of Shadows"
(43 minutes, "Zygo")
******

1.  The Three Welcomes 0:59
2.  Black Tower 5:40
3.  Shape of a Dancer 4:52
4.  Magic Circle 3:44
5.  Maiden Voyage 5:10
6.  The Brook, the Mirror and the Maiden 9:21
7.  Return Voyage 2:11
8.  Ghost Notes 2:13
9.  Masque of Shadows 6:41
10. Magic Dust 1:29

All Music & Lyrics written by Craig Herlihy.
Produced by Craig Herlihy.

The "Starship" Crew / Yoke Shire On-Board Equipment:

Craig Herlihy - Commandor / lead and backing vocals;
                bass, electric and acoustic guitars;
                wind instruments; keyboards; mandolin.
Brad Dillon   - Navigator / drums and percussion; backing vocals
Brian Herlihy - Flight Engeneer / electric and acoustic guitars

Taken from the Diary of VM, also known as Progressor or Progressive Aggressor, one of the Special Space/Time Travellers/Annalists from planet Earth.

The Date of the Journey: April 3, 2000 Anno Domine.

Prologue. Quite famous already, Starship is from the Earthly Progressive Aggressive Division of Music (located in Massachusetts) with a Crew of three men and their first 'longplay' route through the musical spaces of time, and through the musical times of space. Well, I am not the first participant in a journey Yoke Shire is offering to hold in company with them, and if I say it is really a long awaited event on the horizon of the Progressive Aggressive Music Movement, the words will not sound originally. These are the spoken words. Anyhow, I must come to the same conclusion.

Journey. The Three Welcomes is a short Ritual/Test The Crew does just before starting. Can we really see what we hear? Can we really feel what we hear? Can we really realize what we hear? The Crew promised I will sense the Spirit of the good old (gold!) 70's with their exceptionally true, 'alive' sound, where there are still (yeah!) no computers nor prepared samples. It seems there is no beginning nor end to the (obvious!) interest in an honest music. So, they believe I haven't lost my ears. That's good. That's right, thank God. Although their 'invitation' prelude consists only of several diverse electric guitar soundscapes, I did realize how warm, reaching and 'tasty' they are right away. As for me personally, it was quite enough to feel the first 'portion' of pleasure before we really start.

Black Tower is the near-by planet from our starting point. Sounds that the Crew have selected to show me the musical spectrum of this planet are really very similar to our Earthly Progressively Aggressive Music of the 70's yet exceptionally original at the same time. A real 'male' lead voice, sometimes supported by good polymorphous singing, often sounds in dissonance with the current musical theme. Beyond the several absolutely different themes led by moderately heavy riffing electric guitar I hear many varied arrangements, made mainly by guitars and flutes with the help of unexpected organ 'touches' that remind me of the flashes of the stars.

Shape of a Dancer is quite spherical in shape. Although there are no 'open' cycles, and all the stars of this constellation are moving constantly in their endless development, instrumental parts change the vocal themes as if spontaneously just for the first sight. In reality all these thematical and rhythmical changes are as logical as a true science of the Progressively Aggressive Music or, for a more known example, Astro-Logica.

Magic Circle. Another constellation with the same original working of stars and all the other instruments, though this one is not spherical at all. Far voices with no words sound just sometimes in this world of pure musical sounds. The heart of an acoustic guitar is beating rhythmically into the accompaniment of silent drums. It needs to be said that some special arrangements seem hidden behind the apparent accessibility. But it is well known that myriads of constellations in the Universe of Progressive Music are far not always as simple as they seem.

Maiden Voyage. Drifting through the spiral hair in Virgo (a satellation that's also known as the 'Maiden Voyage') the beauty is overwhelming. It seems the Crew knew that I would be glad to hear the sounds of the Zodiac through the spaces of such a special constellation. I consider it as a Destination of my special voyage with Yoke Shire. The music I was listening to here, full of nostalgia, contains all the necessary 'ingredients' to be a blockbuster of the Progressive Aggressive Music of the 70's yet simultaneously it is very original and fresh, typical only for this Crew. Short vocal themes kaleidoscopically change with the diverse instrumental parts, the excellent, as always, work of rhythm-section and virtuostic lead-guitar solos... Is a picture I paint here with words instead of oil not vivid? OK, then this is music that is hidden within itself. Inside out music. Another new dimension.

The Brook, the Mirror and the Maiden is a special musical story of Virgo that the Crew told me while I was looking at this beautiful constellation. Their longest song, a song without words. Really, there's no need for words to show the beaty of Virgo. I heard it with pleasure: a wonderful polymorphous vocalization, lots of other spacey sounds of the Universe played on 'alive' (made of wood!) instruments - a flute, piano, acoustic guitar, mandolin, hand percussives... But the Universe is like a Mirror, a Mirror of our Earthly existense, a Mirror for itself. I did understand it when I was listening to splashes of water of our Earthly Brook and imagining a Virgo looking at it to see her own reflection.

Return Voyage. Yes, it's time to go home. We left the spiral hair of Virgo for our Solar System, for our 'current' year 2000 Anno Domine. After the run the Crew performed a short farewell anthem - in their firm (already!) manner.

Ghost Notes are really just the few musical notes-themes the Crew left in the space. Incidentally, these (few!) melodies-words weren't played for nothing by any means. They are Magical. Sad to admit, I don't know why exactly Ghost Notes, but I liked them anyway. Though (I wanted to say "Just a thought"), maybe, the name of the Ghost's eternal wife is not Magica, but Water?

Yes, Masque of Shadows is the official name of the route The Yoke Shire Starship Crew are offering to hold. But, also it is their 'special', a firm piece made in their original stylistics specially for this exact route. On the whole, it sounds typical for this Crew, though some specific arrangements remind me once again: don't be in a hurry listening to this kind of music. To possible readers of my Diary, I can only recommend the same.

The Magic Dust is a short 'piano epilogue', the end of our journey. It's title possibly is dedicated to all of us because, being on Earth, all we are just a dust in the wind. The Magic Dust, though, sounds a bit more optimistic. Anyway, since we have Music, all our Dreams remain with us.

Summary. It is obvious, the roots of the music I heard being in journey with Yoke Shire are somewhere in the beginning of the 70's, but... even the same sound is already very fresh and original, not to mention, there are lots of the new ideas. Yes, it is the sound of the Three who are really able to sound as a sextet, though there are very few overdubs in their programme. There is a place for lots of various instruments within the framework of the only song, any song on the 'Masque of Shadows' route. Such a special programme (IMHO) must be a stage, an impulse to the return of the really obvious interest in Progressive Music as it was in the good old years... Anyway, the step forward towards the general public is done - by the Crew called Yoke Shire. A quite witty step, quite wise step.

VM. April 5, 2000


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