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TRACK LIST: 1. Mesmerize 4:56 2. Ghan Buri Ghan 2:51 3. Maiden Voyage (live) 5:44 4. The Brook, the Mirror, & the Maiden (live) 20:01 5. Return Voyage (live) 2:01 6. 24 Hours Past 5:29 7. Mystical Mistress 4:53 8. Dogfight 1:48 9. A Seer in the Midst 9:15 All tracks: by Craig Herlihy & Yoke Shire (1 & 2: 2002, 3 to 5: 1999, 6 to 9: 1994). LINE-UP: Craig Herlihy - - lead & backing vocals; flute & harmonica; - bass, acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin; - keyboards; drums & percussion, marimba Brian Herlihy - - electric & acoustic guitars; percussion; - backing vocals Brad Dillon (on tracks 3 to 7 & 9) - - drums & percussion, glockenspiel; backing vocals Produced & engineered by C. Herlihy. New songs recorded at "Hallowed Ground", MA.
Prolusion. Four years has passed since Yoke Shire released their debut album, the internationally acclaimed "Masque of Shadows". The band is currently a duo consisting of the Herlihy brothers, as drummer Brad Dillon quit the band for some reasons back in 2001. If you wish to read the review of "Masque of Shadows", click >here. Just comprehended that almost the surrealistic Yoke Shire is probably the (very original) derivative of Yorkshire...
Synopsis. Those acquainted with Yoke Shire's debut are certainly eager to hear more music by this remarkable band. Well, they should be much pleased to know that there are only three known tracks on "A Seer in the Midst": those forming a 'live' version of the Maiden Voyage trilogy (3 to 5). However, one of them: The Brook, the Mirror, & the Maiden (4) is not only twice as long as the original, but is also quite notably different from it. The stylistics of this 20-minute epic is quite polymorphous and contains a few different musical dimensions, among which (in a descending line): Symphonic Art-Rock, Classical Music, Space Rock, and progressive Hard Rock are prevalent. The first three fourth of the track consist of purely instrumental large-scaled (almost borderless by nature) arrangements with the stunning, incredibly diverse and virtuosi, passages of acoustic piano at the forefront of them. All four of the other core tracks of the album: the first and the last parts of the aforementioned trilogy (3 & 5), 24 Hours Past, and Mystical Mistress (6 & 7) are entities of the same style, the name of which is Yoke Shire's unique progressive Hard Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Harmonica and bass 'rule' in the instrumental parts on 24 Hours Past, and organ and guitar in those on the others. Among the amazing constituents of the music on each of these four is hypnotism. And I must admit that the sound of real Hammond organ is just wonderful and is much more impressive than that of the samples of it used in synthesizers, including even the most modern ones. Even though the short instrumental Dogfight (8) consists exclusively of guitar and bass effects, all of them are natural and create a very specific atmosphere just before the album's title track starts. So I perceive it as an intro to A Seer in the Midst, which is another great example of the boundless compositional thinking of Craig Herlihy. Here, is presented somewhat an atmospheric blend of Symphonic Art- and Space Rock with marvelously original solos of acoustic guitar and amazingly beautiful chorals, apart from the other features. Both of the new songs by the band: Mesmerize and Ghan Buri Ghan (1 & 2, composed in 2002) are as original and impressive as (the other winners of the album) The Brook, the Mirror, & the Maiden and A Seer in the Midst. Although they're rather short, the arrangements on each of them are mostly in the state of constant development and, what's important, are just filled with magic. Both of them represent a brilliant, completely unique and mostly acoustic Symphonic Art-Rock with distinctive flavors of music of the East.
Conclusion. After listening to the album, it immediately becomes obvious that Yoke Shire had a really unique stylistics from the very beginning of their activity and was always capable to introduce elements of a musical magic into their works. "A Seer in the Midst" is a complete masterpiece presenting one of the best 'acoustically analog' kinds of Progressive Rock created since the 1970s. But while the album has confirmed that Yoke Shire is really one of the most interesting acts on the contemporary Progressive Rock scene, the release of it only helped the band not to fall into oblivion. I am alarmed with the fact that Yoke Shire was able to produce only two new compositions since 1999.
VM: September 17, 2003
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