|Greg Northrup||8-November-2001||Red Queen to Gryphon Three|
Gryphon - Red Queen to Gryphon Three (1974)
This album is definitely a monster, and to those with enough of an attention span, an absolutely essential British prog album. The album contains four lengthy instrumentals, and can be hard to digest at first. Musically, the music is extremely sophisticated, meticulously arranged and with what I would call a "medieval" tinge to it. Think of Gentle Giant's best work, but without the vocals, and an instrumental grandness and texture not unlike early Mike Oldfield. The depth of arrangement and care taken on the album is exemplary, with a wide variety of classical instruments (many of which I am unfamiliar with) supporting each other in extended, rich melodic themes. This was a grower for me, but it's a great album, and definitely recommended.
Gryphon was an English band which fused medieval folk music and progressive rock into a very interesting and unique sound. The main members included Richard Harvey on various keyboards and recorders, Graeme Taylor on guitar, Brian Gulland on bassoon and recorders, and David Oberle on percussion and vocals. The first album is primarily folk based; they were just getting started. A major leap in their sound was presented on Midnight Mushrumps, with the 18-minute title track infusing a much more progressive ethic into their sound. Around this time the band opened concerts for Yes and others, and this influence would work its way more into their music. Their magnum opus presented itself next with the album Red Queen to Gryphon Three. Based around the concept of a chess game, the four masterful compositions are engaging and spectacular. Raindance went back to a similar approach done with Midnight Mushrumps, where there are a series of shorter tunes capped by a side-long track. Their final album, Treason, saw Taylor leave and some new members enter the band. While the folk influence was still there, the tracks became more vocal-oriented and reminiscent of Yes. The ten- minute "Spring Song" is an excellent progressive rock epic, with the remainder of the album comprising shorter tunes. Start with Red Queen and work your way from there. Their music infuses progressive rock structures and various electric and acoustic instruments in a way I haven't heard from other bands. Most others that attempt this take a more straight-ahead folk approach, but Gryphon churned out some truly progressive music.
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