But Red Queen is so much more than just a good instrumental album. It is one of the most musically articulate and painstakingly arranged feasts ever assembled. It merges progressive folk and symphonic rock with both renaissance longings but also crisp modern chops and attitude. With long well-planned compositions and virtuoso performances taking the place of vocal distractions Red Queen is the perfect album for allowing yourself to be carried away to.
Never listen to this album while distracted by other people or tasks. This is music that requires your full attention and should really be heard on headphones with eyes closed and mind engaged in listening mode. There is simply too much happening and changing too quickly to do a proper track by track description of the songs. Suffice to say that each song builds and winds back and forth through moments of symphonic and folk prog grandeur, lush keyboard and piano passages, elegant guitars and percussion, and of course we cannot forget the krumhorns and bassoon!
The production is just outstanding and the sound quality of the Japanese remaster is breathtaking. The wonderful album cover art only adds to the completeness of what many consider a masterpiece of s prog. Their affinity for the electric sound they had only recently added is nothing short of amazing, and their sound is exciting and blends their previous acoustic focus well with their new synthesizers and electric guitars.
Bands like The Strawbs and Steeleye Span produced some interesting blends of early English music and rock, but no one came anywhere close to the mastery of Gryphon, and Gryphon made their premiere musical statement with this release. Recommended to anyone who loves complex music that is lively in nature and presented with great flair and superb artistry.
Anyhow, I'm quite serious about this record rivalling Close to the Edge. Until , prog rock bands were writing epics based on the venerable Mellotron model that Fripp had pioneered back with In the Court of the Crimson King. With Close to the Edge, Yes broke away from that after having first updated the sound of the original Mellotron epic with things like Yours is No Disgrace and Heart of the Sunrise.
A new complexity was introduced, and a few acts bravely followed Yes into the breach, most notably by our friends being discussed here, Gryphon.
Red Queen to Gryphon Three contains four approximately ten minute compositions of considerable complexity, exotic instrumentation, and extremely skilled musicianship. Gryphon's background in medieval and renaissance music hasn't entirely dissappeared, but it has become subservient to their understanding of how to play prog.
The music is well written, interesting, and quite capable of carrying the listener through the album without any extraneous vocals.
Listening to this makes me wish that Mike Oldfield had had a formal music background before he began work on Tubular Bells. OK, I've told you all of the good things. Great and complex prog rock here, with a bit of folk influence and a lot of instrumental fun. So what are the bad parts? Seriously, none. And that's why I have to give this five stars. Not only is it great music, but there are no real flaws that the music has to overcome.
So, if you like the best of symphonic prog and haven't yet heard this, you are missing something extremely important.
The piano that follows is excellent. The flute led passage with bassoon 4 minutes in I do not like at all. Overall a good opening track. Then we get a nice heavy sound a minute in. Some weird sounds honk then we get the krumhorn. Marching style drums follow. This is my least favourite song. Terrific sound. It changes 3 minutes in to a darker mood. Piano takes over briefly. Very good section from 7 minutes to after 8 minutes. A very highly rated album that wouldn't make my top By the way i've played this to death lately thinking something would click, but as I said in the intro there are certain styles of music that I have difficulty enjoying, including this one.
I hesitate to call this Prog rock. There is not much rock in it, even if much more so than the almost all acoustic debut, of course. The electric bass guitar is well played and sounds similar to many Symphonic Prog bands, but apart from that there is really nothing to put this in the same category as those bands.
In some sense, yes. But rock it is not, really. Though, the beginning of Checkmate sure sounds more than a bit like Gentle Giant. While there is absolutely no doubt about their impressive instrumental prowess and their ability to spit out many fun musical ideas, they had a lot to learn about composition and arrangement. While much stronger compositionally than the Midnight Mushrumps track, the four compositions that make up Red Queen To Gryphon Three still have something of a Mike Oldfield structure; they jump from one theme to another, and then to another, and then to yet another - but they never really progress.
They are full of interesting musical ideas, but they are still somewhat directionless. Ein Klein Heldenleben on their next album would further improve in this respect. Not really my cup of tea, I'm afraid. Opening Move- Wow, what an opening move this is! The piano in the beginning is simply genius, and all the instruments fall into place with perfection. This song was responsible for my love with the bassoon. Every moment is magic and this song is so peaceful. Second Spasm- All the instruments are amazingly played once again and the song is enjoyable.
This one is not as serene and peaceful as the first song, but it still strikes me as being beautiful. I love the part about three minutes into the song where the bassoon and Krumhorns go solo. The folk feel is awesome. Lament- Gryphon continues their brilliance, this time more in the vein of what the song title suggests. Who would have thought a lament could be so emotional yet uplifting simultaneously?
The song structure is again meticulously crafted and all the instruments form a wonderful blend of medieval progressive music. The ending gets me every time. Checkmate- The complex beauty ends on an interesting note with this last song, which tells you that it won't be a repeat of any of the previous songs simply from its ever-changing intro.
At times this song has a march feel to it, signifying the last of the troops going out to battle in the chess game. What else is there to say? They somehow manage to finish this album with another unique composition with wonderful composition and amazing instrumentation. Do yourself a favor and hear it for yourself!
This is a decidedly over-produced album with plenty of juicy arrangements, good playing and promising segments, but, taken as a whole, as a voyage from A to Z, it seems to have become mired around D. Certain parts of each track grant small liberties to the prog folk that is trying desperately to emerge with a melody that might be remembered 5 seconds after it has played. The most of these parts occur on the original side 1 before they detour via fusion, and unfortunately Gryphon is not nearly as good a fusion band as a folk band.
In fact the synthesizers in the more frenzied segments are pithy and utterly lacking in dynamics and warmth. This coldness is also at the heart of my problem with the album.
I admit that I like some folk with my prog folk and some melodic with my symphonic prog, so please consider that when comparing my review to the accolades generally presented on this page. Not bad, but I much prefer the two earlier albums. At least this still sounds original and distinctive, unlike a lot of prog bands I could mention. Good, but nothing more than good, and I really don't see what all the fuss is about.
I picked up this album based on the sample here, and was a little surprised. Folk has a lot of definitions, and at first, this album didn't match mine at all. This is not acoustic strummy music, and it doesn't resemble 60's psychedelia either. What's more this album is all instrumental, so the deep lyric themes or storytelling one normally associates with American Folk are absent also.
So what does the uninitiated fan actually get? More than anything, this sounds like classic 70's symphonic prog, with the addition of the infamous krumhorn. The music is very classically inspired, with added rock instrumentation. Like GG, there can be rapid shifts between sections, though none of the dissonance.
The performances are very good and the players skilled. The album comes in four approximately ten minute sections. Opening Move, is very classical in feel and composition. The horn plays a large part, and there is plenty of interplay and counterpoint between the various instruments. It comes to a climax with an increasingly chaotic cascade of sixteenths before a slow finish.
Second Spasm opens with pastoral whimsy with flute and guitar in a Celtic feel before classic prog sounding guitars take over the melodies. The themes repeat over with numerous variations and keyboard breaks, some humorous, others heavy. Lament is more pastoral and sad in tone, again starting with strummy guitar and flute.
Krumhorn takes the theme, and then the duo play in harmony. Three minutes in, a completely new movement starts in complex time, darker even than the beginning section, the horn at the low end of its range. At another movement begins, much more rocking than anything we've seen before, with lots of cymbals and frolicking bass. This evolves into something actually resembling prog folk for a short while before the horns bring us back into symphonic territory, again reprising the main melodic themes.
Checkmate starts in fine classic prog keyboard fashion, very reminiscent of Gentle Giant. The flute gets an extended solo spot over only drums, and then we get a more composed section with classical counterpoint. It weaves from light to dark and ends with a series of solos including a Wakeman-esque key climax before the final reprise. This listens like a piece of classical music. It requires attention, but the reward is certainly there.
I've had this album for months now and only now feel like I can give it a fair review. It's pretty unassuming, and at first seemed somewhat unimpressive to me.
But with time, I've grown to appreciate that it's a fairly unique true fusion of classical music with rock instruments. Though I would call this symphonic in the truest sense, it still would be an excellent part of any prog collection. So as a result we have enough static chamber music with some rock elements not too much. Fully instrumental album contains just four long compositions,complex enough to be placed under the "progresive rock" label.
Music itself is pleasant, but not so bright to be attractive by itself too much. Nice acoustic atmosphere all around. Again, too long and too cold pieces to attract your attention for long. You can be attracted by very balanced sound, high technigue of musicanship, nice melted baroque and English folk melodies, but Possibly, very English album. And I am affraid, folk-prog isn't my cup of tea. I don't edit much, as I mostly review when I feel like I have heard enough.
And with this music I'll never have enough. Hope their other albums are as good as this. Let's the obvious out of the way: This is not Prog Folk music. It sounds like very well-played, well-composed Symphonic Rock. Nothing wrong with that, but don't go into this expecting Jethro Tull. Even Thick as a Brick wasn't as full-fledged Symphonic as this. Just not nearly as exciting.
That doesn't mean I don't like it, though. It just means that it will take longer to grow on you than other, more prominent Prog works. Well, that really depends on how open-minded you are in your musical taste. Since you're on a Prog Rock site, I would assume that means you are more game than most to jump in to uncharted waters, but that still doesn't guarantee you'll actually enjoy this album. On the one hand, you have a clear dedication to the music, and these guys were surely working hard at making a complex, all- instrumental album, and they certainly succeeded at that.
But on the other hand, you have to wonder if the band were actually concerned with the album itself being listenable for long periods of time. I would say not, since this type of music is as far from Pop music as you can get. They knew they were making something not that easy to digest, and maybe they didn't even care about that much. But if you want to draw in a large audience, you need to make sure your music's complexity doesn't overshadow the music itself, if that makes sense.
I have grown to appreciate this album a lot more than I initially did, and I do think it's worth coming back to, because a lot of beautiful musical moments do begin to shine through after a while, but I do have some issues here, as well. Much of the more negative criticisms already present on this page are very true.
A lot of the passages DO feel slapped together without any true structure, which causes the album to feel disjointed at times. The more frenzied sections DO lack warmth, in my opinion. But those moments are few, and you can still appreciate the bigger picture without focusing on the small and minute. My personal problem, however, is that the small and minute aspects of music are sometimes the most important parts to me. It's a shame that such good musicianship can be so aimless at times.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: If you're already a fan of this approach to music, you will most likely enjoy the record in any case. But if you don't typically go for this stuff, you're going to have to ask yourself a very simple question: are you willing to allow this type of music to grow on you, or not?
If you give it time, this album may reveal itself over time as being one of your more intelligent records. If you don't want to give it a chance to grow on you, then you'll probably not ever appreciate it. It's a really tough call to make. Because of that, I don't think I'm going to recommend this.
It's only for those listeners who willingly choose to seek this type of stuff out, and won't really appeal to a large amount of people-- even in Prog circles! At least, not right now.
Maybe generations from now, Red Queen to Gryphon Three will be hailed as a masterpiece, but for now I wholeheartedly believe that it belongs exactly where it currently is-- just enough below the radar for its specific audience to discover and enjoy it.
Everybody else should approach it with caution. Beautiful at certain moments, but hard to digest the rest of the time. Gryphon got noticed by many progrock fans when they opened for Yes during their North American Tour in They also performed on Steve Howe's solo album "Beginnings". Subsequent albums would become increasingly commercial, straying from the instrumentation, arrangements and compositional style that make this album, and the band, so unique and vital.
Red Queen to Gryphon Three is a bit of an interesting case for me. Even though I'm usually not that interested in instrumental music, Gryphon's third album often considered to be their masterpiece was on very heavy rotation in my household slightly over a year ago.
I absolutely loved the virtuosity of the musicians, the medieval tone, and the breathtaking beauty on some of the songs here. Even though I can still appreciate most of the compositions and, of course, the fantastic musicianship, Red Queen to Gryphon Three has lost a bit of my interest and I rarely play it anymore. When I do hear the album, I'm usually entertained, but not quite blown away like I used to be.
I am a fan of Anthony Phillips and Renaissance, and to some extent I am a fan of this album. As mentioned, I love a lot of aspects of Red Queen to Gryphon Tree , but a lot of the music simply fails to grab me, despite its obvious high quality. As mentioned earlier, the music played here is medieval-sounding instrumental symphonic prog folk. If you like bands like Genesis, Renaissance, and Anthony Phillips mixed with the instrumental virtuosity of bands like Anglagard, this Gryphon album should appeal to you.
Don't be fooled by the "prog folk" labeling this album often garners. This is pure symphonic prog with some folk and medieval influences, but it is first and foremost a symphonic album.
Don't go in here expecting Jethro Tull or Comus although the influence from these bands is evident at times. The musicianship here is great. I assume that all of the musicians are classically trained, as there are evident influences from the renaissance and baroque eras of classical music. The addition of generally unused instruments in prog rock really adds another dimension to Gryphon's music. And Brian sure as heck can play the bassoon! The production is one of the best in the 70's.
It's clean, dynamic, and the mixing is spot on. Nothing more I could ask from an organic seventies production. Conclusion: Red Queen to Gryphon Three is a small classic in the seventies progressive rock scene, and is worth hearing at least once by any prog fan. Even though I don't enjoy this album as much as some other people do, it is hard to deny its quality and innovative nature.
I'll give this album a confident 3. If I were to rate this album about a year ago, it would have been an easy 4. If you're interested in hearing what prog would've sounded like in , this is definitely an album worth hearing. And so I had to go for it, right? After first few listening sessions I wasn't really blown away or even impressed I must admit but this is indeed an album that has to grow on you although in my case I will hardly ever go from being underwhelmed to overwhelmed because one or two spins usually gives me a fairly good idea of what my connection to any album is.
And also in the case of Gryphon's magnum opus my appreciation hasn't increased from low to very high but at least it went up so that's positive.
Another challenge for me was to find out which of the four pieces I liked best but that proved a bit too hard honestly. At first I thought second spasm was my favorite part, later on I favoured Lament but my next thought was: why is it actually better than the opening move or Checkmate?
Actually I haven't got a clue and in the end I feel all four parts are pretty equal. All four are a combination of ancient medieval if you wish and modern music and to be honest I don't think prog folk is the most accurate subgenre for this album.
My already mentioned increasing appreciation has led from a 3,25 score to a 3,75 after many more listenings. So I will round up after all because this is above all true prog that should be checked out by serious followers of our genre.
Not a downright masterpiece though imho. Any classic prog fan will be happy with the power, grandiosity and familiarity of the sound here as Gryphon courts Yes, Genesis, and Gentle Giant in influences, particularly the last one mentioned. But Gryphon are not about to clone anyone, for they have the bassoon and krumhorn at their will; in the bassoon's case, they chuck that instrument all over the album not surprising since bassoonist Brian Gulland had a hand in writing all of the songs.
Not to flog a dead horse, but the compositions remind me of Gentle Giant with more Renaissance diversions, especially if you hear Phillip Nestor's bass figures. Again, the wind instruments put Gryphon in their own class, but Graeme Taylor's beautiful guitar characterisations are so poignant, yet uplifting that they are a quiet highlight.
The problem here is that the album tires by ''Lament''; the great run that ''Opening Move'' and ''Second Spasm'' take just sputter out leaving ''Checkmate'' as a rather familiar yet unfitting closing track. Gryphon's take on progressive rock is an odd one, but a take that symphonic lovers will enjoy and eclectic-minded fans can respectfully appreciate. Thick electric bass is prominent throughout despite use of horns and recorders.
At the two minute mark the band falls away so that antique percussives and soprano recorder can have some time. Bass, electric guitar, organ, and drums soon join in. Soprano recorder carries the lead into a slow dreamy section with slow strums from string and piano before bassoon takes the lead with piano in lone accompaniment.
At an odd electronic keyboard enters before bassoon tries to take on a slowed-down variation of the opening melody. Snare, electric bass, piano and guitar take the next turn before high-pitched electronic keyboard spits out a few. The constructs are intricate and fast-changing as on the previous album but the electronic instruments and electronic effects are all new. I understand the desire to experiment and grow, but the "old" way was pretty cool.
In the second verse of this movement some kind of synth is used to mirror and mimick the guitar and bass melody line. Have fun and enjoy the use of our website. IsraBox - Music is Life! Gryphon - Raindance , Rock. The group's fourth album is more electronic than folk, and, indeed, the electronics are dominated by Richard Harvey's electronic keyboards.
While some progressive rock can seem over the top or contrived, Gryphon mixes subtlety with diversity to formulate beautiful streamlined music. The use of the bassoon and krumhorn gives this album depth and a profound musical element not found in other bands of the same nature.
The tempos and accents express moods that are structured for each piece precisely, such as the brainstorming arrangements in "Opening Move" and the victorious finale heard throughout "Checkmate," the last song on the album.
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