‘Tales of Power’ from Magicfolk - a dazzling album(January 06, 2012)
The memories of the Winter Solstice and Yule fade. The expectations of the awakening of Imbolc beckon. However, there’s a guaranteed way to drive enchanting light into the dark, murky recesses of January (or any other month for that matter) and that’s ‘Tales of Power’ from Magicfolk. And the seemingly interminable passage of time between this and their eponymous first album was well worth the wait. Just as deeply bathed in mystery, pagan mythology and a blend of legends; equally dreamlike and ethereal but offering a more expansive sound with a stronger, rockier delivery - this is a dazzling album.
Magicfolk are co-founders Michelle Glover (vocals, guitar, flute, piano) and Ben Glover (keyboards, acoustic guitar, bass, EWI, theremin, backing vocals) supported by Geoff Charlton (drums, congas, darabuka, marimba) Lee Morant (lead guitar) Chris Scupham (keyboards) and Rachael Murray (flute, backing vocals). There’s also an impressive list of past band members and guests playing on the album.
Opening with the delicate ‘Call Time’ you’re once again skilfully seduced by Michelle’s otherworldly voice, which remains a distinctive Magicfolk trademark; while the transition to the disquieting tale of the shape-shifting ‘Naqual’ delivers an intense guitar solo from Lee. ‘The Faery Ring’ serves up more traditional Magicfolk fare with Rachael’s precisely placed flute hovering over the vocals. The spellbinding magnetism of songs like ‘Into The Blue’ and ‘Dragonspell’ blend a miasma of styles with shades of bluesy-rock sitting alongside the gentle intricacy of psyche-folk and the insistence of razor-sharp guitar riffs. There’s something lingeringly languid yet intensely vigorous about this music - and there seems more to find each time you listen.
The insistent energy of ‘Wiccan Dance’ expands a haunting tune through its guitar, sax and drum-induced energy to drag you into its embrace. ‘Death and the Maiden’ is, as one might expect, altogether darker and more menacing with its ominous edge and Michelle’s foreboding-filled vocals, while the multi-layered dream of ‘Winged Bull’ perfectly reflects the fantastical nature of the beast.
Is it progressive folk, folk rock or psychedelia? Doesn't matter what label you attach - it's magical, enchanting and waiting to entice you. ‘Tales of Power’ demands your attention if you’re to fathom the depths of its mystery. The album exists on so many levels you will relish the time you take to plumb them all – and were that not enough, there’s a beautifully designed package too with lyrics and radiant images to relish.
Adding their talents are Colin Mold (12-string, acoustic guitar, violin ) Amber Curtis (flute) Stephen Scott (lead guitar) Matt Gamble (bass) Sotos Yiasimi (acoustic guitar) Dave Devlin (mandolin, harmonica) Stuart Burchell (piano) Lucinder Pennick (harp) Bob Fielder (piano) Mike Greenland (sax) Dorothea Bergmann (violin) with voice-over intros and interjections by Gareth Knight.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll