'MAGICFOLK' (2007) - REVIEWS
 
 
Terrascope - "an excellent debut"
  Magicfolk’ is the debut album of Norfolk-based pagan psych-folk outfit Magicfolk. The band have been going since 2003, experiencing various additions and changes to their line-up over the last five years, so that they have become a seven-piece. But now their album is here: twelve tracks parcelled up in an attractive sea-blue wrapper. Just looking at the song titles gives the listener an idea of what territory the band come from. The lyrics are heavy with Greek, Egyptian and Celtic pagan references; the music essentially acoustic, with electric and ethnic elements.  
   
   
   
   
  The opening track “Green Man” is a folky number, in ¾ time for that authentic feel, though here the progressive influence is strong. “Sheba” has great vocals and harmony vocals from Michelle Glover, and a smattering of ethnic percussion. The third track “Persephone” is perhaps the most obviously psych-folk of any on the album, and recalls the music of Circulus, to great effect. “Little Spirit” has a great tune, Spanish guitar, and very good vocals, while “Aibo” is a weird little song with science-fiction lyrics. More Egyptian-themed lyrics arrive with “Heliopolis”, and then we’re into “Angel”, a Spanish-guitar infused paeon to angelic protection. The strange time-signatures of “Furies” (5/8 and 7/8 I believe) launch a very weird track, filled with screaming vocals and some fine electric guitar shredding; this track reminded me strongly of ‘eighties festie band The Ullulators. The track leads the listener on to “Egypt”, which could have come from a ‘seventies album by that fine folk-prog group Renaissance; great flute playing, and another strong song. Saxophone underpins the keening “Narcissus”, then we have the chilled acoustic balladry and piano of “Diving Bell”. The concluding track, “Sea Priestess”, is the best track on the album, with a great chorus and some particularly good electric guitar playing. It’s much longer than the other tracks too – a superb conclusion, especially as we fade out into ocean sounds...  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  I liked this album a lot. It is original, well played, and very well produced. While it does stay within the realm of psych-folk for its duration, the themed lyrics make the album stand out. The keyboards have the feel of ECM jazz albums, lending the music another unusual aspect. But the playing throughout is good, and Michelle Glover’s voice suits the material perfectly. An excellent debut, recommended to those into Circulus, Mellow Candle or Renaissance.  
   
   
   
     
  Classic Rock Society Magazine - "musical shores of Iona"  
  My compass-needle glided between the musical shores of Iona and the atmospheric realms of Mermaid Kiss! A compelling mix of quality female vocals, keyboards, flute, acoustic and electric guitars, and the core ingredients of songs written by founders Michelle (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), and Ben Glover (bass, additional keys). Highlights include catchy opener Green Man: clever word-play with story-telling, cinematic-lyrics; Aibo (Artificial Intelligence roBOt): a haunting Sci-Fi tinged song with wry humour; Diving Bell: mysterious and moody it sets the scene with bell-clear acoustic guitar and emotive vocals, clever piano and nice synth-washes! A delightful slow-burner; growing brighter with each listen, to reveal more depths.  
   
   
     
     
     
       
    Exposé Magazine - "like the bright sun burning through the morning fog"  
    Like the bright sun burning through the morning fog, Magicfolk come bearing tradition, vision, passion and mysticism. On this, their debut, the seven-piece is blessed with the beautiful lead voice of Michelle Glover (who also plays acoustic guitar and handles much of the composition), and backed by two additional female voices within the band (guitarist Vicky Grady and Josephone, who doubles on flute, sax and bass clarinet). The four remaining players handle keyboards, lead guitar, bass, drums and percussion. The material here was written and recorded over a five year period, and many of the songs feature players and vocalists from earlier versions of the band, plus some guests also; even as such, the result is surprisingly consistent across the twelve pieces presented. Stylistically, they are somewhere between the late-sixties West Coast folk-rock sound (think PBC or earliest Airplane) and the British progressive folk-rock of the late sixties and early seventies, though one might hear many similarities to the early (pre-symphonic) work of contemporaries Iona. These ears often hear a sound reminiscent of the British progressive band Solstice on their early outings Silent Dance and New Life. "Heliopolis" is a case in point: after the first vocal section, the band revs up for a restless workout on multiple guitars with bass clarinet that would make the crimson king proud. The blood-curdling screams on "Furies" that give way to a blistering guitar lead is another. All taken, an excellent slab of modern British folk-hippie-rock that most will enjoy.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
       
    Judas Kiss Magazine - "the enchanted kingdom of Magicfolk"  
    Norfolk-based psychedelic folk band Magicfolk were founded in 2003 as an acoustic trio, but their sound has evolved and expanded, with the band now featuring seven regular members as well as a number of guest musicians. The core of the band is the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Michelle and Ben Glover. Michelle handles lead vocals and also plays acoustic guitar, whilst Ben also plays guitar and some bass, and writes a lot of the lyrics and music. Michelle’s mellifluous lead vocals are augmented by the two other female members of the band, guitarist Vicky Grady and Josephone, who plays flute, sax and clarinet, to produce beautiful three-part choral harmonies, and the band’s sound is rounded out with the addition of drums, bass, keyboards, lead electric guitar from Andy Hines, and an occasional sprinkling of other instruments such as bouzouki and banjo. The twelve tracks on this self-released debut album are all original, with strong lyrics based around pagan, pastoral and mythological themes, obvious in titles such as ‘Green Man’, ’Persephone’ and ‘Sea Priestess’. Magicfolk’s music is heavily indebted to the West Coast acid rock of late 60s bands like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead as well as British folk revival bands like Pentangle and Mellow Candle. The soaring guitar adds a strong psychedelic accent to songs which would otherwise be fairly straightforward acoustic folk. Songs which stood out for me included ‘Furies’, probably the noisiest and hardest-rocking track here, which has spoken-word vocals in Greek (the only male vocals on the album), as well as wild incantatory screaming reminiscent of Diamanda Galás at her most frenzied – which is a good thing! The smooth prog-rock flute, funky bassline and harmony vocals of closing track ‘Sea Priestess’, which has lyrics adapted from the novel of the same name by occultist Dion Fortune, are very satisfying too. Magicfolk’s closest contemporaries are probably Circulus and the Greek band Défilé Des Âmes, so if you like those bands, I really recommend checking out Magicfolk.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
       
    The Magicfolk album was formerly available for download from Woven Wheat Whispers, the now sadly extinct folk music download service, but I'm sure the band has copies available. Plans are already afoot for the recording of the second Magicfolk album, and I did hear a rumour to the effect that Magicfolk are going to feature on an upcoming folk compilation album, so look out for those. But alas and alack, it’s now time to depart from the enchanted kingdom of Magicfolk and move on to my next review, which happens to be some super-harsh power electronics. Working for the Judas Kiss isn’t all mermaids and unicorns, you know…  
     
     
     
     
       
    Sentireascoltare Magazine - "illusorio gioco di specchi"  
    Il debutto di questo settetto del Norfolk è tra i dischi più sorprendenti che mi sia capitato di recente. E pensare che non gli mancherebbero i requisiti per finire d’amblé liquidato: dall’artwork vagamente new age a quei titoli che sprizzano mitologismo più esteriore che altro, per arrivare ovviamente alle canzoni, tutte originali eppure capaci di sembrare altrettante cover degli empiti nostalgici - o se volete delle ossessioni - di Michelle e Ben Glover, fondatori del combo nonché autori di quasi tutto il repertorio. Ossessioni a base di folk psichedelico sbilanciato prog, mistura Jefferson Airplane, Clannad e Fairport Convention con additivi Jethro Tull, spore Pink Floyd e - massì - un velo di emulsione Dead Can Dance: perlopiù materiale da festival muffoso tendente alla festa di San Patrizio? No. Non solo, almeno. Il sortilegio in qualche modo attraversa le membrane degli altoparlanti e ti fodera d’un incanto convincente. Tutto appare consono nel suo sottovuoto autoreferenziale, coerente, attuale e completo. Ricco addirittura coi flauti e i sax che guizzano improvvisi a baluginare apparizioni Catapilla, con la voce bella ma bella davvero di Michelle ad assolvere la fin troppo algida epifania dei synth, coi controcanti e le tessiture di chitarra e l’improvviso spasmo elettrico e un senso di delirio che infebbra le visioni arcadiche. Autoreferenziale se e quanto volete, chiuso nel proprio illusorio gioco di specchi, ma in grado di strapparsi una propria lucida ragion d’essere. La quale – che altro dire? - diverte. (7/10)  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
       
    FolkWords - "a raft of magical spells... a silver blade wrapped in lace"  
    Last week a CD arrived with a herald’s caduceus on the front and a seagull in flight on the back cover. Do you know what? That CD from Magicfolk heralded fantastic flights of musical and lyrical fancy mixed with a touch of pagan lore, medieval storytelling and a gentle otherworldly air. Magicfolk blend tantalisingly delicate music with wistful poetic meandering lyrics. Then when you’ve been gently wafted into a dreamlike trance by Michelle Glover’s fey voice backed by some lovingly layered harmonies and Miki Kovalkovic’s haunting keyboards, striking guitar breaks from Andy Hines and Tom Abbott take the enchantment to another level.  
     
     
     
     
       
    ‘Green Man’ opens the album - some interesting lyrics here … “walk with the Green man, take the contra-flow, you don’t need traffic signs to follow the Ley lines.” It’s a gentle exploration of folklore and mystical thought. ‘Persephone’ is one of those songs that instantly entices - Michelle’s tranquil vocals are breathtaking, and Josephine’s flute hovers round your ears. ‘Furies’ has some hidden menace lurking in there - Ben Glover’s bass drives the song while ethereal screams and words prowl between the music and lyrics. Definitely a track to play with the lights out but make sure there’s someone to hold your hand. "Sea Priestess" positively rocks - but their delicate touch is still there. It’s a silver blade wrapped in lace as the vocals wrap around you while the keyboards and guitars slice like swirling knives.  
     
     
     
     
     
       
    The list of performers is wide and varied (much like everything about Magicfolk) the sleeve notes credit numerous musicians and voices. Magicfolk’s music would never pass the Old Grey Whistle Test (the ability to whistle the tune on one hearing) but that’s not what they’re about. Magicfolk construct a complex potion of sounds using instruments and voices to seduce your ears. If you want to slide off this planet with all its cares and go somewhere mysterious listen to Magicfolk. Ben and Michelle write music that acts like mental balm – soothing and revitalising – remember to hold on softly though - if you grip too hard their ethereal sounds will slip right through your fingers.  
     
     
     
     
       
    Fireworks Magazine - "hugely evocative"  
    New(ish) British bands are coming out of the woodwork in some unusual places, and when these places are of a predominantly rural nature, it is not surprising that the music is likely to be rather pastoral and delicate in style.  
       
    I have previously introduced you to Mermaid's Kiss from Herefordshire, and now I present Magicfolk from Norfolk (ooh-arhh!) - a 7-piece band including no fewer than three females. (Quick, call the Classic Rock Society someone.) In researching the background to the band I have seen two descriptions of their style of music that I honestly cannot improve upon; so "cider-drinking music" and "contemporary and esoteric prog-folk" are both included here to give you an initial impression of what Magicfolk are all about. But I am also sure that some of you reading this might wish to ascribe the term "west coast" to the rather laid back style prevalent across the album's twelve tracks and there are certainly plenty of nods in the direction of countless Californian ensembles and stretching all the way back to the acid/psych folk movement of the mid to late 1960s.  
       
    As this digs back into one strand of my own roots and early musical inclinations, it will come as no surprise to you that I am rather taken by this slightly whimsical and delicate musical adventure, but whether you would be able to countenance lyrical content such as "you don't need traffic signs to follow the ley lines" (in opening song 'Green Man') I will have to leave to your own conscience and preference!  
       
    Although there is a superabundance of acoustic instrumentation (some of it quite unusual), you will find Tom Abbott's lead guitar contributions to 'Green Man', 'Narcissus' and 'Heliopolis' a very tasty surprise. 'Heliopolis' and album closer 'Sea Priestess' (where Lee Morant alternatively yields the "axe") are on the one hand fairly lengthy complex progressive numbers, but are also in places hugely evocative of that certain ethereal brew of late 60s experimentalism - and therefore properly described as "retrogressive". I'm sure you will also find yourself bringing to mind a popular song by America when you listen to the former song!  
     
     
     
     
       
    For those of you who won't frown at obscure meandering lyrical content and like to vary your melodic intake whilst enjoying strong and evocative melodies, then this is an album that you really must try.  
     
       
    Twisted Tree - "cadences of Pentangle"  
    Originally founded by Michelle and Ben Glover as a trio this now seven piece band have released their first album, and what a “dilly”. It’s as well a crafted piece of folk-rock as I come across in many a year. Michelle and Ben have individually or in concert written every track on the CD and with Michelle’s vocals fronting the band have produced a most worthy work. In addition they have designed a most attractive cover for the album. A couple of genuine all-rounders it appears.  
     
     
     
       
    Classifying themselves as “psych-folk” (A new one to me. Pardon my ignorance) they have a mixture of ‘Tull, West Coast rock & Fairport Convention with the cadences of Pentangle and a touch of Clannad thrown in for good measure and if you find that hard to imagine then go to the website and have a listen.  
     
     
       
    The lyrics, as one might guess with a band called Magicfolk are inspired by folklore, mysticism and all things esoteric. There’s a variety of different sound on offer from “ Persephone” with its more traditional folk sound to “Furies” much rockier presentation and interesting use of background speech (in Greek) reminiscent of “Friends of Mr. Cairo” from Jon & Vangelis. Then there’s good acoustic guitar work on “Little Spirit”, the richer sound provided by the clarinets on “Heliopolis”, evocative lyrics of “Egypt” and all topped off with “Sea Priestess” which brings to life that magnificent work by Dion Fortune.  
     
     
     
       
    This is an album worth adding to your collection and personally I’m already looking forward to their next offering.  
     
       
    The Magicfolk website is worth a visit too. Not least because it’s one of the ways to purchase the album, but its nice design, inclusion of bio’s, news and gigs etc. makes it a good piece of promotional work for the band and a pleasure to surf.  
     
       
    Darkroom Magazine - "di grande trasporto emotivo"  
    Dalle terre d'Albione, luoghi dove la musica folk ha radici profonde, ci giunge una band il cui monicker la dice lunga su quali siano le mire artistiche dei propri componenti, nonché una bella sorpresa in senso generale... Guidato da Ben e Michelle Glover, l'eight-piece inglese sceglie la via dell'autoproduzione per il proprio debutto ufficiale, curando bene tanto la veste grafica quanto la produzione del dischetto in esame, dopo dei primi passi mossi come trio in forma esclusivamente acustica nel 2003. La band stessa definisce la propria musica come 'psychfolk pagano', e cita fra le proprie influenze dirette nomi quali Jethro Tull, David Bowie, Clannad, Dead Can Dance, Enya, Fairport Convention, Genesis, Jefferson Airplane, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Renaissance, Rush, Radiohead, Steeleye Span e Simon & Garfunkel, una lunga lista sostanzialmente sottoscrivibile (magari accludendo i Capercaillie), nonché contemplativa di tutte quelle che possono essere le effettive fonti d'ispirazione di musicisti così versatili e già attivi anche in ambiti diversi dal folk più tradizionale. Più semplicemente e senza scomodare troppi facili paragoni, quello dei Magicfolk è un suono che se da un lato affonda le proprie radici nella tradizione folk anglosassone, dall'altro è anche capace di incorporare al meglio influenze rock e jazz, passando per ritmi sudamericani fino a certo prog di qualche decade fa: tutte correnti musicali che la band riesce a filtrare in un tessuto sonoro di stampo squisitamente folk con assoluto gusto, senza che nulla faccia a pugni col resto nelle dodici canzoni che compongono questo bel debutto. Nonostante si tratti del disco d'esordio, appare evidente come questi musicisti abbiano dalla loro esperienza e preparazione tecnica in abbondanza: guidato dalla bella voce della versatile Michelle e dalle pregiate e cristalline chitarre acustiche, che ricamano trame raffinate e ricche di sfumature, il suono della band si presenta ricco, arioso e capace di grande trasporto emotivo, come dimostrano l'opener "Green Man", la rilassata e passionale "Sheba", la delicata e carezzevole "Persephone", l'ispirato gioiellino folk "Little Spirit" e l'intensa "Aibo". Nel soave tessuto sonoro della band si innestano con assoluta naturalezza non solo flauto e percussioni, ma anche un drumming devoto tanto al jazz quanto ai ritmi sudamericani e delle chitarre elettriche capaci di solos d'estrazione squisitamente rock: un equilibrio perfetto fra irruenza elettrica ed intimità acustica che permea l'intero ascolto dell'album. Impossibile non menzionare anche "Heliopolis", capace di un break centrale di stampo squisitamente prog, la delicatissima "Angel", la più movimentata "Furies" (dotata di arrangiamenti vorticosi e di un guitar-solo funambolico), l'ariosa "Egypt", la jazz-oriented "Diving Bell" e la conclusiva "Sea Priestess", le cui strutture vanno ben oltre i canoni del classico folk. Miscelando al meglio influenze concrete in un contesto di per sé già mirabilmente affinato, specialmente in virtù di arrangiamenti creativi ed azzeccati, i Magicfolk sono riusciti nell'impresa di produrre qualcosa di fresco e vitale in un ambito dove la ripetizione di certi logori schemi continua ad essere vista spesso e volentieri come la 'via maestra': un traguardo importante per una band che ha i numeri per conquistare ascoltatori su vari fronti, incluso il nostro, che di certo non potrà rimanere insensibile nei confronti di una proposta così valida e convincente a tutti i livelli.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
       
    Mentenebre - "impecable"  
    Magicfolk - "Magicfolk" Este primer trabajo de la banda afincada en las islas británicas, puede traernos recuerdos de la década de los 90, cuando cds con las palabras celtic o new age copaban las estanterías de las tiendas. Recopilatorios bastante insulsos donde apenas valían la pena 1 o 2 canciones se codeaban con trabajos de pesos pesados como Enya, Loreena McKennitt o The Chieftains, por citar algunos. Magicfolk son un nutrido grupo de buenos músicos, la música que hacen es impecable, llevan 10 años de conciertos a sus espaldas y eso puede apreciarse. Practican un estilo defolk que autodefinen como "psychfolk". Al ser un trabajo autoproducido siempre se rodea de ese halo de especial mimo que tienen este tipo de trabajos, sacados a base de esfuerzo e ilusión de los componentes. Los temas del disco nos hacen un recorrido por mitologías varias del mundo, pero a un nivel más popular y accesible de lo que tenemos acostumbrados a leer entre estas páginas de Mentenebre.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
       
    Aquí no hay odas a runas germanas, nostalgia por tiempos mejoreso cultos mistéricos o de deidades paganas de rincones ignotos del globo. Egipto y Grecia son las principales fuentes de inspiración para las canciones, siendo el tema de 'Furies' el más destacado de todo el trabajo, logrando una sensación de agobio al introducir burlonas voces en griego o cacofónicos alaridos femeninos.  
       
    Otros temas, como el segundo, titulado 'Sheba' ahonda en el reino de Saba citado en el Corán y el Antiguo Testamento. La mitología judeo-cristiana también vuelve a hacer acto de aparición en la séptima canción,'Angel'.Magicfolk - "Magicfolk"  
     
       
    En el quinto corte, 'Aibo' guitarras y voces se integran a la perfección, siendo de agradecer la presencia casi exclusiva de instrumentos acústicos, y algo de viento, otorgándole al tema un cariz más cálido, cercano.  
     
       
    El resto de temas sin ser para nada malos o mediocres, no llegan a sorprender y no pasan de ser formalmente correctos. Quizás el empleo de instrumentación más tradicional y menos eléctrica hubiese favorecido a implementar la experiencia evocadora de otras épocas y regiones que suelen tener este tipo de trabajos. En más de un tema los punteos de las guitarras eléctricas no parecen formar sinergias tan a la perfección como el resto de instrumentos.  
     
     
     
       
    En definitiva, un trabajo en el que se dejan entrever buenas ideas e intenciones, y la experiencia musical a las espaldas, y que para el neófito o el paladar más ecléctico puede resultar más que aceptable, pero no puede evitarse una sensación de que aún podría dar más de sí. Esperemos que en venideros trabajos de la banda así sea.  
     
     
       
    Sea of Tranquility Magazine - "beautiful and chilling"  
    Sexy, psychedelic and soothing, the music of this seven-member UK collective provides an esoteric, often haunting soundtrack that's perfect for … well, having sex, spacing out or simply relaxing. Magicfolk began as an acoustic trio back in 2003, and that's how long some of the songs on this debut have fermented. Eventually adding bass, drums, lead guitar and synths while expanding its membership, Magicfolk have drawn comparisons to Clannad, White Willow and Mostly Autumn. The music here leans toward the mellow end of that spectrum, however, with the sweet and dusty voices of three women singing over the stunning, David Gilmour-like guitar work. The effect is both beautiful and chilling.  
     
     
     
     
       
    Silver Wheel Magazine - "haunting and lyrical"  
    Haunting and lyrical, Magicfolk’s folk-rock debut CD has definite Pagan and magical themes, with tracks like ‘Green Man’, ‘Persephone’ and ‘Sea Priestess’, the latter with lyrics adapted from Dion Fortune. The female vocals are pure and harmonious, while there is some brilliant guitar which is reminiscent of Santana [I kid you not]. There are a range of instruments with bass, drums, acoustic and electric guitars, flute, bazouki, keyboard, darbuka etc. Mellow and easy on the ear, this CD is well worth a listen.  
     
     
     
       
    Rock’n’Reel Magazine - "the perfumed garden of psychedelia"  
    Magicfolk are composers of delicately spun acoustic rock, which as well as visiting the perfumed garden of 60s psychedelia also integrates folk and vaguely new wave stylings into the mix. The self-titled debut album from the Norfolk-based seven-piece is also home to a string of ambitious self-compositions trademarked by dreamy female harmonies that suggest a grounding in the acid folk of Mellow Candle and Tir Na Nog.  
     
     
       
    Psyche van het Folk - "totally engaged expressiveness"  
    The group has a core of a woman’s trio, as if this is a magical triangle that is able to expand with their harmony voices just like a pentangle to the outside, while surrounded by a circle of male musicians. I can’t help it to get a very Neo-pagan feeling to Magicfolk’s smooth self-penned folkrock sound and to their song inspirations. It is more than once a not a direct emotional but a thought provoked inspiration and situation which is empowered with an attractively arranged folkrock sound that makes the creative entity of the group, with a convincing fashionable result, and with a form that has its own world of totally engaged expressiveness.  
     
     
     
     
       
    From their previous EP, the great memorable and beautifully arranged song “Aibo” is added too. This song with all its arrangements is also more distinctive from more deliberately focused associations. I very much like the way how the acoustic guitars add their own colours to “Aibo” and also to “Heliopolis” (also from the EP). This second track is another distinctive great track with an instrumental section of progressive guitars and some keyboards and some additional brass instrument, nice vocal arrangements and a good song too. On “Furies” the girls and guitars freak a bit out according to the theme, like during a wild dance, but also here we still hear the elves-angelic arrangements in the vocals too. Also on the last track the guitars get a larger free and progressive rock part. A very good album.  
     
     
     
     
     
       
    Pagan Dawn Magazine - "prog-rock, celtic tunes and tight vocal harmony"  
    A blend of 70's flavoured prog rock, Celtic tunes and tight vocal harmony; spiked through with some very prickly electric guitar. If you like Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and Jefferson Airplane, you won't be disappointed.  
     
     
       
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