TALES OF POWER (2011) REVIEWS
 
  Folkwords "A dazzling album - spellbinding "  
  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.  
     
     
     
       
    Kinesis: "Wonderful.. like the legendary Mellow Candle, but proggier"  
    Tales of Power (2011, digipack) is the second CD for Norwich, England’s Magicfolk, whose style is suggested by their name. ‘Faerie Festival Prog’ would be good too but is unwieldy as a band name. Wonderful stuff by any name, Magicfolk’s sound is centered on the beautiful vocals of Michelle Glover, supported by acoustic & electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, flute, violin, mandolin, and harp. Magicfolk sound like the legendary Mellow Candle, but proggier. The folk here is mythical rather than traditional; all the songs are originals. Another band Magicfolk could be compared to is Kara, especially considering Kara and now Karnataka guitarist Colin Mold plays on most of the songs here. There are elements of the west coast psychedelic style of Jefferson Airplane, the folky side of Mostly Autumn and Jethro Tull, Solstice, Capercaillie, Clannad, Iona, Loreena McKennitt, Mary Jane, Spriguns, Spirogyra, Mermaid Kiss, and October Project.  
     
     
     
     
     
     
       
   

Terrascope "Excellent piece of work - recommended"

 
    I liked the debut album "Magicfolk" by Magicfolk (reviewed here in 2008), and now here comes the band's second album of pagan, mystical folk-rock, "Tales Of Power," centred as before around songwriters Ben and Michelle Glover. And as before this is one for fans of Circulus, Mellow Candle or Renaissance: folk and pagan influences strong, with some rock arrangements. Fans of Mostly Autumn might also like this band. Opener 'Call Time' does all the above genres, as does the progressive-sounding 'Nagual.' Mandolin and a narration about fairy rings and elves greet us in track three, 'The Faery Ring,' which then moves into a dual-vocalled song that again boasts progressive influences - a very good cut, this one. 'Lion Tamer' is soft and beautifully sung, the arrangement showcasing Michelle Glover's voice, and Lee Morant on electric guitar. 'Desert Song' is undoubtedly the album highlight - gorgeous drifting textures, a lovely arrangement of voices and flute; quite something. 'Wiccan Dance' is a kind of modern take on Jethro Tull - it works very well - while 'Death & The Maiden' is rocked-out. 'Winged Bull' is another soft slow-burner, that this band does so well, while concluding cut 'Dweller' is deceptively folky. The promise of the debut album is more than matched by this excellent piece of work. Recommended.  
       
   

Albion Magazine "Eleven beautiful songs"

 
    The second album from esoteric folk/prog rock group Magicfolk, led by Ben and Michelle Glover, gives us eleven beautiful songs based around mythology, faery rings, and similar topics. With an excellent band behind her, Michelle's voice rises and falls, flutters and weaves, turning each song into its own unique place, so that when the album finishes the listener feels bereft.  
       
    Psychedelic Folk: "very enjoyable"  
    The band explore further their Celtic/intuitive mystic/neo-pagan inspirations where you can feel the folk core in the rhythmic and melodic sensibility of the songs and in the deeper breathy voice of the lead singer (and the vocal harmonies), the forward progressing rock drumming and the more worked out and also heavier guitars here and there directs the band at the same time into a more psychedelic version of folk-rock. I can’t help it here being reminded of one other English band, Maryjane. There are some nice flute passages, and small arranged elements with other instruments like harp. Also new is here and there are a couple of returning whirlwinds of an oriental groove. Quieter passages, which are there more often, show also some small keyboard textures, or simply some piano. A very enjoyable band for those who like alternative visions of a folk-rock nature. Special guest for spoken word introductions is Gareth Knight.  
       
   

Progwereld

 
   

“Tales Of Power” is het tweede album van deze Britse formatie en is de opvolger van het debuut uit 2007. De nummers op deze cd zijn geschreven in de periode 2005 tot en met 2008 en daarna gedurende een periode van drie jaar opgenomen. De groep combineert traditionele volksmuziek met moderne invloeden en progressieve en psychedelische rock. Het hart van Magicfolk wordt gevormd door het echtpaar Michelle en Ben Glover. Samen schrijven ze alle muziek en teksten. Daarnaast bespelen ze ook de meeste instrumenten. Het geluid wat zij hebben ontwikkeld doet authentiek aan. Voor een deel is daar het fluitspel voor verantwoordelijk. Verder horen we de klassieke instrumenten viool en harp en komt zelfs de bouzouki voorbij. Verwacht echter geen album met gezapige folkmuziek. Regelmatig pakt de groep uit met stevige rockmuziek zoals op Call Time en Nagual. Die laatste staat vol met de genoemde psychedelische elementen zoals galmende zang, gierend en bijtend klinkend gitaarspel.

Traditioneel in de ware zin van het woord klinkt The Faery Ring. Sluit je ogen en waan jezelf in tijden van ridders en kasteeldames. Het frêle en zalvende stemgeluid van Michelle Glover komt hier goed tot zijn recht. Tot een muzikaal hoogtepunt reikt de band en Michelle Glover op Desert Song. Alleen begeleid op akoestische gitaar, conga’s en fluitspel betovert ze de luisteraar met haar mooie stem. Verderop in het nummer zwelt de muziek aan en wordt de zang krachtiger. We horen fraaie harpklanken en voor het eerst horen we de EWI, een bijzonder instrument. Ik ben een liefhebber van bijzondere instrumenten in de (progressieve rock) muziek. In de recensies die ik door de jaren heen heb geschreven, ben ik er aardig wat tegengekomen. EWI is de afkorting van elektronisch wind instrument en wordt vooral gebruikt in jazz, fusion en new age muziek. Het instrument is ontworpen door Nyle Steiner in samenwerking met elektronica fabrikant Akai en bestaat uit twee delen: een windcontroller en een synthesizer. Een bekend speler van de EWI is de in 2007 overleden jazz saxofonist Michael Brecker (die samen met zijn broer Randy The Brecker Brothers vormden).

De kracht van Magicfolk is dat er binnen elk nummer wat gebeurt. Of dat nu tempowisselingen zijn, sfeerwisselingen of de variatie aan instrumenten. Het houdt de muziek boeiend. Goed voorbeeld is Dragonspell waarin alle klassieke instrumenten aan bod komen, maar waarop gastgitarist Lee Morant ook flink tekeer gaat met een flitsende gitaarsolo. Op Wiccan Dance word je vervolgens getrakteerd op traditionele folkmuziek, jazzrock met een scheurende saxofoon en aansluitend een portie gitaarrock.

Op dit album komen we ook een ‘oude’ bekende tegen. Het is gitarist Colin Mold, die deel uitmaakt van de nieuwe bezetting van Karnataka. De muziek van Magicfolk komt ook behoorlijk in de richting van Karnataka, naast dat het ook de liefhebbers van Iona en Clannad zal aanspreken.

Het artwork van het cd-boekje is smaakvol met mooie illustraties van Michelle Glover. Het is alleen jammer dat de cover van een lelijke donkerpaarse kleur is voorzien. Het is ze vergeven want “Tales Of Power” is een album wat van begin tot eind weet te boeien.

 
       
   

Fatea Records "the path across the moor following jack o lantern"

 
    Written, arranged and produced by Ben and Michelle Glover, "Tales Of Power" takes the folk rock themes of the self titled debut and distills them into a headier brew. Ancient symbolism is woven into the very fabric of the album, and right through the cover and sleeve notes, which gives the album a thoughtful edge on which to express ideas and beliefs. At times it does feel a little fey, but generally retains more of a feeling of mystery and legend through the almost timeless quality of the music. It does feel like the wildwood, the path across the moor following jack o lantern.  
       
   

Sea of Tranquility "inspiring - fantastic electric guitar and flute work"

 
   

Of all the subgenres of progressive music, prog folk is arguably one of the smallest and most beloved. Combining elements from 70s pioneers like Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, and Pentangle, as well as baring similarities to modernizers like the Decemberists, Lehto & Wright, and present day Brainticket, Magicfolk stirs up plenty of fine melodies and instrumentation on its sophomore LP, Tales of Power.

A sextet composed of two women and four men, Magicfolk formed several years ago in Norwich, England. An "esoteric blend of folk, Celtic, Psychedelia, acoustic, and prog rock," Tales of Power, which follows their 2007 self-titled debut, is full of mystical lyrics, earthly tones, and nostalgic timbres. It's as mysterious as it is welcoming, and fans of the aforementioned groups will definitely find a lot to like here.

Opening track "Call Time" features inspiring melodies, pleasant arpeggios, and a relaxing vibe. Vocalist Michelle Glover clearly draws upon the influence of the original prog folk female singers, such as Sandy Denny, Judy Dyble, and Annie Haslam. "The Faery Song" begins with spoken word passages about elves, rings, and fairies - the track is full of odd rhythms and vocal lines, as well as beautiful sounds, making it quite intriguing.

Elsewhere, "Desert Song" features the best pure songwriting on Tales of Power (its melody is lovely), "Dragonspell" features some fantastic electric guitar and flute work, "Winged Bull" includes plenty of enjoyable solos from several instruments, and "Dweller" closes the album with a short, simple, and sweet ballad. Every song on the album is a winner in its own way.

Tales of Power will probably appeal most to aficionados who've followed prog folk throughout its several decades of existence. The majority of enjoyment stems from hearing how Magicfolk takes the spirits and sounds of its influences and mixes them together into an original musical stew.

 
       
    Darkroom "Truly a beautiful epic"  
    Avevamo avuto il piacere di parlarvi del debutto eponimo degli inglesi Magicfolk nell'estate del 2008, plaudendo ad un suono di netta matrice folk dalle radici tipicamente britanniche, ma in grado di andare oltre il richiamo alla tradizione grazie alla versatilità di musicisti ben preparati, capaci di giostrare la dolcezza acustica fra influenze diverse, fino a quelle esplosioni prog che per i Nostri sono già un vero e proprio marchio di fabbrica. Ancora una volta autoprodotto, questo secondo capitolo della band di Ben e Michelle Glover (nuovamente accompagnati da una pletora di abili strumentisti) non tradisce le aspettative, calcando notevolmente la mano sulle impennate prog di cui sopra, elargite a piene mani in un lotto di undici canzoni scritte in un lasso di tempo che va dal 2005 al 2008. Nessuno stravolgimento di fondo, dunque: se tocca all'arioso pop-folk di "Call Time" aprire le danze, il dualismo fra le dolci e melodiose trame acustiche e la verve elettrica del prog si scatena già dalla seguente "Nagual", come anche nelle varie "Lion Tamer", "Dragonspell", "Wiccan Dance" e "Winged Bull", mentre "Into The Blue" presenta un taglio decisamente più 'rock'. Con la bella voce di Michelle a condurre l'ascoltatore per mano, è un piacere perdersi nel pathos degli ariosi e bucolici scenari evocati dai momenti acustici (nei quali è spesso importante la presenza di strumenti come flauto, piano e violino), lasciandosi poi travolgere dall'impeto della funambolica chitarra solista nei frangenti prog-oriented, con arrangiamenti sempre e comunque mirabili e versatili. Davvero splendido il respiro epico che anima la tesa e nervosa "Death & The Maiden", ma il vero gioiello dell'opera (edita in un bel digipak a sei ante graziosamente adornato) è senza dubbio "Desert Song", capace di sedurre col suo piglio sognante e magicamente suadente. Un follow-up di tutto rispetto per il collettivo britannico, senza dubbio consigliato tanto a chi ne ha già apprezzato le gesta quanto a novizi e curiosi, anche se l'impressione è che la vera svolta nel sound dei Nostri arriverà col prossimo appuntamento discografico...  
       
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