Under the moniker of Willowglass, The British multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marshall has already released two albums: Willowglass (2005) and Book Of Hours (2008). On these instrumental albums he showed his love for progressive rock mostly made by legendary British seventies bands as Genesis, Yes, Camel, Anthony Phillips, Gentle Giant, Steve Hackett, Jethro Tull and King Crimson. On the aforementioned albums Marshall played the electric and acoustic guitars, twelve-string guitar, classical guitar, bass, keyboards, flute and some drums and percussion. The only guest musician that assisted him was drummer Dave Brightman. I loved both albums a lot since they contained vintage prog rock and that's just the kind of music I enjoy each minute of the day!
Recently Andrew Marshall released The Dream Harbour, his third album of Willowglass. However, on this CD he's got some help from the German musician Hans Jörg Schmitz (King Of Agogik, drums, percussion) and the American musician Steve Unruh (Samurai Of Prog, violin, flute, guitar), while Dave Brightman is no longer present. This change of guest musicians doesn't mean that the musical style has changed. Maybe that's a relief for those who enjoyed the first two albums. On the seven new pieces you can still hear the influences of the progressive rock from the seventies. You might say that these retro sounds add nothing new to the prog rock scene, but people who still love to hear the wonderful albums made by the above-mentioned bands will grab this CD with both hands! Just like the American Pit Bull Terrier they won't let go while drooling over the album!
The Dream Harbour starts with the longest track A House Of Cards, part 1 and I immediately realized that this is the kind of music I would like to listen to all day. It's the start of a very pleasant musical journey that will take you back to the time when progressive rock was invented; all of the above-mentioned acts are your fellow-travellers. It's no problem at all that this album lacks vocals since the outstanding instrumental pieces contain enough variety and they're adventurous enough to enjoy every second of it. Many times the flute and the violin take the place of voices and the fantastic solos performed on the electric guitar or the synthesizer make you forget that no vocalist is travelling along on this amazing journey.
I won't describe all seven tracks on The Dream Harbour separately; as I already stated the musical style resembles the fantastic music created by the prog rock acts of the seventies. These acts used lots of Mellotrons, Moogs, Hammonds and other keyboards, which we nowadays call vintage instruments that can either be enjoyed on this excellent album. However, it's not only the music that provides this nostalgic feel of the seventies. The great album's cover has been designed in the finest tradition of Roger Dean and Rodney Matthews. Just like on the previous Willowglass albums Lee Gaskin was responsible for this terrific art design. The music on The Dream Harbour will bring back many precious memories of the good, old days of prog rock. So forget about listening to a new kind of music, but to compositions that might sound outdated. Just enjoy it with an open mind; that's my advice! When you do you'll have a wonderful time!
Well, how do I judge an album that gives me so much joy and happiness while playing it? I guess only the highest rating of five stars will do for this beautiful sounding album. In my opinion it's fair to give Willowglass this score, because Andrew Marshall is one of the few musicians who's able to create fine music with lots of strong retro influences which maintains the same high quality level as the above-mentioned bands. Therefore The Dream Harbour is highly recommended to all fans of seventies classic prog rock. So thumbs up for Andrew Marshall, Hans Jörg Schmitz and Steve Unruh for making this album a very entertaining musical experience.
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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