Sunday, May 11, 2008

Review - Gavin O'Loghlen "The Poet and the Priest"

Gavin O'Loghlen
"The Poet and the Priest"
Locrian Records - BFSCD 0703 (c) 2007

The sleepy hills above the Australian city of Adelaide have a long history of traditional music, especially Celtic traditional folk music. They are not, however, any where near the first place one would look for progressive musicians. Gavin O'Loghlen blends these two styles admirably in his 128 track studio in the quaint, historical town of Lenswood.

The Poet and the Priest was a work of the late 80s, but it wasn't until 2007 that Gavin took it back into the studio and worked it into releasable form. The wait was worth it. Following the parallel, but diverging lives of two boys through 56 minutes of soundscape and seventeen tracks, "The Poet and the Priest" is a swirling, melodic journey that is heavily new progressive with folk overtones. Whilst there is often a distinctive Celtic feel to the music it avoids the pitfalls and cliches of "Ye Olde Folke-musick". Very much in the story-teller style of progressive music we are used to from early marillion, IQ and similar acts, the piece flows from start to finish. Relying on texture and depth rather than instrumental virtuosity there are nonetheless a liberal sprinkling of "clever" passages to ensure that one keeps listening as well as absorbing via aural osmosis the nuances of the composition.

Experienced prog listeners will identify what seem to be influences from other neo-prog luminaries, but the truth of the matter is that Gavin arrived at these sounds pretty much independently. This is scarcely surprising, far removed as he is in the isolation of the driest state on the driest continent in the world, and far from the madding crowds of the progressive maelstrom that is England. "The Poet and the Priest" is reminiscent of early Fish-era Marillion, IQ, Big Big Train and early solo Peter Gabriel amongst others, but still unique by virtue of its Australian roots, the folk feel to many passages and the elegant and layered construction of the pieces.

"The Poet and the Priest" is a gentle, melodic and beautifully wrought musical journey with no obvious "strongest" track, and commensurately, no weak sections. Gavin's passion for his multiple crafts as composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer shine resulting in a lyrical, uplifting, lovingly created 56 minutes of music that is great Sunday morning or late
evening prog. Enjoy it next to an open fire made with eucalyptus wood with a big South Australian red wine or a pint of old ale, good friends and a sleepy dog at your feet.

The cd is available from Locrian Records (

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