This is a wonderful album of instrumental acoustic music with its roots in the English folk tradition, but which transcends those roots to become something much more. At different times joyous and elegiac, the sometimes elliptical and richly textured melodies and rhythms have both immediate appeal and reward careful listening with the discovery of new strands within the tunes. If Tangerine Dream were a folk group, they might sound like this (I realise that this analogy may only make sense to me!); but then again these tunes are no longer than they need be, some less than two minutes long. That's about my only grumble with the album but really that's me being greedy, wanting a little bit more. It can also work a different way, as the brief piece 'Arches' can also be viewed as an introduction to the brooding notes of the following tune, 'The Mezzotint'. It's not always so though; the musical box notes of the second track, 'Steeple' are a complete tune in themselves rather than a prelude to the third track, 'The City and the Stars', which is perhaps my favourite; its loops and rushes bringing to mind a balloon being blown by the wind or a leaf in a stream, sometimes caught by the current, sometimes lingering in the calm water.
The musicianship on the album is outstanding. The album notes say this 'was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs' and if on listening that sounds far-fetched, a quick search around youTube for clips of Spiro in concert shows it not to be. They are just damn good at what they do.
If I had to assign a category to this album I'd file it under progressive folk, but really it defies categorisation. It will appeal very strongly to fans of modern folk musicians such as Jim Moray, but should also appeal to fans of traditional folk music and the more melodic side of progressive rock too.
Purchased on a whim, this was my first exposure to this group. It won't be my last.