The Guildmaster is an international musical project featuring members from bands like Mad Crayon, The Samurai Of Prog and Mandalaband, this is their second effort, after The Knight And The Ghost (see review) from 2020. The musical brainchild is multi-instrumentalist Rafael Pacha on a wide range of instruments, from the ethnic zyther, viola da gamba, bouzouki, mandolin, Coimbra Portuguese guitar and tabla to acoustic - and electric guitars and keyboards.
From the very first moment I am very pleased with this wonderful encounter between ethnic music and progressive rock, the 12 compositions sound elaborate, inspired, harmonic and melodic, embellished with the sound of many distinctive ethnic instruments. The one moment you hear soaring flutes or delicate native guitars, the other moment flashy synthesizer or wah-wah drenched electric guitar, how captivating. My highlights.
A Rey Muerto, Rey Puesto starts with folky flutes, halfway a bass solo and then sparkling synthesizer flights in mid-tempo.
Agora delivers a cheerful climate with high-pitched female vocals (Evangelia Kozoni from Ciccada) and again sparkling synthesizers.
Manos Frías, Corazón Caliente has a piano intro, then a typical cheerful folky sound with Andean flutes\, blended with accordeon and sensitive electric guitar.
Suruista Tehty Soitto is another wonderful mix of ethnic music and prog featuring dreamy panflute, in a slow rhythm, with warm female vocals, and topped with a howling electric guitar solo and a fine electric piano solo.
Agua Pasada No Mueve Molino ranges from dreamy flute to moving electric guitar and lush synthesizer flights.
Nea Polis contains beautiful native vocals, blended with propulsive drums, folky flutes, sparkling synthesizer flights and sensitive electric guitar, wow, beautiful!
La Primavera, La Sangre Altera starts with acoustic guitar and flutes, then the distinctive bagpipe sound, in a slow rhythm, and culminating in sumptuous synthesizer work, blended with soaring flutes, another wonderful folk prog track.
And finally El Perro Del Hortelano an excellent compositions with strong Spanish vocals, and lush instrumentation, from flutes to a Hammond organ - and synthesizer solo, well done.
If you are up to a blend of folk/ethnic music and prog this is a wonderful and varied album to discover.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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