The Samurai of Prog -
The White Snake and other Grimm Tales II

(CD 2021, 57:06, Seacrest Oy SCR-103)

The tracks:
  1- The Tricky Fiddler(6:03)
  2- Searching For The Fear(9:42)
  3- The Devil With The Three Golden Hairs(10:34)
  4- The Travelling Musicians(11:01)
  5- The White Snake(17:37)
  6- The Tricky Fiddler - Reprise(2:09)

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This is the second instalment of the Finnish music project's retelling of the fairytales of Brothers Grimm. Again, the line-up is the trio of bassist Marco Bernard, its founder member; Kimmo Pörsti on drums, percussion and Steve Unruh on vocals, violins, flute, guitars.

With a cast of excellent guest musicians, it begins with the folkish The Tricky Fiddler, a delightful violin-centred composition on which Unruh unleashes some fabulous fiddling underpinned by Bernard's rumbling bass, guitars, keyboards and piano. It's all rather delicious and fun.

Searching For The Fear incorporates a tapestry of ringing melodies of flute, piano and keyboards, some folky, some jazzy, which have echoes of Focus at some junctures.

Unruh's vocals feature on The Devil With The Three Golden Hairs on which he is joined by three guest singers taking the individual parts. It has a rock opera feel to it, but it also plods along without really grabbing the attention sufficiently.

The Travelling Musicians has an interesting Italian folk influence running through it, in no small part to the singers who include Alessandro Corvaglia, Elisa Montaldo and Stefano Galifi, whose voices combine for some lovely harmonising at one juncture.

At 17 minutes, the longest track The White Snake starts with a very ELP influenced vibe after which it ebbs and flows, full of solid piano work and Hammond-like organ while the violins and flutes dance overhead in the mix. Unruh is joined by Camilla Rinaldi on vocals to tell the story while Marc Papeghin's French horn and trumpet work adds more musical dimensions.

Rounding off with The Tricky Fiddler-Reprise, although it's a pleasant listen throughout, for my part, it lacks the real story-telling drama, drive and intrigue you would find in, say, one of Clive Nolan's rock extravaganzas.

*** Alison Reijman

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