Thanks to Jacob Holm-Lupo progVisions can review the 6th album of his folk-prog ensemble White Willow. The Norwegian band released their beautiful debut album “Ignis Fatuus” in the year 1995. The band makes melancholic and innovative progressive/symphonic rock with folk influences. After this wonderful debut album the band released over the years and with frequently changed line-ups the following albums; “Ex Tenebris” (1998), “Sacrament” (2000), “Storm Season” (2004) and “Signal to Noise” (2006). I want to give the band some late exposure on progVisions because I think “Terminal Twilight” was one of the highlights of last year.
Sylvia Skellestad - vocals; Jacob Holm-Lupo - electric and acoustic guitars, e-bow, piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, CS-80, glockenspiel; Lars Fredrik Froislie - Mellotron, M400, Chamberlin m-1, Hammond C-3, piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes mkII, Hohner clavinet D6, mini Moog model D, Arp Pro Soloist, Arp AXXE, SC Prophet-5, Korg Polysix, Solina string ensemble, Roland VP-330, Elka piano 88, Marxophone, glockenspiel; Ketil Einarsson - woodwinds; Ellen Andrea Wang - bass guitar, upright bass; Mattias Olsson - drums, percussion tuned and otherwise, Mellotron, Optigan, Orchestron, Tenor-ion, Persephone, effects, devious devices
Tim Bowness - vocals on “Kansas Regrets”; David Lundberg - Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer on “Kansas Regrets”, Orchestron on “Snowswept”; Michael S Judge - guitar solo on “Hawks Circle The Mountain”
The album opens with slow and mysterious keyboards in “Hawks Circle The Mountain”. When Sylvia Skellestad sings the first vocal lines you will notice the beautiful melodies. Not only in the vocal refrains but also in the amazing instrumental parts you can find on this album. If you like the sound of old analog and vintage keyboards, this is your album. The contrast between the fairy-tale like vocals and the often keyboard drenched instrumental parts is high. Often those intense instrumental parts are working towards a climax. In the second track “Snowswept” Sylvia Skellestad shines like a bright star. After a slow, relaxed and fairy-tale first part the tension of the music slowly builds towards a kind of climax. Acoustic guitars are opening the track “Kansas Regrets” which is sung by Tim Bowness. We know Tim Bowness from bands like No-Man and Memories of Machines. Tim Bowness pressed a stamp on the music of this track through the style in which he sings. It sounds a little bit like a Memories of Machines song. From now on the compositions on this album are even more impressive than the first three good songs. “Red Leaves” is a wonderful composition with fairy-tale like vocals, beautiful guitar solo's and fantastic keyboard parts with the most wonderful melodies. The intensity of the music is very high and the band is working towards great climaxes in the instrumental parts. The next song is called “Floor 67”. It has besides the wonderful ingredients of the previous composition “Red Leaves” also complex rhythm changes. “Floor 67” is 10 minutes of symphonic bliss. In the second part of this keyboard drenched composition you can hear guitar parts which reminds me of the “Red” period of King Crimson. Wow ... and then the album continues with “Natasha Of The Burning Woods”, a song with acoustic guitars, beautiful Melotron choirs and great keyboard sounds. And those melodies ... they are just breathtaking. This is how symphonic rock must sound. “Searise” is the magnum opus of this album. A composition with great diversity and wonderful moments. Acoustic guitars and flutes give some parts a folksy and intimate atmosphere. In the instrumental parts the tension of the music slowly builds up towards great climaxes. It brings the name of the Swedish band Änglagård to my mind. The album closes with “A Rumour of Twilight”, a short song with beautiful keyboard melodies and a delicate acoustic guitar.
White Willow made with “Terminal Twilight” an album full of wonderful progressive/symphonic rock with a very high quality level. The second part of the album is very strong. The contrast between the fairy-tale like vocals and the often intense and keyboard drenched instrumental parts is high and gives the music the needed diversity. You can find the most beautiful melodies on this album full of intense progressive rock. I think that “Terminal Twilight” is one of the best albums ever made by the band. And it is one of the best albums of the year 2011. Highly recommended, especially to the fans of vintage keyboards and keyboard dominated progressive/symphonic rock.