Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Gandalf's Fist

Welcome once again to the Concert Closet fellow progheads!  The search for all things prog has left Mexico after a much appreciated week relaxing with Luz Negra...now it's decision time.  Of course, when in doubt there is always a prog band in the UK waiting for me to touch down and spend 168 hours immersed in a new and different sound.  With that thought in my head, I take you back once again to England--before the chaos of Wimbledon sets in next month--for a seven day visit and existential prog journey with Gandalf's Fist.

Referring to themselves as "...UK purveyors of medieval space rock..." Gandalf's Fist is a must-listen for those who appreciate the deep roots, multi-layered sound, and spacious artistry that is progressive rock.  Viewing and listening from the vantage point of the average fan, I will admit to a higher energy level this week since I am more familiar with the music of Gandalf's Fist going in than I have been with many bands posted about previously.  However; I am approaching this leg of the journey with no preconceived expectations or ideas about where the music will take me.  So with mind and ears wide open and ready for a prog deluge, let the madness begin!

My first foray to the prog buffet fills my plate with a tune called "Drifter on the Edge of Time."  The song opens in a poignant mood; you can feel emotions oozing through the soft keyboards and surreal guitar work.  Gandalf's Fist comes right at you with everything--the music is in full bloom almost immediately and the imagery is a panoramic view of all things progressive.  Try to imagine King Crimson collaborating with Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues...you're almost there...

Moving down the buffet line to sample some of the band's earlier work, I discover a dark, multi-faceted piece called "Untrodden Ways."  As the music begins to seep through the inner lining of your cranium, you feel as though you have been swept back to medieval times...the mood is tranquil and all that's missing is a minstrel in full regalia prancing through a meadow.  Suddenly and without much fanfare the entire piece veers 90 degrees hard left and BAM!  Gandalf's Fist starts to channel a Dream Theater/Dropkick Murphys hybrid--just long enough to have you question reality.  This is a band unafraid to explore the dark outer edges of the prog garden at night...

Liner Notes...Gandalf's Fist hails from Cumbria, which is in northwest England.  The band was founded by the multi-talented Dean Marsh on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, banjo, mandolin, bass, and percussion, along with Luke Severn on lead vocals, narration, keyboards, hand percussion, and the genius behind some pirate/wizard impressions.  Dean and Luke have since been joined by Stefan Hepe on drums and Chris Ewen on backing vocal and bass guitar.

Since forming in 2005, Gandalf's Fist has not only released seven LP's/EP's, they have recorded on various compilation albums as well.  With roots deeply entrenched in the classic section of the prog garden, Gandalf's Fist has also ventured successfully into other realms, leaving an indelible mark along the way. The art of the concept album was mastered by The Alan Parsons Project, and Gandalf's Fist has proven to be a most worthy protege.  Dabbling in the outer reaches of other worlds, ancient times, and the modern-day, Gandalf's Fist sees the planet through a lens that brings the puritan past and the here-and-now into juxtaposition, allowing the listener to explore different levels of consciousness on his/her own.

Serving number three from this "interstellar" prog feast is a brightly colored, elaborate song called
"The Circus in the Clearing (Including the Fanfare for the King's Tournament)."  All at once the circus does indeed come to life...the calliope at full steam.  Everything flows beautifully--to single out an individual instrument would do injustice to the music in its entirety.  That is the beauty of Gandalf's Fist--you can't pull the band apart; each member a vital carrier of the band's lifeblood. Take the time to appreciate and enjoy Gandalf's Fist as you would the birth of your first child...soak it all in and relish every moment.

The clip posted below is the title cut  from an earlier album called "The Master and the Monkey." This piece is Part I and it is striking.  The pleading guitar that opens the track is backed by a pulsing drum that keeps your subconscious dialed in...meanwhile Dean's banjo underscores a suite that has strong top notes of Al DiMeola and Jean-Luc Ponty.  Gandalf's Fist seems to only be contained by their own imaginations and bravado.  Learn more about Gandalf's Fist at http://www.gandalfsfist.com/home.  Of course you can also find the band on Facebook,
https://www.facebook.com/gandalfsfist?fref=ts and Twitter, @gandalfsfist.  Before venturing into deep water for the first time, make sure you surround yourself with good friends, good food, good spirits, and of course, lots of time....

Well fellow progheads, we are almost to the half way marker of 2015...hard to believe I know. Gandalf's Fist brings a level of intensity to the prog garden many bands only aspire to.  The band brings its music to life without bling and glitz--just straight up progressive rock.  Leaving nothing in the proverbial tank, Gandalf's Fist lays souls bare and emotions spent as the laser finishes reading the disc...and so too the Concert Closet must lay bare (for at least a week) the familiar tundra that is the UK.  Expanding the search for all things prog, it is time to search out new sounds and continue raising the standard...until next week...

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