Greg Northrup    6-August-2001 Asylum

Fantastic early English proto-prog. The is supposedly one of the best albums to come out of that particular subgenre, apparently akin to other early English bands like Fantasy, Beggar's Opera and Spring. I haven't checked those bands out yet, but if they are anything like this, I will be soon.

This is very beautiful, melancholy and for the most part, mellow stuff. Very atmospheric and morose, yet with a singularly British personality to it. You can literally taste and smell the colors of autumn while listening to it. "Munich" is a fabulous track, with some absolutely gorgeous orchestration that sounds like authentic strings to me, and not mellotron, but I could be wrong. This orchestration makes frequent appereances throughout the album, adding texture to some some already beautiful songs. All the tracks are, for the most part, built around the very pleasent vocals, though there are moments when the band stretches out and engages in some intriguing interplay. The whole affair is awash with tasteful piano, softly pulsing bass and an occasionally biting and ferocious Hammond organ assault when the band builds up the intensity. This is an album whose atmosphere will have a slow but sure effect on the listener, like most great prog albums, its full emotional potential should be slowly realized.

Most of the tracks are short melodic ditties that definitely stick in your head, except for the aforementioned "Munich" which allows the band some free-reign jamming, and the epic centerpiece "Let Them Come When They Will" during which the band experiments with a number of dynamics and some phenomenal melodic themes over an 12 minute stretch. A highly reccommended album.

Mike McLatchey    20-Jan-2001 Cressida

Cressida's second, Asylum, is one of the best of the genre represented by Beggars' Opera, Spring, Fantasy, Fruupp, and other early British symphonic rock artists. Both Asylum and their debut are very rare now (both were original Vertigo "Swirls") and it took a while for them to reissue this first one, but it was well worth the wait. Asylum incorporated a laid-back, jazzy rock style with lots of room for instrumentals and compelling vocal parts. The debut, however, concentrates on shorter, accessible songs that obviously have their roots in the Moody Blues, with vocalist Angus Cullen approaching Justin Hayward very closely. Even with such a strong influence, Cressida's songwriting is particularly excellent, and some of the melodies are very memorable. There are some great instrumental moments such as the organ solo at the end of "Depression," although they aren't as prevalent as they would be on the follow-up. It all adds up for an album that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of early British symphonic rock and pop.

(Originally published in Exposť #1, p. 10, Edited for Gnosis 1/19/01)

Sjef Oellers 25-Feb-2001 Asylum

Cressida is an English band who released two albums in the early 70's. Asylum is their second album. The album starts with some jamming rock fusion more in the style of the German bands of that time (Out of Focus, Virus, etc.). On the next track, the 10-minute "Munich" we are definitely in UK prog territory. The song starts as a romantic piece with some orchestration, but halfway an up-tempo section for Hammond and electric guitar follows. The end of the track goes back to the romantic mood of the beginning. About equal parts of Moody Blues, Gracious and Caravan give a good idea of what to expect musically. The rest of the album continuous in a similar fashion as "Munich", although the compositions are slightly less sophisticated than on "Munich", except for the last track "Let Them Come When They Will" which is another ten-minute-plus highlight with some dramatic, intense passages. An excellent album and a must have if you like the bands mentioned above.

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