Eddie Lascu 3-May-2013 Tales from Sheepfather's Grove

Having been greatly impressed with the debut, just like anyone else, I was eagerly looking forward to a new release by Moth Vellum. I must confess that I was not privy to the fact that the band has decided to call it quits around 2010. But despair not, Johannes Luley, the guitarist of the Moth Vellum has released an equally brilliant album.

From the very first notes, you will have a feeling of déjà vu, or déjà entendu if you want, because "Tales from Sheepfather's Grove" sounds a lot like "Olias of Sunhilow", Jon Anderson's masterpiece from 1976. There are a couple of factors contributing to this. Like "Olias of Sunhilow", the music on this album is cosmic, and sounds as if inspired by the same stupor admiration of a celestial deity. Present are the tribal rhythms, the cherubic backing choir singing in an unearthly language, the harpsichord, the pastoral, tranquil landscapes, it's all here. Luley handles almost all the vocals (he gets help in several places from backing vocalist) and his voice has plenty of Andersonian hues. As a guitarist, Luley's tonality and phrasing resounds that of Steve Howe's, both when he plays acoustic and electric instruments. The connections to Yes don't stop here. Even the cover dons a beautiful painting by Harout Demirchyan, no doubt a Roger Dean disciple.

The songs are very nicely arranged to flow in a perfect succession, alternating the slow-tempo ones, built around gorgeous acoustic guitar solos, with tracks that are more powerful and riveting, yet maintaining the same clam, serene tone. Luley handles all instruments, save the concert harpsichord. You can hardly tell, though. The coherence of the arrangements makes it sound as if this is the result of a well-gelled band.

"Tales from Sheepfather's Grove" offers the listener a very rewarding musical experience. It reveals itself in subtle new lights with every play. Let the warmth of this "Olias of Sunhilow" that Steve Howe has never released wrap its arms around your soul.

Eddie Lascu
April 10, 2013

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