SONGS FROM THE WOOD - The History of Folkprog, Part II

SONGS FROM THE WOOD - The History of Folkprog, Part II

The enrichment of the Prog with folk elements was especially popular in the 70s. Important features were the use of folkloristic instruments and alternative guitar tunings as well as texts related to nature or the history of the homeland. Nevertheless, the term "Folkprog" is spongy. In fact, only a few groups can be clearly located in this genre, and not necessarily over a longer period of time. In addition, the boundaries between (progressive) folk and psychedelic folk are fluid.

The 60s: Folk revival and (progressive) folk as pioneers of Folkprog

The birth year of the Folkprog is difficult to determine, but one can assume that the 1967 LP "The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion" by the Incredible String Band was one of the first Folkprog albums. The birthplace of the Folkprog, on the other hand, is England. This was the home of most of the groups and artists who had a significant influence on the genre. The US folk revival (with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez) seems to have left less traces than the Electric Folk of Bob Dylan or the Byrds. The British folk revival with guitarists like John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Davey Graham, Martin Carthy or John Martyn was also decisive. They experimented with alternative tunings, unusual beats and world music ingredients and thus also influenced psychedelic pop and the progressive folk scene. The latter included acts such as Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, as well as Lindisfarne, Magna Carta, Pentangle, Spirogyra and Steeleye Span - groups that, despite innovative ideas, are generally not categorised as Folkprog, but that did fertilize it.

The golden era of the Folkprog (70s)

If there was a peak of the Folkprog, it was in the 70s. Back then, British bands benefited from two things: public interest in medieval and Renaissance music and support from record companies (especially Iceland, Polydor, Transatlantic and Elektra). Jethro Tull never made a secret of her folk affinity and intensified it to "Benefit", "Aqualung" and "Thick As A Brick". From 1977 to 1979 they took the musical possibilities of the genre to the extreme with their Folkprog trilogy ("Songs From The Wood", "Heavy Horses", "Stormwatch"). No less important was Mike Oldfield, who with "Hergest Ridge" (1974) and "Ommadawn" (1975) created two independent folk prog classics on which he conjured up a mystically transfigured atmosphere. The love of folklore can also be felt in Renaissance, especially on "Ashes Are Burning" (1973), "Turn Of The Cards" (1974) and "Scheherazade And Other Stories" (1975). Amazing Blondel, on the other hand, have more cult status. According to their own statement, they played "pseudo-elisabethan classical/acoustic music" and created the first folk suite with the title song of the LP "Fantasia Lindum" (1971). The Strawbs, who moved between folk, rock and symphonic prog and are now in their 53rd career year, sounded a little more gripping. Tip: the imaginative concept album "Grave New World" (1972). And what would Folkprog be without the London band Gryphon, which was influenced by medieval and Renaissance music? Their LP "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" (1974) is compositionally on the same level as the best Gentle Giant records. Also very independent were Jade Warrior, who incorporated psychedelic and world music influences into their dreamy soundscapes, and Roy Harper, who recorded fascinating records with "Stormcock" (1971) and "Lifemask" (1973).

Lest mehr im eclipsed Nr. 192 (07/08-2017).