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Robert Reed – The Ringmaster Part One

Robert Reed
The Ringmaster Part One
by Phil Tyler at 15 March 2022, 10:14 PM

For my sins of not knowing who ROBERT REED was, I thought I’d better find out and after Googling his name, discovered that he is a multi-instrumentalist of some repute, being an ex-member of both MAGENTA and CYAN as well as a number of other prog groups. “The Ringmaster Part One” is the first part of a two-part prog epic and is released through Tigermoth Records.

“But what a day I had when the minstel came…” Narrates Les at the beginning of “The Fairwell” which rides on the back of a plaintive piano rhythm and what follows is a Celtic and medieval vibe which is prevalent throughout the album.

The next track “The First Guardians of Everywhere” is the longest track at 13.37 min but throughout its run time, it never fails to enchant, mesmerise and overwhelm as you take its whimsical journey. I was on the train at the time of listening to this and the rushing trees and blue sky that I passed just enhanced what I was listening to and created a very relaxing atmosphere. Soothing female vocals join the song two thirds through and ends on some crashing drums with vocoder vocals and soaring guitar. The plus point of this was that I wanted to listen to it again straight after and that’s testament to how effective the track is. It may be at the level of ‘easy listening’ but that doesn’t mean boring and this track certainly isn’t.

The next track “The Defeated Army” sounds like it with solemn guitar and gentle drums accompanied by pipes and piano before it builds into something a bit more hopeful. There’s a touch of Hank Marvin of THE SHADOWS with the guitar on this track.

“A Touch of Song” is the shortest song on the album at a mere 1.25 but showcases the beautiful vocals of Angharad Brinn and is one of a few vocal passages on the album and it left me wanting more. “The Ringmaster Part One” is essentially an instrumental album but this track added a different dynamic and I do hope Robert uses more of her obvious talents in Part Two.
A church organ opens up “Storytown” before the guitar cuts a swathe across the track, punctuated by banjo and other percussive effects. You could visualise girls dancing around a maypole to this track and the gentle nature of the album continues with “The Gate Keeper” where gentle acoustic guitar, pipes and piano join together and ethereal vocals soar majestically. The “First Large Guitar” follows on and is well named where the guitar takes more prominence in the overall sound. The following track “Mr Penning Standing Blue” was OK but didn’t do much for me and just seemed quite repetitive without really going anywhere. The soothing vocals of Angharad return on the very short “A Sign of Sendlinger” . “A Dream of Home” is the penultimate track and opens up with the sound of what I think is a glockenspiel and is accompanied by a nice guitar motif and joined by violin, pipes and crashing drums and cymbals. Soaring vocals join the mix towards the end.

“Arcadia in Ruins” is the final track and at 6.44 is the second longest track on the album. It is one of my favourite with a slow build up with some nice vocals before the song reaches a sense of urgency with crashing drums and spiralling guitar.

I normally don’t like instrumental albums as I find them repetitive, a bit too self-indulgent and boring. However, ROBERT REED has painted a wonderfully enchanting musical canvas that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would. I’ve not heard much Mike Oldfield but it seems that he has taken that influence and crafted a very good album indeed. It is fairly one-paced though and I do hope on Part Two he builds on the atmosphere he has created and adds even more layers with greater dynamics in the songs. Angharad for example appears far too briefly and I hope there are more of her vocals in Part Two.

The production is first class (Tom Newman of “Tubular Bells” fame) and you can hear every nuance and every instrument and enjoyment is heightened by listening to it through some good quality headphones. If Tom had dropped a pin in the studio, I’m sure you’d hear it as the production is so sharp and crisp.

As Les says on the first track “The Farewell”, “…imagine then his surprise when I took a fancy to his tune…and wanted more.”

A sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Farewell
2. The First Guardians Of Everywhere
3. The Defeated Army
4. A Touch Of Song
5. Storytown
6. The Gate Keeper
7. The First Large Water
8. Mr Penning Standing Blue
9. A Sign Of Sendlinger
10. A Dream Of Home
11. Arcadia In Ruin
Lineup:
Robert Reed – Assorted instruments
Simon Phillips – Drums
Troy Donockley – Assorted instruments
Les Penning – Recorder
Tom Newman – Bodhrán
Angharad Brinn – Lead Vocals
Record Label: Tigermoth Records
     


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