REVIEWS FOR THE "GUARDIANS" CD

DPRP Review

Tracklist:  Visions (0:50), Voice on the Wind (6:27), The Sparrow (5:55), Guardians (3:17), Elune (3:14), The Woman and the Dragon (3:31), Beautiful World (4:17), Good Times (7:24), City of Light (4:31) 

Formerly known as Magus, The Winter Tree return for the second album under their new name, following on from their eponymous 'debut', The Winter Tree. This album is, however, my introduction to the work of band leader Andrew Laitres's music, so you will be getting a fresh perspective on their music in this review. 

I have to say I enjoyed this music a great deal; so much so that I will be collecting some of his back-catalogue. I loved the soundscape - the choice of instruments almost seemed to be perfect for the mood and tempo, as though the band were creating a painting with sound. In particular, the choice of keyboard and guitar sounds added subtle, but enjoyable textures to the music overall. Melodically and rhythmically the music is sublime. Having said all that, it's not going to be to everyone's taste, as it is not very heavy and rarely "rocks out". The comparisons that came to my mind were to bands such as Camel for the guitar work and Greenslade for the keyboard palette and style. A more modern comparison might be to a project such as Willowglass, though that too derives from a similar origin to the one I've already mentioned. 

Laitres plays bass, acoustic guitars, keyboards and does some singing. The other members of the band are the husband and wife team of Mark and Deb Bond. Deb plays keyboards and does some backing vocals whereas Mark plays a whole load of guitars, including some bass on Good Times, and takes the lead vocals. It's a good voice too and I enjoyed the vocal work on this album. Guest musician Bob Hynes plays drums on The Sparrow and Good Times. 

The pretty, wistful, instrumental introduction immediately roots this music in Camel/Greenslade territory, which is fine by me! Other instrumentals are Guardians, which showcases the album's melodic and rhythmical strengths, The Woman and the Dragon and the rockier finale City of Light, which provides an excellent way to end a fine album. 

As I mentioned, the vocal work on the album is very good and there appears to be a concept running through the lyrics although, perhaps because of the allegorical nature of the story and the lack of printed lyrics, I haven't yet made the effort to fathom out the intent. The gorgeously melodic Beautiful World perhaps provides the necessary clue for those who are interested, in that the lyrics clearly relate to the destruction of nature and the environment. This is a very catchy song, one of the album's highlights. Other notable points are The Sparrow, with its attractive, long synthesiser and guitar instrumental intro, the slow tempoed Good Times, with its impressive vocal control delivering an attractive melody, and Elune, for the beauty of its guitar playing. 

Without a weak moment, recommending this album is a no-brainer. I am amazed that this band has never received a recommendation-level score on DPRP, neither for The Winter Tree nor for its albums under the Magus brand. I must investigate some of the other music, but in the meantime I have no hesitation in recommending this to lovers of Camel, Greenslade or similar bands. 

Conclusion: 8 out of 10 

ALEX TORRES 

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Sea of Tranquility review

Winter Tree, The: Guardians



The Winter Tree is a collaboration between founder Andrew Laitres (bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, sound effects, vocals), Mark Bond (lead vocals, guitars, bass, sound effects), Deb Bond (keyboards, backing vocals) and Bob Hynes (drums). 


Formerly known as Magus, Guardians is Winter Tree's second album, the follow up to their self-titled debut released in 2011. That was an excellent album and the trend continues with Guardians. The music of The Winter Tree continues to be melodic progressive rock with influences ranging from Pink Floyd to Camel. At times it is quite a mellow affair, with pastoral elements scratching the surface giving the album a dreamlike quality. That said, there are more intense moments to be had, especially Bond's Gilmour influenced guitar work. The opening piece "Visions" is a case in point. The dreamy textures are intensified with Bond's exceptional lead work invoking a strong '70s sensibility. "Voice on the Wind" is more upbeat and heavier, the guitars carrying more crunch and a little more bite. There are still softer elements; a subtle electronic sound in the background and a more languid guitar tone at times but the overall effect is a heavier sound. 

One of my favourite tracks is the lovely "Elune" filled with gentle acoustic guitar and emotive vocals, a good match for the evocative lyrics. Other worthwhile mentions include the lush "The Sparrow" complete with subtle piano and washes of steel guitar and the symphonic "The Woman and the Dragon", an instrumental number showcasing nice dynamics between softer and more intense sections. A couple of moving ballads, "Beautiful World" and "Good Times" rounds out the package before the organ drenched "City of Light" brings to an end with what is a very good album. 

If you liked their first album Guardians should be a no brainer. Symphonic progressive rock with an artful twist. Recommended! 

Track listing: 
1. Visions (1:50) 
2. Voice on the Wind (6:27) 
3. The Sparrow (5:55) 
4. Guardians (3:17) 
5. Elune (3:14) 
6. The Woman and the Dragon (3:31) 
7. Beautiful World (4:17) 
8. Good Times (7:24) 
9. City of Light (4:31) 

Added: September 7th 2012
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf

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PROGSHEET   John Wilcox

Hooray for the northeast! Vermonty fresh proggers Andrew Laitres, Mark Bond, and Deb Bond are The Winter Tree. Guardians is the band's 2nd release. I asked Laitres if he'd take our readers on a track-by-track journey through this fine album and he happily obliged...

 Track 1: Visions
AL: I often like to start albums with a short instrumental that sets the tone for what follows. Visions is based around a simple theme from the following song called Voice On The Wind. I laid down the keyboard parts and Mark overdubbed a guitar solo in two takes. Except for the main keyboard theme, this piece was very spontaneous and was quickly created in real time.

 Track 2: Voice On The Wind
AL: The basis of this song, instrumentally, was composed by me back in 1994 when a friend loaned me his expensive Kurzweil keyboard. I finally got around to writing lyrics for it last September. It's my sci-fi/fantasy take on the Book Of Revelation. It was going to be part of a 20 minute + epic, but I decided against doing that because I'm not a Christian and have no desire to labeled a "Christian band". I do find the subject fascinating and like to feel that as an artist and long time seeker I can explore any subject that inspires me. Several other songs from the aborted epic turn up on this album later.

Voice On The Wind is one of our harder rocking songs and features a great Mark Bond vocal, most of it in one take, as well as some tasteful guitar breaks. Deb Bond contributed some really cool lead synth lines and understated piano and electric piano. I think we managed to combine many different musical elements with the hard rock style.

 Track 3: The Sparrow
AL: This is the first of two songs that Mark and Deb contributed to the album. It features Mark's newly acquired steel guitar and some very evocative synth and piano playing from Deb. Lyrically, it's kind of an impressionistic piece about a sparrow that lives deep in a forest and what's going on around her. I added a subtle Mellotron string part on the last verse and played bass and bass pedals. Mark, Deb, and I sang the backing vocals. A friend of Mark and Deb's named Bob Hynes played drums on this track.

 Track 4: Guardians
AL: I like to feature an electronic/techno instrumental on each album and this was my contribution, performed by me. The title was inspired by Minna Sundberg's painting which we used as our album artwork. Minna is an amazing young artist from Finland that also did the artwork for our debut album. Except for the main musical theme, this was very much improvised and recorded quickly. I wanted to create a sense of movement and action in the stereo imaging. I've been recording electronic instrumentals since 1987 and am thinking of releasing a compilation of all the pieces I've done with a few brand new ones. We'll see...

 Track 5: Elune
AL: This is probably my favorite song on the album. It came out pretty much the way I envisioned it at the start of writing. Mark wrote the lyrics and asked me if I wanted to write the music. Composing music to already written lyrics has always been fun and inspiring for me. On the debut Winter Tree album many of the songs were poems adapted to music from early 20th century British poets. The music and melodies to Elune came very quickly to me and I knew we had something special. It also, lyrically, fit well with the Guardians concept and artwork. Aside from his great vocals, Mark also laid down a lovely guitar solo. At first he recorded a kind of wild, aggressive solo which didn't work. This was his second stab and it was pure magic. I performed the lion's share of the instrumental backing, with Deb contributing the piano and a synth line. I sang lead on the beginning and ending sections, my only lead vocal contributions.

 Track 6: The Woman And The Dragon
AL: This is an instrumental piece from the would be epic. This was another very spontaneous piece and I recorded the keyboards very quickly. I did a quick but careful mix to play for Mark and Deb. At a later session the disc containing the keyboard tracks got accidentally erased, so I had to use the original rough mix of the keyboards. Mark overdubbed some guitar, cymbal hits, and the dragon and eagle sound effects. Deb played some sinister sounding french horn and bassoon sounds on the second full-on section.

 Track 7: Beautiful World
AL: I've always been very concerned about the environment, it's a theme that has popped up many times in my songs through the years. I also spend a lot of my free time hiking and exploring. This is my ode to our beautiful planet and man's mistreatment of it. Mark sang all the vocals as well as all of the electric guitar parts, including a very moving solo. Deb played a leslied organ and I did all the rest.

 Track 8: Good Times
AL: A very moving song that Mark wrote about his father. Deb co-wrote the music and played all of the keyboards. Mark performed all of the guitar and vocals while I supplied the bass.

 Track 9: City Of Light
AL: This piece would have been the final section of the above mentioned epic had we gone down that avenue. It still makes a great album closer! I probably spent the most time on this piece, part of the reason being that it was also on the disc that mysteriously got erased and I had to recreate it. Mark played all the guitar parts and Deb laid down the lead synth lines and a string part. There are some truly exciting moments in this song and many dynamic/mood changes as well as a feeling of triumph.
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Sea of Tranquility review


THE WINTER TREE DEBUT CD



Winter Tree, The: The Winter Tree



"The Winter Tree, (formerly MAGUS) is a band formed by composer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres, (a.k.a. Andrew Robinson) with vocalist/guitarist Mark Bond and his wife Deb Bond on keyboards" (http://www.thewintertreeband.com/about.html, 2011). Andrew was inspired to create his own epics after visiting, "a New York City YES fan convention in 1994"  

This new project for Andrew Laitres and crew really captures the power and presence of the music I grew up with as a kid. It is magical and transports you back to a time when we seemed to have more time to sit back and enjoy music to its fullest. "In May", "The Three Hills" and "A Twilight in Middle March", are poetry set to music and are some of the highlights of the album that bring back that 70s era prog. "The Other" and "The Adventures of Prince Caspian" will bring you right up to the present. This album will figure prominently on my best albums of the year list. 

"Voices from a Lost Age" opens cool and mysteriously with deep dark key sounds before synthesizers whirl and swirl and build a tempest; just before softer keys take over and calm the soundscape. A brilliant and powerful opener. 

Deep drums and percussion fill the soundscape with synths and keys providing the momentum to open "Babylon" perfectly. Andrew Laitres captures the glory of the poetry of Ralph Hodgson and fills it with an incredibly grand sound. "If you could bring her past to pass!" 

"Keeper of 10,000 dreams don't take it all away. I never wanted anything except another day" are the wonderful lyrics that open "Guardian Angel", one of the best tracks on the album. The keys and guitars rise up to meet the power of the lyrics and vocals. Deb's electric piano
 and Andrew's lead vocals walk us through this song of comfort. 

"Fading Shadows" is a soft and brilliant keyboard interlude. A nice bridge between songs. 

"In May" is a wonderful spring song filled with flute like organ sounds and wonderful acoustic guitar. Despite the band's name this spring song captures the feeling so well in words, "And sit beneath the trees, and share my bread with birds whose homes are there", and music. Adapted from William Henry Davies poem, this is another wonderful slice of life, full of the sound of seagulls and the ocean. 

Piano like organ sounds and drums fill the air for "Now That You've Flown". Mark Bond sings lead vocals on this song. He and Andrew are close enough in sound that it's hard to tell the difference. More great lyrics, "I would climb every mountain, swim across the sea. Oh, to have you with me I'd do anything". A great song of longing full of some great guitar solos and excellent key work. 

"A Twilight in Middle March" is a classic song full of all the memories of prog's great past. Based on a poem by Francis Ledwidge, this is the best song on the album. Takes you right back to Trick of the Tail or earlier. The guitar work and keys are just phenomenal. The strings, bells, and chimes will send shivers. The lyrics and vocals capture all the power and imagery of the change of seasons in this mighty month. "Yet sweeter music never touched our heart". Yes, that sums it up perfectly. 

Ocean and radio wave like sounds open "The Other", before a very cool Blade Runner/Tron keyboard ride. This is Deb Bond's keyboard showcase/extravaganza and she doesn't disappoint. The best keyboard song on the album, bare none."The Three Hills" is adapted from J.C. Squire's poem. All of the imagery is captured well in word and song. The keyboards and percussion will take you right back to the 70s and some of the best songs you remember from that golden age. "Where are the old hills gone?" Yes the vocals and piano - like keys bring the sympathy and feeling that just wells up and surrounds you with warmth. 

Deep piano notes open the sad song, "Stranger", with a longing for a time now passed. The words are powerful, "It seems like such a long, long way to go. The end is nowhere in sight. Only love can change your life". The guitar solos really drive the emotions along with those keys. 

"The Adventures of Prince Caspian" is a wonderful instrumental journey to close this epic debut album. The keys summon all the magic and power of the books and movie to build an impressive musical experience. Only complaint, it was way too short for an epic. 

This one gets an easy 4 out of 5 – Everyone should be gifted enough to create this powerful a debut album! 



Track Listing 
1) Voices from a Lost Age 
2) Babylon 
3) Guardian Angel 
4) Fading Shadows 
5) In May 
6) Now That You've Flown 
7) A Twilight in Middle March 
8) The Other 
9) The Three Hills 
10) Stranger 
11) The Adventures of Prince Caspian 
Part I - Under a Narnian Sea 
Part II - To The End of the World 
Part III - Voyage of the Dawn Treader 

Added: January 26th 2012
Reviewer: Mark Johnson

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The Jock Of Rock Review: The Winter Tree

 Publish Notes:  
Cider Magazine May, 2011 Bellows Falls, VT

The Jock Of Rock Review: The Winter Tree 

BRATTLEBORO, VT.-Progressive music trio The WinterTree, recently released an epic, self-titled CD created over the last year and released in March. The disc was recorded at The Mill in Brattleboro,VT and Hidden Valley Studio in Charlestown, NH.

Courtesy Photo 

Formerly known as Magus, the band moniker has a rich musical history dating back to 1985. Main-stay band leader and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres(also known as Andrew Robinson and residing in Brattleboro) formed Magus with the aspirations of creating original compositions, after several years of performing in various regional cover bands.

"I started playing in bands when I was 14 years old," Andrew said in a recent interview. "My first professional band was 8084, which I helped form when I was 20. A few years later I played in a band called Megaforce which featured singer Joey Belladonna,who shortly there- after joined Anthrax."

From 1987 through 1993 Magus would issue several demo and cassette releases, before Laitres decided to release an official full-length CD, inspired after discovering all these progressive bands that were self-releasing and promoting their own music, while attending a YES fan convention in New York City.

In 1995, Andrew recorded and released Magus' self-titled debut CD and formed a band for live performances with local keyboard player Debbie Moore and drummer Jeff Costello. They began working on a follow up CD, but the trio was short-lived and went their separate ways.

Laitres would then sign with the progressive rock label Inearvisions, finish the follow up recording with engineer Bryce Chicoine, and release Traveller in 1997. The CD received a positive response, however, momentum was lost when Inearvision did not fulfill their obligation by disrupting distribution of the CD, forcing Laitres to sever all ties with the label.

The following year, Andrew independently released an instrumental, 18-minute electronica EP titled Highway 375 which was well received, before ending the millennium by releasing a compilation CD titled "Echos From The Edge of The Millenium: Magus 1987-1999". The disc was a collection of re-mixed tracks from the previous three Magus releases, plus four bonus tracks of previously unreleased material.

Laitres would form a new band featuring Japanese keyboard wizard Rue Yamauchi and drummer Steve Perkins,but the trio did not hold and Andrew carried on to release The Green Earth, which featured several guest musicians. The disc was more acoustic guitar driven with shorter songs that were more accessible, which led to the best sales of any Magus CD.

Magus would next release a concept album titled "The Garden", which featured drummer Tomas Hjort from the Swedish band Cross and a guest bass-appearance from the late Gary Strater of Starcastle fame. Most agree, including Andrew, that The Garden was the best Magus effort to date.

Fast-forward to last year, as Laitres decided to change the long-time moniker of the band to The Winter Tree, named for a song by one of his favorite bands, Renaissance. "I had done a Google search last year and many bands came up that had Magus as, or part of, their names," Andrew said. "I hadn't released any new material for a few years, so I figured it was time for a new beginning."

Along with new band mates Deb and Mark Bond(residing in Charlestown),the trio just released the self-titled CD in March simply titled The Winter Tree, arranged, produced and mixed by Laitres. Deb(Moore)Bond is a former keyboard of Magus during the Traveller era and her husband Mark(guitars and vocals)is a solo artist with several releases under his belt. "The biggest difference from what I was doing previously, is the addition of Mark's world class vocals," Laitres said. "I think the addition of Mark and Deb have helped bring the music to the next level".

"Deb and I have been playing in Brattleboro(at Adagio's Trattoria)at least once a month for the past three-plus years," Mark Bond stated in a recent interview. "Andy would come and see us play, we got talking one evening and he told me about a new project he was working on and if I'd be interested on doing some vocal tracks.

"Well, once we got into it,vocal tracks were just the start. We ended up doing a bunch of guitar tracks, I did a little bass guitar work, Deb started doing keyboard tracks and I helped with mixing. We spent about five months working on the project and are all very proud of the final results."

The music is epic, seamlessly weaving in and out of various original lyrics, poetic interpretations, rhythms and textures that take the listener on a musical journey. "The Winter Tree is a true prog-rock project," Bond said. "It is very reflective of anything from the early days of Genesis, to the rhythm-driven sounds of today. Anyone familiar with Andy's previous project Magus will recognize the sound. This was really Andy's baby-he wrote the songs, did the arrangements…and really did a brilliant job marrying poetry with music."

However, a question remains; will there be any live performances as The Winter Tree? "That is an interesting question that is yet to be answered," Deb Bond said in a recent interview. "I suppose it would depend on what kind of response the CD receives. Mark and I feel very close to this music and although our schedules are heavy with day jobs and duo shows, we feel that any legitimate opportunity to promote this beautiful music would be a gift. Andy really is much too humble and needs to take more credit for the brilliant songwriting, arranging,
 mixing and most of the instrumentation."

The overall CD packaging is pristine, including a magnificent front cover painting by Minna Sundberg and a color booklet complete with song lyrics, and cool artwork and photos. "We're very excited about the new CD, which took a year to record and mix,"Laitres concluded. "The cover artwork by Minna Sundberg, a young artist from Finland, is superb and I'm very happy by everyone's musical performance. I hope it takes the listener on a pleasent journey."
To learn more about The WinterTree or to order a copy of the self-titled CD, visit www.kinesiscd.com. The release is also available through te bands' web site at www.thewintertreeband.com.

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Prognaut Review


Artist/ Band: The Winter Tree
 Title: The Winter Tree
 Label: Progrock Records
 Year of Release: 2011
Offical Artist/ Band Link 





The Review:

The Winter Tree (formerly Magnus) is a new project headed by multi-instrumentalist/composer Andrew Laitres a.k.a. Andrew Robinson. Joining Andrew is Mark Bond (vocals, guitars), and Mark’s wife Deb Bond (keyboards). This trio appears on the self titled debut. It sounds

 like there’s more musicians but it’s three amazing musicians. 
The music tends to flow endlessly and if you‘re not paying attention you might miss out on some really good songs. Before I continue, I need to stress that this album sounds best on headphones as well as higher end stereos. 

From opening grand sounding “Voices From A Lost Age” (1:53) to longest song on the album, “The Adventures of Prince Caspian” (6:53), you are treated to some very good symphonic melodic progressive rock with the emphasis on melodic. 

I really don’t have any favorite songs off the album because as I stated previously that the album flows from track to track. The music gets better every time I listened to it. If I had to give references, I’d say a cross between the world-music era Peter Gabriel and the more recent Pink Floyd and Camel. There’s also a mystical vibe I get on my most current listen. 

In closing, if you’re looking for some calming progressive based music then look no further than The Winter Tree’s self titled debut. It’s easily becoming one of my favorite releases of 2011. I would strongly recommend getting a copy A.S.A.P. from either the band or your favorite vendor.

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on July 10th, 2011


Tracks: 

01. Voices From A Lost Age 02. Babylon 03. Guardian Angel 04. Fading Shadows 05. In May 06. Now That You've Flown 07. A Twilight In Middle March 08. The Other 09. The Three Hills 10. Stranger 11. The Adventures of Prince Caspian i) Under A Narnian Sea... ii) To the End of the World! iii) Voyage of the Dawn Treader 
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Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother 
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team 
4 Stars. 
 As progressive rock listeners, many of us love challenging and complex music. However, once in a while, it's nice to discover an album that still has plenty of progressive qualities that is actually easy to unwind to, adventurous but not necessarily demanding, and `The Winter Tree's `Twilight of the Magicians' may just be one of those! Entirely composed by The Magus' multi-instrumentalist Andrew Laitres with some guest contributions, this is the third release to appear under the Winter Tree title. Inspired by the writings of the late Rudolf Steiner about the lost continent of Atlantis, you don't need to know that work to enjoy what is simply a lavish and colourful progressive music journey. It's a predominately instrumental album with elements of the progressive electronic, new-age and ambient genres, some dance music and lush symphonic prog drama too. All of these styles coming together in the manner of Mike Oldfield, modern Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre, to name just a few.
`The Lumerians' opens the album in the manner of those pleasing instrumentals on the old Alan Parsons Project albums. Glistening electric piano with an upbeat smoothness, even a subtle modern Tangerine Dream influence, but full of wonder. Not surprisingly, `Dolphin' has gently symphonic synth washes with soft pulses and a twinkling delicate touch. The infectious and positive title track `Twilight of the Magicians' is a nice psychedelic chill-out, full of sitar, shimmering electric piano and wisps of Mellotron all given flight by cool grooving beats. `Angels and Demons' sees evil - thick hot Hammond organ, pounding aggressive beats and heavy riffs - dueling with good - breezy Ozric Tentacles-like synth ripples and a catchy dance melody. There's a precious Rick Wright quality to guest Eugene Uman's piano throughout `Cosmic Sea', full of a blissful soothing ambience. After an introductory narration and drifting wavering synths, a victorious theme delivered by dreamy piano over a softly slinking beat floats by in an unhurried fashion, with some nicely trilling symphonic Moogs for the finale.

`The Last Morning' is a spellbinding electronic interlude similar to Steve Roach's music, with serene waves of lulling synths both sheltering and completely enveloping. The sense of tranquility is disturbed by `Sinking Island!' (yes, with the exclamation mark!), a sense of panic and urgency powered by skittering dance beats, a wild mix of swirling synths full of movement and rupturing electric guitar before a restrained ethereal climax. `A New Atlantis' is the only vocal piece on the album, an upbeat slice of psychedelic pop with a catchy melody charmingly sung by guest Baiba Kranate. `Lightworker' is a peaceful and wondrous New Age drone, once again similar to Steve Roach or even Jean Michel Jarre. Full of fragility and a tranquil peace, it truly is the soundtrack to a new world being created. It would be wonderful to hear an entire album from Mr. Laitres in this style.

With an exquisite fantasy cover by talented artist Laura Siadak (do yourself a favour and explore her enchanting work further), `Twilight of the Magicians' is a pleasing collection of a variety of progressive and ambient related styles, all delivered in very melodic and uncomplicated arrangements. It works perfectly well as either a pleasing background listen or as a source of relaxation for those who wish to enjoy well played progressive music without it being a distraction. Andrew Laitres is a man of many musical talents, and on this work he constantly displays great musical taste and sophisticated skill. Hopefully there's more Winter Tree albums in the near future, or even a fully ambient/New Age/electronic release - hint hint, Mr Laitres!

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four. 

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REVIEW OF "Twilight of the Magicians"
Magus — Lucid Dreamer
(Big Balloon Music BBM1201, 1998/2005, CD)

by Mac Beaulieu, Published 2006-05-01

Lucid Dreamer is a compilation of tracks from the 1997 album Traveller and the follow-up Highway 375 EP, remastered for the fuller sound that Magus guru Andrew Robinson intended. Also included are a couple of previously unreleased live tracks. “Traveller” opens in atmospheric languor before striking up a trance-like beat; I humorously caught myself thinking “this is great traveling music” before remembering the track’s title. “When the Sun Burns Out” is an attention-grabber that considers the primal dilemmas humans continue to endure despite having reached the apogee of modernity. It opens with news reporting of a tragic human disaster and the near helplessness of our responses, underscoring the implication in the refrain that “the human race is not evolving, only its machines.” Scientific and intellectual advances notwithstanding, we’re just organisms fighting for survival and “we’ll keep on fighting till the sun burns out.” It’s a great hook, simple and catchy while striking a profound chord. The rest of the disc sees Robinson arriving at various space rock destinations, including a couple of epic twenty-minute suites; a fine combination of accessibility and exploration. Even when dabbling in ambient-like atmospheres, he’s usually rooted in a solid groove that makes this disc particularly well-suited for driving or spacing, encouraging the listener’s mind to wander at will while welcoming it back to active listening at any point. Magus has changed styles a few times and Lucid Dreamer seems a good place to start for the curious.
Winter Tree, The: Earth Below



I have been fortunate to have heard every Winter Tree album released so far and have not been disappointed yet. In what has been a very busy couple of years for Andrew Laitres, it seems fitting to cap it off with a new album. Earth Below is another fine release and will be a must have if you are a fan of the band. 


Laitres has done it a little differently this time getting Jacob Holm-Lupo (Opium Cartel, White Willow) to mix the album in his Norwegian studio. Jacob also adds guitar and synths on a few tracks. Laitres also enlisted the help of Mattias Olsson (ex-Anglagard, White Willow, Necromonkey) who adds drums and percussion. Rounding out the lineup is previous contributor Mark Bond (vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, steel guitar) and Baiba Kranate (vocals on track 8). 

Earth Below has everything you would expect from the band; solid lead vocals, beautiful keyboard soundscapes and melodic guitar with some nice solos scattered throughout. This is a very dreamlike album and Laitres has just the right singing style to hook the listener in. There are some real nice vocal melodies throughout the disc. 

The opening tune "Plank" is one of the catchiest with the keyboard melody reminding me of Supertramp. The title track is absolutely beautiful with softly hued instrumentation and a dramatic backdrop of dreamy keyboard sounds. "Twilight" is another melodic gem with a Parson's feel while the album ending "A Thousand Futures" is probably the prettiest offering with lovely backing vocals and gently played keys and synths. 

For me, the album's best song is "The World Upon Her Shoulders" highlighted with bluesy lead guitar and darkly lit orchestrations having a foreboding tone. 

My only gripe is the album's length. At about forty minutes it is pretty short by today's standards. It would have been nice to have included a couple more tracks. Keep in mind this is a minor complaint as I will take quality over quantity any day of the week. 

The Winter Tree have come out with another fabulous set of tunes of gently played symphonic art rock that just might gain a few fans if given half the chance. Another job well done from Mr. Laitres and company. 


Track Listing: 
1. Plank (6:48) 
2. Earth Below (6:40) 
3. Writing On The Wall (4:02) 
4. The World Upon Her Shoulders (6:21) 
5. The Garden Of Love (3:01) 
6. The Light (4:00) 
7. Twilight (4:56) 
8. A Thousand Futures (4:18) 
Added: September 25th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf