Mau, Melanie & Schnella, Martin - Invoke The Ghosts,
The arrival of an album featuring either Melanie or Martin is always a cause for celebration, when it features both even more so, and although this is their fifth album together, in many ways it is actually their second as like 2017’s ‘Oblivion Tales’ it contains only originals as opposed to their delightful albums of rearranged covers. Melanie (lead and backing vocals), Martin (acoustic, electric and baritone guitars, vocals), Mathias Ruck (vocals), Lars Lehmann (bass, fretless bass) and Simon Schröder (percussion, bodhrán, drums, vocals) have also been joined by a few guests, most notably multi-instrumentalist Jens Kommnick (uilleann pipes, low whistle, tin whistle, cello, acoustic guitar). Most of the material is based around the acoustic guitar, yet is always highly complex and complicated, with the rest of the instruments joining in a way which often has much in common with folk as it does with prog, but the vocals are far more rock based which is why they should be thought of as prog folk as opposed to the other way around.
Melanie has one of the nicest female vocals in prog, one which encourages listeners to join in, and she can be gentle and quiet or loud and ripping, while the many years of singing with Martin means they have an instinctive feeling on how to get the best out of any arrangement. “Where’s My Name” starts with just the two of them, with the rest of the band coming in to provide more support yet always being delicate and is sheer delight. As the song develops it becomes more complex, with real breadth, but never losing the innocence and naivety of the beginning, until it gets halfway through and then takes on an Arabic feel in the instrumental section, showing just how these guys can be leading the listener down one path and then jumping into another, so when it finally rocks out no-one should be really surprised.
We also get two numbers which are more than nine minutes in length, with “Of Witches and a Pure Heart” being a real showstopper as the band shifts and changes throughout, yet always with those wonderful vocals front and centre. This is a track to investigate if one has not previously come across this band as this contains all that make these such a vital outfit. The guitar playing is simply insane, at times bringing in the complexity of Roy Harper, yet it can switch into a simple ballad, be a belter, allow the listener to sit back and bathe in the wonderful singing, or be driven to join in as there is no other choice.
Yet another superb album, which all progheads and folkies need to seek out.