Resurgence 2001 / Esoteric 2013
Ancient lore and secrets uncovered through instrumental wizardry by the YES-men of the future and the present.
It’s all in the family: just like his father, Oliver Wakeman‘s always been fascinated with fairy tales and legends, and the young keyboard player was working on “Mysteries And Mythologies,” a follow-up to his debut “Heaven’s Isle,” when a chance meeting with Steve Howe, whom he knew from childhood days, elevated the project to a whole new level. The guitarist’s commitment with YES, the band that junior Wakeman would join later, meant the development of the ideas took a long time, during which Oliver teamed up with PENDRAGON‘s Clive Nolan, and their “Jabberwocky” became a highly acclaimed work. Toning down from that extravaganza with a leaner set of players, Oliver changed the concept and the title with regards to perception of supernatural things in different historic periods and wrapped up this instrumental journey through time – now expanded and remastered.
With a strong folk element, the title track starts it in the arresting interplay of Wakeman’s Moog and Joe Greenland’s fiddle as if to create the cosmic science-versus-tradition effect which grows in scope before Howe weaves an additional acoustic lace and liquid electricity into the texture, while Oliver resolves the tension into piano runs, and then the guitar picks up the main theme again. Wordless voices create another dimension for such an enchantment, opening a space for a rustic majesty in “Time Between Times” to shift from mellow Arcadian flow to dark and dramatic ripple, while Tony Dixon’s Uilleann pipes anchor the romanticism of “Standing Stones” to both gothic gloom and jazzy light. But “The Enchanter” rocks hard, passing its monumental motion from organ to the six-string riffs and harmonic solo passages until the honky tonk pitches in – not unlike it was in Wakeman Sr’s “Merlin.”
Yet if there are comparisons between Rick and his son, the sensual unplugged elegy of “The Forgotten King” blows them away, albeit genes are at play on “Lutey And The Mermaid,” whereas Steve’s contribution comes frontal on “The Storyteller” as he embroiders the basic keyboards theme with mesmeric lines, almost completely absent from the piece’s demo, “Dream Weaver,” a bonus here, and adds a hint at “Ode To Joy” to it. There’s no joviality, though, in “Hy Breasail” that marries orchestral sweep to the fiery flamenco of the same kind that Howe had performed on QUEEN’s “Innuendo” a decade before this album came to a fruition, but much more nuanced and exquisite here. Some compositions didn’t make the cut for “The 3 Ages” and complement its scope now, “Hit ‘N Myth” packing its theme in a streamline upbeat arrangement and “The Faerie Ring” exerting elegant tenderness in a chamber, if ultimately progressive, way.
A deep and dim masterpiece has not received its accolades on arrival, but it doesn’t require any magic to change the perception now – the music’s beauty speaks for itself.