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The Morrigan - Hidden Agenda CD (album) cover

HIDDEN AGENDA

The Morrigan

 

Prog Folk

4.01 | 12 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars After retrenching somewhat for a couple of releases, the MORRIGAN released their most ambitious and eclectic effort to date in "Hidden Agenda". The turbocharged Celtic style remains in several instrumental tracks but with more jazzy arrangements at times comparable to MOVING HEARTS from an earlier time, as the lunatics have decided to run the asylum and it's about time.

The alterations are notable from the opening cut "Swallow's Tail" in which synthesizers and electric guitars predominate and familiar traditional melodies partner up with reggae beats and soaring leads. The band has never glowed to this degree, and the effect is repeated on "Volta". But the real breakthroughs occur in "In the End/Tristan's Lament", "A Night to Remember", and "The Other", in which a certain classicism and theatrical flair is discerned for the first time, and the sound incorporates symphonic and neo prog tendencies while remaining fresh. Mervyn B and Cathy Alexander share duties and both shine in roles seemingly written for them.

"In the End"'s mood is one of breathless yet dreamlike urgency and some of the instrumental sections incorporate middle eastern themes, at times reminiscent of ERIS PLUVIA's early work. "A Night to Remember" is shockingly even more ambitious, beginning with a classical flourish which is carried throughout to varying degrees. It's probably Cathy Alexander's defining moment with the MORRIGAN as her account of a seafaring vessel in trouble, and by extension perhaps the British Empire, recalls the irreverence of MADDY PRIOR's renditions of "Saucy Sailor/Black Freighter" of bygone days but ratchets it up a notch.

With this release, the MORRIGAN's courting of progressive rock is no longer a very well hidden agenda, so I suggest that most readers begin their exploration of this fine band right here. For the folk purists who might be slumming here, work your way chronologically to this point so as to avoid losing your spectacles in this stampede. Highly recommended, simply transcendent music.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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