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Mr. Toad - Trench Art CD (album) cover

TRENCH ART

Mr. Toad

 

Prog Folk

3.92 | 7 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars We progressive rock elitists, if I can allow myself to be redundant, prefer music which isn't. We get ruffled when a song stays in the same time signature for more than a half minute, when a song carries even a whiff of verse-chorus structure, or when an album devotes itself to setting and retaining a mood, especially when that mood is consistently bucolic and caressing. Personally I don't have a problems with any of these "transgressions" which allows me to appreciate this sole release of MR TOAD all the more.

While "Trench Art" incorporates myriad influences including Court and Islands era KING CRIMSON, PENTANGLE, NICK DRAKE, early STRAWBS, DAVID SYLVIAN, HOELDERLIN, and some Canterbury, it draws mostly on the more mellow work of these artists, and the overall effect is that of an original and engaging achievement of mostly instrumental chamber progressive folk.

The members are all highly talented musicians boasting prowess on flutes, strings, and guitars. It is particularly on the lengthy opener "Queen of Hearts" that we hear their more adventurous and almost avant garde aspects. Here the reference would be a bit of "Moonchild" with "Lady of the Dancing Water" and "Islands" thrown in. This is where most progressive fans are likely to be sold on MR TOAD. But, again, apart from an extremely dissonant half minute or so, it might challenge your attention span. I myself have no problems at all, and find it uniformly pleasing.

For the rest, possibly the best track here is the exquisite "Bach's Cat", one of the more imaginative tributes I can recall, including snippets of Bach compositions and even a little of "Green Sleeves". This one recalls early British folk rock, but, as in all cases here, sets its own standards. "Love Tale" piles on the "Cadence and Cascade" axis of KC, down to Michael Giles' nimble percussions impersonated by Tom Dayon and even harp like Frippian plucking by Maor Arbitman. The closing cut is a hypnotic instrumental reminiscent of early HOELDERLIN.

It is rare that a debut album establishes such a consistent yet eclectic vision. Even better, it wins over the listener with understated whimsy, a rarity on any musical level. Trust me, this TOAD is a prince.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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