Exposé Online banner

Mormos — Great Wall of China
(Spalax CD14540, 1971/1997, CD)

Mormos — ...The Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath...
(Spalax CD 14541, 1972/1997, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-07-11

Great Wall of China Cover art...The Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath... Cover art

In some ways, Mormos can be seen as an American equivalent to the Incredible String Band. They have a similarly free-wheeling take on folk music, infusing it with flower-power enthusiasm and disrespect for conventions, rendering it on a variety of instruments from ancient to modern. There are no real overt psychedelic touches except the general attitude. The band was originally from Illinois, but worked in Paris playing festivals and recording these two albums for the French CBS label (along with another in collaboration with singer François Béranger that I haven’t heard). And while it could be argued that the singers in Mormos actually have better voices than Robin Williamson and Mike Heron in ISB (with the glaring exception of the really grating crone-on-helium performance on “The Crimson Uniform”), to my ear the music is less successful. Many of the lyrics have a very dated ring to them, with lines about seeing “the hand of your brother.” Some of the musical arrangements are inventive, featuring recorders, balalaikas, cello, bongos, and tambourines. The style is often a kind of pseudo-medieval balladry, but touches on ragtime blues occasionally, as many bands did at the time - though in some ways, this music sounds more like it would have been at home in 1966 Greenwich Village than 1971 Paris. The original LPs apparently drew ridiculous prices on the collectors’ market, but luckily the late-90s reissues provide a less-expensive way to experience a really obscure corner of music history. While I can’t fault the quality of the players, the music just never gels for me, leaving it a curiosity rather than a recovered classic.


Filed under: Reissues, 1997 releases, 1971 recordings, 1972 recordings

Related artist(s): Mormos

Latest news

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Carmen - Fandangos in Space & Dancing on a Cold Wind – It's about time that these albums received a proper re-release after the butcher job the German Line label did with them in the late 80s (large parts of tracks missing, track indexes in the wrong...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues