Tempest — Turn of the Wheel
(Magna Carta MA-9007-2, 1996, CD)
by Jeff Melton, 1996-08-01:
Tempest is led by Lief Sorbye (formerly of folk group Golden Bough). This is their first album for the Magna Carta label and their fourth disc overall. Jigs and reels and storytelling: that's what this band is about. You must pay close attention to the lyrics to understand the story or the bulk of the song's impact is lost. Turn of the Wheel is filled with swirling flute and violin as well as additional backing from mandolin, and some rollicking electric guitar (to add a more rockish flavor to the songs). The band's style is very similar to latterday Fairport Convention, or the more folk-rockish albums by Jethro Tull (Heavy Horses period). Lief's vocal narratives are reminiscent of Simon Nicol's as well as Michael Mullen's violin comparable to that of Dave Swarbrick's. The Celtic electric (Cel-ectric?) guitar playing is solid, with good rhythm playing that has a stronger 'edge' to it than most of the folk bands who have tried to incorporate rock elements into folk music. Tempest is a good fusion of these styles without overwhelming arrangements. Production work is by Robert Berry who provides good keyboard (organ) foundation layering to several of the tracks. The Leadoff song, "The Barrow Man," features some rather subdued playing by guest Keith Emerson ( who worked with Berry in '3'), but is a great beginning to a strong effort by some talented folks.
by Mike Ohman, 1996-08-01:
No, this is not Allan Holdsworth's hard rock band reunited. This is a new band mating Celtic folk and rock, and doing quite a job of it I might add. Comparisons to Jethro Tull (especially vocally) and Horslips circa The Tain (overall instrumental style) might be made, but it's clear Tempest are no mere mimes. They build their sound from the ground up, starting off with a traditional theme, and building a rock texture around it. The rock feel is expressed mainly through the rhythm section and guitar, keyboards (organ chords appear often in the background, the odd synth-string chords pop up at dramatic moments) definitely take a secondary role here. The folk sound is well represented, utilizing fiddles, pennywhistle, mandolins, mandola, bodhran and the occasional flute. No, Horslips fans, no concertina, but the incidental use of harmonica seems to occupy its vacated space. This may well be Magna Carta's best release to date, it certainly is very different from their usual prog metal/symphonic neo stock-in-trade. The only band I know making this type of music these days. If you've missed it as much as I have, give this album a try.
by Mike McLatchey, 1996-08-01:
Tempest (not to be confused with the ex-Colosseum group) wasn't a group I would have expected to review in Exposé as I considered them a straighter folk-rock band from the tracks I'd heard on nationally syndicated radio program Thistle & Shamrock. Even on their last album, Surfing to Mecca, the sound was too imbued with elements of country and pop to be close to my tastes. They also tour quite often in the Bay Area (where they hail from) so I was very surprised to see their new album on the Magna Carta label, a label I normally associate with digital synths and electronic drum sets. Tempest have matured quite a bit over the years – their vast touring experience has honed them into a fine ensemble. Dropping most of the country and bluegrass influences, Tempest's latest blend is an electrified Celtic folk rock that has a lot of similarities to bands like the Horslips, Fairport Convention (circa Tipplers Tales) and the French group Ys. There's no doubt that Magna Carta had some influence in bringing the band's Jethro Tull similarities more to the front, especially due to Lief Sorbye’s voice. Appearances by Keith Emerson and Robert Berry tie this even closer to the Magna Carta brand of prog rock and it's quite interesting to note how different this album is from Surfing to Mecca. This new synthesis has made Tempest's music much more immediate. Reels and jigs galore – Tempest's new album makes a good companion for a late night at the pub. This is certainly both Magna Carta and Tempest's finest effort to date.
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Playing the Piano / Out of Noise – Some thirty-five years ago Japanese rock music was still an unknown subject, the only exception being percussionist Stomu Yamash’ta. Then came the Yellow Magic Orchestra, which marked the beginning... (2010) » Read more