Gryphon reinvent Alice in Wonderland


Sometimes people sigh at me for being such an anglophile. And in these Brexit times I am increasingly seeing their point. The insular attitude of the Brits is not exactly helpful at the moment. 

But then a strange oddity like Gryphon’s new album ‘Reinvention’ comes along and makes me forget all of that.

You really have to be a bit insular to make an album like this.

Gryphon were a band that got away with putting out albums of medieval music back in the 70s by adding drums and amplifiers to their crumhorns, lutes, flutes and whatnot, and calling it prog.

Here they are back with their first album in 40 years or so, with all their original members (except Richard Harvey) chipping in together with some new recruits. 40 years might seem like a long hiatus, but in the medieval perspective it feels just like yesterday.

And the new album can easily be compared to the original ones, as the nice folks at Esoteric Records are just now releasing a double CD with remastered versions of all the original albums. Particularly, the irresistibly titled ‘Midnight Mushrumps’ and ‘Red Queen to Gryphon Three’ are highly recommended albums as far as I am concerned.

Although Gryphon got away with calling themselves a rock band back then, they really weren’t. And they still are not. How about music for a Robin Hood reunion party? Even the singer sounds like a bard at King Edward’s court. Well-articulated and declamatory as if trained to make himself understood to a large crowd without extra amplification.

In any case, a track like ‘Haddock’s Eyes’ is exactly the type of thing I simply adore. 

‘Haddock’s Eyes’ is a term for the name of a song sung by The White Knight in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking-Glass’, in chapter VIII to be exact. It involves a lot of convoluted play on different levels of symbolisation, which you can read more about elsewhere. The whole thing is just plain silly, while somehow managing to be not contrived and really quite smashing.

It is in fact all the way up there with Mike Batt’s musical rendition of ‘The Hunting of the Snark’. 

And by the way, the Brits will suffer more from Brexit than the rest of us. So keep calm and carry on, if that really is what is needed to keep this kind of music flowing.

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