Tom Newman

Faerie Symphony and Other Stories

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This album came out very late in the progressive rock era, which may explain why it seems only to have shown up in England where, with punk riding high in 1977, it was promptly buried and forgotten. Tom Newman conceived, composed, and arranged this work running slightly over 30 minutes, which treads into Alan Stivell territory. Faerie Symphony is a very Celtic-sounding work, built on the timbres and textures of Irish and Scottish traditional instruments, here supported by a multitude of electric guitars and synthesizers for an effect that's somewhere midway between Tomita's and Mike Oldfield's music with a Gaelic edge. It's all lyrical, and some sections have an ethereal quality while others resemble traditional dance material amplified and rearranged for heavily electric (and electronic) instruments. Newman plays multiple keyboards and guitars, backed by his ex-July bandmate Jon Field on various flutes and reed instruments, and Peter Gibson on brass instruments, with various support musicians whose contributions dominate various sections of the 13-track album. None of it is as compelling or accessible as Tubular Bells or Hergest Ridge, which it resembles (and on the former of which Newman played), but it made a surprisingly gripping and passionate last gasp for progressive rock at the time. Reissued on CD in 2000 in Japan as part of the British Rock Legends series.

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