Shadowfax

Shadowdance

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Released in the wake of the success of Shadowfax's 1982 eponymous LP, Shadowdance saw the band beginning to take a new direction. First, the quartet was augmented to a sextet with the addition of keyboardist Jared Stewart and violinist Jamil Szmadzinski. Second, the dreamy landscapes and delicate melodies found on the three previous albums are relegated in the background to make room for jazz-rock and ethnic fusion anthems, a trend epitomized by the inclusion of a Don Cherry medley, "Brown Rice/Karmapa Chenno." The album opener, "New Electric India," sets the tone: a jazz-rock rhythm section topped by an Indian-like melody on violin -- enough to make Shadowfax fans check if they had not put a Jean-Luc Ponty or Shankar record on by mistake. Yet, this new sound suited the band very well. The title track showcases lots of percussion work underpinning a simple but effective melody. Lovers of the band's early work turned their attention to "Watercourse Way" and "Distant Voices," the latter a nice 12-string guitar and flute ballad. "A Song for My Brother," one of the group's longest recorded tracks at nine minutes, flirted with progressive rock. It packs a lot of emotion in its main theme, thanks to G.E. Stinson's soaring electric guitar. A transitional album, Shadowdance captured the band at its creative peak.

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