A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Although Oberon's sole, excruciatingly rare album (pressed in a quantity of just 150 in its first release) isn't in first-echelon or perhaps even second-echelon early-'70s British folk-rock, it's agreeable, with the kind of haunting melodic sense typical of the style in those days. Even for a genre as tilted toward mildness as early British folk-rock, this is pretty mild, and its fidelity is a little muffled, at least on the 1995 CD reissue. But it's not lightweight -- the songs have a pleasingly sober, introspective, slightly bittersweet quality, though at times the male vocals tend toward an almost self-parodic stridency and are overly serious. Some flute (in fact "Syrinx" is all unaccompanied flute) adds to the isolated-in-the-forest quality, as if you've come across a field of nomads playing for their own edification rather than a group of musicians making a recording to be distributed. The musical setting's not unlike some of the starkest work of British troubadours like Nick Drake or Sandy Denny, though of course Drake and Denny were much better singers and composers (not to mention recorded with much more professionalism).

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