Robin Williamson

Myrrh

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When the Incredible String Band's long strange trip began to show signs of discontent in 1971, both Mike Heron and Robin Williamson took it upon themselves to exorcise their angels/demons in the studio. Heron went first, choosing a more rock-oriented direction with Smiling Men With Bad Reputations, followed by Williamson, who took the ISB's pastoral British folk a step further with the truly sublime Myrrh. While the odd instrumentation and serpentine melodicism that fuel standout tracks like "Strings in the Earth and Air," "Will We Open the Heavens" and "Through the Horned Clouds" are oddly affecting, it's when Williamson strips away the layers that have kept so many potential fans from the much-needed repeated listens his compositions often require that his subtle genius is revealed -- "Dark Eyed Lady," with its weary, windswept romanticism and fluid acoustic guitar work is as heartbreaking as it is sparse. Fans flocked to Myrrh -- and for good reason -- as the ISB had been near their peak upon their dissolution, but Williamson's ten surprisingly accessible, yet brutally original odes to loves both earth-bound and divine blaze across the boundaries of British folk with such peaceful and uninhibited zeal that they manage to transcend the genre itself.

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