White Willow

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Sacrament Review

by François Couture

Two years after his critically acclaimed second album Ex Tenebris, White Willow's leader Jacob Holm-Lupo came back with a new CD and, for the third time, a new band. With keyboardist Jan Tariq Rahman's departure Holm-Lupo remains the only original member of the band. Only singer Sylvia Erichsen is salvaged from the staff found on Ex Tenebris. The instrumentation remains almost the same, only the names change: Brynjar Dambo on keyboards, Aage Moltke Schou on drums, Johannes Sæebøe on bass, and Ketil Vestrum Einarsen on flutes. Now that there is a full-time flutist in the band, the instrument is used more extensively and to better effect. It would have been hard to follow up on Ex Tenebris with an album in the same vein and, as expected, White Willow reverted to a more standard progressive rock sound, somewhere between its first and second albums. The mystical quality, bareness beauty and vibrant sensuality of the previous release is almost all gone (some of it can still be experienced on the beautiful "Paper Moon" and to a lesser extent "Gnostalgia"). Songs are more complex, symphonic, and somewhat Scandinavian in essence, but what they lost in atmosphere they gained in tightness and body. Indeed, on Sacrament White Willow sounds very much like a band instead of being only Holm-Lupo's creature. Musicians had their say in the writing process and arrangements are the fruit of group collaboration. This can be particularly felt on the last two tracks: "Gnostalgia" and "The Reach." Even though it doesn't have the strength of Ex Tenebris, Sacrament is still a very above-average prog rock album and is strongly recommendable.

blue highlight denotes track pick