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White Willow

White Willow

White Willow


WHITE WILLOW are the leading Norwegian band of the 1990's Prog revival and were begun in 1992 by guitarist Jacob Holm-Lupo. The band was based around a nucleus of Holm-Lupo (guitars), Jan Tariq Rahman (keyboards, bass, guitars, wind instruments) , Audun Kjus (wind instruments, vocals), Sara Trondal (vocals), Eldrid Johansen (vocals), Alexander Engebretsen (5 string bass), Tirill Mohn (violin, classical guitar) and an unnamed drummer as well as a collection of guest musicians. Read more on Last.fm
WHITE WILLOW are the leading Norwegian band of the 1990's Prog revival and were begun in 1992 by guitarist Jacob Holm-Lupo. The band was based around a nucleus of Holm-Lupo (guitars), Jan Tariq Rahman (keyboards, bass, guitars, wind instruments) , Audun Kjus (wind instruments, vocals), Sara Trondal (vocals), Eldrid Johansen (vocals), Alexander Engebretsen (5 string bass), Tirill Mohn (violin, classical guitar) and an unnamed drummer as well as a collection of guest musicians. Over a period of 2 years from December '92 to September '94 the band recorded a number of songs that would form their fist album, Ignis Fatuus, released in '95 by The Lasers Edge, the start of a long partnership with the American label, and signalling them as one of the leading groups in the revival of Progressive Rock along with bands like ANGLAGARD and ANEKDOTEN. The sound of this first album is largely characterised by mid paced, acoustic guitar and mellotron led Folk Prog, bringing to mind GRYPHON but with a touch of the more acoustic nature of early GENESIS and KING CRIMSON's first line-up.

However, the two "epic" songs that close out the album showed a full electric band with a much more staunchly Symphonic approach. If there is two words than can be used to describe the bands music though, its melancholic and beautiful, two characteristics that would remain with the band and become the signature of their sound. Because of the extended nature of the recording time for the album Ignis Fatuus and with the band members having very informal roles, it has a feeling of a solo project at times but also of a young band trying to find their sound. In the following three years the band was reformed around the core of Jacob Holm-Lupo and Jan Tariq Rahman, with Frode Lia joining on bass and Mattias Olsson (ANGLAGARD) on drums. Sylvia Erichsen would join as vocalist and for many fans would become the voice of WHITE WILLOW for years to come.

The second album Ex Tenebris would be released in '98 and featured a changed sound from the début. The mid paced, melancholic atmosphere would remain, but it featured a much more sparse, striped-down sound with a slightly more Symphonic Rock touch added to the folk. Following this release the band would also see more success on tour, attracting wide acclaim for their performances at a wide variety of Prog festivals across Europe. Following the touring, many members once again left the band with only Holm-Lupo and Erichsen remaining.

The new line-up consisted of Brynjar Dambo (keyboards, glockenspiel), Aage Moltke Schou (drums), Johannes Sæbøe (bass) and Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (wind instruments)( JAGGA JAZZIST, MOTORPSYCHO) and it would be this band that recorded the third album, Sacrament, in 2000. The sound of the band continued to evolve here with them now being a fully Symphonic Prog band with only a few Folk influences left and a much heavier reliance on the electric guitar than previously, but still with large helpings of acoustic playing. This line-up would also gain a deal of success on the live circuit, particularly at NEARFest in 2001 when they had to play a set with borrowed equipment following an airline mishap. As has become standard now, the band underwent another line-up change following the departure of Dambo and Einarsen. Johannes Sæbøe would move over from the bass to play second guitar, the only period in the bands history with two full time guitarists, and Martha Berger Walthinsen would take over playing bass.

The biggest change though was the edition of vintage keyboard wizard Lars Fredrik Frøislie (WOBBLER, IN LINGUA MORTUA) to the line-up who would quickly form a strong partnership with Holm-Lupo. This incarnation of the band would spend a year in the studio to produce 2004's Storm Season, widely regarded as the bands best album. The Folk aspects that were so prevalent in WHITE WILLOWs first few albums is now gone. In its wake is a unique style of Symphonic Prog dominated by the growling bass of Walthinsen, the expansive keyboard soundscapes and leads of Frøislie, the heavy, almost Metal like, riffing of Sæbøe and the Hackett esque leads and melodies of Holm-Lupo.

This album would also be the most commercially successful of the bands as well, maybe because of the new direction appealing to a wider audience than before, yet without them sacrificing their roots. Sadly this incarnation of the band would once again only last for one album as shortly after Sæbøe and Erichsen would both leave the band. Sæbøe's position would be left unfilled, returning the band to a single guitar style and leaving the pseudo-Metal of Storm Season behind, but Erichsen would be replaced by Trude Eidtang and Ketil Vestrum Einarsen would also return. The resulting album, Signal to Noise, would feature another change in direction for the band.

The vintage 70's sound that had featured on all their previous albums would be largely left out here for a more modern sound, and the album would be much more guitar oriented than previously, all a reaction to Holm-Lupo's frustrations with Progressive Rock at the time, with the result being something of a cross between Symphonic and Neo Prog. This album was launched at the UK's Summers End festival in autumn 2006 where they had a headlining spot. Following Signal to Noise, Holm-Lupo put WHITE WILLOW on hiatus giving himself time to concentrate on other musical pursuits. These would include starting the Termo Records label with Lars Fredrik Frøislie, and assisting Frøislie in the production of the second and third WOBBLER albums as well as launching Frøislie's experimental Black Metal band IN LINGUA MORTUA and his own new band THE OPIUM CARTEL. In 2010, Holm-Lupo decided to bring back WHITE WILLOW and reformed the band with Frøislie and another different line-up.

Vocalist Sylvia Skjellestad (nee Erichsen) would return, in place of Eidtang, along with Einarsen and ANGLAGARD drummer Mattias Olsson but with the bass this time provided by the talented young player Ellen Andrea Wang (SYNKOKE). Given their experience of the last few years Holm-Lupo and Frøislie decided to avoid the big studio production set-up (and its costs) and effectively recorded the new album at their respective home studios. The result is a more raw sounding album than previously, but with a return to the classic 70's sound dominated by the vintage keyboards. Terminal Twilight is to be released by The Lasers Edge (USA) and Termo Records (rest of world) in October 2011. Though WHITE WILLOW sound changes from album to album, a mid paced, melancholic style has been permanent through the years, sometimes dark, sometimes menacing and occasionally even uplifting but always creating some of the most beautiful music.

This band will appeal to a lot of different people. Symphonic fans will find something to enjoy in all their albums, those that like Folk will enjoy the first three albums, heavier rock fans will like Storm Season and Signal to Noise and finally fans of vintage keyboards, that Scandinavian Sound and harmonically experimental bands that don't just copy the classics will find much here to keep them happy. Andrew Carter "sleeper" Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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