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Galahad - Year Zero

Galahad - Year ZeroDorset prog band Galahad has been around for a fair few years and has a loyal fan base.  In the eighties and nineties it was, perhaps, only to be expected that they fitted neatly into the UK neo-prog scene.  Now I know that many people baulk at the term ‘neo-prog’ (and some, unfairly, at the music it represents) but I use it not in any derisory way as a description that most will understand.

That said, with Year Zero Galahad have largely thrown off the ‘neo’ mantle to open up a novel mix of rock, prog, experimental, even a touch of metal and a lot more besides.  I was almost tempted to use their well-drafted press release in place of my review as it is tells it like it is, something I’m struggling to do.

Due for official release on 23rd September 2002 (but available for pre-order from the Galahad website – link at foot) Galahad claims the album to be one long changing and evolving piece of music, one that runs to just over 56 minutes, a claim I have no intention of refuting.  However, 15 tracks or sections are listed which denote the more obvious changes in direction of this masterpiece.  There, I’ve said it now! Masterpiece.  The sections flow effortlessly so much so I thought I was on track five when in fact I had reached track 12.  Time just flies when you’re enjoying yourself.

The CD leaflet, a folding affair as against a booklet, provides three sides of printed lyrics yet whilst Stu Nicholson’s dulcet tones can be clearly heard on the album, the overall effect is that of an instrumental works which goes to show how good the arrangements are.

On my very first listen my thoughts were that this was an album Porcupine Tree would be proud of. The experimental sounds of Faust, the relaxation of Pink Floyd, the melodic but very heavy style of Black Sabbath, the classical arrangements of Camel and the out and out prog of YES are all there in a Galahad way with a splash of jazz, dance and choral for good measure.  The performance, which to the credit of the band sounds effortless, is further enhanced with the help of many guest musicians including John Wetton (vocals) and Sarah Quilter (flute, sax, clarinet, vocals) who can be found in the credits of other Galahad recordings – surely she must become a full time member of the band one of these days?

I could tell you about Roy Keyworth’s humorous spoken (Terry Thomas?  Leslie Phillips?  Austin Powers?) ‘ding dong’ and (I’m assuming it’s still Roy speaking) in a high voice ‘this is the prog centre of the universe’ etc. that appears just a few seconds after the album apparently ends in a similar way to the end of Tull’s Minstrel In The Gallery, but I won’t.  I could also mention the use of Mellotron, mini moog, sustained bass pedals, but I won’t do that either.  So it would be unfair to comment on the clever bass and percussion arrangements. 

Rest assured Year Zero is one album that should grace all serious prog collections (and even the ones that haven’t reached the serious stage).

Jem Jedrzejewski


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