I hope you still remember the review of “Masque of shadows”, debut album by the US band Yoke Shire. If you don´t, please take a look at the review and get this masterpiece quickly. This was, for me, one of the best albums I´ve heard lately. A trio (then) formed by Herlihy brothers and drummer Brad Dillon that plays a progressive rock impossible to be labeled with influences of Queen, Santana, Traffic, Cream, and many more; but mainly the early Tull albums.
Brian (electric and acoustic guitars, percussion and backing vocals) and Craig (a beast who sings, produces, and plays acoustic and electric guitars, flutes, keyboards, bass, drums, percussions, marimba, mandolin and harmonica) have a hard task: to release another great album similar to the debut –and believe me: this task will be very difficult- but while we´re waiting for new material they release this “new” album entitled “A seer in the mist”, where we´ll find two new songs, three songs played alive, and four remastered and remixed tracks taken from a EP released in 1995 impossible to find.
The two new songs are “Mesmerize” (4:56), a Tullish song with intriguing percussions and a breathtaking flute; and “Ghan Buri Ghan” (2:51) a track with a swinging bass melody and incredible arrangements. Both songs show that the band is still alive and kicking.
Now it´s time for the live tracks... the trilogy formed by “Maiden Voyage” (5:44), the twenty minutes of “The Brook, the Mirror and the Maiden”, and “Return Voyage” (2:51). It´s amazing how this band plays on stage... it seems like there are six guys on stage!. The beginning of the suite with an amazing piano is specially brilliant; and so is “Return Voyage” with a beautiful Hammond. The sound is crystal clear. I´d like to listen to a full show or, much better, a DVD.
Now the most interesting material. The old/new tracks. “24 hours past” (4:33) is pure 70´s adrenaline. Progressive?, well... maybe not, but it´s an orgasm of dirty and bluesy guitars, a hot harmonica, and a middle section very interesting that finishes with a amazing guitar solo. The listener could think that “Mystical Mistress” (4:53) follows the same path but there´s a trick: after 1:30 we´ll find three minutes plenty with rhythm variations, playful hammond's and an incredible climax. One of the best songs I´ve listened to in years. “Dogfight” (1:48) is a sonic experiment based on the airplanes in WWI. These guys (as Queen did in the early years) don´t play synths but real instruments. Finally the mini suite “A Seer in the Midst” (9:15), that begins with acoustic guitars surrounded by all kind of keyboards.
“A Seer in the Midst” is nothing but an interlude between the debut album and the second work. The album is drenched in quality but, of course, it´s neither a live album nor a studio album, so it´ll be highly appreciated by fans and collectors. I don´t recommend the album if you want to start listening (and understanding) Yoke Shire´s music because “Masque of Shadows” will take you to a sonic Nirvana (guaranteed). But if you see “A Seer in the Midst” at your record store and not the debut, you won´t waste your money at all. I´m excitedly waiting for the second album of this unlabelled duo.