Short album reviews by The Prog Yak. No puffery here, just a simple review and score from 1 to 5 yaks! Have a new album you'd like The Prog Yak to review? Let us know.
The Songs & Tales of Airoea
The Chronicles of Father Robin
Every once in a blue moon, an album graces the prog landscape, instantly carving its place as a true classic. The last instance of such an event for me was The Neal Morse Band’s transcendent "Similitude of a Dream.” I have a strong feeling that “The Songs & Tales of Airoea” is poised to follow suit. This masterpiece of progressive ambition is a towering triple debut album from Norway’s supergroup, The Chronicles of Father Robin.
Hailing from diverse musical backgrounds, the members of this formidable collective cut their teeth with Norway’s symphonic prog titans Wobbler, the enigmatic Tusmørke, seasoned post-rock architects The Samuel Jackson Five, and the mysteriously enchanting Jordsjø.
Their debut, “The Songs & Tales of Airoea,” is a labor of love, meticulously crafted over a span of three decades. The creation of this opus was not for the faint-hearted; according to the band, the journey was so demanding it left a trail of spent musicians, sound technicians, producers, and illustrators in its wake. But what else would you expect from the forging of a cohesive triple concept album, intricately weaved with 18 songs, all set in an alternate archaic world?
In late 2022, a global crowdfunding campaign paved the way for the project's realization. The band's label, Old Oak Records, partnered with Karisma Records to present this colossal concept to the world in all its sonic splendor.
On June 23rd, Old Oak Records unveiled “The Songs & Tales of Airoea” as a limited-edition box set. This treasure trove includes tri-colored vinyl, a 16-page booklet filled with hand-drawn illustrations, lyrical gems, and a fold-out map of the fantastical world of Airoea. This collector’s item had fans around the globe clamoring for copies before its official release.
Commencing in September, Karisma Records will begin rolling out the albums individually as gatefold black vinyl editions, jewel case CDs, and digital streams across platforms. The journey starts with “Book 1: State of Nature,” scheduled for release on September 15th.
Each of the three 'Books' comprises six tracks, offering a cumulative listening experience of approximately 2 hours. The musical journey is wide-ranging yet cohesively knit with a Tolkien-esque narrative flair. It artfully intertwines elements reminiscent of iconic acts such as Led Zeppelin, Gentle Giant, Rush, Jethro Tull, Yes, King Crimson, alongside early classical music and whimsical elements of Gong.
Here at Prog Radio, we often speak of "getting lost" in the melodic landscapes that our station provides. “The Songs & Tales of Airoea” is the quintessential encapsulation of this sentiment. The album is a flawless prog achievement, from the overarching concept, the exquisite artwork, to the meticulously honed performances of the band members.
In summary, The Chronicles of Father Robin is a must-listen for aficionados of prog, folk, and classic rock, and those who appreciate art laced with conceptual ideas, mythology, and a dazzling fusion of audacious ambition and adolescent dreams.
In an era defined by fleeting moments and surface-level engagement, it’s profoundly gratifying to encounter a piece of prog art as painstakingly crafted and well-conceived as this.
Tune in to Prog Radio to indulge in two epic tracks from Book 1, with more additions to our New Music rotation as each book unfolds.
“The Songs & Tales of Airoea” is a musical tour de force that's sure to dominate the prog conversations. It’s the album to watch in 2023 and a shining exemplar of the best that prog has to offer this year. Prog enthusiasts, you won't want to miss this magnificent album.