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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975

Midnight Mushrumps — Gryphon — Transatlantic

Midnight Mushrumps — Gryphon


Take Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, Graeme Taylor, Philip Nestor, and David Oberle. Throw in a toy piano, keyboard glockenspeil, vocals, laugh, and candle-stick rotation. Add acoustic, semi-acoustic, classical and twelve-string guitars, and a raincoat. Flavour with drums, timpani, percussion and headache, and another candlestick. Let it grow on you for eighteen minutes and fifty-eight seconds, while listening gently and you're bound to come up with an attack of the midnight mushrumps. Midnight Mushrumps which occupies the whole first side is entirely instrumental, but what a diverse collection of musical instruments ranging from classical to modern electronic paraphenalia; from recorders to keyboard glockenspeil, from mandolin through to electric piano.

Gryphon — their very name suggests colourful and medieval imagery of the mystical half lion/half eagle beast. Moreover the record cover conjures up romantic associations with the Knights in Black forests, and a whole bunch more of King Arthurish images, with the members of Gryphon in traditional medieval to Elizabethan garb, standing in a glade.

Gryphon have taken the medieval stratum which has been utilised so successfully by Steeleye Span. However, they tend not use the same folk music of the common people as do Steeleye Span, rather that of the medieval and Elizabethan courts. In doing so they have come up with a tremendous sound which echoes that of Mike Old field in Tubular Bells'. The echoes occur in the repetitive but not monotonous nature of the music. The music is developed using the wide range of instruments and diverse sounds, that are blended together. The result is a high quality recording showing clearly that Gryphon is a collection of very talented and professional musicians.

The second side is a more diverse collection of five tracks, still in the same medieval to Elizabethan medium. The arrangements are both traditional and composed by members of the group. The first track is traditional in the style of a medieval court song called The Plough boy's Dream. It tells the tale of a plough-boy who dreams one night that he takes his master's team out ploughing but finds the field hard and dry like fired clay. He whips and abuses the horses until they can plough no more; then an apparition of a youth surrounded by a brightly' shining light appears before him asking the plough boy whether his beasts would plough the ground were it not so hard. He tells the plough boy that there is no use in swearing at his beasts and chides him for doing so — then vanishes. The sky then turns dark and thunder rolls and from the earth a voice booms "I shall soon have thee". With this the plough boy awakes, pledging that he remembers that dream to this day as a lesson for all plough boys.

The other four tracks on this side are instrumental except for laughing (or is it groaning due to the headache?). They are similar to the first side but the repetitive musical theme is not so much present as in Midnight Mushrumps on the first side. This album from Gryphon has a wide appeal, from lovers of Steeleye Span to savourers of Tubular Bells. There is little else to say except beware least midnight mushrumps grow on you!

2/4 Ain't Bad