Yoke Shire - A Seer In The Midst

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Zygo Records
Catalog Number: B00007LAZS
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:48:00

After the splendid debut album Masque Of Shadows of course I was anxious to hear more, hence the fact I was a little disappointed when I received this "new" disc in the post. After all it "only" includes a couple of new tracks, a half hour live rendition of their favourite "The Trilogy," and spiced up new versions of their out of print EP from 1995. When you read the liner notes, though, you will be informed that brothers Brian and Craig Herlihy have only recently built a brand new studio and those familiar with the material on Masque Of Shadows will certainly know that Yoke Shire delivers a damn good sound. So rather than deliver some mediocre material, they first set out to put everything right for future recordings. However, they thought it would be wrong to wait another two to three years for another album, so they set out to release an album in between two studio albums in order to smooth things with their fans. So that's what A Seer In The Midst is all about: an album in between Masque Of Shadows and the upcoming new studio offering just to prove that Yoke Shire is still alive and kickin'!

So the set takes off with two brand new all instrumental compositions. The moment "Mesmerize" takes off similarities with vintage Jethro Tull are well on the cards. It all gets an intoxicated feel by introducing an eastern rhythm whilst flute and fretless bass wonder through the composition like snakes in search for prey. Some more superb bassplaying forms the spine for "Ghan Buri Ghan," which again contains some ethnic elements as well. Helped out by drummer Brad Dillon, Yoke Shire becomes a trio for live purposes. Almost half an hour from their superb debut album Masque Of Shadows is delivered here as one ongoing live piece, as recorded on April 17th, 1999 at Durgin Hall, Lowell, MA. Of course, one misses the studio trickery and perfect detailed sound, but then again the powerful drumming of Dillon together with the loud bass makes up for that loss. The beginning of "The Brook, The Mirror And The Maiden" goes right back to the Woodstock period by means of a long psychedelic guitar solo. The contrast with this rather "free" period is complete when Craig delivers an almost classical piano solo. The nice thing however is that through this rather difficult piece the audience remains silent, kind of overwhelmed by it all. Fact is of course that for a lot of people in the audience they probably had never heard of Yoke Shire before, let alone had heard their music.

The four songs that initially found their way onto an EP are more guitar driven, but once again the Herlihy brothers play around in the studio using a lot of panning. The structure of the songs reveal that Yoke Shire was only in its early stages when they composed these songs. Just listen to "Mystical Mistress" and you get an "obvious" rock song with Eddie Van Halen like guitar solos interspersed with Jon Lord organ sounds. For sure a live favourite but knowing the possibilities of the band they are capable of much better songs now. Jimi Hendrix eat your heart out as "Dogfight" tackles every angle of the electric guitar in order to deliver an audio impression of a World War I air battle as witnessed from a Bi-plane cockpit. On the title track "A Seer In The Midst" the band already develops the kind of approach they will continue on Masque Of Shadows, being the inclusion of a lot of acoustic elements such as acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, marimba and mandolin. It both illustrates their musical as well as their compositional skills yet it also proves they still hadn't reached their peak yet.

For those who have no Yoke Shire material in their collection I would advise them to get hold of Masque Of Shadows. For those who already own the debut album and can't wait for the follow up then this is a nice addition. Meanwhile all the rest should at least try and listen to Yoke Shire as life without certainly becomes incomplete!

Mesmerize (4:56) / Ghan Buri Ghan (2:51) / Maiden Voyage [Live] (5:44) / The Brook, The Mirror And The Maiden [Live] (20:01) / Return Voyage [Live] (2:51) / 24 Hours Past (5:29) / Mystical Mistress (4:53) / Dogfight (1:48) / A Seer In The Midst (9:15)

Craig Herlihy - lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, bass, harmonica, flute, dulcimer, mandolin, bass pedals, theremin, marimba, melodihorn, drums, percussion
Brian Herlihy - electric and acoustic guitars, baritone guitar, backing vocals and percussion


Brad Dillon - drums, backing vocals, percussion, glockenspiel (tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)

Yoke - Yoke (1995)
"A Foreshadowing" (1998)
Masque Of Shadows (1999)
A Seer In The Midst (2002)
"Solar Solstice" (2004)
The Witching Hour (2007)
Awakening Celtic Spirits (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 8th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.yokeshire.com
Hits: 536
Language: english


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