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Band: Afforested

CD Title: “Wolf’s Heads and Woodlanders”

Band Website: www.myspace.com/afforested

Label: Independent

Release Date: 2009

 

Out of the English countryside of Kent may I present to you the band Afforested, a duo consisting of Alex Betts (keyboards, drums, flute, recorder, whistle and percussion) and Jonathan Betts (acoustic guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, vocals and anvil). As their MySpace page says they’ve been performing in a variety of styles for a number of years but have decided to start crafting music that speaks to their muse. And if by looking at the instrument line-up you’re thinking there might be a stronger than usual folk influence you’d be right. In fact the boys list bands such as Jethro Tull, Gryphon, Focus and Gordon Giltrap as influences so yes the prog-folk feel is very prevalent.  

 

The brothers Betts have put their collective writing skills together and created a five track EP of mostly instrumental music that is an interesting mix of their influences entitled Wolf’s Heads and Woodlanders. That could easily be yet another clue to the folk inspiration present in the music. The five pieces are all rather short being 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes in length as you might expect from compositions that have more in common with reels and jigs that prog epics; they’re bright, upbeat, at times lilting and even a bit cheery. Yet there is no denying the proggy influences here as well. You hear it in the way songs commence in staccato fashion, sliding into the song proper with layers of synth-strings in the backgrounds and flutes soloing up front. Track one “Willikin of the Weald” [3:45] starts the proceedings in grand fashion with hints of Jethro Tull flute and Rick Wakeman styled synthesizer soloing. The acoustic guitar plays a pretty prominent role throughout and it is supported fully by synths and flutes at every turn. When track two began I was immediately reminded of early Gryphon or Horslips. In fact each of these tracks really does evoke some aspect of the English countryside and each was uplifting and enjoyable. The one vocal track “Escaping King William” [3:07] shows the boys can sing and once again features a very Wakeman-esque synth style.

 

The Afforested MySpace page says the boys are busy writing material for their first official CD and I’m really looking forward to hearing it. If this EP is any indication I think it’s going to be great set of tunes. Until then I’d encourage anyone who enjoys the folkier side of prog to head over and check out Afforested’s Wolf’s Heads and Woodlanders.

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