Band Website: www.myspace.com/afforested
Release Date: 2012
This is the first official, full-length CD and follow-up to their 2009 EP from the Kent duo known as Afforested. Consisting of brothers Alex Betts (keyboards, drums, flute, recorder, whistle, percussion) and Jonathan Betts (acoustic guitar, bass, mandolin, vocals, anvil) the two have performed in a variety of styles for a number of years but only recently decided to start forging a sound of their own. The sound most prevalent on Surviving Remnants of the Medieval Greenwood is a kind of electronic folk affair.
There are twelve tracks on Surviving Remnants of the Medieval Greenwood, all of them instrumental. Ranging from the opening “Salthaga” [2:01] a jaunty little jig of a tune that shifts into the electronic side half way through and yet maintains its light spirited happy nature. In fact most the CD’s tunes are on the shorter side, roughly two or three minutes which captures the mood properly. There is a richly organic feel to these tunes and earthy atmosphere that recalls days of yore. Think of bands like Gryphon or the folky side of Jethro Tull. And yet, every so often the brothers surprise you with the electronics but not in a way that detracts from their “prime musical directive.” Instead the electronics, typically synths are tuned to add to the thematic feel of the compositions. You can almost imagine sitting around the campfire as the boys strike up these tunes. The idea that they’d have to have an electrical outlet nearby isn’t in the least bit distracting. Everything about the music, from the way it’s constructed to the way it sounds conveys a kind of medieval quality. Much like on their EP, there are times where the synth sounds and playing style pay homage to Rick Wakeman. And yet for all these “unplugged” natural sounds there is a distinct prog quality that pervades these compositions. Plenty of shifts in time and tempo and certainly arrangements are such that a tune gets louder or softer and so forth.
Without question this will count as one of the more unusual prog releases heard this year, but I think prog fans will really enjoy what they hear. In particular if you enjoy the music created by artists such as Jethro Tull, Gryphon, Focus, Gordon Giltrap and early Hoslips then I think this will be right up your alley. The music on Surviving Remants of the Medieval Greenwood is upbeat and entertaining and features a surprising amount of variety. It’s a great release and I like it.