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White Willow: Ignis Fatuus

Album Review

Long-awaited reissue for seminal Scandinavian revivalists.

Since its release in 1995, White Willow’s debut album has become a cult classic. Selling well and earning praise, it set them up for a world tour and a role in the ‘Scandinavian revival’. Their eclectic folk-prog was in thrall to psych-rock, early Genesis and the traditional songcraft of both England and their native Norway, and it struck a chord with mid-90s music fans at prog’s low ebb.

Awash with glittering reversed samples, Mellotrons that recall early post-Barrett Floyd and arcane instruments like the crumhorn, it’s easy to see how its very eccentricity became a strength. Ignis Fatuus boasts terrific melodic parts as well, which is probably why its influence has been so far-ranging, from modern folk-prog outfits like Thieves’ Kitchen to arena proggers Opeth. 

Though best discovered as a whole, the delicate remastering has best brought out The Withering Of The Boughs, a more ballad-like vocal duet. Song’s horn parts add to the sonic tapestry of the early album, but Now In These Fairylands is a superior mood piece. 

Reminiscent of Wakeman-era Yes, it’s a fine example of this album’s atmosphere and indicates why its appeal has been so enduring.

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