9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Yes, like many others, I bought this album when it first appeared primarily because of my love for Mervyn Peake's gorgeously feverish & sometimes nightmarish novels of Gormenghast. I did so without having heard a single note of it -- we did that in those days! But could any music possibly live up to what Peake had created in such dense, rich, evocative prose?
Well, this band came pretty close, especially in such songs as "Hall of Bright Carvings" & "Fuchsia," their inspiration drawn directly from the pages of Peake's work. It's definitely progressive rock, but not the usual sort -- there's much more of a baroque feel to it, reminiscent in some ways of tracks by, say, Dead Can Dance some 20 years later. It could easily fall into the progressive folk camp as well, even with the electric instruments. But it's the oboe & the harmonies that really capture the feeling, and the often intricate melodies woven within one another.
Perhaps that's one of the reasons the album never made much of a splash. The baroque strain in rock was fading fast by the time it was released, and the once-promising genre of progressive rock had begun its downward slide into overwrought bombast. Decades later, Goth & darkwave would reclaim some of the same ground & explore darkly beautiful new directions; but at the time, Titus Groan was unfortunate enough to be caught between a lost era & an unborn one. Whether that's what actually happened, I really don't know; but that's how it feels to me, at any rate.
Even now, it's not an album for everyone. But for those who want to go beyond the Top 40, there's something haunting to be found here -- and not just for fans of Gormenghast!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2003
Some thirty years have passed since I heard "The Hall of the Bright Carvings". Now, to listen to it again is like recovering lost time. This really was the British progressive rock sound of the early seventies. The music tried to avoid trivial tunes (and, accordingly, was usually unfit for dancing), and the lyrics - if any - were obscure, often as incomprehensible as life itself.
Titus Groan derived their name from the novel by Mervyn Peake, the first volume of the Gormenghast trilogy. The music evokes very well the dark atmosphere of this strange and marvelous book. In fact, it was the music that aroused my interest in the book, not the other way around. Peake's books have always remained in print, but the band Titus Groan somehow disappeared from the scene. The 1970 album (actually an extended EP) exhibits all the characteristics of a debut of a promising rock band. The concept was very ambitious (multi-part complex pieces), but the result was not yet fully developed. It resembles in a way the first albums of other English bands of the same period, such as Wishbone Ash and Gentle Giant. It makes one wonder what the next album would sound like.
But there isn't a second album. What went wrong?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2000
Throughout our lives we come into contact with a wide variety of music through many different peoples and mediums. Occasionally we stumble upon a real treasure. Titus Groan is just such a gem. Unfortunately, the album that I aquired was so badly scratched on one side that it could not be played, but the other side was fine. This side contained "The Hall of Bright Carvings, (the entire side if I remember correctly) a unique blend of electric guitar and clarinet performing dueling banjo type riffs. The music has a dark,almost gothic feel (similar to King Crimson or Tangerine Dream). I consider myself a music connoisseur savoring Wagner to Yanni, Willie Nelson to REM. If you enjoy everything from the meat and potatoes of Led Zeppelin to the delicacies and eccentricities of Yes and Jethro Tull, you will enjoy this album.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This album is one of those "category by itself" leagues... hard to describe, inimitable, genre defying... yet such an other worldly listening experience it just takes you into another world. - - I will say though, in some ways it reminds me of the Chicago Transit Authorities first album... very grooving... very conceptual... great rock, yet a mixed bag of influences... definitely something new (at the time) and again... an album that is a world to its own...
So how can this album be described... Well... The Mod and Progressive rock of the era is there... but that's only a backbone... at times the band jams out in a psychedelic manner... there are funky influences, southern rock, riff rock (like Humble pie) - - however, the album is interesting because the tunes can drift from one vibe to another in a way that creates the "other worldly" sense, yet is also coherent... All in all, the type of album that you don't just listen to for one song, but straight through. (*more often than not, most likely under substance influence.) - - Its also a "musicians'" album, but not in the show off sense, just that so much is happening on a musical level (hard to describe, but if you've heard the album it becomes clear.) Sometimes things, in fact seem to happen out of the clear blue... but again, as I said, fit into the picture... like you might be hearing a wild rock guitar solo one minute, a Jazzy sax solo the next - - a baroque type theme the next... and hard rock the next. (O.K. Pink Floyd and Led Zep are coming to mind.) Overall though, I will repeat it over and over again... this album is definitely a trip that has so much happening repeated listens will only seem sensible... and you may very well find yourself listening to it and enjoying it just as much, even 20 years from now... Put simply: GET IT...