Going ‘in-house and self-funded’ is a growing trend among many artists, as exemplified here by British band The Mighty Bard.
They’ve been together in various forms for over a decade, and their first proper album is a mixture of solid neo-prog, folk rock and early-70s stylings. Bookended by two lovely instrumentals which dovetail ambient soundscapes with melodic space-rock grooves, the nine tracks here deal with a range of themes and styles. Guitarist Dave Clarke turns in exciting solos and some great acoustic guitar flourishes on Blue God and Maybe, while ex-Silmarillion (yes, precursors to you-know-who) keyboardist Neil Cockle injects plenty of neo-prog polysynth noodling into tracks like the quirky highlight Heart Of The Strangelove. Gavin Webb’s vocals are definitely an acquired taste. They can verge into Fish territory (No Flesh Is The New Dream). He captures a 60s vibe on Maybe which suits its gentle folk/psychedelic character, but in places his range and melody lines don’t quite do justice to the music here. But this is still a decent debut, and with tighter quality control and some beefed-up songwriting, the Bard will find their niche in the wider prog world.