[Review] The Guildmaster – The Knight and the Ghost

The Guildmaster is an international collaboration between high-leveled artists and includes Rafael Pacha, Ton Scherpenzeel, Marco bernard and Kimmo Pörsti from Samurai Of Prog. For the realization of the album there are numerous guests, thus enriching the already excellent lineup. The debut of the project “The Knight and the Ghost” was released on November 10, 2020 and is only available in CD format via Seacrest Oy. It contains 13 tracks that differ from the works to which Bernard and Pörsti have accustomed us, proposing a Folk Prog enriched by a large amount of traditional instruments and sounds. The album opens with the short track “Puppet Dance” a winning blend of baroque sounds and winds that immediately plunges us into the pleasant atmosphere of the disc. “Saaristo” is a song proposed in the first solo album by Kimmo Pörsti, rearranged and resonated, where the traditional Finndian sounds are combined with the symphonic Prog. The violin and wind phrases are very interesting, while the fairytale atmospheres permeate the piece, lulling the listener. a journey through the northern lands, accompanied by the sweet melodies offered by The Guildamesters. Folkloric guitar arpeggios and “The Hare” begins, another soft passage that is embellished with violin inserts and then increases the intensity with the passage of the song. The sounds here are more traditional and linked to Folk, but inserted in an original and dynamic context with an interesting rhythmic session that adds a sparkling touch to the sound. Here we are at the title track “The Knight and the Ghost” which is also the longest of the album and the first song sung, by the delicate voice of Camilla Rinaldi. Composed by Alessandro Di Benedetti, who has been able to manage in an impeccable way the tempo changes, the real strength of the song together with the melodious voice of the singer. The rhythmic session and the melodies are engaging, making this section of the disc suggestive and of fine workmanship. Truly a balanced track, with the alternation of more acoustic symphonic openings and more rhythmic parts that are really well managed, also leaving room for a solo intertwining between guitar and keyboards. “Stranded by the Coast (Folia for the Castaway)” is another medium length instrumental, composed by Rafael Pacha, with an evocative and dreamy piano intro. The soft sounds permeate the piece, with a melancholy touch that is a modern transposition of a Spanish music of the 15th century. The reinterpretation is faithful in the melodies, proposed here in a modern key with hints of symphonic Prog and tradition skilfully mixed, really very interesting. “Sixes and Five” is a short passage of 1:41 minutes composed by Ton Scherpenzeel, which turns out to be a song developed on “one bar of six beats, followed by a lot of fives” as reported by the band in the internal booklet. Combining traditional sounds with an intricate metric, where the technique of the artists involved is expressed at high levels, despite the short duration, very engaging and dynamic. We are around the middle of this good album and here we are at “The Search,” composed again by Pacha, characterized by an intro between percussion and traditional sounds. A real journey, in fact the band underlines how the song begins in one way and then ends in another, evolving and enriching itself with changes in tempo. The long duration of the piece, which exceeds 7 minutes, allows you to develop the theme, at the center of which is the violin, optimally supported by keyboards and guitar. The constantly changing rhythmic session is an added value and perfectly articulates the various passages, leaving freedom of expression to the other instruments. “Camino de Luz (Path of Light)” whose music was composed by Kimmo Pörsti while the vocal parts by Ariane Valdivié, sung in Spanish. An emotional track, which in the intro presents intertwining mainly acoustic instruments on which a warm and expressive vocal is inserted. The dreamy melodies help create that kind of atmosphere, while the second part of the piece opens with a fine guitar solo by Rubén Álvarez in the second part, which is also very expressive and delicate. Sung parts and instrumental sections alternate pleasantly, offering us an intense part of fine workmanship, a very beautiful piece. “Noughts and Crosses” is another short instrumental of 2:27 minutes composed by Ton Scherpenzeel who again manages to combine elaborate textures and sounds of the past with mastery. The winds and the guitar alternate and are at the center of the plots, another very intense passage with intense sounds. “The Fairy Pole” is composed by Pacha, who as the band describes in the booklet combines the European tradition of several countries in a polka, danceable and modern. Starting from folkloristic sounds typical of the Polish-inspired ballad, the piece is a fine mix of traditional sounds and contemporary rhythms respecting the original European sounds. “Ghost Dance (Cosmic Wardance II)” was a track contained in the first album of Mist Season, composed in part in the 80’s by Kimmo and completed by Rafael to be inserted here. The first part begins with delicate symphonic sounds, and then increases the intensity with the entry of the rhythm session and a fine guitar solo. At the turn of the epochs, this passage written by the two artists is complete, intense and shows all the compositional quality of The Guildmasters. Here too the tempo changes are precise, managing to develop the track by combining multiple genres and styles, summarizing the group’s sound ideas, tradition and innovation at high levels. “The Sun Rises Again” tells in music of that moment of the year when the sun, after an apparent death, illuminates the earth again. It is the beginning and, at the same time, the end of a cycle. Characteristics of the piece are the intricate plots, the presence of the Kantele, played by Rafael for the first time. The 6/8 rhythm represents a “pandeirada,” a typical Galician jig. In the final, however, we move to 5/8 based on the “charro” of Salamnca on the border between Spain and Portugal. The use of traditional percussion and the personal reinterpretation in a modern key are excellent and once again stand out both the great research done by the musicians and also the compositional and executive technique, very beautiful. Closes the album “Secret Garden” composed by Ton Scherpenzeel, who describes it as a physical place to retire in peace from the world, but also as an imaginary place inside yourself. A hidden place where only you can enter, with this pleasant and sweet track the record comes to an end, certainly leaving us a feeling of peace. For several years I have been following the works and the sound evolutions of Kimmo and Marco, always skilled in choosing collaborators and starting important projects. The quality of the music and the compositional technique are indisputable and always manage to arouse positive sensations in me, always leaving me with the desire to listen to their albums again. This is a work different from the usual, mixing traditional sounds very sought after with those of modern Prog with a superfine technique and quality goddesses. Rafael and Ton, the other two minds behind this project have wisely contributed to the composition of numerous songs, putting their musical background at the service of the band. The result is a pleasant, intense and engaging record that I recommend to all lovers of progressive sounds tinged with Folk and permeated by traditional European sounds.


01. Puppet Dance (1:45)
02. Saaristo (5:59)
03. The Hare (3:04)
04. The Knight and the Ghost (9:14)
05. Stranded by the Coast (Folia for the Castaway) (5:31)
06. Sixes and Five (1:41)
07. The Search (7:35)
08. Camino de Luz (Path of Light) (5:33)
09. Noughts and Crosses (2:27)
10. The Fairy Pole (3:46)
11. Ghost Dance (Cosmic Wardance II) (6:18)
12. The Sun Rises Again (5:51)
13. Secret Garden (2:58)


Rafael Pacha / Classical, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Recorder Baroque Flutes, Keyboards, Venezuelan Cuatro, Psaltery, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Viola Da Gamba, Darbuka, Bodhrán, Low & High Whistles, Tenor Banjo, Zither, Metallophone, Long Neck Satz, Peñaparda Style Drum
Ton Scherpenzeel / Keyboards
Marco Bernard / Shuker Bass
Kimmo Pörsti / Drums, Percussion

Martti Törnwall / Violin (2)
Esa Lehtinen / Flute (2)
Chris Perry / Fiddle (3,7,10)
Alessandro Di Benedetti / keyboards (4)
Camilla Rinaldi / Vocals (4)
Ariane Valdivié / Vocals (8)
Rubén Álvarez / Electric Guitar, 2nd Solo (8)
Manoel Macía / Baroque Guitar (13)

Seacrest Oy |Official Website|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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