In no particular order, here are some of our favourite quotes about Spiral Dance through the years, both from live gig reports and album reviews
Through a Sylvan Doorway is...a blossom in the garland of a fecund discography
Spiral Dance's wonderful new double album "Through a Sylvan Doorway" takes a magical step into the other world, leading us on a merry dance accompanied by mystical creatures to the dwelling of the Shining Ones. A whirling cauldron of folk, pagan and traditional music that can't fail to inspire all those that hear it
Seeing the band play live on their UK Tour was a wonderful experience. They played tracks new and old; taking us from sing along choruses, through beautiful plaintive melodies, to foot-tapping jigs. The combination of Spiral Dance's amazingly talented musicians and Adrienne's siren-like voice had us enchanted from the very first song, leaving us all breathless and calling for more
a clever and innovative group, committed, musical and well played, sung, harmonised and structured music. I hope they go far, over here for a start off!
Dave Swarbrick (ex-Fairport Convention et al)
very high energy music, and the whole band have obviously been very careful not to overpower the vocals which are lovely. One of my bugbears is not being able to hear the vocals, but even in the live videos they were clear....excellent! I'm not surprised they've won all those awards, it's a fabulous sound. If I have to do a comparison and I don't like to, they have a feel of the energy of Steeleye Span
Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention)
love the sound!
Steph Miller (Winter Station; ex-Roaring Jack)
a maelstrom of beautiful Pagan-Folk creativity
melodic, well-arranged and frankly damn catchy!
a unique edge and breath of modern air while still retaining the familiarity of traditional sounds
like a necklace of perfect jewels, each track with its own sparkling color and cut, each song perfect and complete unto itself, but each an integral part of the dazzling whole
they should be touring the world playing on the international folk festival circuit, it is a crime that they are not!
the rhythm section are tighter than my landlord
intelligent, witty and above all down to Earth people...friends rather than just performers
Spiral Dance exude a confidence and classy maturity
if you like good female vocals, close harmonies, fine musicianship and evocative, beautiful Pagan songs, you’ll love this
lyrics of magic and mysticism reach beyond the ordinary...deftly handled and obviously a labor of love and affection, the songs are wonderful in live performance, too
it rattles your ancestors
allow yourselves to become part of their bewitchingly lovely ceremonies in an aura full of pre-Christian mysticism and lush harmonies
an original and thoroughly entertaining outfit...well-arranged, melodic songs with intelligent lyrics
you’re taken on a mystical, wistful journey to the heart of Celtic folk music
they eschew the ethereal use of ‘atmospheric keyboards’ instead adopting a driving, rhythmic folk-rock feel led by the suitable strong and impressive vocals
a class act both live and recorded
as powerful as any equinox, as reinvigorating as any inspired ritual...Spiral Dance offers up rich vocals, delicate melodies and rousing jams...their sound and their themes are intoxicating and addictive
music of mystery and intrigue, a joyful celebration of life
music with heart, soul and melody comes along too rarely and should therefore be embraced when it does present itself...and this is as good an example as you’re likely to find
an absorbance of a cultural lifestyle and the myths of tradition, an integration of wisdom of yester-years renewed for the present
mature, melodic and powerful
Below are a few of the full reviews that Spiral Dance albums have received from the Musical Press around the World
CD review by Louisa John-Krol (June 2012)
"Through a Sylvan Doorway"A blossom in the garland of a fecund discography, Through a Sylvan Doorway is the first double-CD by Australia’s Pagan mythic folk-rock band, Spiral Dance. As the title suggests, there are themes of woodland reverie, herbal magic, rune stones, forest guardianship and wild energy of a faery ring.
Herne beckons on the front cover, standing with his staff among eucalyptus trees, while around the foreground borders, European ivy mingles with red blossom of native flowering gum, hinting at integration of British and Australian vegetation. (Lyrics in the album’s title-track name “Eucalypt, Red Gum, Elm and Oak”, further highlighting the universality of forests.) The archetype of Herne is universal, too. For example (according to Borges), among the Dakota Sioux, a horned hunting god Haokah used the wind as sticks to beat the thunder drum. Over this woodland an owl presides: sentry above a tree’s door inscribed with runic spirals, a gateway all the more mysterious for being half-seen. And perhaps it is not the only “sylvan doorway”? We could also interpret the central clearing as an entrance, for it reaches back, vanishing in green mist. (Green is often said to be the favourite colour of Faery, though this might depend on the season, or focus of each elemental.) Louise Hewett’s illustration is woven seamlessly into photographic vistas of lush greenery and standing stones, by designer Kim Brown.
There is considerable symmetry in this album. Two discs in the digipak flank the booklet’s pocket like twin moons of a triple goddess. There are eight tracks on each disc. The album’s illustrator Louise Hewett’s songwriting contributions appear in the 6th track of each disc. Paul Gooding’s tune set “The Wyvern Rider’s Tune Set” closes on the same musical theme on which it begins. Meanwhile, throughout the album there’s a balance of original and traditional material, including poetry by Richard Jones and William Morris. There’s also a cover of UK druid Damh the Bard, who appears as guest on Adrienne’s version of his song “Spirit of Albion”. Harmonies of the band’s male singers come to the fore in this song.
Defying jig-friendly expectations, the album opens with a quiet song that is instrumentally sparse, featuring Nick Carter’s plucking, reminiscent of All About Eve. Only in the second song, “Fae Dance”, does the full band swing in, with Rick Kearsley on drums, Paul Gooding on accordion, David Bentley on bass, Ingrid Hapke on violin, and Nick Carter swapping acoustic for electric guitar. This is the first Spiral Dance album of which Nick is also engineer (at RixWorld and Red Dog Audio). It is indeed well hewn.
Lyrically, the album is eloquent. Consider these lines: “And he with all his peacock stance and his feet of clay”; “There’s faces in the leaves, their green beards hanging down / Old Woodwise has laid his cloak upon the ground”; “When frost lay on bare branches / Beneath moonlight’s silver gleaming”; “On the breath of velvet wings”; “Hidden in the darkling leaves / The winds of night will take you / Into a twilight dream”; “Oh honey comb maiden brown apple tree mother”; “It flies on wings of fury”. These words ring together, visually and musically. Once artists work with a timeless archetype - be it the Nordic Odin, Greek Pan, English Robin Goodfellow or Celtic Arianrhod - characters can organically leap forth, reveling in collective imagination. One risk with lyrical abundance is that syllables sometimes vie for space. If the listener’s ear has been swaying in trance, ambient, neo-medieval, darkwave or other spacious genres, it might need to leap from a canter to a gallop. Once that pattern is established, one catches the graceful phrasing. If that’s a bard’s first calling, the other is to create lucid melodies. These, too, are vividly present. Adrienne, the band’s founder and leading lyricist, spent many years in English villages, studying their heritage. She’s had long contact with storytelling, dance and songs, immersing herself in mythology and folklore. This background underpins many rhythms and themes of Spiral Dance. Meanwhile, Adrienne’s voice is testimony of a kinship with ballads. Her ability to tell a story through song is particularly evident in “Of Gods and Other Men”, which she performs effortlessly a cappella, with the oft repeated line “I shall tell you tales”.
Some of these songs, such as “Feet of Clay”, were unleashed on stage in several states prior to release. A fluent interplay of instruments, well rehearsed through frequent touring, is one of this band’s hallmarks. The revamped “Rise Up” has already appeared not only in many shows, but also in an earlier form on the band’s retrospective 2010 album From the Mist. It might have been a summoning call for Through a Sylvan Doorway. Continuity meets new growth. Familiar trees soar among saplings, providing shade and shelter amid splashes of sunshine, sprouting leaves and buds. Camaraderie bubbles to the surface like a woodland stream, impossible to resist.
Through a Sylvan Doorway is available from the band's website (www.spiraldance.com.au)
Spellcraft Magazine (Issue 18; Spring 2010)
"From the Mist"
From The Mist, the latest offering from Spiral Dance is a retrospective of the band's best work since their inception. The 14 tracks are presented in a chronologic order, opening with Woman of the Earth from their 1996 album of the same name. In this particular song, Spiral Dance brings a distant land of ancient times to life in modern Australia. The didgeridoo sounds perfectly at home against a predominantly Celtic musical backdrop. This is the perfect song to open the album with as it showcases Spiral Dances' ability to meld together themes from an array of influences absolutely seamlessly.
From The Mist does not sound like a best of. Even though the tracks were crafted over more than a decade, the album is not jumpy or disconnected in any way – it is very comfortable listening from beginning to end. Despite the diverse influences and complexity, at no time do we feel that Spiral Dance's vision for each song has over stepped their musical ability.
Overall, From the Mist is at once otherworldly and incredibly present. The lyrics invite an emotional connection with an old world. It is impossible to resist being drawn there by Adrienne Piggott's vocals and once there, we see how meaningful the wisdom of the past is for us today.
For existing Spiral Dance fans, it is not all retrospective. The album includes one previously unreleased track titled 'Rise Up'. This track will get you up and moving, and its challenge to Rise Up will stay with you long after the CD stops spinning. I do hope that a 'best of' does not suggest Spiral Dance are disappearing from the pagan scene any time soon.
Leela J Williams
Rhythms Magazine (August 2010)
"From the Mist"
Veteran Adelaide folk-rockers Spiral Dance, who have clocked up close to twenty years, base their sound around the songwriting and vocal skills of Adrienne Piggott, backed by guitar, violin and accordion.
From The Mist comprises tracks from some half-dozen of their albums, dating back to 1996. The earlier songs are decidedly hippy-trippy. Instrumentals The Quickening and The Butterfly carry rather more clout.
db Magazine (#424; October 2007)
"Live - Worts 'n' All"
After 15 years of existence, local Pagan folk rock band Spiral Dance has finally released a live CD - and about time too! Not only does the new disc afford a chance to enjoy their live sound in the comfort of one's home, but it is also the first recording to feature what in many respects is the band's new sound.
Their most recent CD 'The Quickening' was the last to feature flute as the main melody instrument; it also featured guest violinist Ingrid Hapke on a few tracks. She is now a permanent member with the fiddle taking its own lead role, necessitating some rearrangement of older material such as Pan and Man From The Stars, while making its own mark on the newer songs (Black Water Deep, The Butterfly). Also, long time bassist-turned-drummer Kevin Sheehy has left the band. Brent Miller is still on bass on this recording - though he left not long after - and new drummer Rick Kearsley makes a significant mark not just with his technical style but also for the more powerful overall sound provided by an "acoustic" rather than electronic drum kit.
So that's what has changed. What remains the same is the high quality of songwriting, mainly by lead singer Adrienne Piggott, and the standard of playing by all members, including band stalwarts Nick Carter (guitar) and Paul Gooding (accordion).
The playing is generally tight with all members fitting together well; not surprising when the majority have been playing together for so long.
With an hour's running time, it's not a full length set but the diversity of material is still evident, with the gentle Song For A Selkie sounding comfortable in the company of Garden Of Light's musical race to the end between accordion, guitar and drums.
The sound quality is very good and upfront though perhaps a bit trebly in places, although that might just be a question of personal preferences.
Spoken introductions are also kept in, which I'd have kept as separate tracks rather than having to hear them each time. But minor quibbles aside, 'Worts 'n' All' is a welcome addition to the discography of a long running, ever evolving and thoroughly enjoyable band.
Spiffy Productions - Melbourne (February 2007)
Live Gig Review
...the rhythm section are tighter than my landlord...
FolkWorld Magazine (Issue 37; November 2008)
"The Quickening"Label: Own label; 2006
Adelaide based band Spiral Dance was formed by Adrienne Piggott, singer and songwriter with musical focus on myth, magic and legend. 2006 they published their fifth album “The Quickening”, a collection of old and new original songs, cover versions and traditionals. Piggott is accompanied by Kerryn Schofield (flute, whistles, and trumpet), Nick Carter (guitars), Paul Gooding (accordion, keyboards), Brent Miller (e-bass), Kevin Sheehy (drums, percussion, mandolin, keyboards, and double bass) and Ingrid Hapke (violin).
The core work of the album is a cycle of songs describing the eight sabbats of the Celtic tradition, starting off according to the Celts with Samhain and my favourite song “Holly Lord” from their debut album “Woman of the Earth”. Adrienne’s hauntingly beautiful voice is joined by Paul’s accordion and Kerryn’s flute. Guitar, bass and drums are playing a wonderful rhythm. Pictures of people dancing around a fire in the chilly night of Samhain are coming to my mind. The title song is dedicated to Imbolc, the beginning of spring, and is based on the music of Basque accordion player Kepa Junkera. Great percussion work, accordion and flute match perfectly to Piggott’s rhythmic singing. The beginning of summer is celebrated on Beltaine with “Weaving the Summer”, the tender sound of the flute and beautiful a Capella singing: “Hail to the summer”.
The second part of the CD presents us six more songs, beginning with Steve Knightley’s (Show of Hands) “The Oak”. The song stands out with hypnotic singing, dreamy airs and bewitching rhythms. “Voodoo Bayou” is dedicated to the people who suffered from the two great hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Groovy rhythms, soulful singing and jazzy trumpet and guitar sounds distinguish this original song. The CD ends with a traditional Irish song, “Tarry Trousers”.
This was the first time I heard this Australian band and it swept me off my feet. Adrienne’s seraphic voice, the high musical standard as well as perfect arrangements and recordings bring this album on top of my shelf. Creative song writing is coupled with mystical traditions and excellent musicianship.
Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Cyrkel Spynn Magazine (Spring/Summer 2008)
This band should be big within the Pagan Conference and Camp circuit… they should be touring the world playing on the international folk festival circuit, it is a crime that they are not!
This offering is the 3rd and latest CD album that I have had the pleasure to review and again it is self-released. The 1st album I reviewed was the beginning, the 2nd was them shaping their sound and identity… as for this one, it certainly sees them mature even further!
It’s still Neo-Pagan, and rootsy-folk… but it is far, far more than this… it is an absorbance of a cultural lifestyle and the myths of tradition, an integration of wisdom of yester-years renewed for the present.
This has to be the band’s best album to date! It is superb… it contains I would say the best elements of the band’s sound which was released on the previous 2 albums… the have really gone to town on this CD, they have taken their trademarked format of “Pagan” anthems from the 1st CD, and integrated their self-found identity which they experimented with on a more traditional folk level on their 2nd CD, merged both together… and have really, really matured as a vintage musical act with this offering.
As said previously… this is Spiral Dance’s greatest offering to date!!! It is a maelstrom of beautiful Pagan-Folk creativity… a superb album!!! Which hopefully will see this band become one of the leaders of the genre!
My favourite tracks/songs, of the 14 on offer on this CD album?
ALL OF THEM!!!
But in particular… Into the Green, Weaving the Summer, Ride the Wind, Wayland’s Steel, Tolven Stone, The Quickening, and… Holly Lord.
Very highly recommended!!!
CS Rating: (5 out of 5).
Review by A.C.
Rip It Up (Issue 897; September 2006)
"The Quickening"The Quickening is the latest release for local Celtic act Spiral Dance. The Adelaide band actually formed over a decade ago, and has impressed local, interstate and international audiences alike ever since. The band’s style is definitely rooted well within the realms of Celtic folk music, but has plenty of other influences giving it a unique edge and breath of modern air while still retaining the familiarity of traditional sounds. Their instrumentation includes accordions, flutes, mandolins and even hurdy-gurdy, adding tremendous depth to an already well-rounded sound. The Quickening, released independently is the fifth (!) release for the band and first in four years, and as soon as the opening track begins and Adrienne’s Piggott’s enchanting vocals reach your ears, you’re taken on a mystical, wistful journey to the heart of Celtic folk music. The band has already won a swag of gongs at the South Australian Folk Music Awards, and one listen to this CD will tell you why; Spiral Dance are definitely deserving of every accolade received. Check out the album and catch the band playing live somewhere near you!
db Magazine (#385; May 2006)
It's hard to believe it has been four years since Spiral Dance's last CD 'Notes Of Being'. One notable aspect of that recording was the evidence of the band's musical progression and it is pleasing to note the continued evolution on this latest offering.
What has stayed the same is the overall leaning towards folk-rock and the mystical content of the lyrics - in fact, the main theme of 'The Quickening' is the cycle of the seasons. What has stayed nearly the same is the line-up, the one change being the addition of Adelaide folk-rock stalwart Brent Miller on bass. However the maturity in playing and arrangements has noticeably progressed, as has the willingness to add different textures to the music. This is helped by guest violinist Ingrid Hapke's contributions and the use of additional instruments such as Kerryn Schofield swapping flute for trumpet on two songs.
While the majority of songs are original, a few covers have been included in either whole or part, making for a wider range of material from which the Spirals can draw.
Lead singer Adrienne Piggott still provides the majority of original songs, though now the whole band is credited with the music. A couple of previously recorded tracks are reprised to fit in with the seasonal theme: Holly Lord has a more driving arrangement and sounds more complete as a result, while Weaving The Summer stays relatively close to its earlier arrangement; the addition of mandolin being one noticeable difference.
Highlights of the new material include Tolven Stone with its somewhat brisk pace and classic folk-rock feel (Paul Gooding's accordion well to the fore), Wayland's Steel and the title track The Quickening. The latter is a perfect example of the thought put into arrangement and production on this album, and is a mature, melodic and powerful piece of music.
Special mention must be given to Voodoo Bayou, borne of the band's tour of the Southern US and showing definite expanding of horizons; another of the unexpected tracks that show the diversity the band is willing to explore.
There is plenty of light and shade throughout the CD, with equally effective acoustic or electric guitar work from Nick Carter helping to provide the right mood for each song.
The production is well layered, the sound is full and even the cover design somehow manages to evoke the overall feel of the CD. This is still distinctively Spiral Dance but with more of an edge and it is all the better for it. I do hope it's not another few years until the next one.
Metaphysical Music Man, New Mexico (May 2006)
It’s Litha! Midsummer is upon us in all its verdant glory, the day when waxing sun begins to wane, the day the Holly King jousts with the Oak King for control of the year and wins! For Beltaine we touched briefly on the music of Spiral Dance, Australia’s primo-Pagan band. This sabbat we have an extra special treat in store. Spiral Dance has just released a new CD, their first in almost four years. Like the best of gifts, it’s well worth the wait and long anticipation.
The Quickening – Spiral Dance, 2006
Spiral Dance has been making and recording Pagan music since 1992. Their first couple of CDs, the classic Woman of the Earth and the saga of Irish history, Over the Nine Waves, are out of print now, but you are in luck. You can download the music from both these titles from a link at the band’s Website. The line-up on this new outing is pretty much the same one we heard on 2002’s Notes of Being. Adrienne Piggott leads the singing, Kerryn Schofield handles the flute and whistles, and this time adds an unexpected bluesy, low register trumpet here and there. Nick Carter is back on guitar, from folksy acoustic to near-metal fuzz tone electric. Paul Gooding returns too with the button accordion that made Notes of Being so special. Kevin Sheehy is back as well, as Jack-of-all-trades on drums, keyboards, and string bass. New on The Quickening are Ingrid “Ingy” Hapke, who adds a virtuoso fiddle on several tracks, and Brent Miller on throbbing electric bass.
I could go on and on about The Quickening (and probably will). This album is like a necklace of perfect jewels, each track with its own sparkling color and cut, each song perfect and complete unto itself, but each an integral part of the dazzling whole. Spiral Dance opens The Quickening with what would have been a major project all by itself, a cycle of eight songs, one for each sabbat along the rim of the Wheel of the Year. Now we will have a great song to listen, sing, and dance to no matter what the season. Three of these are old favorites from earlier Spiral Dance CDs, but rearranged and recorded anew, fresh and bright. There’s a new mix here that puts lead singer Adrienne Piggott’s engaging voice clearly front and center but still highlights each instrument as it comes and goes. The Wheel sequence opens with the haunting “Holly Lord,” the best Samhain song I’ve ever heard. “Solstice Evergreen” for Yule is a tour de force of Dickensian London at Midwinter. It’s starts as a melancholy waltz then switches half way to a driving reel that will leave you breathless. The “holly and ivy and white mistle-berries” will make you feel you are a personal guest at Mr. Fezziwig’s Christmas party. Next come Imbolc and the title song, “The Quickening.” It’s a marvellous invocation of Brighid and the coming of spring. It’s also a thundering dance number, almost a march. You will not listen to it sitting down. The chorus goes like this:
"She's keeper of the secret flame
From within the darkness came
New Spring maid from Winter's crone
The brightest Queen of morning song"
For Ostara and Beltane the band reprises “Into the Green” and “Weaving the Summer” from earlier CDs. The latter is one we sang around the Maypole this Beltane; Kerryn’s flute ride in the middle is a classic far as I’m concerned. This brings us round to Litha and an eerie new tune, “Tolven Stone.” The song tells the story of an ancient standing stone that on the eve of Midsummer may be the gateway that leads young maidens into the arms of otherworldly lovers. In the second verse a knowing mother warns her daughter:
"This great stone of antiquity
Grants the gift of lust and fertility
On Midsummer's Eve the young girls go
With skin to the air the stone pass through
So Amber child stay home 'till dawn
Don't stray to the Tolven Stone"
Lughnasadh’s “Harvest Song” is very special to me. It starts with Spiral Dance’s Pagan take on Maddy Prior’s a-cappella Steeleye Span arrangement of the traditional “Come Ye Thankful People, Come”. Maddy’s version (from Sails of Silver) has been played in my house every Thanksgiving since 1981. The second half features a melody by Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and original lyrics to mark the end of summer. “Ride the Wind” is the Mabon song that brings us all the way round the Wheel. It conjures colorful leaves and crackling fires. Your nostrils will be filled with the wistful tang of smoky sunsets, but there are yet eight more songs to enjoy in this generous 65 minute set. I wish I had space to tell you about all of them too. Though the season is early, I’m going to stake my reputation right now and declare The Quickening as the best Pagan album we will see or hear in 2006. If you buy only one Pagan CD this year, be certain to make it this one. Serpentine Music has it in stock right now.
B*B, Bob S.
Cyrkel Spynn Magazine (Spring/Summer 2008)
"Notes of Being"
More Pagan folky-roots delights from the Australian band… Spiral Dance, on this their 2nd album that I've reviewed.
Still containing the Pagan elements… the band have also sought to experiment more with establishing their own folk-sound and identity… and in doing so have incorporated a few more traditional folks songs into their performance and the set of songs offered on this CD album… which again contains 13 tracks.
This offering sees them again akin to the direction of musing with comparison to the likes of The Dolmen… only this band are as mentioned previously female fronted… a good comparison may be? The 90’s Pagan-Progressive-Rock band – Legend, but without the Prog. Rock element and replaced with that of rootsy-traditional folk. This band holds more to the genre of bands such as early Clannad, Eliza Carthy, Maddy Prior, Pentangle, and maybe even Magic Mushroom Band… than some of the Pagan bands whom have emerged over later years.
This album is a lot more focused than their 1st and is a lot less happy-clappy or foot-tapping new-agey folk… the music is a lot more structured as are the songs… I think the band have really gone out and have found themselves on here. The debut album may have been the beginning, but this album really draws out what they are capable of in regards to discovering their own identity musically. A superb 2nd offering from a band we look forward to hearing a lot more of in the future!!!
My Favourite tracks/songs: The Dewy Dells of Yarrow, Farewell Alexandria, Black Annis/Jardin de Lumiere, Earth Wassial, Moon and a Tinderbox, and their cover-version of… The Rape of Maude Bowen (originally by Inkubus Sukkubus).
CS Rating: (4 out of 5).
Review by A.C.
db Magazine (September 2002)
"Notes of Being"
It's only reasonable to celebrate a band's tenth anniversary with a new CD; in Spiral Dance's case however, they've gone that one step further by making it quite possibly their best yet. They are now at the stage where they have a clearly definable sound which is still very much in evidence on this recording, but the maturity that comes with a decade together has enabled the band to expand somewhat in terms of style and subject matter.
They are still a Pagan folk-rock band at the base of it all, but other mythical/legendary subjects have also been chosen such as Cleopatra (Farewell Alexandria) and the self-explanatory Marie Celeste. The band has often done traditional songs or covers in concert, and a few such tracks are included here such as stage favourite Boys Of Bedlam and the Inkubus Sukkubus song The Rape Of Maude Bowen wherein Spiral Dance rock out most effectively. These sit comfortably alongside the original songs, mainly composed by lead singer Adrienne Piggott.
Lead instrument is usually the accordion of Paul Gooding or the flute of Kerryn Schofield, both of which are integral to the distinctive sound of the group. Nick Carter's rhythmic guitar work is also an essential ingredient, and he proves a fine lead player when needs be. Bass work is capably handled by Nigel Walters; in an interesting change, ex-bassist Kevin Sheehy has made a seemingly effortless move to drums. This is the first recording where there is no second female harmony singer, but the whole band generally now handles the backing vocals, with no loss in quality or the feeling that anything is particularly missing.
Above all this of course are the songs themselves. Consistent with previous recordings, they are melodic, well-arranged and frankly damn catchy! The heart and care put into the composition and performance is obvious on one level but on another, it would be difficult to not simply enjoy tracks such as Hill Of Avalon or Moon & A Tinderbox on the level of their being just great songs. In fact, when the band say in the booklet that they have been performing this material for over a year now, my thought was what a great shame it would have been for these songs to have not been recorded at all. That's probably the best recommendation I can give.
Cyrkel Spynn Magazine (Spring/Summer 2008)
Hmmm… yet more folk music to delight our ears!!! This time it is to South Australia we travel too, and a Pagan-Folk Rock band appropriately names – “Spiral Dance”.
Spiral Dance, are a female-fronted 6 piece Pagan “Folk” rock band, whose, lyrics have been heavily influenced by Wiccan (modern Witchcraft) and Neo-Pagan (the modern Neo-Pagan revivalist) culture… this is foot-tapping roots-folk in a similar vein to UK Pagan Folk bands The Dolmen, Golden Apple, and even in places The Rattlers (though strictly speaking they are not Pagan as a band)… Again this is one for fans of band’s like Clannad and Moya Brennan, etc. but with that added element of Pagan and Wiccan culture to boot!!!!
You can just imagine this band doing really well at the Pagan Conference, and Pagan Camp circuit, etc. where I think they would fit in really well and be just right at home.
This offering contains 13 songs/tracks of beautiful folk rock, containing certain moments of up-beat folk, and at other times beautiful folk ballads.
Highly recommended for those interested in Folk-Rock with a difference, that has an added Pagan element. A very beautiful example of exceptional Pagan-Folk music.
My Favourite songs/tracks: Magick, Song of the Selkie, Weaving the Summer, Bloudwedd, Blackthorne’s Rune, Pan, the band’s rendition of the Wiccan – Witches’ Rune, originally written by Doreen Valiente and Gerald Gardner (the founder of modern Wicca), and finally there version of the “Goddess Chant” originally by Zsuzsanna Budapest.
CS Rating: (4 out of 5).
Review by A.C.
db Magazine (1999)
This could well be a turning point for Adelaide band Spiral Dance. With this, their third CD, they have released a product -- please excuse the term -- which shows them as they are now, and proves what an original and thoroughly entertaining outfit they have matured into. And the enduring thought which comes to mind immediately but is enforced after a number of playings is one of, simply, "What a great album!"
Of course, it helps to be a fan of folk-rock in the first place, and to at least have sympathy for Pagan legends and ideology, but I would say enjoyment of "Magick" is not wholly dependent on either of those factors. If you are presented with well-arranged, melodic songs with intelligent lyrics -- and obviously, a great deal of care and thought put into the whole process -- it is difficult to not at least lend an ear. Or to wholeheartedly enter Spiral Dance's world of myth and legend, as an increasing number of people are doing.
As with previous releases, most songs are written by lead singer Adrienne Piggott, whose knack for writing songs as timeless as the subjects they discuss is as apparent as ever. However, a few other writers are used, mostly Blackthorn, a friend of the band, whose poetry is put to music by Piggott and guitarist Nick Carter. Occasional member Richard Tonkin also provides "Shadow Wood", a song of death and mystery which also shows the band can rock as well as anyone! In balance, the ballads such as "Song For A Selkie" provide a chance to listen to the band's softer side and to focus on the all-important lyrics. And although the song "Burning Times" has been covered by a number of artists previously, the tale of the shocking cruelty of the Inquisition becomes a minor classic in this version. You can tell they mean what they sing when they chant the names of the ancient Goddesses in the chorus as a rebuttal to the threatening churchmen.
However, it's not a dark or "down" album at all. Songs as lively and tuneful as "Faerie Tale" and "Pan" are just enjoyable, melodic songs in their own right. The opening track "Weaving The Summer" is another personal favourite with all the typical Spiral Dance ingredients in place -- the well-matched vocals of Adrienne Piggott and Nicola Barnes and the weaving flute of Kerryn Schofield, combining with the steady rhythm of Nick Carter on guitar and either Lee Gray or James Rektsinas on drums. Not to forget the very fine basswork of Kevin Sheehy, who also produced the album.
Obviously, it's not necessary to do so in any particular review, but I am hard pressed to come up with anything negative to say about "Magick." It's a well played, very well presented CD. In fact, the artwork and cover design is of an equally professional standard. Music with heart, soul and melody comes along too rarely and should therefore be embraced when it does present itself. And this is as good an example as you're likely to find.
Dirty Linen (#77; August/September 1998)
Pagan Celtic music in Australia? Sure, and it works on all levels. Great narration by Vince Brophy, who spins the yarn about early Irish folk mingling with druids and demons. The famous "Cattle Raid of Cooley" is given a rousing flute and accordion duel/duet with bracing bohdran and bass. "Warrior Woman" may just be the first folk-rock feminist pagan anthem penned in Down Under. Good musicianship and attitude throughout on this journey across the Ulster Cycles. Horslips got there first, but Spiral Dance is nipping at their heels.
Dirty Linen (February/March 1998)
"Woman of the Earth"
From Australia, this is a well-crafted and nicely arranged collection of Celtic pagan folk tunes featuring the amazing wailing vocals of Adrienne Piggott and Bronwyn Lloyd to brighten your night. Local heroes, all in Adelaide, Spiral Dance's lyrics of magic and mysticism reach beyond the ordinary : "I am the nimbus in your sky...she waits for the pull of the new spring tide." Deftly handled and obviously a labor of love and affection, the songs on this collection like "Joe Come Back", "Holly Lord" and "Man from the Stars/Centre of Gravity" are wonderful in live performance, too.
FAO CASA Gazette (Italy)
"Woman of the Earth"
A self-proclaimed celtic/pagan group from far away Australia full of wonderful music and songs. Their CD, "Woman of the Earth" is an elegant and original proposal of ritual invocations. You must allow yourselves to become part of their bewitchingly lovely ceremonies in an aura full of pre-christian mysticism and lush harmonies...
Witchcraft Magazine (No.4. 1997)
"Woman of the Earth"
Anyone engaged in pagan practices would do well to be curious about this marvellous CD. Listening to "Woman of the Earth" is as powerful as any equinox, as reinvigorating as any inspired ritual. Spiral Dance absolutely deserves a place in any Wiccan's collection of favourite groups. Folk-tinged yet never slipping onto cliche, "Woman of the Earth" offers up rich vocals, delicate melodies and rousing jams, all invoking the pagan world at the dawning of its rebirth. If you're into nature, celebrating the Goddess, exploring witchcraft and listening to beautiful music, you must listen to Spiral Dance - their sound and their themes are intoxicating and addictive.
Rock 'N' Reel (UK) (#28 Spring 97)
Spiral Dance are based in Adelaide, Australia where for several years they've been gaining respect and admiration for their individual Celtic/pagan folk-rock sound. "Woman Of The Earth" is loosely based around a pagan/woman theme with a good bit of magic/myth and legend added for good measure. Unlike a lot of American acts working in the area they eschew the ethereal use of "atmospheric keyboards" instead adopting a driving, rhythmic folk-rock feel led by the suitable strong and impressive vocals of frontwomen Adrienne Piggott and Bronwyn Lloyd. Spiral Dance exude a confidence and classy maturity that, aligned with their musical ability, cleverly expressive use of didj, flute, guitar and lute as well as rock percussion, produces an album that succeeds with a vengeance.
db Magazine (November 1996)
"Woman of the Earth"
This is an album a few people have been waiting for, and finally the city's premier (only?) neo-Pagan folk-rock act has produced its debut CD. I'm not sure if one would call it a mini-album ; it only has eight tracks but the playing time is still a respectful 42 minutes, so figure that out yourself!
What one could definitely call it though, is very entertaining and a justification of the respect the band have garnered over the last couple of years.
The material is all original, though it deals with ancient pre-Christian beliefs and even includes an authentic spell in the chorus of one song, Hour of the Wytch. Even though such themes are the main thrust of Spiral Dance's songs, the listener doesn't have to be a "follower" to appreciate the music, nor would the band expect them to be. The structure and arrangements of the songs give them a particular feel ; an appropriately mystical bent. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's something to do with the way everything comes together - the intent, the words, the music, the instrumentation (including flute, digeridoo, and lute along with more usual instruments). Co-lead singer Adrienne Piggott wrote or co-wrote most songs ; in fact the title track was purportedly the first song she ever composed, which is quite astounding and gives and indication of the maturity of her writing.
Musicianship all round is excellent, there's a good mix of ballads and livelier folk-based rock (or vice versa), the production is fine, even the cover's nicely done. And it's also an all-Adelaide production. "Woman Of The Earth" is a CD the band should feel pleased with, and will hopefully be the first of several. Just imagine it, Paganism as the next big musical trend...
Neo-Pagan Times (November 1996)
...If you like good female vocals, close harmonies, fine musicianship and evocative, beautiful Pagan songs, you'll love "Woman of the Earth"...