Karisma Records have inked a deal with WHITE WILLOW founder Jacob Holm-Lupo for the release of six out of the seven studio albums from the Norwegian Prog legends whose long history started around 1992 when guitarist Jacob Holm-Lupo, who at that time was a member of the POLICE/BRUCE HORNSBY-inspired pop band THE ORCHID GARDEN, and keyboard player Jan Tariq Rahman from a local jazz-rock/prog rock band DUGGVÅTE DVERGER, got together to assess if they had any songwriting chemistry. The result was the song “Snowfall”, written whilst sitting on the floor playing acoustic guitar and clavinet, and the rest, as they say, is history.
WHITE WILLOW’s debut full-length “Ignis Fatuus” was released in 1995 to glowing revues and became a runaway hit on the burgeoning prog revival scene. Just how much of a hit it was came as a complete surprise to the band, who, unaware of the album’s success, showed up later that year at the Los Angeles’ Progfest ’95 for their second ever live performance, only to find themselves in front of an audience that numbered in the thousands who had come specifically to see them.
From thereon, the band formed part of the spearhead of what was to subsequently become known as the Third Wave of progressive rock, along with other Scandinavian bands like ÄNGLAGÅRD (whose drummer would later join WHITE WILLOW), LANDBERK and ANEKDOTEN. The band went on to earn the accolade as “one of the most significant progressive groups of the current era” in Billboard’s “Guide to Progressive Music”.
The history of WHITE WILLOW’s lineup is somewhat complicated by the comings and goings of its various members over the years, so suffice it to say that only Holm-Lupo has been with the band since its inception, whilst WOBBLERS Lars Fredrik Frøislie has been a mainstay since 2001.
Whilst inevitably changing over time, WHITE WILLOW’s sound is frequently centered around female vocals and an expanded instrumentation that usually includes a host of analogue synthesizers, mellotron, woodwinds and strings, in addition, of course to traditional rock instrumentation.
Citing influences that range from the likes of prog stalwarts GENESIS and KING CRIMSON to pop legends ABBA, WHITE WILLOW has, in turn, been quoted as an inspiration by bands ranging from doom Metallers CATHEDRAl and Norway’s ENSLAVED to German neo-proggers FREQUENCY DRIFT whose name is actually taken from a White Willow lyric..
WHITE WILLOW has now become a studio project exclusively, helmed by Holm-Lupo and often featuring guest appearances from prominent musicians such as Norway’s guitar hero Hedvig Mollestad, or internationally renowned klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer. The band’s latest album to date is 2017’s “Future Hopes” (which is not scheduled for re-release), and which featured a specially commissioned album cover by Roger Dean.
The prospect of seeing WHITE WILLOW’s past hard work being once again brought to the attention of its old fans, and the idea that new fans will be able to discover for themselves the significant contribution the band has made to the Prog scene over the years is something that Holm-Lupo is relishing:
White Willow are extremely proud to be working with the talented people at Karisma, and looking forward to bring these albums out to the fans.
One of the challenges we’ve had with White Willow is that a lot of material has been lost in the mists of time. Our recording sessions in the early days were not particularly organized, and we worked in various studios over extended, and often interrupted, periods of time.
Hence the previous attempts at remastering have used secondary and tertiary source material, to varying results. This time we have done the deep forensic work and have recovered original, pristine master tapes for most of the material. It’s been time-consuming, but it will definitely be worth it.
Well versed in the difficulties, and joys, that can come when bringing back to life back catalogues and long-unavailable releases from legendary Prog names, Karisma Records were more than up for the challenge. Having worked extensively with Holm-Lupo in his capacity as mastering engineer the label knows what he is capable of, and had this to say :
Jacob Holm-Lupo, who is these days a renowned mastering engineer with his Dude Ranch Studio, is doing the restoring and remastering with audiophile, analog equipment to ensure the most faithful and detailed restoration possible. We are also aiming to restore the original artwork of the albums wherever possible.
No date has yet been set for the release of the WHITE WILLOW back catalogue, but Karisma Records have confirmed that the following six albums will be included:
Ignis Fatuus – 1995
Ex Tenebris – 1998
Sacrament – 2000
Storm Season – 2004
Signal to Noise – 2006
Terminal Twilight – 2011
More information about WHITE WILLOW can be found at https://www.facebook.com/whitewillowband/
A video for the track “Kansas Regrets” from WHITE WILLOW’s 2011 album “Terminal Twilight” can be seen below.