Emerald Web “Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales”

Emerald Web was the wind playing electronic duo of Kat Epple and Bob Stohl.  Although they’d become better known for their work scoring nature documentaries (including many collaborations with Carl Sagan), Emerald Web’s 1979 debut album was a milestone in electronic psychedelia- rooted in the prog of the mid 70s and foreshadowing much of what would come in the early 80s.

Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales mixes analog synthesizing with the heavy use of wind instruments, augmented occasionally by the angelic vocals of Kat Epple. The sound is incredibly unique. There is a very haunting experimental quality to this music that prevents it from sounding like muzak, although it occasionally veers in that direction.

The Lyricon wind controller makes a very early recorded appearance on this album and is one of the reasons the many sounds heard here are hard to place. The line is constantly blurred between live flutes and the electronic approximations, even occasionally mimicking bird calls. It’s these sound combinations that give the songs an otherworldly quality- like hearing indigenous music from another planet.

Although some pastoral vocal songs show up here and there, eerily dreamy instrumentals make up a little more than half the record. These are certainly among the highlights and show Emerald Web’s talent for crafting soundtrack music that would come to the fore later on. “The Flight of the Raven” is a brief but gorgeous piece, summing up all that is good about this record in under three minutes. Fleeting melodies give way to dramatic clashing synths, fading away at just the right moment. “The Powerstone” recalls early King Crimson, especially the vibe of “Moonchild”. It’s on this track that Emerald Web’s knack for creating natural sounding tones and soundscapes from very electronic instruments is most evident.

This record is highly recommended for fans of golden era progressive and electronic music. Originally released as a private pressing on Stargate, Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales LPs are somewhat rare these days, although they do turn up regularly on eBay.

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“Fight of the Raven”

:) Original Vinyl | 1979 | Stargate | search ebay ]


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14 Comments.

  • Len Liechti

    For those interested, the Lyricon was a woodwind-powered controller for a synthesiser, that is to say a means of driving an outboard synth by blowing through a reed rather than through fingering a keyboard or plucking a stringed instrument. The guy who gave me and my daughters saxophone and clarinet lessons back in the nineties had the Yamaha equivalent; it looked a bit like a clarinet made of black plastic with a rectangular section, but the fingering was the same as a soprano sax and it was very easy to play. Well-known users include Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Courtney Pine, Kenny G, Andy Mackay of Roxy Music and Jack Lancaster who I believe had the first one in the UK and used it on several of Gerry Rafferty’s mid-70s recordings. More info at .

  • Hello,
    Thanks for the nice comments about my first album, “Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales”. I was one half of the band Emerald Web.
    I am considering re-releasing this album on vinyl, and possibly as downloads.

  • Frank

    Kat, I’m so glad you found my post. This album has really meant a lot to me and I’m thrilled you are considering reissuing it. I’ve recommended it to many people and the only trouble is that it is so hard to find. I think such an important record deserves to be heard by a wider audience. I feel the same about the later Emerald Web albums as well.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

  • phil spector

    great news Mrs Epple !! when do you think this reissue will be available ? and which label will be reissuing this masterpiece ?

  • The label “Sebastian Speaks” is the one who contacted me about “Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales” re-release.
    We haven’t finalized it yet, and I am open to other suggestions. I would like to re-release some of my other Emerald Web albums. I guess it will depend on the condition of the original masters, and how much interest there is in the music. Man…….it has been a long time since I listened to this album! Some cool OLD synth sounds on this one, for sure!
    Kat

  • Man I love this. It’s like this amazing soundtrack to some part of my brain I thought I stopped using. Listened to these couple songs while looking through some photos I took today and it was the perfect departure. I look forward to the possible re-release of more work.

    Kat you have a remarkable voice………Thank You

  • darkhorse

    Kat, this is a wonderful album, so mystical sounding and otherworldly. A reissue would be really nice. Or, you could even sell flac files from your website. Thanks to frank for posting about this lost gem!

  • Luke

    I want this album soooo badly. Please release on CD for out-of-date folks such as myself.

  • andy

    PLEAAAAASE re-release this on vinyl! I’d buy it in a heartbeat!

  • I agree, I would love to be able to buy this album! Finders Keepers reissued it as a cassette but that is now sold out, and they have no downloads or other formats available.

  • Quentin O.

    It has been reissued!!! by a label named Sebastian Speaks

    http://www.forcedexposure.com/labels/sebastian.speaks.html

  • “Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales” has been reissued on vinyl LP ! It is also available for purchase through the artists’ website. (I am one of the founding members of the band Emerald Web)
    http://www.katepple.com/katepple_store/index.php?do=buy&pid=40

  • That’s great! Though I wish it were available on CD or download. I transfer all my valued vinyl to CD anyway, and electronic albums such as this are problematic when it comes to cleaning away the vinyl crackle. Plus, vinyl is really expensive to get sent to Australia where I live.

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