First album. We didn't really approach this as a unified work. The songs were recorded in several different places and at different times, and then we collected them all and called it our debut. So I think it's a bit of a sprawling thing, and one or two songs too long. But there's a certain magic to it, and a pleasant naivism - it's all very romantic. We were very inspired by our environment at the time, so there's a lot of forests and fields and stuff in the lyrics. Quite a few White Willow fans still consider this their favorite record, and I suppose there are certain elements, the folksy acoustic instrumentation and some renaissance style arrangements, that you won't really find on the later albums. Production-wise this is very primitive, but it still sounds sort of nice since it was an all-analogue recording - just 16 tracks of 1/2 inch tape.
I think this is one of quite few lo-fi prog recordings. It was done cheaply and quickly, and to me this record was not at all about production or even performance, but about songwriting and lyrics. It was a personal statement, almost a solo album. I didn't have a band at the time, so the musicians just got tapes of the tunes, learnt their parts and came to the studio to record their stuff. What it lacks in polish and instrumental flair, it makes up for in atmosphere, I think. This was the first album that had a slightly consistent theme, a semi-conceptual work. I guess "Ex Tenebris" was that record that started our reputation as a gothic prog band, even though the music is mostly mellow, and even quite pop-y at times. Also, it was Sylvia's first recording with the band.
This was a more accomplished effort as far as playing and production goes. We were a real band, and the songs were well-practiced by the time we got in the studio, so there's a real sense of interplay and communication in the recordings. I really like this album - some of my favourite songs are on it, like Paper Moon, which I think works well both lyrically and composition-wise. One thing about White Willow is that we always try to push into new territory with each new recording, so where the first album was folksy prog, and the second was lo-fi goth, I would say this was our symphonic rock album. Quite ethereal at times. It was also the record that sort of broke us to a larger audience, and it got great reviews all over the place.
I guess a musician will always be partial to his last recorded output. So right now this is my favorite Willow album. We expected most of our old fans to hate this album, since it is much broader in its gestures than our previous records, which are all sort of understated and introverted. "Storm Season" is all about grand emotions and extreme states of mind. A common misconception is that we went metal with this album, but to me there is nothing metal about it. There's some good old-fashioned hard rock guitar riffs, but otherwise it's all mellotrons and tortured melodies. Sylvia does her best job ever, and the production is half-way decent. It's a record that ended up sounding exactly like I wanted it to, which is unusual. It looks like it will be our best selling record, and it's brought a lot of new fans that aren't familiar with our old stuff.