A demonís omen
You name one essential ingredient in Procol Harumís music, and usually the band has recorded at least one masterpiece without it. ĎRepent Walpurgisí has no Keith Reidís lyrics, nor Gary Brookerís singing, and itís quintessential Procol, enough to be included in any serious ĎBest Of ...í and to show why the group was and is so important. It has the astonishing blend of classical music and rhythm and blues; the fierce anguish and the cool elegance; the mystery and the rejoicing; the first-class playing and the discipline needed to keep the whole thing going as a preconceived composition; the tension and the integration of the contraries, that paradox of sound and fury told by wise musicians.
When I first heard it, knowing nothing about English nuns and very little about demons, it didnít evoke any feeling of repentance, but images of a slow and melancholic ascension (maybe it was the melody that Matthew Fisher develops so patiently, and its regular appearance of long notes), sometimes difficult and full of obstacles (maybe it was the way Robin Trower braids tortuous and tortured phrases around the main theme, doing something that really canít be called Ďplayingí), towards a brief moment of peace and joy (supplied by the Bach prelude and the change to a major key), and then back to the bitter strife ('cause the finale really doesnít sound like putting an end to anything, more a resolution than a solution). I didnít know it then, and the musicians didnít either, but it could be a way to tell Procolís story in advance. Anyway, that tune of Hell is a hell of a tune.
More Walpurgis revels here