The Incredible String Band was nothing more than a cult act in the U.S., so it may come as a surprise to American listeners that the ISB actually spawned imitators on their home turf. Forest was the most faithful of these, releasing a couple albums of medieval-hippie minstrelsy in 1969-1970. Each member of the trio (Martin Welham, Derek Allenby, and Hadrian Welham) was a multi-instrumentalist, playing not just the expected guitars, but harmonium, harpsichord, pipes, whistle, organ, and mandolin. If the group lacked the electricity and drums associated with rock, at the same time they could not be associated with the straight folk scene; their lyrics were too strange, and their approach too eclectic.
Through the recommendation of top British DJ John Peel, Forest found a home on Harvest, the pioneering U.K. progressive rock label. Their first, self-titled LP was an Incredible String Band clone; while it may have been somewhat less grating than the ISB at their most excessive, it also was not as innovative or imaginative as the ISB at their best. Their second and, as it turned out, final effort (Full Circle, 1970) was an improvement, finding their songwriting skills improving substantially, and their arrangements becoming more diverse and original. ~ Richie Unterberger