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1. The Dark Tower 5:41 2. The Rage of Achilles 7:41 3. Facade II 5:51 4. Drift 6:45 5. Redival 5:53 6. Canvass 10:14 7. Grace 4:02 Line-up: Patrick Carley - drums & percussion; (all effects) Gilbert Dhennin - keyboards; electronic woodwind instruments; (all solos) John Swarts - bass; keyboards; (all arrangements)
All compositions written and performed by Mansion Maze.
The debut album by Mansion Maze, Art Rock trio from Orlando, Florida, looks like a bit more mature work than their second album in 1999 (read the "Anderson's Council" short review here). In my honest opinion, the problem with their second album is that the guys added to the basic material all the rest of the songs they have ever released - particularly, I mean their mini CD of 1998, consisted of the most primitive pieces ever composed by Mansion Maze - really, the three last songs from the second CD sound, on the whole, not unlike the French instrumental pop band Space (can you still remember it?) - the same simplicity (I'd even say a 'childish simplicity'), the same monotonous basic refrains... Of course, as I said, the main material of that album is more or less OK.
So, "Noise Between Ears" looks like a more complete album. Drift actually is the only composition here I don't like at all. It reminds me of an endeavour to make an all instrumental progressive blockbuster with an obtrusive and, at the same time, openly 'naive' basic melody. I still wonder why such mature musicians (they exactly are quite a mature musicians already) have included that piece on a good album...
There are no non-interesting pieces from all the other seven compositions on MM-'96. To begin with the opening track, The Dark Tower, and to conclude with the last composition, Grace - yes, with the exception of the aforesaid Drift, - all these songs were composed accessibly - in comparison, for example, with such a contemporary Giant like BTT - the band plays (stylistically, but not structurally) a similar kind of all instrumental progressive rock - but anyway, quite an original way.
As a big lover of a much more complex music, however, I can't rate this album with a really high grade, but as I love to repeat, the lack of complexity is not as bad thing as a lack of originality. If to say the same a bit differently, the music isn't complex but it would be worse if it lacked originality. So, no doubt, many lovers of a bright and accessible yet quite distinctive instrumental music will necessarily love both albums, created by Mansion Maze in the second half of the 90's.
VM. July 20, 2000
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