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Tracklist: 1. The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth 7-57 2. They Aren't All Beautiful 5-36 3. Heaven And Weak 7-43 4. The (Sign of the) Four 1-38 (instrumental) 5. The Ferryman 7-51 6. Marid's Gift of Art 3-42 7. Girl With a Watering Can 8-44 8. Birth Pains of Astral Projection 10-35 9. The (Sign of the) Nine 2-13 (instrumental) 10. Geography 5-01 Line-up: (Jason) Byron - vocals, keyboards, percussion Toby Driver - vocals, guitar, bass, cello, keyboards, percussion Sam Gutterman - drums & percussion, guitar, vocals Terran Olson - keyboards, clarinet, flute, percussion, vocals Marta-Stella Fountoulakis - vocals Greg Massi - guitar, vocals Josh Seipp-Williams - guitar Jason Bitner - trumpet All music and lyrics by Maudlin Of The Well. Produced by MOTW. Recorded and mixed by Jim Fogarty at "Zing" recording studio, Westfield, MA. Mastered by Jeff Lipton at "Peerless Mastering", Boston, MA.
"Dark Symphonies Records" online:
Prologue. At last, Maudlin Of The Well's two brand new albums reached me on the last day of the first summer of the new millenium. There is an infinite aggregate of Astral Signs (apart from all others) around each of us, including myself, and this is just one of them. As far as I know, the band have another CD, - their debut album recorded a few years back. What's interesting, while these two new CDs by Maudlin Of The Well are not only a double CD-album, but two separate albums, both of them were, however, released simultaneously, and the total time of each CD of this nice pair is really surprisingly equal: each of them clocks in at precisely 61 min 02 sec (check it on your CD-player). Sign after Sign, actually… Well, first I take a dive into "Bath": yeah, so as just to know how deep it is in comparison with our home baths. (Please don't worry about my head - sometimes I dive even in little and trivial musical boxes!)
The Album. Fortunately, this "Bath" is marvelously deep: I still haven't reached its bottom, though I've dived there already three times. There wasn't enough time to reach it even for this quite an experienced diver, who's already close to conclude that Miss Maudlin has furtively replaced the bath with her own Well just before I'd dived there or, for the time being, renamed her Well as "Bath". Confusion is the word. (It would be the right title for such an intricate album as "Bath", deep as a Well of many feet). Well, I'll try to clear up confusion with this Well (called "Bath") - as much as I can (though I would like to dive neither in a usual can nor in German musical Can, in addition, at least at the moment), as at the moment I am Well being in this "Bath". By the way, there are lots of real progressive jewels here, so you will have to dive in it a lot of times so as to pick them up one by one. Want them? Then don't overestimate the gravity of the situation in spite of something here that really reminds of graves. You may not believe me (if not, just check it out), but all these varied tracks inside "Bath" are really full of Pro-Gold, old and new. They represent a wide-variety of Progressive genres, gems and jams, apart from Classical pearls and other brilliant amalgams, all of which are blended there in all possible and even impossible combinations - often on the same track, like in cases with They Aren't All Beautiful, Heaven And Weak, The Ferryman, and Girl With a Watering Can (Girl with a Can? It's just necessary to me to dive there! Who knows, where I'd like to dive exactly, but after all, that's another Sign, isn't it?), and Birth Pains of Astral Projection (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7 & 8 respectively). Don't lose your way, brothers and sisters in prog-mind, while being there, as about the geographical location of this "Bath" you should know just by the end of your journey - on the last track. (As for a map of your body and the lyrically-musical textbook of how to leave it, if you wish, you'll get it from the Well's second bath-rose, which, by the way, is even drowned in the booklet's cover-map, so our second journey into the depth of Maudlin's Well should be less perilous.) Now, I've got to let you know that all the five aforementioned tracks are the most intricate and dark in "Bath". Lots of mysterious surprises are waiting for you on these magic tracks, while some of their alleyways are, possibly, as dark as death itself. Speaking more seriously, each of these five longest and most intricate tracks on "Bath" consists of seemingly endless changes of events, sudden turns, raises and falls, pseudo blind alleys and massive heaps of riches that remind of Progressive's promising lands of the past. Very fast thrashing electric guitar moves give way to slow, tough and hypnotic doom-sounding riffs, while two high-speed guitar solos often either cross each other or both together suddenly crash about fragile roulades of acoustic guitars with a soft keyboard background. Diverse and thrilling eclectically electric battles, led by the roars of a Chieftain of Evil Forces and backed by a powerful, thunder-alike, work of the rhythm-section, change kaleidoscopically with guitar's purely acoustic passages, as well as spacey fluid solos and gentle percussion change with complex and intriguing, powerful and bombastic Classic Art Rock / Symphonic Progressive arrangements, though some of these latter are based on solos, roulades and interplays between acoustic, semi- and electric guitar, often with flute, brass instruments and cello jumping into the overall movement. Clear yet strong male vocals by the main Hero of the Eternal Battle of Good and Evil, - an abnormal, misshapen child of Earthly humanity that lost their way in a wood of two trees, - sound, however, more often like demonic growls of Death, and a remote yet beautiful, angelic female singing echoes to Him from time to time. Well, it's time to tell of some special tracks on "Bath" in general, as well as of some specific episodes on it in particular. Both the album's opening and closing tracks, The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth and Geography, are, structurally, quite similar among themselves. Minstrel-alike guitar roulades and interplays between two acoustic guitars that are accompanied by such specific elements of guitar's sound as flageolets, etc, spacey analog keyboard and synthesizer passages, quiet, meditative-alike work of the rhythm-section and just a couple of heavy riffs… These are main instrumental characteristics of both said compositions, and the only serious difference between them is that the opening track is a real instrumental piece, while Geography is a kind of song-conclusion, though the instrumental canvas plays a prominent part there too. (The Signs of) The Four and The Nine are also instrumentals, - they're short yet very impressive with wonderful acoustic guitar roulades or interplays between them and bass solos (on 4) and piano (on 9). Marid's Gift of Art is a vocal track, but most of the themes and arrangements on it (wonderful interplays between two acoustic guitars, between bass guitar, sax and flute, etc), including vocal ones, bring to the listener a minstrel-alike medieval feel. A meditative brass intro on Girl With a Watering Can will remind some of you of the sketches of composers-minimalists such as Satie. Church organ in the intro and in the middle of The Ferryman as well as lush keyboard orchestral-alike arrangements on Birth Pains of Astral Projection will clearly remind you of Classical Music that shows up from out of nowhere from time to time. Incidentally, before you reach the fifth track, and especially, the eighth one, not only your ears, but your brain too, will already be filled with the motives of Classic Art Rock / Symphonic Progressive, Classic Progressive Metal, clearly progressive sorts of Doom'n'Death-Metal and Techno-Thrash, Space Rock / Astral Music, etc, again and again.
Summary. First of all, stylistically, "Bath" is the most diverse album I have ever heard (if not ever released in the history of music), and I am really amazed with the richness of everything that features this in many ways unique musical work. While it's obvious that the majority of die-hard fans of Metal (including some Prog-Metal-heads, and there's enough fighters for the purity of Prog-Metal all over the world, too), as well as other strange Prog-lovers who call themselves "musical purists", may most likely reject the album, full of such rattling (killing!) mixes that, detonating a lot of times the album throughout, transform its contents quite a number of times. On the other hand, most of the lovers of Classic Prog-Metal (which, by the way, is almost always confused with Symphonic Rock), as well as the lovers of Classic Art (Progressive) Rock, most of whom are really open-minded people (and they're always in majority among the fans of the other Prog genres), will love this album for years to come.
VM. August 31, 2001
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