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Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella - 2023 - "The Rainbow Tree"

(77:42; Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella)


TRACK LIST: 1. Free Hand Medley 5:17 2. Song For America 9:27 3. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven 4:47 4. Rainbow Demon 4:08 5. Alleviate 4:09 6. Teardrop 3:00 7. A Love That Never Dies 5:21 8. Secret World 6:59 9. Tom Sawyer 4:28 10. Blackest Eyes / The Sound of Muzak / Halo 6:00 11. Hallowed Be Thy Name / For the Greater Good of God 8:47 12. Noise 4:35 13. Ghost of Perdition 7:21 14. Siuil A Ruin 3:23 LINE UP : Melanie Mau - vocals Martin Schnella - vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion Mathias Ruck - vocals Lars Lehmann - bass Simon Schroder - percussion with: Jens Kommnick: uilleann pipes, various whistles, cello, acoustic guitar, bouzouki, vocals Rolf Wagels - bodhran Dave Meros - bass Rachel Flowers - flute, vocals Dennis Atlas - vocals

Prolusion. The German duo of Melanie Mau and Martin Schnella have been releasing material at a steady pace for close to a decade at this point, with some of their albums being originals while other albums revolve around cover versions of more or less famous songs from the annals of progressive rock and beyond. Their most recent studio album "The Rainbow Tree" is in the latter category of productions, and was self released towards the end of 2023.

Analysis. Having a creative partnership that at least partially revolves around doing cover versions isn't perhaps what strikes you as the most expressive of endeavours, but there are artists out there that use these kinds of albums to showcase a creative spirit and talent others may well envy them. And the partnership of Mau & Schnella can safely be placed inside such a context. What they do with a high degree of success on one album after another is to transform the songs they cover into songs that fit perfectly within some manner of acoustic tradition or other. Most often with an acoustic foundation and at least a little bit of a folk music influx, and in most cases with all major and dominant elements being acoustic throughout. With a bit of a penchant for adding a little bit of a Celtic vibe to at least some of the songs they feature on their cover albums. The lead vocals and vocal harmonies tends to be the main attraction here though, with Mau in particular elevating many of the songs covered up to a higher level with her often folk music inspired vocal melody lines and frequently with a folk music style delivery of the vocals too. She is a top notch vocalist, and Schnella and other participating vocalists are doing a splendid job too. That has been the case on past albums, and is very much the case this time around too. While the songs may, perhaps, be a bit similar sounding at times, those fond of listening intently for the finer details of the performances will come across many fine and striking moments nonetheless, and the sheer fact that an album consisting of 14 songs from at times very different origins are performed in a manner that makes them come across as songs that could have been composed and performed by a single bands is an impressive fact in itself of course. With what may strike you as similar sounding songs actually being a case of a musical partnership with a strong and defined identity. The band take their creative liberties with quite a few of the songs on this album, without any of them coming across as lesser versions of greater originals due to that. Among the many that impressed me on a higher level this time around, for different reasons, are their take on Opeth's 'Ghost of Perdition' but also their ventures into the landscapes originally created by Gentle Giant and Iron Maiden. The one song they kept fairly close to the original, Canadian trio Rush' classic tune 'Tom Sawyer', was also an impressive experience for me. One of those songs that you wouldn't expect to come across as magnificent as it does in an acoustic version, but one that is most impressive in the rendering given on this album. As always with albums by Mau & Schnella the mix and production is impeccable, capturing all the nuances and the details of the vocals and the vital acoustic instruments used. One more solid album by this creative partnership, and as usual with many small and some larger moments of magic and bliss to be enjoyed along the way.

Conclusion. Those with a passion for acoustic music ranging from folk music to acoustic rock strikes me as being perhaps the primary audience for this album, although the high content of progressive rock songs covered on this album will make it a very interesting creation also for this specific audience. The fact that many of these songs are covered in a very tasteful manner as well as being explored in a way few other artists have done earlier making this album a much more interesting endeavour than your typical cover album. A high quality production for those with an interest in acoustic music, folk music and progressive rock explored in a mainly acoustic manner.

Proguessor: February 2024
The Rating Room

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Melanie Mau & Martin Schnella


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