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Modest Midget - 2014 - "Crysis"

(60:14, ‘Multi-Polar Music’)


1.  The Grand Gate Opening 1:53
2.  A Centurion's Itchy Belly 4:34
3.  Rocky Valleys of Dawn 3:53
4.  Praise the Day 2:50
5.  Now That We're Here 3:42
6.  Periscope Down 3:52
7.  Oh Pretty Woman 2:25
8.  Flight of the Cockroach 2:39
9.  Secret Lies 6:19
10. Gone Is 3:49
11. Crisis 7:10
12. Birth 5:23


Lonny Ziblat – vocals; guitars; keyboards, programming
Maarten Bakker – bass; keyboards
Willem Smid – drums, percussion
Yael Shachar – violin, viola
Eduardo Olloqui – oboe 
Emiel De Jong – sax 
Sanne Vos – recorders 
Anna Zeijlemaker – flute 
Tristan Hupe – keyboards 
Dimitar Bodurov – accordion 
Jurriaan Berger – keyboards, programming

Prolusion. MODEST MIDGET, from The Netherlands, was formed in 2008, and is primarily a band revolving around the compositions of main main Lonny Ziblat. They released their first album in 2010, and have also released two EPs since they started out. "Crysis" is their most recent album, and was released by Ziblat's own label Multi-Polar Music in 2014.

Analysis. Modest Midget describes themselves as a band creating progressive pop and alternative prog, and those descriptions comes across as fairly apt. I might add that this is also a versatile band, whose material covers a lot of different stylistic grounds. One side of the band that, perhaps, may be a challenging one for many is that they have a sense for humor, or at least that they enjoy to use fun-sounding effects, tones and textures in their music. Their cover version of Roy Orbison's Oh Pretty Woman is one some of Roy’s fans might find a tad too much of a fun take on a classic melancholic song. But primarily, the band's love of those effects is explored in sequences and compositions directly or indirectly inspired by classical music, arguably best exemplified on the tight, brilliant Flight of the Cockroach, a composition that kind of makes me think of ELP on helium, playing in clown costumes. In a good way. You'll also find such whimsical sounds used elsewhere, most prominently on A Centurion's Itchy Belly, which is another fun, whimsical, but also tight and vibrant creation. Elsewhere the band's and composer’s love of jazz shines through indirectly on multiple occasions, as subtle jazz-tinged details are a feature throughout, never in a direct or prominent manner, but subtle touches here and there that add a subtle depth to the material. Elsewhere we also have a blues-tinged piano affair that takes on pomp-rock arrangements on Secret Lies, a quirky and fairly challenging take on what I guess might be described as progressive pop on Crisis, and even a fairly straightforward pop/rock creation, at least in this context, on concluding piece Birth. With finely controlled lead vocals in the songs featuring vocal passages, a wide array of classic rock and art rock variations touched upon throughout, all coated in well developed material with a good quality production, there's a lot to enjoy here, and I also note that the songs tend to be tight and vibrant, even when exploring more sedate material like the singer/songwriter Gone Is. What's really lacking on this album is a sense of direction, as I kind of suspect that the great variety at hand may alienate some listeners, and then first and foremost those who are used to and expect an album made by a single artist to not shy too much and too far away from a core sound and style.

Conclusion. Vibrant, varied and often fairly challenging material is what Modest Midget provides on their second album "Crysis". Challenging as seen from an accessible point of view though, Modest Midget's self-description as alternative and progressive pop says a bit about their compositions being quite accessible in terms of sticking with harmonies, easy to fathom lead motifs and similar features, the challenging aspect here comes by way of variety, unexpected stylistic developments and several instances of humorous, arguably circus-inspired music in unusual constellations. Still, it is a fairly good album overall, but perhaps one with a somewhat marginalized audience. A production that merits a check by those who find the descriptions challenging, accessible and unusual used to summarize a CD.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 16, 2015
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Modest Midget


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