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Mythos - Grand Prix CD (album) cover





1.17 | 8 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
1 stars What a nasty little history I have with this unfortunate album. When I first started getting into prog twenty years ago in the early 90's, I came across Mythos' 1981 album `Grand Prix' in a second hand record shop. It was in amazing condition, not a scratch on it, and the cover was in immaculate condition. Looking back, that was probably a sign. Anyway, I knew the name Mythos because of several defining albums they put out initially in their career, and at this early stage of my prog adventure, I wasn't yet aware to be wary of progressive related albums from this period. Words fail me of the horror I discovered on playing this, and a day later I cashed it back into the same store for a fraction of what I paid for it. You can read a bit further down my reasons for doing so.

Cut forward to late 2013, and `Grand Prix' is back on CD. Looking back on my early prog years, I made several mistakes by getting rid of albums I was simply too new to prog to appreciate - can you believe I cashed in Grobschnitt's `Solar Music Live' for a few dollars? I would kill for that album again now, or at least seriously maim - so I suppose part of me wondered if I'd made a similar mistake with this one. I had that ethical dilemma, the devil on one shoulder, an angel on the other offering advice. The angel, most likely a kangaroo with wings, was whispering `Oh, how bad can it be, perhaps you'll approach it with a new perspective and really enjoy it!' The devil, who now that I think back, actually looked just like this album, was urging `Go on, get it. You know you're dying to hear it...'. Sadly, Old Nick won out this time, and I've been able to relive the terror all over again, partying just like it's 1994 again.

Instead of grand Krautrock/acid prog, sole member at this point Stephan Kaske decided to model Mythos around synth pop, and especially then popular artists at the time in that field like Kraftwerk or even Yellow Magic Orchestra. The problem is, his interpretation of the style is the cheesiest, most childish muzak on the thinnest sounding synths ever, totally devoid of anything resembling progressive rock, or even intelligent electronic music that Tangerine Dream were making more accessible to the masses. This sounds like cheerful chirpy upbeat video game music of the time, in fact it probably would have better served as a fitting soundtrack to the latest arcade games begging for your coins in the local Fish N Chip shop. Almost every piece is up-tempo and poppy with impossibly weedy beatbox-like programming (often drifting close to disco territory too), and although essentially instrumental, there's occasional treated Vocoder voices mixed so low and badly that you cant even make out what they're saying. One track `Robot Secret Agents' (yes, really) features flat and pained lead vocals, and sticks out even more amongst the dross. But the new re-release offers two bonus tracks (curiously not mentioned on the back cover) that are better than anything else on the album, `Rockwarts' being more dark industrial and brooding, the spacey `Mellotron Mystique' floating and eerie, displaying all the subtlety and beauty completely absent from the main album. If these are from the same sessions, what a missed opportunity.

It's a shame, because buried so far beneath the lifeless plastic-toy synths, you hear the barest signs of potential. Whenever the sax and flute from Stephan show up (bits of `Transamazonica' and `Bermuda Dreieck' are quite nice because of this), or you get a quick flash of Mellotron, your interest picks up right away and you're given the slightest hope the album has turned a corner. But these moments seem like a demonic tease, as seconds later it's back to fluff. What's especially frustrating is that other Krautrock artists successfully moved into electronic territory, such as Ashra (`New Age of Earth' is completely faultless to me) and Cluster, to still make intelligent thoughtful music. There is no reason that Stephan/Mythos couldn't have aimed for a more ambient direction instead and retained some credibility. If Mythos wanted to head in a pop direction, that's fine, but at least they should have had strong material and memorable melodies to justify it.

I don't like making an easy target of albums with a poor reputation, and I'm all for progressive artists trying new things, but some albums are infamous with good reason. I really fail to see anyone enjoying this one, even fans of synth pop, let alone progressive rock listeners and followers of the band from their early albums. Someone needed to say to Kaske `No, Stephan'...At best, I can only recommend it for people wanting to hear how uninspired a once great artist can be. Hopefully the comeback album from 2012 sets things right again.

One star, but the bonus track on the CD reissue `Mellotron Mystique' is almost worth another star alone. Oh, and the CD booklet has several nice pictures...

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 1/5 |


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