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Gargamel - Watch For The Umbles  CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.75 | 75 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Of all the comparisons I’ve heard for this band, Anekdoten is the one that rings the truest. Sharply formed keyboard arrangements throughout, mellotron and Hammond abound along with the wonderful sounds of the cello, flute, and stilted clavinet. Guitar as well and fairly compared to King Crimson of the mid- to late-seventies. But I disagree with many who say these guys are seventies throwbacks. The music here is a careful blend of experimental rock, maybe even a bit of well-disguised math, and some of the best intentions of pop-influenced progressive rock at the end of its heyday. Which were the latter seventies of course, but that music didn’t have the range of this stuff.

What were left of the progressive bands by that time were steeped in pompous and climactic arrangements, pop-tinged melodic passages, and usually trite lyrics. That isn’t the case here, although the vocals are the one part I could probably do just as well without. Not bad, even somberly complementing the music in most cases. Just not necessary.

There are a couple places where you can hear something like a Krautrock-like tone, particularly on “Below the Water” and at points during “Agitated Mind”. At other times the music is more melodic, and still others come off as bordering on folkish. And not just because of the flute – in the middle “Agitated Mind” there is a guitar plucking section with flute and vocals piped through some sort of area mike that comes off sounding like some obscure old folk bands like Elonkorjuu or Seventh Dawn, and yes – even the more well-known Peter Hamill.

Another positive note is that again like so much experimental rock; all the tracks here are quite long, ranging from around seven minutes to nearly eighteen. So there’s no abrupt cessation or even need for a climactic finish. And that’s actually one of the strong points of this album – the finishes. Except for “Below the Water” which simply fades away, the band finds innovative ways for all the tracks here to finish. “Into the Cold”, which also has the most aggressive tempo and therefore ranks as my favorite, culminates in a jazzy instrumental; “Agitated Mind” has a moody lulling sleepy ending; Strayed Again’s vocals wind to a close; and “Tics” does end abruptly but only because it sounds like the logical thing to do at that point.

The cello and mellotron are major plusses for me. Both these instruments are almost impossible to play badly as far as I’m concerned, and add immensely to what would otherwise come off as a bit hollow and unformed.

Don’t know much about these guys, but I suspect that if they can stay together this will be a band to watch in years to come. Looks like from their web site that there has already been quite a bit of turnover, but hopefully the band will stabilize around a solid core and crank out some really impressive releases in the future. This one is closer to four stars than to three, but I suspect the band is capable of much more given the time to develop. Well recommended.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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