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Cardboard Amanda - Cardboard Amanda CD (album) cover

CARDBOARD AMANDA

Cardboard Amanda

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.00 | 2 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

avestin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Unconventional.

Cardboard Amanda; a trio of musicians that come together to create one of the most unconventional albums I've heard.

How should one approach this album? The ideal way would be to do so without any prior judgment of how music should sound, whether melody should be a part of it and how it should be played and composed. One will need a tabula rasa, a fresh and clean mind to receive and absorb it. Whenever I encounter an album I'm not sure how to digest, I try and do this. Though this wasn't entirely the case here, I still applied it to better get into this release. Why is that? Because the music here is unlike anything you've heard (though there are similarities to other albums). This album threw me to uncharted musical landscapes, a land where not many "go" and less so explore. I read several reviews of this album; they mentioned bands and musicians like Zappa, Henry Cow, captain beefheart and others (all fair and good analogies in my opinion but there's more to it); each one also mentioned how far out this album is, how out there the music is and how inaccessible or avant- garde it is. But that is true if you're looking at it from the "other side". Since this is impossible for most then one needs to start at point zero. If you either start with a clean slate, or manage to "break on through to the other side" you might understand or get into this without effort, without having the need to use "outsider" words like avant-garde, experimental and such descriptions. Now if you will, try and forget your pre-conceived ideas about music (of all sorts) and simply listen, as one pop singer once said, without prejudice. Listen, don't just hear, the sounds made, let your ears and brain permeate through them and make sense of them as the album goes. Do not immediately drop it; don't say "it's too much for me". Have a few listening before actually passing judgment all while you learn to swim in this "musical pool". When I listen to "this type" of albums, I make an automatic switch in my head; I don't listen to it as I would to any other style of music. This is true for other styles and genres as well. My brain automatically tunes to what I listen to and absorbs accordingly. One has to make changes to their expectations and analysis of the music they listen to since those different brands have different aims and goals, different elements used and different starting points.

So, what is it that they set out to do and try to achieve? As the band says on their myspace, the music is "inspired by the true story of a brilliant scientist and inventor Dr. Amanda Mueller's complete fall into madness that ended in her suicide (she literally threw herself away in the trash)." So, they set out to musically describe the story about Dr. Amanda Mueller and her patient Cecil Grungard; Cecil has his vocal chords removed by Amanda, replaced by a mechanical larynx which reminds me of Ned Gerblansky from South Park who uses such an instrument. The album is sung in that voice, to tell it from Cecil's point of view. As other reviewers noted, this is one of the most notable obstacles for listeners. As for me, it was probably the only one I needed to overcome and still do as I was very open to the music itself, but the vocals indeed require "training" my brain to react to it and receive it. The music itself, is to me a wonderful way to create a melody that will sound disharmonious and cacophonous to those unaccustomed, but I hear a successful creation of melody of what I once pre- ceonceived as noise, harsh and dissonant sounds. However I have since grown to realize that this building of melody through unconventional methods, that is mixing together sounds and layers of sounds created by different instruments, this is actually a sophisticated and complex way to create just that - a haunting melody - to my ears, granted. Therefore, there is wonderful cacophony here if you will. It will sound terrible and a mess to most, but for those who want to delve into this and for those "in the know", there are great moments of unconventional melody-making. It's not just how they play it; it's also how they composed it; how the music is constructed; it is actually quite simple, if you look at each part individually; combine them together and you get the complexity. I am not well versed yet in the 20th century composers, but given Frank's liking of some of those composers, I am sure some influence came from that end. Due to that I will turn to the avant-rock scene to give references - bands such as Henry Cow and their off-spring are indeed good points of comparisons. Look up what influenced them and you'll probably find the same applies here. Apart from that, there's quite a diverse use of sounds, made by instruments and not, that acquire this album with an eerie, out-worldly quality. The shorter tracks, such as Pretty Farm Animals One, Cerebral Intestinoidal Transdection Process and Pagoda Fey are responsible for this. At times it's the percussion giving the lead impression, at other times, it's sampling and at others it's just a "weird" way the instrument is played or an odd melody.

I am not sure I got the idea of how this album sounds, but then again, how can one perform such a task? The best thing would be to have a listen at the samples on their Myspace to get a first impression. Should you give this a listen? Depends on your musical inclinations; If you are adventurous and are accustomed to this type of music (or non-music.) then it's worth at least to have a listen to the samples available. If you're not at all a fan of the "avant-garde", then avoid it. Now let me give you my overall impression; do I enjoy this? Only parts of it were to my liking - the two opening tracks have fascinating music on them; multi-layered, interestingly structured. The following tracks are quite good as well in terms of their experimentations and the sounds produced. There are however places where I lose interest, since there's not much substance to "chew on"; nothing that gets my mind going as I listen to it. But as this is a concept album, with many short tracks where each is supposed to give a part of the story I have hard time trying to separate those into individual parts. Addressing this as a whole makes more sense in that aspect. So with that in mind, I'd say there are lows and highs; tracks which receive a more attentive or rather a more positive response from me. The ones that employ that characteristic I mentioned above. As a whole, it offers a unique and interesting experience that could have used more editing and be shorter. I don't find this to be a brilliant work at all, but I do appreciate a lot the parts I mentioned above. I am sure they can apply their skills and talent to create an album that will be much more to my tastes. I think I understand what they were trying to achieve but this particular "aim" is not something I am too much after.I will come back to this release for further listens but, in the bottom line, I can't say I like it too much (but I am not "repulsed" by it either).

avestin | 2/5 |

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