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Mother Turtle - Zea Mice CD (album) cover

ZEA MICE

Mother Turtle

 

Heavy Prog

3.94 | 104 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 255

Mother Turtle is a Greek progressive rock band that started as a jam studio band who take their cues from nearly all aspects of progressive rock, a synergy of many ingredients tossed, fried, and served in sizzler style to make this a very tasty prog band. Mother Turtle was formed in Thessaloniki in 2011 and previously was known as Hogweed. The band members cite as their inspirations Frank Zappa, Rush, Camel, Genesis, Marillion, and many other prog rock legends.

Mother Turtle is perhaps the most mischievous and known progressive rock band from Greece nowadays. Surely it's one of the most representatives of the term 'progressive', without the strain it has been through for at least 20 years, and not just within borders, is global. If there is an element independent of the exact musical content I'm looking for in a prog band, that's the unpredictability. Mother Turtle have this element as a key part of their temperament and that was shown both on their self-titled debut studio album in 2013 and on their second one 'II' in 2016. Even within each album the different elements are many and even the basic direction isn't the same on the tracks. Their third studio album 'Zea Mice' released in 2018 solemnly confirms the above it the most challenging listening experience offered us so far.

So, 'Zea Mice' is the third studio album of Mother Turtle and was released in 2018. The core of Kostas Konstantinidis, George Theodoropoulos and George Baltas have been writing music together since the band's self- titled debut, adding George Filopelou, Alexander Kiourntziadis and Babis Prodromidis for their sophomore release 'II'. All of them have stayed on for this third foray into the realm of the progressive rock music. So, the line up on the album is Kostas Konstantinidis (lead and backing vocals, guitars, MiDi, ukulele and composer), Giorgos Theodoropoulos (keyboards and programming), Babis Prodomidis (saxophone), Alex Kiourntziadis (violin), George Filopelou (bass) and Giorgos Mpalats (drums). 'Zea Mice' also features some guest musicians, Elpida Papakosma (vocals), Aristotelis Mavropoulos (reader) and Apostolis Georgiadis (percussion).

For an unsigned act in just their seventh year, Mother Turtle has presented some remarkably mature and fascinating writing to the world. Their independent work is polished and consistently gains reputation in the realm of progressive rock music. In their new work, Mother Turtle decided to silence vocally and concentrates almost only on music. From the earliest hearings, one could say that the band parodies an entire musical genre. Still, things in 'Zea Mice' are absolutely serious, really. But, perhaps the most interesting here is that 'Zea Mice' is an instrumental album, which is a departure from the band's first two previous albums, both of which featured regular vocal work. While several pieces on this release do feature recitations and meandering vocalizations, the vast majority of the album is an extended instrumental journey through funk, jazz, electronic, and ambient music. 'Zea Mice' proves that Mother Turtle can and will employ a varied approach to composing in a musical niche where it seams the sky is truly the only limit to them.

'Zea Mice' is comprised of three movements, simply entitled Parts I, II and III, each one is a multi-track ordeal. Being an instrumental album with ambiguous track titles and only a handful of spoken portions, all in Greek, by which to navigate, the album's artwork and language conjure thematic images of refuse, abandonment, and survival. Musically speaking, there are sections that trend toward jazz-fusion, others that are dirty hard rock, and others still that touch on the territory of avant-garde music. The composition of Mother Turtle remains the same and unaltered compared to the previous 'II'. The jamming spirit that seemed to adopt on their previous work, not only continues but it's also a vehicle to explore new prog paths that we have not been used to. One would say how the neo-prog and symphonic style of their self-titled debut has almost disappeared, while the jazz rock and Canterbury elements of 'II' have been thrilled by psych prog touches that bring to my mind the best moments of Ozric Tentacles and Porcupine Tree period of the 90's.

Conclusion: Mother Turtle impressed me once again and I would say that I'm very impressed with the way the band evolves. 'Zea Mice' is a difficult but a brilliant album of Mother Turtle where is difficult to point an indisputably lonely progressive style. One has to invest some time and effort to get to the bottom of this band and album that, besides a broad range of musical approaches, also offers an infinite number of instruments and moods. This isn't easy stuff, indeed. Personally, I think it really says something about the band's compositional abilities when they can write an instrumental album with unique tracks that don't simply bleed into one unidentifiable whole. In reality 'Zea Mice' is an ingenious combination of styles and flavours of rock, jazz, primal prog, contemporary prog, larded with folk, metal, oriental, classical and endless other influences. Prog rock must be revolutionary, and under this light, Mother Turtle is the undisputed marketers of this particular artistic insurrection. So, 'Zea Mice' is a strong and great album to listen to.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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