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Moulettes - The Bear's Revenge CD (album) cover

THE BEAR'S REVENGE

Moulettes

 

Prog Folk

4.74 | 14 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars The sophomore release from this band of folk masters/virtuosi.

1. "Sing Unto Me" (4:53) immediately noticeable is the expanded lineup--as well as the far more prominent and continuous presence of multiple male voices within the vocal weave. (8.75/10)

2. "Country Joy" (3:33) a guitar-based song with delicate and precise female vocals for the verses, bull band chorale representation in the choruses. Great performances from the guitar, mandolin, banjo and female vocalists. (9/10) 3. "Uca's Dance" (4:21) amazing violin performance on an amazing song (string quartet with drums and many voices). (10/10)

4. "Some Who You Love" (7:25) tick-tock of a grandfather clock is soon joined by plucked muted cello and violin and then lead and background harmonized vocals. Gorgeous sound. Once again I am reminded of MEDIÆVAL BÆBES-- especially their 2012-13 incarnation. An absolutely beautifully paced, constructed, and engineered song. Another stellar display of violin play. Can Prog Folk get any better than this? (14.5/15)

5. "Revenge Of The Bear" (1:58) strings, bassoon and flutes building up to a frenzy before settling into a little "classical"-like control. (4.5/5)

6. "Songbird" (4:11) guitar and female alto vocal opens in a very old-fashioned 1970s-like folk fashion. Background female vocals join in at 0:40 for the chorus, violin in the second. A Vaughan-Williams-like lark-like violin soars in instrumental passage before third verse. What a beautiful vocal weave. Pure folk perfection. (9.25/10)

7. "Muse Has Wings" (3:42) banjo and Hannah in the lead with smooth, more traditional choral background vocals. Other instruments (like violin, hand percussions, clapping) join in at various points during the song. The vocal weave does begin to unfold so that the final third sounds very much like an old-time ANDREWS SISTERS performance. (9/10)

8. "Unlock The Doors" (4:56) much more aggressive, proggy soundscape and emotion open this song through the instrumental first minute. Voices and clapping enter, totally arranged like an Andrews Sisters style. Male voices join in during the chorus. Violin and bassoon stand out during the instrumental bridges. Great musicianship and composition; not my favorite melody or form. (8.75/10)

9. "Half-Remembered Song" (4:54) a bluesy 1940s Haarlem feel to this one. I'd almost expect Billie Holliday to be standing at the microphone in a smoke-filled jazz hall singing this one. I absolutely love the sudden switch in the back ground weave at 3:50--tossing an almost-Russian element into the song. (8.75/10)

10. "Grumpelstiltskin's Jig" (3:31) cello warms up before launching the band into a traditional sounding contra dance. Violin and flutes trade the lead through the first half, but then it gets dark and dreary in the middle "intermission." Again I feel as if I'm being immersed into some very dark Eastern European musical traditions. Luckily, it returns to the upbeat jig for the final minute. (8.5/10)

11. "Circle Song" (5:05) sounding much more like a Moulettes song--like the shantie styles of their first album: the presentation and arrangements are just more theatric than the more "traditional" forms, the lyrics more intellectual and multi-dimensional. (9/10)

12. "Blood And Thunder" (8:01) opening with some mood-setting effects and sounds, the musical palette is almost bluegrass before the vocals enter. Effects used on the vocals reveal an attempt to tell a kind of detective mystery. Again, this is The Moulettes at their finest. Banjo and squealing violin are quite prominent trhougout as the vocals and effects give this quite a familiar MEDIÆVAL BÆBES feel. (13.5/15)

Total time 56:30

The sound engineering on this album is so phenomenal that it just feels like such a treat to be allowed to be present among these musicians (for that is truly the feeling of the headphones experience). While many of the songs represented here are absolutely stunning creations, I feel that the album is a bit too scattered in its sounds and styles. On their debut, The Moulettes established a kind of forma and style that now feels like their truest style, the sound that is their destiny, but here the band tries to "branch out" into other, often simpler styles--which, to my mind, is almost demeaning to the potentialities of this creative crew. I like it much better when The Moulettes are The Moulettes for there is now one else out there like them, no music so fascinating and impressive. While mega kudos are again in order for Hannah and the gang's creative arrangements and precision performances, I'd like to add a special shout out to violinist/violist Georgina Leach for her meteoric rise in confidence and virtuosity.

A-/five stars; a masterpiece of Prog Folk music and a highly recommended addition to any prog lover's music collection. This band may be the finest Prog Folk band I've ever heard.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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