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Pell Mell - Moldau CD (album) cover

MOLDAU

Pell Mell

 

Symphonic Prog

2.55 | 6 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars With limited success during the decade made for prog, PELL MELL surprisingly and valiantly tried again in 1981, with this one off built around a reworking of Smetana's Moldau, which they had themselves already reworked on their debut "Marburg" . What is most surprising is how this ever saw the light of day, not because of any quality issue per se, but because it seems quite unaware of the new order in popular music. By and large, "Moldau" sounds like it could have been released several years earlier, so those afraid of 80s synths and drums need not be perturbed. Vocals are also absent, and guitars both acoustic and electric play a greater role than in earlier Pell Mell offerings.

Only 2 lengthy tracks and one brief ambient interlude comprise the disk, again boding well for the prog purist. The title piece is stretched out to 18+ minutes, reprising the main theme several times around a few other modestly appealing segments, including a light marching style and a crystalline lead guitar outtro. "Dark Valley" begins with a passage that is a little too reminiscent in meter and melody to that of "Moldau", but elsewhere are quieter synth passages coupled with acoustic guitars, reminding me of a cross between ELOY's "Colours" and "Planets". A strummed acoustic guitar/fuzzy yet succinct lead guitar combination sounds like YES' "And You and I" meets JADE WARRIOR, in which the bass in particular is worth singling out. I even hear the tune of GRAND FUNK "I'm Getting Closer" in the whirring synths that appear in the last 4 minutes atop some rather lovely electric piano.

With the above pedigrees, the album is certainly not a bust, but "Moldau" lacks the suspense of ELOY, the complexity of YES, the reflectiveness of "JADE WARRIOR", and...um...the hooks of GRAND FUNK! The addition of even sparse vocals would have helped bring a focus to these agglomerations and some needed drama, and shown that the group wasn't just presenting a few last ideas or the sake of it. Like the bio says, the magic was gone by now, even if the chops were still pleasant enough. 2.5 stars rounded down.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |

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