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Maudlin Of The Well - Part the Second CD (album) cover

PART THE SECOND

Maudlin Of The Well

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.23 | 538 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars It's all about other-worldly atmosphere.

I was introduced to Maudlin of the Well through this album and the reviews that are lavishing unmitigated praise upon this unusually titled 2009 album. I expected heavy experimental guitar riffs and dark aggression as it was in the same genre as Tool and Devin Townsend. Instead I received something more, so much more. I was stunned at the dexterous creative approach of the music and the ferociously original song structures. The moments of dark and light are juxtaposed as polar caps on every track. The songs begin differently to how they end and in the middle there is a maelstrom of huge raging instrumentals of virtuoso intensity, that shoot out of the musical hemisphere. The guitars are tools for light textures playing host to violins and keys, creating calm and mellow melancholic ambience.

An Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost (10:55) opens very quietly and surprisingly subdued with Greg Massi's acoustic gently played guitars and then a very sombre violin played to perfection by the incomparable talents of Mia Matsumiya. As far as I know from reading the reviews, this is Maudlin of the Well's most accessible album. Yet this is quite difficult to get into as it is sporadic, jazzy and eclectically out of the box. Check out those astral lyrics that are sung breathily patient by the quiet vocals of Driver; "I asked the fading Dynamo of the serpentine blaze which seemed to hold a life apart from the Trinity, and seemed stronger than their combined force. I wondered aloud at the infernal flames that wrapped like boiling vines about the clouds, and illuminated them with an ethereal glow, and shot down with all the speed of a blinking eye, lost in thought and trying to count seconds. I was answered with the steady pulse, the rhythm of the waves that spun slowly atop the dreamily oozing altar within the sunken structure that had no beginning or cause, save the toil of an immortal imagination." I am not sure we are meant to make sense of these stream-of- conscious words but there is no denying the impact of these with the surreal soundscape. The musical structures are way off base at times and rather disturbing sounding like they come from Planet Mars. The low piano throbbing chords of Olson mixed with a higher range are a prime example. Though there is true beauty mixed with darker levels of intense ethereal paint strokes on the canvas. Sam Gutterman's drums kick in with a steady beat after a duration of piano motifs. There is a genuine post-rock feel to this track and it breaks into a series of sections with many metronomic time shifts. A great start to the experiential journey.

Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying (5:59) is a very ethereal and brilliantly realised master work. It begins with a haunting musical box intro that captures the innocence of childhood with swooping violin jabs that enhance the pastoral texture. A huge instrumental ensues with an off kilter drum pattern from Gutterman that is as unsettling as the psychedelic phased estranged vocal technique from Toby Driver; "Like a stone I fell, and was engulfed in winter darkness, Silence filled each sphere that from my lips escaped, And ceased but for a breath, Before rising to the surface and waves Like fireflies." Driver's bass is technically proficient and esoteric, as are the hand claps and Madeleine Craw's arcane cello embellishments. Such an amazing rhythm signature and then the music disappears with a minimalist choral voice to end it, very Avante garde but utterly brilliant stirring progressive music.

Rose Quartz Turning to Glass (7:30) is a spacey out of this world piece of atmospheric ambience beginning with Matsumiya's sad emotive violins and a lush string quartet. The exploration and experimentation of musical forms is a key feature, leaving vocals as rather a new instrument more than a frontline feature. The massive violin solo is divine, emotional and actually chilling with the alienating vocal noises reminding me of Magma or Can. It is creepy and ethereal but appropriate sound bites of disturbia. Then David Gilmour like vocals appear from nowhere, and lift the song to a new level, it actually becomes an accessible song discarding the hyper jazz fusion elements that were the foundation; "Fade from the shade that you see, Every morning, every noon, It's the colour of this room, Even with your eye unclear, There's some kind of azure dust on your pillow." Maudlin of the Well rip that foundation down and create new textural nuances, and it is absolutely delightful. "Clouds are painted on in difference, A worn signpost for your dream flight, It's all about atmosphere" the lyrics are an appropriate description of the music. The anular riffing and lead break are wondrous. An absolute masterpiece.

Clover Garland Island (8:18) has more guitars than the previous tracks with an excellent driving riff and angular guitar chords. The psychedelic vocal harmonies enhance the overall experimentalism and there is an incredible instrumental passage that is utterly mesmirising. The guitars shine brightly as stars amidst the universe of orchestrated string sections. There are dogs heard barking in the distance transporting you to another locale and this reminds me of well, 'Dogs'. The lyrics are a surreal as the others; "I imagined the bottom of the Rainbow, Tunnelling through the roots of the Mountain, I walked Violet to the Equator, Where I dug my own grave then died in it, Beneath the ground I rode the royal hue, All through the Earth for Eternity" An excellent guitar riff locks in for a passage and then the soft violins pierce the fabric of the music as the final verse is sung; "And as the sun became too dim, The frame dissolved and The Greyous blanket fell. It lay upon the grass until the Morning When it was hoisted up again By a spinning Rainbow Over the vale." The astral projection existentialist theme the band hold on to is part of all this strangeness but it is easy to dismiss what they are on about as the music is the real feature and there are intricate structural fractures worthy of the most estranged jazz breakdown.

Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) (11:50) begins with a mellow fragmented guitar free form rhythm, Hackett like in its spaceyness, and improvisational, Driver's vocals return at the forefront this time, and quite passionately emotive too in a falsetto octave; "We're bound together forever by currents of electricity, I am a memory burnt onto thin air" Work out the meaning for yourself if you can. The riffs that follow are fabulous, heavier on guitar and atonal complex shapes. This is a mini epic that closes the album with a powerful dissonance. There are a myriad of time sig swings from gentle and passive to chaotic with injections of sporadic jazz. The organ sounds are shimmering and solid. The screaming lead solo is excellent virtuoso musicianship. The King Crimsonish rhythms are hypnotic. The twanging deep guitar licks are powerful against the background of choral effects and frenetic keyboard motifs. There is a brief reprise at the end reprising Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying on piano reminding us of the beauty of that track. Then it fades out and it's time to spin this treasure again.

This is an album full of unsurpassed virtuoso musicianship and serious conviction without a splinter of jocular frivolity, and it has an indelible impact on the listener. 2009 had some lows and highs like any other year but mark this down as a definitive highlight. 5 tracks that are all killer, no filler; an irresistible package. A freebie on the Maudlin of the Well official website, this has to be the download of the year, and you are well advised to visit the site now and get this outstanding showcase of Proto Prog.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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