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Colin Masson - The Mad Monk And The Mountain CD (album) cover

THE MAD MONK AND THE MOUNTAIN

Colin Masson

 

Crossover Prog

3.94 | 52 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars Colin Masson's work remains no mystery to me, as I deeply enjoyed his previous solo effort "Isle of Eight" , a heady work loaded with assorted Oldfieldisms that I have reviewed in the past as well as his The Morrigan career (The amazing Hidden Agenda album in particular). The Mad Monk and the Mountain offers up some spirited vocals/narration both from the multi-instrumentalist and Cathy Alexander, a talented recorder/keyboardist with The Morrigan as well as spots with US prog legend Lands End.

As with his debut, this is an epic, highly personal offering that exudes immense charm, crafty compositions and nimble playing (his picking is very inspired by the tubular Mike) both on acoustic , 12 string and electric guitars while remaining quite adroit on bass and assorted keyboards. After a brief, highly evocatively narrated opener, the show really starts heating up with the exuberant and quixotic "Tilting at Windmills", a tremendous slice of Celtic-inspired folk-prog of the very highest caliber. Technical fiends will marvel at his skill set, the man can play a mean axe. The mandate here is to demonstrate compositional talent through expert playing. I must agree with my colleague Conor Fynes on the haunting qualities evoked on "The Ends of The Earth", a harrowingly gorgeous, almost hypnotic musical gauze, where Alexander displays her unusual voice, an extremely precious tone and delivery, easily vying with Iona's tremendous Joanna Hogg for the loftiest Celtic microphone honors. When Colin's frets enter the fray towards the end, the sublime meets the heavenly. A definite crest on the ocean's horizon. The title track has an insistent tone that is highlighted by some growling rhythm guitar washes, massive cascades of mellotron blowing in the background, sharp lead guitar squalls pierce the rain soaked waves. Just like with his previous solo album, there is a strong aquatic feel that permeates the grooves, perhaps Colin has some mariner blood in him somewhere. The succinct "Caradon's Surprise" is an acoustic guitar interlude that would rival Jan Akkerman or Steve Hackett's acoustic work, fascinating picking with a melodic purpose. Colin ends the disc with the colossal "The House on the Rock" a 16 minute + encapsulation of his merits as a prog artist, composer and instrumentalist of the highest order, creating a piece that defines soundtrack music, a symphonic palette of orchestrated splendor laced with rousing guitar sorties. Stunning in so many ways, elegant, refined and crafty, at once intricate yet approachable, moody yet talented. The powerful Irish/Scot/Welsh tendencies are masterfully delivered. Sincere applause, where's the rum, matey?

Amazing music from another underrated and underappreciated talents out there in progland. 4.5 Mirrored lights

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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