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Mekong Delta - Pictures At An Exhibition CD (album) cover


Mekong Delta


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.46 | 34 ratings

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3 stars S'good but, to be honest, it's so close to the original that I'd rather listen either to a symphony orchestra playing Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition or to the heavily twisted live interpretation by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER. Don't get me wrong, this is a good album - with Mussorgsky's opus played first by the group on electric guitars, bass, drums and other percussion, then repeated with the accompaniment of a synthesized 'orchestra' - but in my opinion it is neither as exciting nor as riveting as either Ravel's orchestration or ELP's live album. Just to be clear: the ELP version was not intended to be a faithful reproduction of the Ravel orchestration, whereas the MEKONG DELTA approach was essentially a modern arrangement of the Ravel orchestration of the full opus, using electric guitars, bass and drums.

The musicianship is evident and the arrangement interesting, but I do find the overall effect slightly bland (more interesting with the 'orchestral' backing, though). There are some notable parts in both the first 16 tracks (group only) and the second 16 tracks (group plus 'orchestra'), but for sheer entertainment the album can't compare with a symphony orchestra belting this out, or with Greg Lake's dulcet voice and Keith Emerson's mad antics on the Hammond and Moog.

This album is not something I would rush out to buy. If you see it on offer or in a bargain bin then by all means buy it - it's no dud - but it's nothing extraordinary in my opinion. As I type this I'm listening to the LSO playing the Ravel orchestration of Pictures At An Exhibition, and I'm enjoying it more.

In my opinion this album should not be given a 5-star rating (Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music) for three reasons: firstly, it's an arrangement of another composer's work; secondly, it is by no means essential in a Progressive Rock collection; thirdly, although the playing and arrangement are good, I find some parts somewhat tiresome and simplistic played using just electric guitars, bass and rock drums/percussion. If anyone deserves 5 stars then it's Mussorgsky as his opus is wonderful, or at least Ravel's orchestration of his original piano opus is wonderful. That said, MEKONG DELTA have done a good job and, despite being classified as a Progressive Metal group, this arrangement does not sound very heavy or at all like 'thrash metal', and should please any fan of Progressive Rock, even one who favours the symphonic side of the genre. If I had to choose between this album and ELP's live album then it would be the latter, and I don't feel I need both. And, quite frankly, when I listen to this album I wonder why they bothered, although I suppose it's a credible modern homage to Mussorgsky. If such a thing were possible I'd give the album 3.5 stars but, as it isn't, I'll go with 3 stars (Good, but not essential). Nevertheless, if you see it going very cheaply then don't hesitate to pick it up, as it is enjoyable.

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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