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Netherland Dwarf - Moi Moi CD (album) cover

MOI MOI

Netherland Dwarf

 

Crossover Prog

3.81 | 13 ratings

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m2thek
Prog Reviewer
4 stars If you have ever asked yourself the question "Boy, I wonder what ELP would have sounded like if Keith Emerson had used Mellotron?", then Netherland Dwarf's debut album Moi Moi is definitely for you. Taking a lot of cues from Emerson's idea of updating classical works with modern rock instruments, Netherland Dwarf has arranged a really exciting album, and also makes a pretty good case as an original composer.

Netherland Dwarf is an, at this time, anonymous Japanese artist listed here as Crossover Prog. I don't quite understand the inclusion there as opposed to Symphonic Prog because the classical music is obviously symphonic, and the original compositions are also quite bombastic. It's not really important what genre of prog this site considers ND, because the music speaks well enough for itself.

Moi Moi, which I still haven't figured out how to pronounce, is a completely instrumental made up of five original compositions, three arrangements of classical pieces, and a bonus classical piece after the main eight songs. Although the only classical piece that I recognized off the bat was "Hallelujah," listening to the other three has shown me that these arrangements are very faithful to the original works, almost down to exactly the same running times.

Where Netherland Dwarf makes his mark is in his instrumental choices. What was once a soft and beautiful string section becomes a furious and loud mixture of synthesizers and Mellotron. Each of the four classical pieces is extremely exciting with a special note having to be made for the drums, which rarely drop in intensity during the songs. The pieces seem to be quite famous and from how quickly I had tunes stuck in my head, it tells me that ND made good choices with these four.

I absolutely love the synthesizer sounds as the incredibly fake tones they provide throw these 18th century pieces into the modern era. The Mellotron, thrown into nearly every minute, is also used incredibly well, and it generally throws away the traditional use. Instead of filling in the background, the instrument is mostly used to play fast melody lines, or provide counterpoints to other keyboards. As an example, the vocal melody in "Hallelujah" is played with the choir sound, while the organs and drums play underneath. These two are the main choices by ND, but he occasionally uses organs and guitars, which provide variety if nothing else. The use of instruments is enough to differentiate this from ELP, as Emerson stuck more to organ, but any comparison to that band would be fair.

As for the original compositions, they are good, but the highlights are definitely on the classical pieces, where the performance makes them so exciting. The album is bookended by the two longest original songs, which share the same framework, and open and close the album well. The two short songs in the middle form more of an interlude, but are well composed nonetheless. The second original song is the most different of the five, being very rhythmic, but feels slightly out of place. In general, ND's own pieces don't have nearly the same intricacy as the four classical ones, but are done well enough that I have hope for his future compositions.

The time between my purchase of Moi Moi and my introduction to it was about 10 minutes, and I don't regret it in the least. However, the previous point is in my mind what holds the album back from being truly amazing. While I love Netherland Dwarf's arrangements of the classical songs, I can't ignore how much stronger they are than the original ones. However, they are done well enough that, in combination with the arrangements, make this well worth a purchase. If you're a fan of ELP's classical songs, an avid Mellotron lover, or just somebody who likes energetic symphonic music, then Moi Moi is something you should give your time to.

m2thek | 4/5 |

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