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The Madcap Laughs - The Pith Of Eleutheria CD (album) cover

THE PITH OF ELEUTHERIA

The Madcap Laughs

 

Crossover Prog

3.00 | 3 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
2 stars What would have happened if Syd Barrett had stayed in Pink Floyd in a purely songwriting role behind the scenes, keeping the experimental space rock spirit of their early days alive right into the Wish You Were Here era? The result might have sounded a little like the better songs on The Madcap Laughs' debut EP, The Pith of Eleutheria. Opening with two mostly- instrumental tracks which encompass Floydian influences ranging from A Saucerful of Secrets to Wish. You have the pristine Gilmour guitar work of Floyd's classic era, some great Ummagumma-ish instrumental noodling, and some Dark Side of the Moon-esque saxophone all within the first ten minutes of the EP.

And it's not just the most famous stylistic elements of Floyd which are captured here either - take, for instance, Hey You In the Sky, an attempt to add laid-back jazzy saxophone to a dreamy pop number reminiscent of the shorter songs on Atom Heart Mother. And hey, if you want some slamming of the music industry reminiscent of Welcome To the Machine mashed up with some of the heavier moments from The Wall, there's Overshadowed By Shh, which somehow manages to combine all that with trancier moments reminiscent of the more peaceful parts of Meddle.

Assessed solely on the strength of its best tracks, The Pith of Eleutheria would probably get a three star rating from me - the mimicry of Pink Floyd really is impressive, but the band don't really bring enough original ideas to the table for me to rate it more highly than that. Unfortunately, the EP has more than a few snags which make me rate it slightly lower. The track Thanks, Konrad Zuse is quite appallingly mixed - the vocals and guitar are way too low, for instance - and sounds jarringly out of place in the running order, prompting me to wonder whether this is an odds-and-sods collection of tracks recorded over a wide time span. (It certainly doesn't seem to fit in with the songs surrounding it.) In addition, the vocals are regularly a weak spot - as on the album closer, Sanity, for instance, where at points the vocalist actually seems to just give up and mumble some of the words (though the mix on that one is also a little off so possibly their performance has been muddied by that).

On their Bandcamp page the band boldly declare their intent to become "one of the most innovating and enduring bands of the 21st century". If they want to do that they really ought to emerge from the shadow of Pink Floyd sooner rather than later; as it is, listening to The Pith of Eleutheria, I hear no suggestion that they're even aware other bands exist, beyond the shimmering and admittedly quite effective opening to The Post-Childhood Blues, which reminds me a little of some of the better Jade Warrior moments. Though once the lead guitar kicks in it's Gilmour all over the place yet again.

And that's really the problem here - the band are so dependent on borrowing Floyd's stylistic motifs and lyrical themes (there's even a song entitled "Sanity", for goodness' sake) that for them to present themselves as being innovative in the slightest is simply absurd. The only people who'd mistake this for innovation are those audience members who haven't heard any Pink Floyd at all.

Warthur | 2/5 |

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