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Motor Totemist Guild - Elements (with 5UU's) CD (album) cover


Motor Totemist Guild



3.47 | 6 ratings

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3 stars And now from the other side

This album is a cooperation between MTG, leaded by James Grigsby, and the 5UU's, leaded by Dave Kerman. I've already posted my review to this album in the 5UU 's section. I post it again onther the MTG section, edited just a bit.

Second album to 5UU 's, that more than a band name it's a code name or logo for Dave Kerman and his cooperates. In this album he cooperates with the Motor Totemist Guild, in addition to some original 5uu's members. The other key member here is James Grigsby, the Totemists leader, and it seems that he took those origin, modern short songs by Dave Kerman, arranged them, 'structured' them a little bit, and the result is very captivating. On the other hand, James Grigsby gains here comunicativeness, brightness and catchier ideas than some other edgy Avant MTG materials. In fact this first cooperation between those two leaded the way to the next, faboulos cooperation of the U Totem s/t, that formed as a smaller rock group from the two afordmentioned bands.

The entire album sound is very warm and acoustic, featuring instruments such as piano, cello and various woodwinds. Most of the melodies could be considered as modern/avant 'quirky' ones, but with a lot of grace and some of contemplative mood. The lyrics, most of them written by Dave Kerman contain some philosophical thoughts about mankind and human nature, some 'echological' ideas, and some 'quirky' little stories.

The simplest song is 'Acknowledgments'. It sounds to me like a 40's-50's American song, delightful and sentimental tune instrumented by chamber acoustic ensemble. The most modern/avant song is 'Imperfections' which contain a unique structure: Each song line is separated from its successor by long silence, and starts with a dominant reverse effect. Any rhythmical approach is neglected, deliberately. This structure reminds me of some modern classical songs.

Other songs move in between those two edges, but tend much more to the avant direction. Few examples: 'The cause of merit' got interesting duo between vocals and bassoon, played by excellent bassoonist Eric Johnson. 'Elements' got a lazy, jazzy tune, with reminisents to some George Gershwin works. 'The artist' is accompanied by energetic drums and vibraphone from Dave Kerman.

The overall level of this album, in aspect of songwriting, musicianship, arrangements and so on, moves between very well to excellence. A little reservation I have from vocalist Kurt Wilson, that although doing a good job transferring these non simple songs, in musical and expression terms, nevertheless something is missing here for me, or maybe it's just the too 80's flavor vocals? But let's consider that this is the era which this album has been released, and sure they didn't act in a vacuum.

BTW the 'Imperfection' song could also be found in the 'Shapono zoo' album, with Emily Hay's vocals. Inspite Emily Hay being an excellent vocalist, nevertheless I prefer Kurt Wilson execution for this song. Maybe I just got used to it more than Hay execution.

eventually I've choose to rate this album in a modest rating of 3 stars, and I'll be consistent and won't change it in this second review. However in this case, the rating doesn't say much. This album is a 'survivor' in my shelve and continue being refreshing and moveing.

ShW1 | 3/5 |


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