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Maudlin Of The Well - Part The Second CD (album) cover


Maudlin Of The Well

Experimental/Post Metal

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Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Well, I haven'theard this band's earlier recordings, I just learned about them from the forum topic announcing the free download site for this album, but how on earth are they classified as metal, even post metal? There is not much metal here, more ROI to me than anything, but who am I to complain?

I'm surprised that I never heard of this band, since they come from Boston, not far from my home. But then again, Boston is the Land That Forgot Prog, despite it's rich culture of music.

This album is a joy to listen to, weaving through different styles, like intricate chamber music (the violin & horns adding a beautiful orchestral sound), Meddle-era Pink Floyd-like ballads (but again more intricate than Floyd ever was), 70's King Crimson-like power jams, some Residents-like experimentation, and more too impossible to describe music.

I find thsi so intriguing, I'm going to search for their previous releases in the near future.

Report this review (#216041)
Posted Friday, May 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A more subdued motw.

While this album has been released under the name Maudlin of the Well, it's hard not to compare it to "the band", ahem, Toby Driver's other outputs with Kayo Dot. The music is very much less raw than the original motw days, yet despite its refinement it still manages to be bold.

This review will be different than my previous ones, as I will point out parts I really enjoy, rather than try and persuade you to get it. Hell, it's free, so I figure if you are already taking time to read this, you'll take the time to get the album.

Excerpt from 6,000,000,000... (5:30-6:15) - Represents a shift in gears with a crashing chord a la King Crimson, fits beautifully into the rest of the song. (8:42-10:20) -Keys come in to provide pacing for the rest of the instruments, a wonderful touch. Guitar isn't overdone but is still present, something I have always loved about their style.

Another Excerpt... (3:25-5:30) - Vocals come in, song shifts gears, leads to a plodding bass line that provides tension

Rose Quartz... (5:15-7:30) - Tapping into very Pink Floydish vocal style during this section. Actually quite tame compared to other motw sections, but I quite like it.

Clover Garland Island (nothing in particular stands out, but a splendid track no less)

Laboratories of the Invisible - (Easily my favorite track here, so many wonderful moments) (opening-1:45) -almost like a fledgling seed struggling to survive the initial stages of life in the world, only to take root, and structure into a fully formed plant (and in this case, song) (1:45-3:30) -kicked into gear, pace has increased, vivacious, and featuring more eclectic vocals (4:35-5:05) -wonderful rhythm section with more pulsating action, (5:08-7:05) -the reason to love motw, their open "soundscapes" are just beyond beautiful, nearly impossible for me to describe the feeling I get when listening to sections like this, truly mesmerizing, this is easily the best part of the whole album (8:18-10:20) right when the heaven-like bass comes in, giving an aura of walking on clouds

It's difficult for me to choose between different motw and kayo dot outputs. As the old phrase goes, its like picking your favorite kid. But since this is the newest one, I'm going to fawn over it for a while.

Report this review (#216236)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I got this a few hours ago and I'm amazed that I'm still listening to it, sixth time in a row now. I wasn't very impressed with the most recent Kayo Dot album it just didn't work at all for me. But this, this is something else, very little remains of the old motW sound, but it's there in brief flickers and lush passages. This is more beauty than the beast, and boy is it a looker!

I'm actually just completely blown away by it, there's something so special, it comes in quite a short package for motW but hey, I'm not going to complain, the repeat button was invented for a reason. Completely fan funded, and I hope that they'll fund another one, I know I'll chip in once I get some disposable income. Anything to hear more like this.

This is unlike anything that I've ever really heard before, the sheer scale of the beauty is breathtaking and I think it's going to take something incredibly awesome to get me out of the spell of this album. I'll post a more coherent review when I review it properly on my next listen.


A victory for the people who donated, a victory for music production, and a victory for the music listener. This is one hell of a journey, this is an album that will consume you, it will break your heart every time only to force you to fall in love again. First I’ll have to say, this doesn’t sound like anything maudlin of the Well had done previously, almost all of the metal is gone. I recently criticised Kayo Dot for the same thing, but this has done something different, it’s done it so well that you can’t help but forgive it.

The first cheerful 30 seconds of this is so incredibly uplifting, it’s insanely happy, especially if you know that it’s going to be followed by what is quite possibly the most awesome album of all time. A beautiful string arrangement comes in and really sets the mood for what this album is all about. The guitars resonate throughout and just add a lush flavour that you can almost taste, the layering is absolutely stunning. The vocal are perfect for the mood, out goes the harsh and in comes a completely clean vocal performance and it works amazingly well.

The slow build up is accompanied by sheer beauty and suddenly you’re thinking where the time has gone the whole thing just suddenly escalates out of nowhere. It will make you feel like you’re floating on top of the world. And before you know it, the first song is over. Another Excerpt feels like the start of a beautiful awakening, and the start of it is more classical in nature than anything. The build-up, the production and the atmosphere have all been created to perfection.

And there’s no disappointments, no anti-climaxes, just utter perfection, and buried deep in the mix is some incredible guitar solos that are just waiting to burst to the forefront, but never quite get there. Everything just seems to end so quickly, it never feels like you get a whole song, 10 minutes becomes one and everything feels lost, it can drive you mad just wanting more. Every now and then you’re just going to drift out of it and then when you snap back you notice you’re already halfway through the whole thing.

I’d like to take this time just to explain the sheer beauty of this album. There’s something to admire at every step of the way. Every note seems to be put there purely for your enjoyment. It’s like it knows exactly what you want and just delivers. The strings, the drums, the keyboards and the guitars; everything just works so perfectly, parts of this are pure silent perfection. And then other times it just overwhelms you with a beautiful wave of sound.

The closing track is quite possibly the only thing that can be tied down to make this overly familiar with motW fans, it’s the heaviest track, but that doesn’t explicitly say there’s any real metal on it, it just sounds more powerful. Yet it still retains that control, direction and beauty.

There’s not much I can say about this album that hasn’t been said other than that I’m absolutely stunned. My faith in new music has been restored, and I really hope that in 20 years 2009 will be remembered as the year that maudlin of the Well shocked the world with this total classic. And let’s not forget it’s available for free on their website.


Report this review (#216255)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another phenomenal release from Toby Driver, mastermind behind maudlin of the Well & Kayo Dot.

This particular motW release bears a far more refined quality than the avant-garde masterpieces of Bath & Leaving Your Body Map, adapting a more atmospheric, post-rock feel as opposed to free-form avant-prog metal as seen in the previous releases. There are no truly growled vocals on this album, which may attract listeners who are unable to tolerate "cookie monster" vocals, although I personally enjoy them. The musicianship on this album is outstanding, which is something that should be expected when listening to any of Toby Driver's projects.

1. An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, The Revisitation of the Blue Ghost (10:55): An excellent opener for an excellent album. This particular composition bears many themes & ideas first examined in The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth from the Bath album, which I also highly recommend.

2. Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying (5:59): This song continues an already great album opener. Soft melodies start off this epic track before some violin begins to fade in, eventually leading up to some Isis-esque sludge oriented riffs. The song then takes a strange turn around the 3:25 mark. Toby Driver begins with some underwater-sounding vocals before the song gains an avant-garde jazz direction, the underwater vocals continuing overtop the melodies.

3. Rose Quartz Turning to Glass (7:30): This song begins with some soothing violin symphonies complemented with some piano at the beginning. Various other instruments, including xylophone and glockenspiel are added to the medley. At 3:15, Miya Matsumiya takes a wonderful violin solo which lasts a number of minutes. The song ends off with some laid- back post-metal melodies - great music for falling asleep.

4. Clover Garland Island (8:18): Quite possibly the heaviest song of the album. It is not heavy in the metal sense, but rather in its strangeness and avant-garde qualities. It gets very soft later on in the song, beginning with a smooth jazz sounding section, followed by more soothing melodies in strange keys. The track finishes off with soft vocals, violin, and guitar, slowly fading out.

5. Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) (11:50): My personal favorite. The composition begins with some minimalist clean guitar. The song fades into a short post-metal section at around 2:14, briefly fading out for a few seconds before coming back with a barrage of interesting riffs that aren't too overwhelming for the average listener. This is followed by some very strange falsetto vocals. The post-metal section continues to the end of the song, which finishes off with a short orchestral vocal segment and a graceful piano solo at the end.

This album is highly recommended for fans of Kayo Dot, Red Sparowes, Isis, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and all other atmosphere-flavored progressive music.

Report this review (#216456)
Posted Monday, May 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Eight years after 'Bath' and 'Leaving Your Body Map' and with the help of some loyal fans, Maudlin of the Well come together once again to bring us the most beautiful and well-produced work they've ever recorded. From the opening violins which make you feel as if you are looking over miles of golden hillside on "An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000.." to the ending piano solo of "Laboratories of the Invisible World...", this is perfection from beginning to end and a serious candidate for 2009's Album of the Year.

Those who do not get this are truly missing out on something special, and that's the truth of the matter. 5 stars without hesitation!

Report this review (#216463)
Posted Monday, May 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A beautiful album, my favorite yet from Maudlin of the Well. Their unique sound has returned, but with a few changes. I wouldn't consider them to be categorized in the experimental/post metal section anymore - this release is much less abrasive than some of their earlier work, and the vocals are for the most part very relaxed.

I can say that I enjoyed every moment of this one, and you will probably feel dissapointed when it's over. But then you'll just start it from the beginning again and be happy. Great production and playing throughout. It has a very coherent feel to it - despite moments of dissonance and loudness, the album flows as a whole and comes together nicely. Almost seems to put you in a trance.

Maudlin and the Well also gains big points from me for releasing this album as a free download from their website, in various formats - MP3, FLAC, or uncompressed WAV files so that you can burn a perfect copy onto disc. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of the convenience with which this release is available, and DONATE so we can encourage this kind of connection to fans.

Report this review (#216482)
Posted Monday, May 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I thought that they would never return after the 90's.I am so glad that I am wrong.

Like what most of the others have said about this album,it is indeed well put together and less rough than the previous Leaving your Body Map and still retains that wonderful spacey feel.Most of the time when I hear of anything that might sound just a little spacey I am immediately reminded of porcupine tree (early days) and Pink Floyd in their early days with Syd Barret;I then forget who I'm currently listening to and decide to rather listen to either PT or PF.BUT...Maudlin keeps my attention as if I'm slightly hypnotized by their songs.The accompanying strings are never overdone but are never left in the dark either.The subtle notes of various guitar harmonies and synth waves in the background always give a warm cloud of comfort to the linings of notes that hold the arrangements together but still leave oblique expressions to my ears,especially Toby's almost surreal voice.And the lyrics are as uncanny as ever.It is true that their is less dissonance in the album than the others,but there still lies some "What in the world was that?" passages waiting for you in gradual twists and turns.Sam's guitar harmonic pickings are always a nice touch,and there's plenty of that here too.

I've always loved Leaving Your Body Map and Bath,and this one I am starting to love no less.It is the most gentle out of Maudlin's catalog but do not worry.It's still definitely Maudlin.

And you know what's even better about this album than the rest?It is COMPLETELY FREE.Yes,that's right,this great album is being given away FREE due to nature of making the album because this was actually funded by fan donations alone ( I hope to see this happen more in music fanbases in the near future).Anyways, the album is vailable at their website in three formats:320kbs MP3,uncompressed WAV,and finally wonderful FLAC.To everyone reading this review,please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and download a copy of this terrifically done graceful album as soon as possible because offers like these are bound to last for a limited time.

Report this review (#216654)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maudlin Of The Well - Part The Second

Review by ProgKidJoel

Its is becoming rarer and rarer that a masterpiece comes along which genuinely deserves all of its praise, but Maudlin Of The Well's 2009 release, PART THE SECOND, is exactly that. A truly perfect album, and the album which blasted this band into one of my favourites, and also introduced them to many proggers who'd never previously listened to this avant-garde wonder.

Musically, this is a brilliant mix of metal, neo-classical and avant-garde, which is something to be expected from motW. The vocals which stood out on Maudlin Of The Well's other releases are now gone, although this leaves more space for instrumental exploration, which is much needed and amply evident in this brilliant group from Boston.

Opening with a great track in EXCERPT FROM 6,000,000,000... /REVISITATION OF THE BLUE GHOST, Part The Second sets the mood for a more understandable and accessible Maudlin Of The Well. This track features beautiful guitar and drum work, which is transposed by even better violin work. Featuring a great chorus, this track feels much more like a Post-rock masterpiece than what one can usually expect from motW. At around half-way through its 10.30 minute length, this track breaks down into a great rhythm with lovely piano and guitar work. This continues until the end of the track, which although inevitable, feels regrettable due to the brilliance of this opener.

Next up, we have KEEP THE LIGHT NEAR YOU, EVEN WHEN DYING. This track is my favourite from the album, and is also a contender for my favourite Maudlin track. Opening with beautiful keyboards and violin, this track features into a deliciously musical labyrinth which is insanely difficult to describe. This track is for the majority an instrumental, but its easy to see why, as I doubt vocals could have fitted into this track. At around the 1:30 mark, this track breaks down into a beautiful verse, which is the best from the album. Delicate tones and perfectly structured instrumental tracks carry this song into a brutal guitar solo. After the solo, an off muffled voice speaks in indecipherable words, and soon after, claps are overlapped by a bass and cello track. This carries back into the complex rhythm and muffled voice once more, and then back into more hand claps. These continue until the operatic moan finishes the track, leading into the next.

ROZE QUARTZ TURNING TO GLASS opens with more brilliant violins, and these overlapping string sections make this album memorable and unique. We then find ourselves amidst a classical journey through an orchestra of incredibly calm and tame music experimentation. At around half way through, this track reaches further back into motW's roots than ever before. At around half way through, we reach this album's first section with a genuine song-based approach to music, featuring a fantastic guitar and drum rhythm, with equally enjoyable vocals and synth chords. After this great song-section, we find a similar yet different texture of rock with some great guitar work. Toby Driver proves he has some genuine chops towards the end of this song.

CLOVER GARLAND ISLAND is another great track from this album, featuring the same vocal style on BATH and LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP, albeit behind layers of guitar chords. This track continues with an incredibly odd and unpredictable riff for several minutes, until the last two, which are brilliant, and mark a massive change, with great vocal harmonies and lyrics. This section is genuinely brilliant, and one of the unforgettable moments on this track. It eventuates into another rock guitar riff, which is just lovely. Once again, more great guitar work transposes the lovely orchestral string sections and jazz drumming. This track finished with more soft guitar work and excellently bitter vocals.

LABORATORIES OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD opens with another beautifully unpredictable guitar rhythm, this is a great space rock track with more lovely vocals. This then floats into a beautiful lyric (I am a memory... Burnt onto thin air) and some even better guitar work. The album's obvious epic delivers on many fronts, particularly technically. This track crosses over more new ground than motW have ever before, and its easy to see why - The many musical textures and emotions in this track are nearly as many as they are brilliant, which is hard to believe. At around 8 minutes, this track reaches a great avant-garde riff, played on down tuned guitars with confusing implications for the future course of the song. The last minute of this track is a piano version of the opening riff from KEEP THE LIGHT NEAR YOU, which sounds beautiful, and makes for a fitting end to a genuinely blemish-less album.

My top album of 2009, without question, is one of the best prog albums ever. Considering this album is available as a free download from MAUDLIN OF THE WELL's official site, you're only letting yourself down by missing out on this one.

GET IT! -Joel!

Report this review (#217520)
Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars To date this is the best fan-funded band I've ever heard! (Probably the only one to tell you the truth.) I find it amazing that although they let people download it for free they still release music as good as this! The first track sounds like a rocked out version of Pink Floyd's avant-garde folk song, Grantchester Meadows. Another Excerpt: Keep a Light Near You, Even When Dying is an excellent track, dominated by violin in the start but is eventually eaten up by some excellent guitar playing by... (Wait... let me look at his name... oh wait they have three guitarists...) Some excellent guitar playing by one of the bands three guitarist. Rose Quartz Turning to Glass is a song that once again starts with beautiful violin playing except this time it pretty much stays violin the whole song until the very end which is very very soothing (even when people start making weird grunting noises). Clover Garland Island is the most rock- oriented song on the album with some loud drums and eerie synths in the start which eventually turn into some nice guitar playing and a catchy song. Laboratories of Invisible Worlds is a good song with almost David Gilmours soft guitar sound in the start and eventually turns into a modern prog rock epic. It may seem crazy that I give an album I got for free a five star rating but I really can't help myself. This is good stuff!
Report this review (#218095)
Posted Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review number 100!

Maudlin of the Well have officially been disbanded for 6 years now, and its been 8 since the brilliance of Bath/Leaving Your Body Map was set loose on this world, but here they are again self releasing an album (funded by fans no less) of largely old material that wasn't recorded for any album orginally, mixed with new material to complete the work.

When a band does this kind of thing, gets togethor for one last hurrah, you expect a safe album of familer feeling material to what is already out there, especially when the bulk of the material comes from the same sessions that previous albums have. Yet right from the opening notes Toby Driver is out to impress and offer a new view of the band. Surprisingly, Excerpts from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First... starts with an uptempo, happy tune, a first for maudlin of the Well. Of course it doesn't last, about a minute in it dscendes to slow rhythm with jerky vocals, but the fact that its there and that a second motife in a similar style appears about 3 quarters of the way through the song is evidence enough that we are in for another unique album spearheaded buy the creative minf of Toby Driver.

As a whole, this album is actually quite the departure from its predecessores in that no song here, not even its heaviest Clover Garland Island, aproaches the raw heavy metal of A Conception Pathetic or They're Not All Beatiful and that the sudden dynamic switches that charecterised them before have smoothed into swirling, gradual changes that rise and fall and change over the length of each piece. In the end its probably best described as a halfway-house between maudlin of the Well and Kayao Dot's most recent work, Blue Lambency Downward (that "other" band from Toby Driver). This is probably best charecterised in the third track, Rose Quartz Turning to Glass where guest musician Mia Matsumiya (of Kayo Dot, who playes enough on this album to be consider a full band member) dominates the opening half of the song in a way that would have made it fit in perfectly on Blue Lambency Downward before it grows into a strong rock piece reminiscent of Blight of River Systems or Geography.

So, is this album any good? My God is it good. The mix of styles between Toby Drivers two bands is phenominal, seemlessly integrating and creating multiple moments of shear beauty interspersed with moments of crashing dissonance, powerful rock and haunting melencholy. For long time fans of maudlin of the Well, the lack of any heavy metal, the spikey trumpet sounds of Jason Bitner and the wonderful vocals of Maria-Stella Fountolakis (due to the duo not being part of the recording sessions for unknown reason) and the inclusion of sections that can only be described as "happy" may come as a jarring surprise. I must admit even I wasnt hugely impressed with this album on first listen but on listening again it quickly builds itself into your mind so that you wont forget it anytime soon (it took about 3 listens for me). The fact that this album is free to download from in various forms (mp3, FLAC, uncompressed WAV) means that everyone should at least give this album a try. Personally this is now the leading contender for album of the year '09 and it will be a very tall order for anyone to improve upon, even Kayo Dot.

Report this review (#218168)
Posted Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Monumental Event in the History of Music

Maudlin of the Well's Part the Second is an almost unbelievable testament to what can happen between a truly talented artist and devoted fans. This album was funded by fan contributions (in fact expanded from a limited record of old ideas to a complete album project integrating new and old material) and then returned to those fans over the internet for free. This alone is so mind-blowingly cool, how music should be, that the album will hold a place in history that I hope becomes a model for what can be when we keep the music as the focus. But the fact is that the result is worthy of its historical place, a modern masterpiece. How all these things aligned seems almost divine. But perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. The love of music will never die. And not just any music would be able to muster this kind of support. Perhaps it was the fuel of that love that made the music as wonderful as it turned out.

The album sounds like a cross between MotW and Kayo Dot's most recent album, Blue Lambency Downward. Despite being very experimental, this is one of the tightest albums compositionally that I've heard from Toby Driver. Time and again a new sonic surprise is brought out at just the time things could have gotten overlong. Melodic themes pass through different parts in classical fashion, moods ebb and flow perfectly, and rhythms evolve from simple to complex without ever announcing their cleverness.

Unlike previous MotW, most of this album employs clean tones - guitars, piano, sax, violin, and voice. Occasional embellishing effects are more ethereal than aggressive, though there certainly are intense passages. As others have said, this seems more like post rock than post metal. The structure of this album clearly distinguishes it from the last Kayo Dot album, making it more listenable to more casual listeners. Still, I think the subtleties and true brilliance of the album may require a more experienced ear. For those lucky ones, I think a single word will emerge to describe this fantastic piece of work: gorgeous.

Report this review (#218416)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Toby Driver really hit a home run in the game of prog with this (free) release

Part the Second is a concoction of recycled material that Toby Driver had written in the past, that he perfected or re-wrote and brought Maudilin of the Well back together. Although, this release isnt as raw or as menacing (in fact it isnt menacing at all, its quite peaceful) as the original version of the band. Toby Driver covers such a vast range of genres, he somehow accomplishes to create music unlike any I have ever heard. He took ideas and sounds from genres and spliced them with other ideas and sounds from other genres that makes it a unique and beautiful work of art (to say the least)

Giving back to the people...

One thing they did that I cant recal has been done very often is take donations from fans of the band wanting to see a reunion, producing the album independantly, and releasing it for free on their website. This proves that they are true to their music. They are so unselfish. They really just want their music to be heard by their fans. I respect them for this more than I have respected a band in the past.

So what, these guys are some really cool people, but is the music any good?

*&^% Yes! This album is flawless! The musicianship is incredible, the atmospheres and moods conveyed take you somewhere else, the broad range of styles amazes me, the album dosnt drag, and its not too short, and for an independantly relased album funded off of donations, the quality is pretty friggin amazing. Like many other reviewers said, it sounds very similar to Kayo Dot's most recent release Blue Lambency Downward. I agree with this and I also add that it reminds me of PFM's Per Un Amico, PTree's The Sky Moves Sideways, Sigur Ros' Agaetus Byrjun, Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum's Of Natural History and any other material from Toby and his band of musicians. That makes one hell of an interesting combination of sound. My personal favorite tracks are An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, The Revisitation of the Blue Ghost (1999- 2009), and Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) (2005-2009). But dont jump to conclusions! None of the tracks are weak at all.

This is a modern masterpiece of prog...

I recomend this album to anyone who listens to prog. This album will appeal to anyone who listens and enjoys any of the sub-genres listed at the top of this web page. This will espcecially appeal to fans of Post Rock, Avant-Garde, Symphonic Prog, and Classical music (Rose Quartz Turning to Glass is almost entirely a violin/piano romantic-style classical jam)

Whenever you have the time, stop by Maudlin of the Well's website and download this beauty.

I dont think ive done this for an album yet, but im going to give this one 5.0/5.0 stars. The new Close to the Edge? Possibly.

Report this review (#218428)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The lighter side of Duality.

My word, what a staggeringly high quality album. Yes, it is a free album, and one can't beat that, but a free bad album might not as well be an album at all?

Fortunately for the fans of maudlin of the Well, this is one of their best releases. I don't think I enjoy it as much as Bath or Leaving Your Body Map, but such is to say one doesn't like getting a free pile of gold as much as a pile of diamonds.

The atmosphere, as to be expected, is stunning. Each song seems to place every note as needed. There aren't any moments of this album that seems unnecessary, or forced, or extra, or lost. Everything is well produced and vibrant, too. Overall, the sound is a more held back (yet still very emotionally stirring and powerful) tone than previous releases. The first track is almost positively sunny and lush before it dips into highly experimental rock territory. The space driven atmospheres interspersed with heavy rocking moments, and chamber music melded together so damn fluidly, is something astonishing to behold.

Nothing is predictable, and there are a multitude of intriguing sound spaces to get lost in. This is not an album to play as background music, but could definitely function as such, if needed. As much as the 5 songs recall past band experiences, they craft ahead with a new sense of deft security and grace. Another Excerpt is fantastic, and shining in its more free form powerful delivery. I stress not paying much attention to song beginnings and endings, however, as this album fits very well as one experience, which is how I feel of all their albums.

Each movement is a highlight, and a musical gold mine. I can't cite a single weak moment, as there is no wasted time or overused sounds. The atmosphere is defiantly graced and steeped in the soft and the hard, the grace and the swagger, the jazz and the classical. It teeters shatteringly and smoothly between build up and release, without ever actually releasing, as it always culls your attention by sheer force of will. Possibly the best free album ever made, and one of the best albums in general. So much skillfully complex musicianship and composition in one album, it is breathtaking.

If I had to, I'd say the worst parts of the album come in the form of its unabashed acceptance of light and dark, build and release. This could throw off potential listeners who prefer one main theme. But really, they are diverse, while retaining a cohesive atmosphere. I stand in awe while listening to this shocking release, and cannot stress how much it strikes my interest, and captivates me emotionally.

Part The Second ends with the very deep and rousing Laboratories of the Invisible World, which melts together one of their best adaptations of warmth and brutality of all. Taken independently, or as a whole, this will stand as one of the finest releases this century.

***** All Encompassing Stars

Report this review (#218618)
Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unexpected.

From time to time I come into a master piece. It takes long time to happen, normally. The past year was almost empty for me (Blue Lambency Downward didn't made it IMO and Trisector was kind of a deception, to mention a couple) but this year counts two masterpieces for me: The genius Gazpacho's Tick Tock, and now, Part the Second.

Maudlin of the Well is one of my all time favorite bands, so, I'm admitting my review is biased (who's not?). But this release deserves five fat stars, let me justify a little:

First: This album was so unexpected - Nobody could imagine MotW releasing a bunch of rare tracks eight years after the last album.

Two: The style is so different that it would be difficult to say it's the same band with just hearing the music.

Three: Consistent. Though being a collection of unleashed tracks, all of them flow perfectly.

Four: Innovative. This album is an undeniable weird mixture of different styles like Post-Metal, Post-Rock, RIO, Avant, Jazz, Classical, etc...

Five: Surprisingly accessible. Ok this is relative of course, but this album just took about three listens on me to grow and became my current favorite from this year.

Six: It's free!!!

Report this review (#219598)
Posted Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Part The Second' - Maudlin Of The Well (10/10)

Maudlin of the Well's 'Part The Second' was a gloriously found gem for me. Maudlin has always been a band I've respected as being highly creative and original, but I've always needed an album to properly get me into them. With the graces of a 'free album' made by the band as a response to fan donation, it was pretty hard to resist. Even sparing the music here, the way in which this record came to fruition is really uplifting, and a perfect backdrop for what is one of the most musically proficient releases to have come out of 2009.

Upon my first listen of 'Part The Second,' it was clear that the band's hiatus had given them the rest needed to make something really unique and beautiful, albeit challenging.. While there are parts of the work that may not work as well as others; with more listens, the gaps in my appreciation began to fill up, and I finally came to the point where I was able to take the music for what it was, and not what it wasn't.

Compared to the band's previous releases, Toby Driver and his bandmates shed alot of the metal to incorperate other sounds and influences into the mix, including jazz and even neoclassical elements. As far as metal as a genre goes, the traces of such are few and far between. While Maudlin Of The Well certainly started out 'metal,' this album is a further development into the realm of uncompromised post-rock.

The vocals themselves, while very versatile, fall short in the overall sound and deter more so than compliment. While there are a few rare sections where it shows that Driver can actually sing, he rarely uses much of his vocal potential. I don't know whether he was trying to sound 'avant' in nature, or if he thought it was the best thing he could do, but the vocals seem to (if only a little bit) mar the otherwise complex and beautiful soundscape that Maudlin performs here. Sometimes, I hear the music and wish that a more regimented performance was used, but parts of the vocal mix work rather well in any case.

Perhaps the most inspiring thing about this album isn't even so much the music, but a living testament of how music can bring people together in harmony, and do something really magical. Even in a year like 2009, the true spirit of music has not died.

Report this review (#221343)
Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars I am flabbergasted by the intricacies and elegance of this album, particularly since it was made available for free. Shimmering clean guitar and bittersweet violin play a major role on this album, both of which touch the listener on a visceral level. The diverse vocals were off-putting initially, but I cannot deny that they are at once unique and an integral part of what makes this a fantastic piece of work. I believe I am incapable of expressing in writing everything that enthralls me with it, as I feel nearly any masterpiece just requires a kindred spirit as it were, to listen to it, and be in total agreement with how astonishing it is- no words will do it justice, and there's no convincing the naysayers.

"An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, The Revisitation of the Blue Ghost" The first song surprised me in a way I was not prepared for: What I heard was pure symphonic bliss, with gorgeous clean guitar, strings, and an upbeat rhythm. Suddenly, the music becomes very slow, with a single organ chord droning in the background, subdued drums, blasts of velvety guitar, and dreary lead vocals. A heavier, more tightly orchestrated interlude ensues, with exquisite instrumentation and great bass. Soon that gives way to another sedated stretch of beautiful music.

"Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying" A gorgeous piece, this features various strings and a baritone saxophone. The music builds to invite a screaming but not overdone electric guitar solo. A new face of the song occurs abruptly with more intense rhythms, falsetto vocals laden with effects, and then eerily lovely bass guitar and handclaps. The diversity of this relatively short piece just has to be heard to be believed.

"Rose Quartz Turning to Glass" Yet again was I whisked away in amazement at the sheer elegance this group was capable of. Sweet violin dances gracefully over poised piano and unbridled toms. There are some bizarre vocals that normally would make me reach out to move on to the next track, but something about these is hypnotic and sound perfectly natural in the context of the music. Without warning, a late 1970s-sounding Pink Floyd rock bit ensues.

"Clover Garland Island" Once again, there is another surprise here. Initially, the music is the heaviest that is has been thus far on this album, full of growling chords and cymbal crashes (perhaps in the vein of 1990s King Crimson), but then the music seamlessly turns into what sounds a lot like 1990s Santana. And then, the music sounds a fair bit like 1970s Camel, with those vocals masked behind muffled effects and the sparser instrumentation. Following yet another stunning string passage, the song takes on a fresh rock feel, with great, semi-clean guitars.

"Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)" The longest and final track starts off subdued enough, but this one is easily the heaviest number. Along with some crunchy guitar passages and some high-pitched vocals, there's thundering drums and dark bass. After the heaviest music of the album, a gentle, almost jazzy piano conclusion gently guides the listener to the end of a striking and somehow brief voyage.

Report this review (#221461)
Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Jake Kobrin
5 stars Download the album of the year (in my opinion) which was entirely fan funded and therefore entirely free. Written by the musical genius (and artist I should add) Toby Driver as well as well as the majority of the original line up [plus the magnificent Mia Matsumiya (Kayo Dot, Gregor Samsa, Tartar Lamb) on violin] , maudlin of the Well presents their first album in eight years, titled Part the Second. Following the masterpieces Bath and Leaving your Bodymap, Part the Second creates a much more subtle atmosphere that feels almost a transcendence between motW and it's post-incarnation Kayo Dot. What was formerly aggressive and melancholic was presented in a manner that is undoubtedly happy (though there are moments of melancholy and even emotions that touch upon anger), but the music is so incredibly well played and the song writing so well established that there needn't be any remorse for what once was and is no more. This album has become the sound track of my life for the past few weeks and I'm glad that motW was generous enough to share it with the entire world!

Listen to this album on Spotify:

Report this review (#223897)
Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Maudlin of the Well returns to the musical scene with a magnificent 2009 album - "Part the Second" is an amazing journey of atmospheres, textures and harmonic developments that undeniably deserves all the good praise that it has been gathering so far. Some reviewers and musical press experts have pointed out the parallel between this album and Kayo Dot's 2008 release, and it certainly makes a good point of reference for any listener to first approach "Part the Second". The 'Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles' track opens up the album with a warm feel fluidly conveyed by a softly playful intro, which eventually leads to a languid sung section elaborated on a post-rock mode. The eerie string ornaments and the acoustic guitar solo emphasize the intimate mood in an efficient fashion, somehow creating a sort of sonic counterpoint to the moderately raw undertones of Driver's whispering vocals. When arriving at the 5 ½ minute mark, the track gradually shifts toward a more extroverted passage through a well-sustained crescendo. The resulting momentary climax is really short, so it doesn't take long before we are treated with a refurbishment of the main body, filled with the sort of ethereal psychedelia that usually makes the best of your typical indie rock. The track ends in a solid momentum. The 'Another Excerpt' track starts with a lovely marriage of musical box-like synth, string ensemble and sax, before the drum kit settles in and drives the whole instrumentation to a majestic mixture of soft jazz-rock and chamber ambiences. The stage is set for a guitar solo to shine in an immaculate demonstration of intense musicality where technical proficiency and emotionality become one single source. Right before the 3'30" mark, a dramatic shift of syncopation paves the way for two alternating motifs signaled by the use of constrained energy. This fluid succession ultimately leads to a coda that portrays mysticism and melancholy. 'Rose Quartz Turning to Glass' sounds like a combination of melodic chamber-rock and fusion, wisely exploiting the friendliest side of avant-prog. Even though she is credited just as a guest, Mia Matsumiya's violin takes center stage quite prodigally whenever she appears to augment the recurring quintet. To be more specific about this particular subject, her violin solo is a solid conjuration of distant memories amidst autumnal trees. The final sung portion transforms the overall mood into a lighter feeling, which gives room for the band's rocking side to make a vibrant statement, not overtly complex but indeed full of progressive distinction. 'Clover Garland Island' is mostly focused on retaining the preceding track's momentum, although it may not seem that obvious at first since, right from the start, it flaunts its rougher edges with ceremonious bangs. Anyway, the main body is set on a psychedelic mood that displays some sort of agile rhythmic schemes before a transition occurs into an introspective section featuring Spartan guitar chords and ethereal string arrangements. The drum kit's intrusion spices up things a bit for a few moments, but this final motif's core is basically introspective and nostalgic. 'Laboratories of the Invisible World' occupies the last 11+ minutes of the album. It starts with sparse guitar phrases, which indeed announce an exhibition of powerful sonorities, firstly articulated within a slow framework, then transported on a realm of complex syncopations and signature shifts. The density feeds the tense bombast in order to make it portray a sort of mystic anger, spacey and robust at the same time. The coda emerges on a slow tempo that quite easily reminds us of some tune that Mogwai or Tortoise might write as part of a David Lynch's movie ST. but of course, this is MOTW doing, and the peculiar sense of twisted exquisiteness shows it unabashedly. The lovely piano passages that closes down this highlight track and the album is a perfect closure for such a listening experience.
Report this review (#224176)
Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars. Well, after reading all the fantastic reviews of this album and not knowing this band before this album and since it is free to I said why not? Let's get in to it! So before making this review I listened to it lots of times, about 15, and I came to the following conclusing: it's a nice album having really some nice and catchy monents, featuring also experimental progressive music but if I'd compare this album to other (this year) albums as Riverside "Anno Domino High Definition", Phideaux "Seven" or The decemberists "The Hazards of Love" I would say "No way" there is no competition! The last albums deserve from 4 to 5 stars, the MoW album only 3 stars. But being a free album and mostly experimental I suggest to listen to it. I will continue to listen to it especially when I am reading a book or when I am studying because it has concentrational features.
Report this review (#227928)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wtf, who had given it 1-star ratings? Are you nutz? You're facing the most wonderful album to bereleased this year so far (guess so), it's free-downloadable via band's website, and you dare not to like it? What's wrong with you, mr. Anonymous?

On a serious note: I absolutely love it. I've been waitng for 4 or 5 years for a new motW stuff (since they're honoured to be featured in my lastfm top-10 list, you may guess how much I like them), and I was enormously excited when I knew motW got back together again! And they're not only recording the old stuff but also writing a new one! Another hot news was actually the album's release: free and CD-less, dare I say. Screw you, whiny Radiokid, we do know what the internets is!!! (Sorry if that was rude, it's a joke)

So, I turned the album on. And on, and on, and on, and it was playing in my player/PC/head for months. It's like 2008's KAYO DOT meets classic motW, but without these cheesy metal cliches; sometimes you feel like guys are ready to burst with a blastbeat or a guitar solo shred, but no, get your another Zorny passage, listener! It's like Post-Metal with "metal" put out from it. I'd love to say this is what Post-Music should sound like, but that sounds snobby, and I beg pardon. To be short, "Laboratories Of The Invisible World" is the best motW epic ever written, and some bits of the album's music are sooooo stunningly beautiful, I simply cannot believe it's created by humans!

You've missed it? Prepare 90 mbs of free space on your PC and enter band's website. Otherwise you'll miss the most balanced and tiny album released this year, and don't blame me then for not warning you!

Report this review (#228956)
Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I had never heard of maudlin of the Well before the word spread over the Internet about this "free" new album download. I had never heard any Kayo Dot or even heard of Toby Driver. But the hype for "Part the Second" lured me in--for an amazing journey. That music--NEW music, like this--can be conceptualized, played, and performed at such a high level of mastery, (especially Mia Matsumiya's virtuosic violin playing), is, for me, so uplifting and hopeful. I was beginning to think that music would never get out of the ABACAB paradigm and never allow the mix of classic "orchestral" and "rock" instruments. But here we are. Thank you Toby Driver (and the donor/fans who pushed for this music). Let me start by saying that "Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost" (10:56) (10/10) and "Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)" (11:50) (10/10) (the album's first and last songs) are two of the most amazing songs I've ever heard in my life. Even after fifty listenings I find myself awed by these two creations, picking up new and different nuances and phrases each time I listen. The three songs in-between seem to belong together, kind of like a suite, tied together by the strong presence of violin and cello--which are breathtaking in both beauty and virtuosity. I cannot but help agree with those who have christened this LP as new classic, a true masterpiece. It is difficult for me to imagine even the possibility of a "better" album coming out this year. Five Stars, a classic. One of my Top Ten Favorite Albums of the Naughties and one of the most important progressive rock albums of the 21st Century.
Report this review (#230131)
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars maudlin of the Well make a comeback in 2009!

The beauty laced in this record is unbelievable. Every song recorded for this new (free) album is masterful and the album itself flows perfectly. The use of violin, saxophone, and other orchestral instruments give the record a very organic feel. The musicianship on this record still amazes me, even from hearing all other kayo dot and maudlin albums. The production is also much cleaner on this as opposed to many other Kayo Dot or maudlin albums.

An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before The First, Or, The Revisitation Of The Blue Ghost (1999-2009) : Great song! Has a spacy feel to it. Reminiscent of songs off of Bath. (9/10)

Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying (1997-2009) The weakest track in my opinion, but not a bad track at all. It has a very Avant Garde sound to it. It is also the shortest track (8/10)

Rose Quartz Turn to Glass The first half is a beautiful neo-classical jam. The second is a Floydish sounding part after a quiet bittersweet violin section. (9.5/10)

Clover Gardland Island This song is a real trip. After some heavy guitar chords, the band breaks out into a 70's sounding prog jam, which melts into a very atmospheric part. The lyrics are mysterious, and the composition as a whole is beautiful! (10/10)

Laboratories Of The Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) (2005-2009) The epic finale! Laboratories is stunning! It sounds just like classic maudlin, accept its even better! A minimalistic and mysterious beginning morphs into a heavy well composed section. Then toward the end, there is a very post-rocky droning section with a choir of voices and a very eminent bass riff that builds and builds until it crashes and a lonely piano fades and ends the album. This is the best song of 2009! (11/10)

This release from the once defunct maudlin of the Well is an absolute masterpiece. It is a must have if you are a fan of complex and amazing music. Any prog fan anywhere should download this free release and give it at least one spin, because I guarantee they will not be disappointed.

Report this review (#230221)
Posted Thursday, August 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars There's one thing I can tell about this music. It's ethereal. Really, it's like something not from this world (Pendragon?), something of great beauty, but also little bit cold. Just like shiny, best grade diamond.

Its complexity is overwhelming as should be clear to anyone who pays attention to structure of music. Or am I just receptive to these traits ? Nevermind, that's just one thing. I like sorting on two groups. Now I can apply it to sound pattern. 1)pleasant sound ... and 2) distorted/psychedelic sound. It's easy, isn't it ? First 2-3 tracks has mostly nice sound inside, nothing harsch, or something like that, "Clover..." has it for first minute, then it became some kind of jazzy rhytm. Yeah, I said jazzy, even it's strange. There is big change in styles and how-it-sounds-at-all, but I don't care, as long as it is listenable, enjoyable, prog rockingly sounding good and I can bang my head a little bit (just reminder of old rock times, it's present in almost every prog rock album I've ever heard), think about it and also float away of my consciousness as if I was listening post-rock.

Indeed, some parts reminds me post-rock. There are also strings present, similar to "Raise Your Hands..." by Godspeed, but from different point of view. They are here not to please, but to fright a little bit. Only a tiny little bit, but I can feel it.

This record wil definitely give you some creeps. Try for example go to big, empty hangar, put it to CD player with battery reproductors, turn volume loud, sit on chair in this vast darkness (of course, it should be night) and enjoy. And beware of ghosts.

5 stars, because of many reasons. Ethereal sound which can give both joy and fear is the main reason.

Report this review (#231546)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars There isn't much to compare this album to and say "if you like x than you must like y." The album feels very much like a work of art, even comparable to the artistic quality of classical music, probably even greater for the creativity involved. It sounds very organic with its limited reliance on computer generated sound in favor of "real" instruments. The sound and style changes often, going in unimagined directions. Great if you're getting bored of the typical prog sound. I highly recommend that when you listen to this album you pay attention to the music (not putting it on while you're playing a video game or whatever you do.) Also, what the [%*!#] is a Hammond elbow?
Report this review (#235825)
Posted Sunday, August 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.4 stars

A strange, otherworldly album. Headphones are essential.

Before getting into the music, I want to describe the story behind the album. The leader of this band had material and didn't get the funds needed to record that music. Fans of this band started donating money so that this project could be completed. After the album was recorded, it was released online for free since the project would not have materialized if it weren't for the fans. I found this to be an extraordinary story regarding true love for music.

As for the music, it is jazzy, elegant, unpredictable, avant-garde, and totally strange in places. During my first listen. I was overwhelmed with joy as I was hearing some of the most beautiful and creative music recorded in this decade. Remember the joy when you first heard your current favorite album. I had the same feeling. Unfortunately, this is not an album that I come to often, so I downgraded my rating to 4 stars.

While the first song is likely to be the most accessible in the disc due to a lack of jarring changes in rhythm, it still offers a diverse palette of sounds. The first minute is a jazzy and acoustic theme of joy with Mia's violins making an entrance. It manages to immediately transition seamlessly into a slow and plodding section where the vocals start. The choruses liven up the mood and have magical vocal harmonies. After the second chorus, the album loses all predictability. The second half of this song is dynamic with many interesting twists leading to a powerful finale.

The violin makes a stronger presence in "Another Excerpt", drawing you in from the start. The highlight for me in this track is the highly technical, yet elegant guitar solo halfway thru the track: it is truly magnificent. The second half of the song is truly unusual but not mindless. Underwater vocal effects, angular riffs, dissonant bass playing, and instruments noodling in the background.

The violinist takes the lead in "Rose Quartz" and delivers one of the best performances I know of involving this instrument. It initially dances around a very unique piano motif, then plays a somber solo, and finally it interacts with experimental guitars and bizarre vocalizations. The tom-driven percussion is very interesting throughout the first half of this song.

"Clover Garland Island" enters violently with dissonant guitar chords and crashing cymbals yet suddenly turns into a light jam reminiscent of Santana. Most of the track involves atmospheric soundscapes that are very effective in conjuring images.

"Laboratories of the Invisible World" is the last, and best track of the album. It is also the hardest to describe as it is quite revolutionary and unique. Truly an excellent effort that takes you to another world. It is very adventurous and has many twists and turns while being perfectly coherent. This is the heaviest song in the album and while it has heavy guitars scattered throughout the track, it feels very different from heavy metal music. It probably has more in common with adventurous post-rock or indie music, but stands out as if it were a genre invented by this band. When you expect the band to explode as a climax, the coda is actually driven by a relaxed beat. Truly spacey and extremely engaging. An elegant and jazzy piano signals an unexpected conclusion of a piece I consider among the best compositions of the decade.

It is a big surprise that a free album written for the fans could turn out to be so outstanding. While it not might be perfect due to the risky use of sudden changes in music as well as very dissonant passages, it is the adventurous nature of the album which helps make the project a success. "Part the Second" should be considered a very important event in music: a fan-funded work of art.

Report this review (#238947)
Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

"Part The Second" is a masterpiece of modern progressive rock.

New sound? Or maybe it's just a parenthesis, even though it's less possible, since Toby Driver has been experimenting a lot with Kayo Dot and with his solo project, and it doesn't look like he wants to back to his origins any time soon. After eight years of waiting for another masterpiece, here comes "Part The Second", possibly one of the best progressive rock albums ever made. Totally unexpected, "Part The Second" is the first non metal album by motw, and hopefully, like the title of the album would suggest, the album that will start a second period for the band. Actually, this isn't quite a new album, or at least this isn't new material: the songs were written back in 1997, before the band's debut was released. So maybe this IS Driver's true sound. The style is very close to Avant Prog, mixed with some jazz, classical, chamber music, rock, and a tiny bit of metal. This is all very different from the death metal/ avant garde metal band that rose at the beginning of the century. That is one of the main reasons why "Part The Second' blew me and many others away.

"Excerpt From ..." is an epic, ten minute song, beautiful and extremely relaxing. There are a few passages here that really prove how the band has changed and at the same time has maintained some typical characteristics. The use of violin is massive, but also guitars, accompanied by creepy vocals by Driver. Fabulous song.

"Another Excerpt" is a little less relaxing, a little more creepy. It is only 5 minutes long, but it is very well structured: the first two minutes are more post rock than anything else, with a slight increasing climax, and when three minutes pass the song starts, with some flangered vocals and tense atmosphere. It seems like the song will explode, but it never does, just like some moments in the previous song.

"Rose Quartz..." is the most chamber music influenced song off the album, and as a consequence it is one of the most interesting songs of the decade.Three quarters of the song is instrumental, and when half time arrives, there is a part where only the violin plays, making it very tense. After a while we start hearing some half growls half laments, until the song turns into a Pink Floydish atmosphere with Roger Water like vocals. This song never seizes to amaze me.

"Clover Garland Island" is another weird song, a little closer to rock, but still more post rock, especially the mysterious chorus. We have some beautiful and delicate moments here as well as jazzy moods and suspended and tense guitar riffs, like the first part of the song.

"Laboratories Of The Invisible World" is considered motw's finest song, for it's length ( almost twelve minutes) and for it's moods that seem to revisit the old motw sound. It does have some unbelievably good moments and fine passages that will surely go down in history as one of motw's best songs ever.

In conclusion, after listening to the entire album, you will be mind blown, guaranteed. An essential masterpiece that will surely go down in history for it's brave experimentation and for it's stunning moments of beauty.

Report this review (#239095)
Posted Sunday, September 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Part the Second' is a gorgeous album, replete with stirring sounds and beautiful moments. It's toned down somewhat from the outrageous brilliance of previous KAYO DOT and MAUDLIN OF THE WELL releases, and suffers for it to a degree. But what in my opinion makes this somewhat less than the complete success most critics claim, is the incoherence of the compositions themselves.

The album is front-loaded, with the first two songs representing the best of the album. 'Rose Quartz' is also excellent but is more of a vignette than a coherent whole. The album then self-destructs with the bone-jarring 'Clover Garland Island' and the failed experiment 'Laboratories of the Invisible World'. It is unreasonable to expect experimental post-rock to have traditional song structures, but it is difficult to do any more as a listener than bask in the vast array of sounds. This falls some way short of the holistic beauty I was hoping for.

I prefer the work of KAYO DOT.

Report this review (#240962)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece totally out of the normal area of what I would consider a masterpiece.

You are probably seeing a whole lot said about this release, much of it overwhelmingly positive. Part of this is due to the elite nature of the band, as their first three releases are impossible to get ahold of yet very much sought after, in a way something like Anglagard. So there is some overreaction in the rating. Some people seriously dislike it on account of the absolutely bizarre and abnormal nature of the music. Fair enough. But when it comes to me, it is probably the best example I've ever run across of a band making beautiful music in a perfect abstract and unique way. This is especially strange that I enjoy it so much because I (I'm not perfect, okay?) am often quite turned off by ridiculous song titles, especially really long ones. Here it doesn't matter.

This is not a metal release. They've growled before, I understand it, but this is a ride through beauty, not through pain. It's almost just remembering the happy moments. This is especially obvious in the first track (which I'm not going to write out all of). The song begins slowly and with some gentle, down to earth vocals. The latter half is built around absolutely gorgeous piano and almost Pat Metheny-esque soaring guitar lines. The second track (not going to name it either) begins almost like a lullabye, but soothing strings enter eventually and push this track forward as the rhythms and guitars get heavier and more dangerous. It suddenly changes about halfway through and begins being so eclectic and eccentric that you can't but love it. Who doesn't love some clever handclaps? Haunting vocals lines permeate the song underneath the rest of the instrumentation, but once you notice it, it adds that much more impact and power to the track.

Rose Quartz Turning to Glass begins as well with strings, but soon piano enters and changes the nature of the music. The most important piece of this music is the percussion, using the first three minutes almost as a solo section (it doesn't get oppressive or obnoxious, don't worry). The music backs out to strings before closing for the last couple minutes with vocals and guitars. The vocals are pretty sparse throughout the entire album, but here they are likewise very understated and fit the song quite well. Clover Garland Island starts heavy and chaotic, but spends much of the time being smooth and upbeat. A solid guitar solo occurs early on, segueing the song into more of maudlin of the Well's brilliantly utilized strings. A wonderful clean guitar riff also makes an appearance, and the song closes out on a strong but gentle note, again almost reminiscent of Pat Metheny. The final track starts quiet but on the whole is the least so. It is very complex and at times touching on avant-garde, but if you can enjoy the first four you'll enjoy this too, especially if you've been hoping for a bit more metal in the album. And it all ends on a wonderful note.

In short, this is an album I was curious about but not really expecting to enjoy very much. Nevertheless, my mind has been blown, and I have to join my voice to the others on this site and say, "Yeah, give this album a shot." I mean, it's free anyways (at the time of writing this review), and there are probably a lot of people on this site that would fall in love with it despite really expecting not to, just like me.

Report this review (#241679)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Maudlin of the Well were in a unique position recording this album, and the result is music that has something uniquely special about it.

For one, the band had not been active for some time. For the other, this band was fully funded by fans, and they had no record company telling them what they should do with their music. To my understanding, they haven't even tried to get it recognised by any label. And they released it for free, so there were no real financial concerns anywhere. They had the money to make it, and that was enough. (They do, of course, accept donations, and I would recommend you do so if able.)

I downloaded this album because it was free, and people were talking about it. Post Metal is not a genre I am really familiar with, but it's hard to argue with free music, especially free music that has a buzz.

The first few listens through, I was pretty solidly impressed. This is some excellent music here, with great contrast, vocals, playing, sounds, etc...pretty much, everything about this album is excellent. And, to top things off, it's excellent without having any obvious influences (at least to me ... but as I said, I am no master of this genre). This truly sounds like original, creative music where the band was able to give it their most.

And, as a prog rock fan, how can you not love an album with song names such as "Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)"?

Knowing that I intended to write a review about this piece of magic, I decided to give it a few more spins. Despite the fact that I have heard this album many times, the music is so complex that I have a hard time re-imagining it in my mind, other than small chunks.

Re-listening has made even more clear to me how great this music is. It is just so well crafted, and it affects your emotions profoundly.

It opens sounding somewhat upbeat with Revisitation of the Blue Ghost (not typing the full name), although it quickly turns more moody and dark. This works quite well, and the low, harsh vocals really work well with the music. The song is essentially three parts: The opening, the vocal part, and the closing. Of these three, I get the least emotion from the third part, but I still find this track quite excellent.

Another Excerpt is also great, although not quite as excellent as the track that precedes it, and I can rarely recall any moments from it when I am not listening to it.

Rose Quartz Turning to Glass, the third track, may be the most emotionally involving. The opening violin parts can nearly bring me to tears before the songs introduces the other instruments, and from there, I always feel as if my emotions have been changed from sorrow over something that happened, to anger over my inability to do anything about it. All this without a single word being spoken ... that is a sign of fantastic songwriting. It then moves into a bit more of a strange part, with bizarre vocals, and while this does not flow quite as well with the emotions I've built up so far, it still sounds excellent, and has me feeling a little lost, as if I'm in a world I could not imagine beforehand. Overall, I would rank this as my favorite track on the album.

Clover Garland Island is another nice track, although like Another Excerpt, I can rarely remember specific moments from it when it is not playing, and I would argue that it is the weakest track on the album.

The album ends with the stunning "Laboratories..." mentioned above, and yes, the song does live up to it's awesome name. It is replete with interesting movements and sounds, and is perhaps even more of a journey than the first track. The vocals that are used in this album are among my favorite in the album. This piece is more guitar oriented, but it works quite well. Definitely an amazing track.

So where does that place this? On the one hand, I'm fairly certain that this album could easily be considered a masterpiece, and one of the most creative and least commercial pieces of music to come out in a long time. For sure, the band really stretched themselves out and did some amazing things with this album.

On the other hand, I rarely feel the urge to listen to this album, and there are a couple moments that just refuse to stick in my brain. Most albums I would rate 5 stars are albums that I can't help but keep coming back to, time and again. For, creativity is not the only sign of a masterpiece ... you should want to hear a masterpiece.

And yet, listening to it now, I am wondering why I don't want to listen to this album more. As well, I am constantly discovering new things about this album, and I really do appreciate that about it ... that after over 20 listens, it can still sound fresh and new.

So, what are you waiting for? Music this great is almost never free. (I've checked the prices of Maudlin's previous albums on ebay ... and that is more true than I would like it to be). We have been given a gift by an amazing band, and it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.

Only gripe: It sure would be great to be able to buy a hard copy of this album. But mp3s are good too.

Report this review (#247276)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's a little confusing that this album is placed in the progressive metal genre. It's rather symphonic, jazzy and very experimental on mellow way, very hard to categorize at all. There are also rocking moments, but altogether this is very delicate, instrumental release. As you can see above the variety of instruments is really huge.

After many listens I don't consider this work as masterpiece but there is no lack of good stuff on it. Beautiful and very emotional vocals create the sentimental character of the album. There are also very exploratory passages which make this work truly innovative. The way of making this album is also really impressive and deserves much respect. However for a complete prog album there is too less for me."Part the Second" receives three and half stars rounded to four for their innovation and new, original music concept.

Report this review (#248507)
Posted Friday, November 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Maudlin of the well is a band that ive know about since 2000 but i never quite had the patience to listen to a full album. This was the time to do it, as ive had heard wonders of "Part The Second", but i must say i felt dissapointed with the hype, maybe its because i'm not to keen on post rock/experimental type of music but i think every genre has its great bands and albums ... this particular one didnt do much for me, ive heard it about 10 times and although from the beginning ive felt the potential of the album it never quite developed to the level i thought it would reach, there are some nice elements and song parts but as with a lot of postrock bands it all gets drowned in a sea of ambient and instrumental boring passages that seem to go nowhere, there are some piano parts that i really like, some good orchestrated stuff and some great dissonant riffs (clover garland island has a great intro) ... but as a whole it felt duct taped in some parts for the sake of the whole "lets be experimental and do weird stuff that doesnt make sense" vibe. Overall it was an album that i enjoyed but not too much.
Report this review (#248565)
Posted Saturday, November 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Part The Second is just a masterpiece of progressive rock music

The new album of Maudlin Of The Well, is an album that makes you stick with it for months. There are parts where you can understand many influences from bands like King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes, but there is a thing that make this band unique, with no influences.

This album has all the traits of a classic progressive album: long songs, jazz, classic and psychedelic parts and great orchestrations. You can hear clear violins and cellos, great voice melodies and a band with 70s ideas. Also there is not only the great music you can hear, you can see a wonderful artwork from the vocalist Toby Driver, so unique, so prog paintings. Another thing that make the album masterpiece is the lyrics, that are really from another planet. Is like you read poetry. The sound is really clear, is a sound that suits to a masterpiece.

I hope this mastepiece will be released on CD soon. I propose it to anyone who like the serious creation, the unusual releases.

Report this review (#251854)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most hyped and talked about release of 2009.

Like many of the albums going into the tops 20's each year I'm not familiar with Maudlin of the Well and their previous records. I came into this album completely blank and with no expectation except for the MASSIVE praise it had received here.

At first I was rather dissatisfied with it. My impression of it was that it was very much a progarchives album, something that the hardcore prog-lovers raved about while us infidels who grew up with(or still listen to) more mainstreamed music have a hard time getting our hearts and minds around. Eventually I was proven wrong in a big way.

Maudlin of the Well's music is ethereal, like many other reviewers have mentioned. It spans numerous genres and schools of music. My first thought on the first listen was "I have never heard music like this before" and being such an avid music lover as I am, that's a pretty impressive feat in it self. From heart wrenching violin pieces to double bass drums and then back to progressive rock in the lines of King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator. It's hard not to get dazed by the swiftness and ease Maudlin of the Well travel through their music. This is both their greatest strength and the reason why they probably won't ever rise from sub-genre obscurity. This is music that grows on you slowly and expresses itself in a secret language you have to learn yourself.

After the initial disappointment I decided set aside the album; thinking I'd give it a proper listen through later on when I was able to tackle its depth and variety seriously. But as life would have it I never fully managed to do just that. Whenever I would feel tired of the mediocrity and staleness of music in general, I'd just pick up Part the Second and listen through it. Somehow it turned into a gem among the many great albums of the year, becoming something that truly moved and amazed me in its own special way.

As always I feel rather cornered by the rating guidelines of Progarchives, sometimes I wish I could just leave my reviews unrated. I think what I've written speaks much better for this album than any arbitrary point system can. The 5-star masterpiece rating is not something I like to throw around and I feel that however I rate it's either to optimistic or the other way around...

I'll settle with a rating of 4,5(yes, I added a half point after my remark on rating; sue me!) in lack of any better number. This is essential in terms of progressive music, but I don't think of it like a masterpiece deserving the attention of everyone, everywhere. Part the Second is a unique record only suitable for some; but for those few it might be one of the greatest albums of all time.


Report this review (#252409)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ratings...Part the Second. I have got to make amendment: in my first rating-only I dismissed this with a 2 star. After the many enthusiastic reviews, I have given an initial try, but it didn't impress me much. Now I know the reason: it is pretty different with what I'm used to listen, with some dissonants or not-so-direct passages. I was just impressed by the outstanding production and instrumentation showcase. But. During wintertime I had the chance to listen more, with more attention, and when musical passages have become a little more familiar then the magic surfaced. I'm reading in the reviews that it is not easy to listening something similar, in the way that "if you liked this, you should try this...". Such a shame. Part the Second is surely beautiful and is now one of my favorites. (I've just "edited" the boring 2min section of "Rose turning..." to make it a little better!). Really excellent re-discover for my prog collection!
Report this review (#252588)
Posted Wednesday, November 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brutal, unique and beautiful. Part the Second by maudlin of the Well is something abnormal. Out of the range of human consciosness, but it's combined with creativeness and musical proffesionalism. Breathtaking trip around experimental, avantgarde, post-rock/metal and classic music with perfect musicianship and outrageously unique songwriting. If you try to sing these songs alone you can't, because they are so complicated. They could be realized only when you listened to the album. Oppressive mood can be felt all around the album. It's full of dark tunes and melancholy. Strong candidate for the top places of the year. Part the Second reveals an interesting story of its release. It would be impossible to be released without the support of the most devoted fans, who donate money to realize the project. It's amazing story, that shows as a conclusion: the best and most innovative bands have the most devoted fans! Regards to all these true fans!
Report this review (#257326)
Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars As I am writing these lines, "Part The Second" is in No50 in the "Top Prog Albums" list, while "Romantic Warrior" in No92! What's going on here? Well, I find this an interesting creation mainly because I like when a variety of acoustic instruments (piano, violin etc) are used along with the basic rock electric gear. I would dare to say that Maudlin Of The Well is something between Kayo Dot and Pinapple Thief. I love melancholy in art, but this is the kind of "bored and tired artist" kind of melancholy, if you know what I mean... I get the feeling that "Part the Second" is not.. moving, it is a little "slow". Anyway, it is good that records like this come out in the 21st century, but (with all due respect) I find that there is still something missing to justify this album's high position in PA's "Top Prog Albums" catalogue.
Report this review (#257990)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A treasure.

When the name 'maudlin of the Well' came up in conversation in the past, I would always find myself filing them away under the 'maybe someday' category in my head by default. It wasn't that I was biased against them for any reason, but they just never seemed like a band I could see myself getting into right away, and I didn't want to jump in to a huge time investment to allow them to grow on me until I knew I would be able to give them the proper attention.

Then, I saw where this particular album was being offered for free by the band. ''Well . . . maybe I'll like them more than I thought'' became my next thought. So I went straight to the official website, downloaded this album, and began my musical journey . . . Let me tell you right now. If you ever had any doubts for any reason about this band, lay them to rest immediately, and listen to this album. You will be more than happy that you did.

I know these guys are considered a 'metal' band by many, but Dream Theater they are not. Nowhere close. This is more along the lines of Indukti, if I were to name another band that would even come close to the sound of this album. But in all honesty, this gem of a record is a completely separate entity; it has no peers. It is perhaps the most beautiful modern album I have ever heard in my life. Trust me, it takes a lot for me to say that, because I've been a diehard Tool fan for ages, and still consider 'La te ra lus' to be my personal favorite album of all time, and while this one doesn't quite reach those heights for me, it comes pretty durn close-- especially by modern music standards.

So . . . what IS it, you may ask? That's much harder to explain, but I will do my best. It's Post-Rock meets Prog Metal meets Classical. That's not even accurate, but what the hell; I can't put it in any clearer terms than that. Let me just assure you that if you keep an open mind going in to this, you will love it, regardless of what genre you may normally like or dislike. It's the immediate accessibility that makes this record so special, I think. Without even the smallest amount of embellishment, I can confidently tell you that from the very moment I started ''Part The Second'', my jaw was on the floor in awe. It doesn't pick up from the first verse, or the first solo; this album grabs your attention from the very first NOTE.

The music is absolutely beautiful from start to finish on this thing; nothing ever sounds like it shouldn't be there. Things just fall into place so naturally, as if these songs were always there, and the band members simply 'uncovered' them over the course of the album's recording. I've every now and again found myself connecting with a piece of music in such a personal way that it truly felt as if I'd known it all along. Typically, this only happens with short jingles, such as a famous movie theme or long-played commercial on television. Until I heard maudlin of the Well's ''Part The Second'', only one full length album had done that to me. Now I can say that there are now two.

This is a much shorter review than I usually write, but I fear that if I go into any more specific detail, it may ruin the listening experience for you. So let me just say, again . . . go download this album right away. Nothing is keeping you from doing so. it's free, legal and worth your time 100%. An unbelievable piece of audible art that can only be fully understood upon hearing it for yourself. I cannot sing its praises enough. This album IS a masterpiece, indeed. Absolutely essential.

I try to keep my five-star ratings to a minimum, but this album may be the most deserving yet of the score out of everything I have reviewed thus far. You simply must hear it. It's amazing.

Report this review (#267127)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I've been completely surprised by the reactions that this album has received here on Prog Archives. Every time I see a new 5 star review depicting this album as a masterpiece I make it my mission to give this recording another chance so at least one can hardly blame me for not giving it an honest shot.

Part The Second is my first venture into Maudlin Of The Well's music, but since I've heard the two first Kayo Dot releases I can't say that I'm a complete rookie when it come to Toby Driver and his music creations. In order to put this type of compositions into perspective I tend to compare it with similar artists and here Kayo Dot seems to be the main contender for that title. This is also what my main concern with this release since I just don't see any of those prominent highlights that Kayo Dot's debut had to offer. Nothing on Part The Second makes me all that excited and to be honest the last few revisits have given me very little reason to change that opinion.

An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before The First, Or, The Revisitation Of The Blue Ghost is a nice opening track with some dreamy soundscapes that often hit the spot but I would most definitely pick my two favorite pieces off Choirs Of The Eye any day over it. This track is also the only composition here that feels completely original and doesn't remind me of any other artist's work. After this piece of music comes the composition titled Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying which starts a bit like something from Radiohead's Kid A/Amnesiac albums with underlying melody reminding me of those early King Crimson epics. Things get even weirder towards the end section which sound even more Crimsonesque which is all good but hardly innovating or exciting.

A nice violin melody commences Rose Quartz Turning To Glass and it keeps going for almost 5 straight minutes. After that comes a David Gilmour sounding vocal section which literally appears out of nowhere and just ruins the whole track since it now feels like the violin interplay section was just a drawn out intro. The transition between the two sections could definitely have been a whole lot smoother.

Clover Garland Island has a slightly irritating intro but it does take a turn for the better and we are treated to another nice performance. The vocal section towards the end reminds me slightly of those gentle melodic parts from Gentle Giant material sung by Kerry Minnear.

Although I realize that many consider Laboratories Of The Invisible World to be the highlight of the album the music embedded into these 12 minutes leaves me completely cold. It starts with a mellow intro which then goes into an Anekdoten-sounding middle section (just listen to A Time Of Day and tell me that you don't see the connection) and later transforms into a long spacey outro segment. The whole piece just seems completely directionless and in this case looses all credibility in my ears.

There is definitely no lack of talent here especially since Toby Driver have done some amazing work with Kayo Dot in the past but here it all sound uninspired and emotionless. Still I can't point out anything particularly wrong with the music itself so I definitely won't go below the good, but non-essential rating here.

**** star songs: An Excerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before The First, Or, The Revisitation Of The Blue Ghost (10:55) Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying (5:59) Clover Garland Island (8:18)

*** star songs: Rose Quartz Turning To Glass (7:30) Laboratories Of The Invisible World (Rollerskating The Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) (11:50)

Report this review (#272077)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Part The Second served as my first real introduction to Maudlin of the Well. I had sampled some earlier albums but never got tempted to go in any deeper. This album will probably change that. The music sounds very original and personal and is only slightly similar to other post-rock and post-metal bands such as Giant Squid and Isis in a laid-back dreamy mood. Toby Driver's vocals add a distinctive Jeff Buckley flavour.

The opening track is the strongest of the album. With a solid melodic song at the base, it develops a beautiful otherworldly mood full of eerie violins, vibes and rich harmonic guitar chords. 5 star material here. The second track starts as a classical intermezzo for chamber orchestra before it turns into a loungey jazz-rock section. Great heavy outbursts with electric guitar and weird vocal experiments add even more adventure before it settles for a dreamy groove in the last minute. There are very appealing parts here but on the whole it leaves a sterile and contrived impression on me.

The classical introduction and the violin solo of Rose Quartz is great. Check out Flairck's composition Variations On A Lady if you like it. After a good 5 minutes, a nice section with vocals starts, I could almost hear Jeff Buckley singing this one in a duet with David Gilmour. Still, it has no relation with what preceded and would have worked better had the idea been developed more to grow into a separate track.

The two closing tracks don't move me much. While making for decent background music, they fail to grab my attention. I guess Clover Garland Island might strongly appeal to Gentle Giant fans, but since I'm not a converted fan (yet?), I feel distanced from its far-fetched structure. The same goes for Laboratories. It sure sounds original, there are wonderful Crimsonian sections, even a notable influence from the Cure in the last 5 minutes, but again it sounds cold and detached.

While Part The Second is a solid and original album, it is not emotive enough to inspire me for more then a 3.5 stars rating. Other critical voices on this page pointed to Kayo Dot for a more satisfying listening experience. Since I can surely hear a lot of potential here, I guess I'll need to further investigate that lead.

Report this review (#273733)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars It's all about other-worldly atmosphere.

I was introduced to Maudlin of the Well through this album and the reviews that are lavishing unmitigated praise upon this unusually titled 2009 album. I expected heavy experimental guitar riffs and dark aggression as it was in the same genre as Tool and Devin Townsend. Instead I received something more, so much more. I was stunned at the dexterous creative approach of the music and the ferociously original song structures. The moments of dark and light are juxtaposed as polar caps on every track. The songs begin differently to how they end and in the middle there is a maelstrom of huge raging instrumentals of virtuoso intensity, that shoot out of the musical hemisphere. The guitars are tools for light textures playing host to violins and keys, creating calm and mellow melancholic ambience.

An Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost (10:55) opens very quietly and surprisingly subdued with Greg Massi's acoustic gently played guitars and then a very sombre violin played to perfection by the incomparable talents of Mia Matsumiya. As far as I know from reading the reviews, this is Maudlin of the Well's most accessible album. Yet this is quite difficult to get into as it is sporadic, jazzy and eclectically out of the box. Check out those astral lyrics that are sung breathily patient by the quiet vocals of Driver; "I asked the fading Dynamo of the serpentine blaze which seemed to hold a life apart from the Trinity, and seemed stronger than their combined force. I wondered aloud at the infernal flames that wrapped like boiling vines about the clouds, and illuminated them with an ethereal glow, and shot down with all the speed of a blinking eye, lost in thought and trying to count seconds. I was answered with the steady pulse, the rhythm of the waves that spun slowly atop the dreamily oozing altar within the sunken structure that had no beginning or cause, save the toil of an immortal imagination." I am not sure we are meant to make sense of these stream-of- conscious words but there is no denying the impact of these with the surreal soundscape. The musical structures are way off base at times and rather disturbing sounding like they come from Planet Mars. The low piano throbbing chords of Olson mixed with a higher range are a prime example. Though there is true beauty mixed with darker levels of intense ethereal paint strokes on the canvas. Sam Gutterman's drums kick in with a steady beat after a duration of piano motifs. There is a genuine post-rock feel to this track and it breaks into a series of sections with many metronomic time shifts. A great start to the experiential journey.

Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying (5:59) is a very ethereal and brilliantly realised master work. It begins with a haunting musical box intro that captures the innocence of childhood with swooping violin jabs that enhance the pastoral texture. A huge instrumental ensues with an off kilter drum pattern from Gutterman that is as unsettling as the psychedelic phased estranged vocal technique from Toby Driver; "Like a stone I fell, and was engulfed in winter darkness, Silence filled each sphere that from my lips escaped, And ceased but for a breath, Before rising to the surface and waves Like fireflies." Driver's bass is technically proficient and esoteric, as are the hand claps and Madeleine Craw's arcane cello embellishments. Such an amazing rhythm signature and then the music disappears with a minimalist choral voice to end it, very Avante garde but utterly brilliant stirring progressive music.

Rose Quartz Turning to Glass (7:30) is a spacey out of this world piece of atmospheric ambience beginning with Matsumiya's sad emotive violins and a lush string quartet. The exploration and experimentation of musical forms is a key feature, leaving vocals as rather a new instrument more than a frontline feature. The massive violin solo is divine, emotional and actually chilling with the alienating vocal noises reminding me of Magma or Can. It is creepy and ethereal but appropriate sound bites of disturbia. Then David Gilmour like vocals appear from nowhere, and lift the song to a new level, it actually becomes an accessible song discarding the hyper jazz fusion elements that were the foundation; "Fade from the shade that you see, Every morning, every noon, It's the colour of this room, Even with your eye unclear, There's some kind of azure dust on your pillow." Maudlin of the Well rip that foundation down and create new textural nuances, and it is absolutely delightful. "Clouds are painted on in difference, A worn signpost for your dream flight, It's all about atmosphere" the lyrics are an appropriate description of the music. The anular riffing and lead break are wondrous. An absolute masterpiece.

Clover Garland Island (8:18) has more guitars than the previous tracks with an excellent driving riff and angular guitar chords. The psychedelic vocal harmonies enhance the overall experimentalism and there is an incredible instrumental passage that is utterly mesmirising. The guitars shine brightly as stars amidst the universe of orchestrated string sections. There are dogs heard barking in the distance transporting you to another locale and this reminds me of well, 'Dogs'. The lyrics are a surreal as the others; "I imagined the bottom of the Rainbow, Tunnelling through the roots of the Mountain, I walked Violet to the Equator, Where I dug my own grave then died in it, Beneath the ground I rode the royal hue, All through the Earth for Eternity" An excellent guitar riff locks in for a passage and then the soft violins pierce the fabric of the music as the final verse is sung; "And as the sun became too dim, The frame dissolved and The Greyous blanket fell. It lay upon the grass until the Morning When it was hoisted up again By a spinning Rainbow Over the vale." The astral projection existentialist theme the band hold on to is part of all this strangeness but it is easy to dismiss what they are on about as the music is the real feature and there are intricate structural fractures worthy of the most estranged jazz breakdown.

Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) (11:50) begins with a mellow fragmented guitar free form rhythm, Hackett like in its spaceyness, and improvisational, Driver's vocals return at the forefront this time, and quite passionately emotive too in a falsetto octave; "We're bound together forever by currents of electricity, I am a memory burnt onto thin air" Work out the meaning for yourself if you can. The riffs that follow are fabulous, heavier on guitar and atonal complex shapes. This is a mini epic that closes the album with a powerful dissonance. There are a myriad of time sig swings from gentle and passive to chaotic with injections of sporadic jazz. The organ sounds are shimmering and solid. The screaming lead solo is excellent virtuoso musicianship. The King Crimsonish rhythms are hypnotic. The twanging deep guitar licks are powerful against the background of choral effects and frenetic keyboard motifs. There is a brief reprise at the end reprising Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying on piano reminding us of the beauty of that track. Then it fades out and it's time to spin this treasure again.

This is an album full of unsurpassed virtuoso musicianship and serious conviction without a splinter of jocular frivolity, and it has an indelible impact on the listener. 2009 had some lows and highs like any other year but mark this down as a definitive highlight. 5 tracks that are all killer, no filler; an irresistible package. A freebie on the Maudlin of the Well official website, this has to be the download of the year, and you are well advised to visit the site now and get this outstanding showcase of Proto Prog.

Report this review (#281764)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A good dose of hype surrounded PART THE SECOND when it first came out, most of it justified. It essentially silenced a nine year dormancy period for maudlin of the Well (maestro Toby Driver focusing on Kayo Dot in the interim), and the first album the group put out in a long time happened to be available as a free download. I was initially skeptical of this as the idea of ''Free Download'' might overshadow the actual music as Torman Maxt's 2007 album did. To my delight, PART THE SECOND at least met expectations.

Sadly, the excessive amount of praise for PART THE SECOND is something that I cannot join. I admit the first two tracks a excellent and joys to listen to all the way through, particularly ''Keep a Light Near You, Even When Dying''. That track starts out soft, but gradually builds into a pumping pseudo-metal, bass-led jam. Unfortunately, the album sputters out along the way with track 4 not being too interesting.

A variety of styles get melded here in this album, but the output is one unique, indescribable sound. The musicianship is impeccable and the transitions aren't the smoothest, but aren't the worst. With the album being free, there's not much risk involved, but I downrate this purely because of hype; while PART THE SECOND is great in its own right, don't be too disappointed if this doesn't turn out a masterpiece.

Report this review (#284968)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'd like to take a moment, if I may, to review this absolutely wonderful collection of compositions by Maudlin of the Well. Although MotW is generally considered an avant-garde prog metal band, "Part the Second" is most definitely NOT metal of any kind (although it has its moments). In fact, it's not really definable as any specific genre. The closest thing I could relate it to is the "chamber rock" style pioneered by Univers Zero. Classification issues aside, "Part the Second" is an absolute gem. If one is familiar with "Bath" and "Leaving Your Body Map", he will recall that the sound alternates between beautiful, spacey passages and technical death metal. Now, remove the death metal, extend the average length of the songs, and put more emphasis on the string section and you'll basically have something like "Part the Second". Toby Driver is basically at the top of his game here compositionally. He plays and sings quite well too (although the vocals are usually mixed behind the instruments). The songs ebb and flow in intensity beautifully and naturally, sometimes maintaining a groove, other times breaking into sparse instrumental segments, always incredibly well-arranged. I won't review this album track-by-track because I want YOU, that's right YOU, to go and listen to this album (absolutely free) and be surprised.

10/10 - For fans of avant-garde prog, space rock, post rock, and unique music in general.

Report this review (#309345)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Got maudlin, really

Before I start there is one thing which needs to be said: this is not a metal album. Maudlin of the Well tempered their inclination to death metal which wasn't neither bad nor positive factor in their music. PART THE SECOND is avant-garde/atmospheric rock album, however more accessible and melodic than Kayo Dot.

I was astonished by an impact this record had on me at first time I listened to it. At first I knew I must listen to it again, I didn't know why. Second, third, fourth listen and I was in love. This is certainly very special musical work, or should I say, musical masterpiece which may require patience from impatient listeners to fully appreciate it. It's worth the effort, I assure you.

I listened casually to previous albums from Maudlin of the Well and I have to admit that they are different, heavier and generally don't appeal to me. I can appreciate extreme music and uncompromising sound so the heaviness of BATH or LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP didn't discouraged me. It's lack of consistency in term of composition - the music seems to be too contradictory and clumsy. On the contrary, PART THE SECOND is sophisticated and consistent work, but most of all it is genuinely beautiful and original. Every sound is there on purpose gradually making up unparalleled otherworldly atmosphere. I think that psychedelic Toby's voice and beautiful violin's passages performed by Mia Matsumiya determines its masterpiece status.

I could say that fans of otherworldly atmosphere, experiments, post metal, Tool, avant-classical music might be interested in this album. I could, but I think it is so genuinely beautiful that it can bewitch everyone with imagination and sensibility to music. This record has been created with true genius participation. Absolutely unique.

Report this review (#367547)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I must preface my review by saying that this is a free album that has high quality download mirrors on maudlin of the Well's own website, so nobody has any excuse for not listening to it. I must also extend a personal thanks to all of the executive producers of Part the Second; you guys are great. Now that that's out of the way, on to the review!

Part the Second is experimental band maudlin of the Well's fourth release, and first in over 5 years. I was wary to give this a try, as metal, nor experimental music, had been my favorite upon exploring the sub-genres of this site, but thank god I did. Part the Second instantly became one of my favorite and most listened to albums, and contains some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard.

The first thing that strikes me about Part the Second is how unique it sounds. Even when considering mastermind Toby Driver's other output, Kayo Dot, and even past maudlin of the Well albums, there's nothing that sounds quite like this album. Within the album as well, the music is very diverse. None of the songs sound much like each other, and this is one of the strongest points of the album. Each song presents a new sound, and makes Part the Second great to listen to all the way through.

What's even more impressive than the range in sound found here is how it manages to be strikingly beautiful at the same time. This is in no small part aided by the wonderful violin from Mia Matsumiya that colors so much of this album, as well as Driver's at times screaming, at others smooth, guitar lines. The music is incredibly pleasing, even though it throws away so many qualities that we normally associate with affectively emotional music.

To say that there is a structure to the music here would be a very loose description. Rather, the music flows naturally from beginning to end. The songs are not melody or vocal driven, but there's just something about them that makes them so memorable and fun to listen to. It's always a surprise where the music will end up, but it's not jarring or directionless, and is always captivating. The vocals are as diverse as the music, as every time Driver opens his mouth he has a different singing style. The singing isn't the selling point here, but it is interesting to hear his whispers and screams in between the already great music.

There's really nothing bad I can say about Part the Second. The closest thing to a complaint is that this music exists solely in this short 45 minutes, but what a wonderful 45 minutes it is. If you haven't listened to this album yet, it's an absolute must, and considering that it's at no cost, why haven't you yet?

Report this review (#375999)
Posted Friday, January 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
5 stars Tear-jerking beauty laced with breath-taking genius

After a lengthy hiatus, the experimental metalers maudlin of the Well are back with a fan- funded Part the Second. 83 fans donated money to the band so they could afford to record the album, and each are noted as executive producers on the website, where the album is available for free download. The 5 tracks, each of a generally longer length than the band is used to (although most tracks on Bath and Leaving your Body Map are long). The music they made and produced ditched most of the pseudo-death metal the band tinkered with on previous albums and welcomed in a more melodic sound including soaringly beautiful clean guitar tones, extravagant guitar riffs, melodic and soft vocals, and the quintessential part of the album, a guest string quartet. The songs are slow and ambient at times, quick and crunching at others, and sweeping and melodically breathtaking and emotional at times. Overall, this is one of the very best albums I've have ever heard. Over the past few weeks this album has basically been playing constantly without any variation. It stretched my perception of what music could be, what it was, and what can be done when multiple musicians join forces to create music.

An Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost is, like its title, a long ambient collection of some of the most beautiful things I have heard in my entire life. The first few seconds made me tear because it was so beautiful. When the strings swooped in with the grace and alacrity of an Alaskan stream, I nearly burst into tears. "What is this?" I asked myself as the music continued. My first taste of motW occurred in that first minute, and by god it was good. The whole track is, simply, magnificent. The crescendo and guitar breakdown in the center is what tipped me over. Its simplistic beauty and grace opened the floodgates. It was the most relaxing, emotional, compassionate, and melodic thing I'd ever heard. I could rant for days about how much I love this song, but I won't because I don't want this review to be too too long. Overall, one of my top 5 songs of all time. And I've only had the album for about a month.

Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying is also extremely beautiful, with a nice ambient violin-vibraphone duo. The song is another fantastic effort, with a more consistent beat than the former and consists of more tangible music. The song has many a great solo sections and melodies. A great experimental vocal section is reminiscent of some of the band's former material. Overall, the song is shorter than its magnificent predecessor, but is still an absolutely wonderful track.

Rose Quartz Turning to Glass again tampers with mixing strings and other instruments, in this instance piano. I must say that these guys are better at writing violin melodies than Paganini or other hugely famous composers. They are so smooth and fresh and full of life and vigor. The instruments perfectly compliment every little thing that goes on throughout the music, from the beautiful piano work to the rhythmic masterpiece of drums or the melodic simplicity of ambient guitars. The song begins to taper back into a more experimental "metal" area, without really entering any metal at all but just a fantastic dissonant avant-garde region of the song, with some estranged vocal work which quickly evaporates into a simple psychedelic rock piece with some great soling and vocal work. Another short but simply genius guitar breakdown can be heard, with some absolutely beautiful riffs and Hammond work. Overall, this song is another magnificent songs, with some fantastic dynamics and feel changes.

Clover Garland Island is another more avant track. It opens with a heavy and discordant chord sequence with the most bombastic drumming heard on the entire album. The song doesn't keep up that discordant but actually enjoyable part for very long, however, and breaks into a jazzy funk piece, oddly enough, which just shows the amazing dynamic and freedom these guys feel with their music, a breathe of fresh air that is very refreshing amidst some of the stale music I've heard these days. The song is the most obvious jazz- influenced track on the album, with some great jazzy violin and guitar heard on the album. This song also features some of my favorite vocal passages, including my favorite line "I got up and walked into the equator," which can be seen at so many different angles. One of the most eclectic and "enjoyable" (because all of them are enjoyable) songs on the album.

Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder) is the epic 12 minute exit of the album. The song essentially takes every aspect of the amazing album and sums it all up in one great track. The song reprises some parts of other songs, reminds us of impressive melodies on the album, and introduces new ones that will blow your mind. The track has the biggest similarity to their former work, with some quite crunching and amazing parts I did not expect to find on this album. What a treat! The song has so many different facets to it that one could spend days looking into its shiny depths. This song perfectly ends one of the most perfect albums I have heard in quite a long time.

ALBUM OVERALL: I can barely even think of what to put into this last sections except for a simple little phrase: This album is amazing. And, I don't even have to recommend buying because (hey-o) it's free! The album is the most spectacular bargain I have ever experienced! Each of the 5 songs found on this album possess such personal beauty and character that I would find it impossible to even think of rating it anything lower that a 5 star rating. This album is essentially the definition of a masterpiece. 5++ stars!!!

Report this review (#376079)
Posted Friday, January 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars For those looking here for a good metal album, this isn't it. It's a lot of things for sure, but it definitely isn't metal, apart from a few moments. Still, it is quite the album with many redeeming qualities.

While metal may not be the perfect description for this, it contains wonderful blends of jazz, post-rock, classical, and has enormous amounts of experimentation. Mia Matsumiya lays out many beautiful melodies on violin, especially in the second and third tracks. The piano has some gorgeous moments as well, and Toby Driver delivers strong, fitting vocals.

While this is a wonderful album musically, my main gripe with it is the fact it often seems to lack emotion. There are sad moments, angry moments, and a happy moment on one occasion, but nothing really comes off as true emotion to me, and this album seems to beg for it. There are also some parts that end a little later than they should. Also, if you're looking for an energetic album, I wouldn't look here, as it is mostly a relaxing album.

While I'm not sure of it's status as a metal album, it certainly isn't a weak album at all. Definitely worth a buy, and unlike some of Toby's other work, you don't need to be a metalhead for this one. Recommended to any post-rock fans or fans of experimental music.

Report this review (#432820)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm still not sure how it is that I've come across this album, considering that I've never heard of this band before, and that they are officially listed on this site as being in the "Experimental/Post Metal" genre. At any rate, this album is one of those increasingly, gloriously rare discoveries that are so absolutely unexpected.

This is the greatest album King Crimson never recorded. That might be one way to describe it. Another way: Imagine a complete album built on Crimson's "Starless" song - easily Crimson's most Floydian moment. And yet, you never get the feeling that this album is derivative of anything. It's an original work, and despite it being made in 2009, it's not "neo-" anything.

This is not a metal album. What it is, is a masterpiece of prog, an album that ranks up there and belongs in the same company as WISH YOU WERE HERE, CLOSER TO THE EDGE, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, and King Crimson's 3 from '73-'74.

You know how PA rates the top 100 Prog albums? Considering the high rating of this album, why oh why isn't this album in the Top 10 or 20? Seriously, I've been a visitor for many years and it took me this long to discover this album's existence, which is just a crying shame.

I can't say it any better than all the other reviewers have already put it. All I can do - and feel that I must do, that I have a responsibility to - is add my praise to the growing chorus, in an effort to get the word out.

This album is a masterpiece.

Report this review (#442158)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Part the sea, and make way for a spectacle, an historic moment in music history!

Lucky for the internet - else this moment may have been missed!

If it's anywhere in the world that an album such as this will receive the praise it deserves, it's on the Prog Archives. And so I'd like to dedicate 100 words to it =).

What's so special about this album? You have beautiful melody. You have serene atmospheres. You have a great string section. You have plenty of catchy rhythmic ideas. You have a mixture of emotions delivered via a creative variety of vocals. You have stunning guitar work. You have dissonance and experimental music influences.

You have a perfectly constructed, perfectly balanced, gorgeous tapestry of all of the above!!!

"Part the Second" has enchanted me, and stolen a significant portion of my musical heart.

I love the cover art!

I hope this album stays in the top 50, it deserves its place there!

A pioneering masterpiece.

Report this review (#467840)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

A second part in the history of the Maudlin Of The Well.

I came into this album with some curiosity after having heard the very good Choirs of the eye of Kayo Dot, as it was then emerged from the ashes of the deceased Maudlin of the Well, who returned in 2009 with Part the Second probably one of the best albums of recent times and the masterpiece of experimental / post-metal here on the site.

The overall sound here is different from Choirs of the eye , so I avoid comparing them. Being my first experience with the MOTW, I do not know how their universe, but many reviewers have pointed out that this album is softer than its predecessors.

The five songs are really good. The opening of An Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost is amazing, opening with a somewhat jazzy section before moving to various aspects as it is very eclectic . The stringed instruments must be mentioned because they are very good and beautiful.

Unfortunately the next two songs are the weakest of the album, but for opposite reasons. Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying opens with a promising, but when the vocals come there for the 3:30 minute song misses the strength and quality - Although the vocals are the weakest element of Part the Second here they are far behind the rest of the album. Turning to Rose Quartz Glass is just the opposite: its introduction is bad, but at 4 or 5 minutes (I forget what the exact time) the vocals enter and the music enters its best part - sorry it's too late. Garland Clover Island is actually an improvement over the previous two songs, starting with a little metal and a heavy weather, but then the mood changes completely and the music enters a section with soft strings and a soft guitar.

Laboratories of the Invisible World (the Cosmic Rollerskating Palmistric Postborder) was a song that grew on me in a memorable way, and now is definitely my favorite moment of the album. Not there's a moment of "filler" in his nearly 12-minute duration is a monster abvant-garde with jarring moments, a guitar almost ubiquitous, diverse bars that I love - all that music works in perfect harmony, for more complex it is. the vocals are superior to the rest of the album-now Toby Driver's voice resembles that of Peter Hamill (at least was the impression I had when I entered the vocals), sometimes he screams , but not both. The ending is one of the best in history, as the music moves to a climax indescribable. When she seems to have ended, a beautiful piano playing the same theme of Another excerpt... emerges from the ashes and finds - God, that's good!

5 stars to this great masterpiece!

Report this review (#483649)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This truly is an incredible piece of work from Toby Driver and company. I certainly wasn't expecting what I would describe as pleasant music from these guys but there is some of that.This is all about shifting moods and atmospheres, the kind of music that you listen to carefully and at the same time marvel at what you are hearing. Some have mentioned Toby Driver's other band KAYO DOT's later works as comparisons. And I must say that their "Blue Lambency Downward" which was released the year before this one maybe has some passing similarities but man it doesn't even compare to this one in my opinion.This trumps it every possible way.

"An Exerpt From 6,000,000,000,000 Miles before The First, Or, The Revisitation Of The Blue Ghost" is the 11 minute opener. As I mentioned this has a surprisingly pleasant and enjoyable intro.Violin joins in. A change after a minute as it calms right down. Reserved vocals join in.It's building before 6 minutes then it lightens a minute later but the tempo picks up. Piano and drums lead 9 minutes in.

"Another Exerpt : Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying" is such a cool title. It's classical sounding with those strings. Drums and piano join in.Guitar after 2 minutes. A change 3 1/2 minutes in with odd sounding vocals. "Rose Quartz Turning To Glass" opens with violin and piano as drums join in. It settles right down with violin as strummed guitar comes and goes. Some weird vocal expressions then it kicks in with normal vocals before 5 1/2 minutes. Nice. Organ ends it.

"Clover Garland Island" has these outbursts of sound that come and go. It settles in with guitar and drums after a minute. Reserved vocals join in.The guitar turns aggressive 2 1/2 minutes in when the vocals stop. It settles back with vocals again. Nature sounds here too. It picks up before 7 minutes as a pleasant upbeat section takes over.Then the strings and reserved vocals take over as it calms right down.

"Laboratories Of The Invisible World (Roller Skating The Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)" is the longest track at almost 12 minutes. It opens with laid back guitar expressions. Reserved vocals come in then it kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes. Nice. This is great ! This continues as it doesn't settle until before 11 minutes.What a ride ! My favourite song on here no doubt. Piano only ends it.

Without question this is a special album that I would dare say even has a cinematic quality to it.

Report this review (#505910)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is just a wonderful album, so go download it, it's completely free. maudlin of the Well released this in 2009 so it's a lot closer to Kayo Dot than to their previous works.

The album starts with "An Excerpt from" and strangely it starts with a happy tune. Anyway violins join quickly and it concludes into a beautiful song with wonderful guitars. "Another Excerpt..." starts with a vibraphone, then it is followed by some woodwinds. There's a nice guitar solo, but the song lacks a bit in the end. "Rose Quartz Turning to Glass" begins with wonderful violins, then suddenly goes into a Floydian tune. "Clover Garland Island" starts with the first real metal part until here. It was shocking at the first time but it's awesome anyway. The song lacks a bit when vocals join in but continues well. The ending is just amazing, and leads well to the next track. "Laboratories of the Invisible World" starts just with a wonderful clean guitar. The vocals are beautiful, but after nearly 20 seconds they are stopped by a metal guitar that leads us to the best song of the album. There are beautiful solo and a long post-metal ending.

As I said before, the album is completely free. Just get it. 5 stars.

Report this review (#524688)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's not often you come across an album of utterly extreme quality. Even more surprising, you will hardly ever find an album of this quality that is given free by the artist. That is what Part the Second is. This album, released in 2009 over the internet, is maudlin of the Well's 4th album, comprised of 5 tracks of varying lengths, from 6 minutes to just under 12 minutes. Though the album is brief for modern standard, being only 45 minutes, every minute grabs your attention.

After my first listen, I was intrigued by this eclectic album. I hadn't and honestly still haven't listened to much avant garde influenced prog, so hearing this album took some getting used to. The time it took to get used to this album was totally worth it, as it has now become one of my favorite albums. Each track has a unique feel to it as well. The first track largely explores a post rock feel. Metal starts being incorporated from the 2nd track on word, to greater and lesser extents. Despite the diverse palette of sounds and genres used, the album has a flow.

Highlights for me are "An Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost", "Clover Garland Island", and "Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)". (Nice song titles)

This is a true work of art: a melding of chamber rock, post rock, avant garde metal, and many other diverse elements. A well deserved 5 stars. If you do not own this album, you are sorely remiss. Go download it from maudlin of the Well's website!!

Report this review (#628814)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Progressive music can be quite a mystery sometimes. The genre itself is so ecclectic, and style varies widely. Some prefer a very simplistic approach while others (myself included) revel in complexities. Often, when I see someone giving a very harsh review or rating to an album I think is a masterpiece, I think that it's quite possible that this person just doesn't know enough about music theory to decipher the hidden complexities of the album that I see and love about it. I say this not to try to appear superior in intellect, but to outline the struggle that the progressive music listener must go through in order to understand a progressive artist that is new to him or her, and how often a piece of progressive music must grow on a person. I know I've judged many things badly, and then come around to love the same piece of music later as I've gained an understanding of some of the hidden complexities of that piece of music. This album, and the reason it is beloved enough to receive an astounding number of 5 star ratings, baffles me. I wanted to decipher the mystery of why it was so beloved, and listened to the album 3 times in the span of a week to try to understand. But I felt that it suffered from two key issues, that distracted me very much from anything else as I listened to this album.

The first, and most immediately grating issue to me was the singer. He has a moaning, whiny style that grated on me, and slowly sucked away my will to live. I felt as if I were listening to a personification of C.S. Lewis' literary character Puddleglum, or maybe Charles Dickens' character Uriah Heep...or perhaps even a male version of the character Bella Swan from the Twilight series.

The second issue I had with this album was I felt there was no dynamic - the entire album seemed to stay at a slow, melancholy pace, never showing joy, triumph, anger, or even extreme sorrow - just melancholy. It was like the music was disinterested in life: it went to bed early and slept late into the day, eating nothing but cold cereal all day and never getting out of its pajamas, and liked to write in its journal about how it didn't think it could live without Edward...oh, whoops, I'm mixing this up with Twilight again.

Perhaps one day, many days from now, I will come to an understanding of why this album is so beloved. But to me, trying to understand how something so ploddingly slow could be considered so worthy of attention left a bad taste in my mouth. Now, looking back on this, rather than distaste I am left with more of a sense that this is simply unremarkable.

Report this review (#754799)
Posted Friday, May 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a review I've been avoiding for a long while, because I always knew it would just end up as a rambling gushing of how much I love it.

So I will spare you one of my lengthy reviews, (especially one that may just result as 500 ways of saying "this is great") and just say: "Part the Second" is beautiful post rock. I already am struggling to find a way to continue without repeating myself so I'll leave the analysis at that: beautiful.

I can say this is not a metal release in any way, motW has left that long behind. There are some crunchy guitar parts, but they are never really heavy, and certainly don't enter "metal" territory. Like any post rock the music is atmospheric, progressive, intricate and subtle. However, it never gets very intense, (like GY!BE for example) nor does it stay too long in the "mellow" parts that so many dislike about post rock. The composition is dare I say, genius. Toby Driver is one of the better musical minds of our time and "Part the Second" is another chapter in the book.

So I've forgone my usual style of review and have to ask that you try this album for yourself. I struggle to find the words to accurately review it, and I don't want to do this album an injustice. A beautiful, atmospheric work of perfection.

Give it a listen for yourself, after all it's available for free from the band's website! What have you got to lose?

"Part the Second" gets a 5 star rating, but I'd like to say this one goes my personal "six star" mantle.


Report this review (#755057)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars For me, Maudlin of the Well's comeback album shares a very similar approach to earlier albums such as Bath or Leaving Your Body Map, and consequently shares the same problems. A range of musical territories are explored, but they don't seem to hang together very well; individual sections of songs can be quite beautiful, but the transitions between those segments don't make much musical sense to me and so the effect they are going for eludes me. To be honest, I think there are other avant-metal and post-metal bands who do this sort of thing much better, but if you liked their earlier albums I suppose you'll enjoy this one too.
Report this review (#758909)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Part the Second is a subtle and excellently executed album. No one genre is large enough to encompass all the sounds on this album. It seems to exist at a triple point between metal, chamber music and experimental jazz. Over the course of each of its five meticulously crafted and highly progressive tracks maudlin of the Well will emphasize one form over another and transition to another style or hybrid with an uncanny ease. The result is album which demands your full attention to truly appreciate. The album is mostly darker, but it does not do it justice to say it is morose or depressed. For, it appears to be just as easy for the band to explode with a sudden a powerful lightness as it was for them to morph stylistically.

Needless to say, this is an album which does not lend itself to straightforward description. It is a intricate and emotional masterwork. It is obvious that great care was taken to achieve an exacting sound. It can at times be quite challenging, but I do not think we would be members of PA if we were not interested in challenging ourselves musically. Part the second doesn't sound a whole lot like the album mei by echolyn, but it is about the closest thing I can compare it to. Both are vast and immensely creative. Both also tend to overstep their bounds from time to time. That challenging nature means that the whole course is not always entirely enjoyable. Ride it through though, and you will not regret it.

The aspects I find least enjoyable are the vocals, and select passages interspersed throughout. For me, the best complete track on the album is the opening excerpt and what I would consider to be the highest point, the screaming wall out sound which dominates the middle stretch of the final track.

Part the Second is a 4 out of 5 for me, right on the cusp of being something more. I recommend it for anybody, provided you keep an open mind. This is an album which requires a lot of concentration. So do not expect to get the most out of it if you leave it playing in the back ground.

Report this review (#812330)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Part of the Second represents my first venture into the post-metal genre. I was pretty impressed initially about the level of eclecticism. These guys use a ton of instruments, especially heavy use of violin, not to mention a heavy, audible bass. The playing is pretty intricate, with a variety of tempo and time signature changes. Unfortunately, I found it messy, and frankly, a lot of it simply went nowhere for me. But the moments I did find good, were very enjoyable.

'Excerpt'' truly surprised me; this song is extremely good. It is very diverse, yet there is nothing over the top about it. It changes tempo and time signature a few times, like the subtle 7/8 to 4/4 shift in the beginning. There are a few great melodies too, especially the simple, but effective piano parts near the end. But perhaps what I like most about it is the very spacey, almost empty atmosphere it conveys.

Unfortunately, the rest of the songs don't nearly meet this same quality. 'Another Excerpt' is alright, especially the crazy bass riff near the end. 'Rose Quartz Turning to Glass,' 'Clover Garland Island,' and 'Laboratories of the Invisible World' all have some good ideas, but they're few and far between, and it's mostly just aimless rambling.

Some people might like this album, especially those already accustomed to the genre. I feel like there was a lot of potential in this, but for whatever reason it just didn't captivate me.


Report this review (#916496)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.65 Stars. The perfect introduction to MOTW

Part the second is the comeback album after 8 years of hiatus (although sister band Kayo Dot was still active) and it was the first MOTW/KD album I bought. Like many people on PA I stumbled across them on the top 100 and found out this album is 100 % free so I thought "why not?". I'm so glad I gave them a go as both bands now rank among my personal top 15.

PTS is much more delicate and less intense compared to their previous albums, but it still keeps the signature weirdness and unpredictability that I've come to love. The structure of the album is interesting with each song being darker, heavier and more experimental than the previous. But the progression from beauty and order into metal and randomness is gradual, unlike previous albums which switch randomly between the two.

"An Excerpt from 6,000,000,000,000 Miles Before the First, or, the Revisitation of the Blue Ghost" (what a title!) begins with a cheerful tune and classical instruments are tastefully added. Things slow down to a crawl with Toby singing with as much delicacy as he can muster. This lasts for several minutes making it great for chilling out. The second half of the song is a playful (i.e. it has lots of cool twists and turns but staying light-hearted throughout) but incredibly beautiful instrumental. This is probably my favourite MOTW song ever, its just pure beauty from start to finish.

"Another Excerpt: Keep Light Near You, Even When Dying" starts with some lovely orchestral arrangement done in such a way that I almost think I'm listening to pure classical music. Gradually more rock is substituted for the classical until before you know it you are getting blasted with some awesome (and quite rough, almost metal at the end) solos. As the intensity peaks the song does a wild mood change with very tense vocals and atmospheres. This tension continues for the rest of the song and finishes fairly abruptly. I love everything up to the intense solos, the rest it just plain weird.

"Rose Quartz Turning to Glass" starts in a similar manor to the last track. There is quite a bit of classical music, but there is also lots of odd sound effects firing of randomly in the background. It takes time to get used to this but it is definitely very original. Things then get really strange with some mad man making stupid groans and shouts while a violin and aggressive electric guitar play in the background. And no I'm not making this up! Anyway the song then morphs into a very catchy and straightforward rock song which continues until the end. This song is very much an acquired taste, but fortunately for the band I do like it!

"Clover Garland Island" starts of with very dark and jarring metal which can sound quite shocking to ones ears given how beautiful the last 3 songs were (for the most part). The vocals are harmless but sung in a chaotic manor which only adds to the tension. Things quieten down with more classical music and background noises (dogs barking, flowing water etc.). Toby then sings with lots of passion and melancholy but without any sense of harmony. That sounds like a bad thing but it really works with the subdued music. There is one bust of energy at the end which is short lived. Like the last song it is totally unique (making it very hard for me to describe!) and a acquired taste, so give this song time before you discount it.

"Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)" (seriously, what's with the song titles!) starts as a very slow and gentle ballad...and then turns into some fierce avant-garde metal! I won't even bother describing this, just expect lots of mind expanding twists and turns. One of the best metal songs MOTW have ever done, definitely a masterpiece.

PTS is not a easy album, but it is the least intense MOTW album and it is not quite as weird as KD. Therefore if you cannot enjoy this album, I wouldn't go looking for their non-free releases. I was amazed by the wonderful and strange world Toby and Co have created and that hasn't changed with time. So go on, expand your mind with this free release (and don't forget to donate!). I hope this won't be the last MOTW album but if it is they couldn't have finished on a higher note.

Report this review (#1047402)
Posted Sunday, September 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars A much more interesting release for me than the previous albums. MAUDLIN OF THE WELL dropped the death metal they utilized on their double releases of 2001 and simply stuck to what I think they do the best, namely the post-rock aspects of their music and develop their ideas in that context. The result is a more cohesive and even-keeled flow of the tracks. There are still some elements of metal here and there but they are more suited to the overall feel of the album.

Despite this being a huge improvement in my opinion from the last two albums, I still don't feel that this deserves the masterpiece status that many seem to shower upon it. To me it is simply a very good representation of the type of experimental post rock that they are delivering. Of course music is subjective and this seems to move others more than it does me.

In my opinion, Toby Driver and his posse did a lot of refining of this particular sound in the KAY DOT projects which I actually prefer to MotW but i find that this particular album definitely has a more mature sound for MotW creating an atmosphere that I can get behind this time around and in many ways blurring the distinction between the MotW and KAYO DOT projects.

Report this review (#1100595)
Posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars 'When I left the sea and the brine and the undulating waves, the slight glow and shock still brushed against my flesh.'

That lyric serves as a poetic outline to this work of art. Part the Second invokes beautiful imagery with its ability to set the listener in a place of elemental dominion. Whether it is the music or lyrics on this album, I can't help but see myself on an island experiencing life in a totally new way. That's the power of Part the Second, it moves you.

Maudlin of the Well somehow both embarked on a new journey with this album as well as bringing another to a close. Previously unleashing the albums Leaving the Body Map and Bath, Maudlin of the Well were artistically established and were hitting their crest. But as shown with this release and the unpredictable evolutions that Kayo Dot would go on to experience, Toby Driver likes to progress, change, and experiment. This album would mark the end of the powerful Maudlin entity, giving the band another chance to blow listeners away, as well as signal the creation of the soon masterful Kayo Dot.

As on albums before, Toby Driver effortlessly weaves styles and genres together to make unique compositions and give Part the Second a harmonious identity of its own. Though you won't hear lengthy metal passages, growling, and the like the heavier influences still reside on this album, they're simply reined in a bit and are used as equally beautiful contrasts and turning points to the orchestral rock music found flowing throughout Part the Second. And like an orchestral piece, I feel this is one of those few albums that must be listened as a whole. While the songs don't so much flow together obviously, the emotions and recurring themes and sounds just build upon each other and just have a much stronger impact when you hear how the album dances and sings as a single piece of music.

The instrumentation on Part the Second is flawless. The violin and guitars that lead on this album are evocative, melodic, dark, inspiring, and interesting. You'll hear the mastery that is expected of progressive music. Drums illustrate and match the mood of every piece, giving the music the jolt it sometimes requires when the guitar takes a step forward, or being weightless when the violin cries and the music is more orchestral. The additional instruments including piano, flutes, and cello give Maudlin of the Well a wider arrangement of textures and touches to brighten the music. It's thanks to this kind of instrumentation that the music here has such an elemental feeling to it. All the compositions and structures can be easily compared to that of a stormy night, a relaxing sunrise, a cold rain, an August fire, anything. Part the Second becomes your own personal canvas.

A personal part of Toby Driver that I absolutely love and find sometimes overlooked, is his lyricism. Wonderfully poetic, Toby Driver's lyrics on this album enrich the music because of the similarities they share. Being focused on the natural world and the supernatural experiences with it, the relationship between the lyrics and music shine not in a parasitic way, where one dominates and relies on each other but rather a beneficial symbiosis. The vocals are sung with emotion and conviction. They sometimes are intimate and quiet as they speak to you or they can echo with an eerie pride. The strengths and balance of these parties elevates each other and add the journey of Part the Second's imagery.

All in all, Part the Second is not something that a Toby Driver fan should hear, a post-metal fan should hear, a progressive music fan should hear, no ' it is an album that any music fan should hear. Imagination and brilliant execution to back it up, Part the Second is a auditory experience that will bleed into every other sense.

'Like a stone I fell, and was engulf'd in winter darkness , silence filled each sphere that from my lips escaped and ceas'd but for a breath before rising to the surface and waves.'

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Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Review Permalink

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