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The Psychedelic Ensemble - The Art Of Madness CD (album) cover


The Psychedelic Ensemble


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4 stars "The Art of Madness" is the initial effort of a US-based composer and multi-instrumentalist who prefer to stay anonymous, and was initially self-released in 2009. Musea Records would subsequently sign the artist.

And if this debut album is an indicator of what's in store later on, fans of sophisticated art rock has quite a lot to look forward to. A concept album dealing with the topics of sanity and insanity - madness if you like - and it's relation to art. A number of stylistic expressions are covered, from a laidback gentle version of symphonic rock to more richly textured atmospheric creations with a nod or three in the direction of late 70's Pink Floyd. There's even room for a chaotic, dissonant slightly embellished classical chamber piece in the shape of Apparition.

Those who love concept albums, find pleasure in songs lasting for an hour and have a soft spot for late 70's Pink Floyd should make up the perfect audience for this album. And while perhaps not quite as breathtaking as the masters of old this is a good quality production through and through, and a very promising first CD from this US artist.

Report this review (#289146)
Posted Sunday, July 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars "Cool story bro..."

The inspiration for this album came from an exhibition comprising of pieces of art created by patients of a psychiatric centre. Each song explores a different manifestation of madness.

The Good: It is music.

The Bad: As many new prog bands are heavily influenced by already established acts, when listening to them you are sometimes left with a strong sense of déjà vu. This isn't always a bad thing as many add a new twist, or revive older styles whilst still making them sound fresh and enjoyable. However after countless listens to this album I can only describe it as a bland, C-rate Pink Floyd clone that brings absolutely nothing new to the table. There are no songs that really stand out and, whilst concept albums are meant to be enjoyed as a whole, just reaching the end of this is a relief.

The Verdict: The only mad thing about this is the $14.99 price tag.

Report this review (#439472)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Fascinating eclectic approach of progressive music!"

The Psychedelic Ensemble is the project of one person, he wants to remain anonymous but in the past he has played with known names according to the information his website. Here I also find the interesting idea behind the concept of the album The Art Of Madness. Mr. X. (from now on) read in the New York Times an article about a special exhibition: paintings by patients from the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York. Mr. X. was stunned by both the huge imagination of the patients as the words by the curator of the exhibition (also a psychiatrist): "I think that creativity and artistic production is almost a symptom of mental illness". This was the start of his project and eventually led to the release of the concept album The Art Of Madness, his fascinating debut from 2009, meanwhile Mr. X and his project The Psychedelic Ensemble have released four other studio-albums, the latest is The Sunstone from 2015. This review is about his debut CD.

It contains 11 tracks about different manifestations of 'madness', from a psychosis to a nervous breakdown and from despair to panic. The main character discovers that he doesn't consider this as a burden, it even culminates into unprecedented creativity and artistic output. In the end he embraces 'his madness' instead of going down. And it becomes a guide for his extraordinary and distorted vision of the world. Mr. X. explains that although the lion's share of this album is based upon improvisations, there is a concept with harmonic ideas, themes and repetitive motives. Then he selected the paintings of the exhibition very carefully with the 11 tracks. Because I am both a proghead (since the mid Seventies) and a psychiatric nurse (since the late Eighties), I was extra curious to the way Mr. X. has translated his ideas into music.

Well, he did very well like a nervous climate in Panic (fluent rhythm, brass and a biting guitar solo) and Breakdown (propulsive with fiery guitar, a sumptuous ELP atmosphere and a captivating duel between brass and guitar).

Warm and dreamy in Fantasy and Dream, this one is short but wonderful with a delicate acoustic guitar solo.

It's a bit scary and alienated in Delusion (like you are part of the desintegration of the mind)

Sad in Despair delivering a melancholy climate with tasteful colouring by accordion, organ and slide guitar.

And in Moon Mad (subtle reference to Syd Barrett?) the atmosphere alternates between hope and fear: from dreamy featuring twanging acoustic guitars to fiery with heavy electric guitar.

Although I notice elements of early Pink Floyd (just listen to the slide guitar sound and the dark vocals with rhythm guitar), the Psychedelic Ensemble enables to translate the subject 'madness' into a captivating and varied musical adventure. I needed a few listening sessions to get into the music but then I started to appreciate it more and more. Recommended!

Report this review (#1953694)
Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2018 | Review Permalink

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