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Mirthrandir - For You The Old Women CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Another one of these obscure US prog groups (this one from New Jersey) that did one album that bore too much its UK big-5 prog influences and didn't manage to create their own sound. Their 75-releaesd album probably sank without a trace, and no doubt they would be totally unknown today, if the Syn-Phonic label hadn't unearthed it in the early 90's - even Vernon Joynson almost ignores the band in his revised Fuzz Borderline book. The sextet features a double-guitar attack and a lead singer that also blows in a trumpet here and there, but the focus is very much on Ganett's impressive array of keyboards, which may surprise since they didn't get any kind of major-league success. Nevertheless, Mirthrandir's music hovers around or between Genesis, Yes and some slightly more-AOR sonics and the rare trumpet moments do not induce a special or specific originality. Note that it is only the second wind instrument by presenceafter bassist's Miller's flute parts

The album's A-side consist of the opening 8-mins+ title track, where the trumpet's presence intrigues long-enough, but fails to live up to its promise. The other three shorter (everything being relative, since they're all above 4-mins) songs are of lesser interest., but their tiny AOR sonics give them a fairly modern sound (o at least not-so-dated 70's soundscapes), which might appeal to 90's prog fans. The flipside is mostly about the almlost 15-mins epic For Four, which is easily the lbum's highlight, despite a few very clear Genesis-inspired moments.

Note that Syn-Phonic's reissue features a totally different artwork than the original, thus erasing the album's original title's meaning, though the new artwork is pretty cool, nonetheless. Soooo, yet another worthy and worthwhile unearthing of a gem from that mythic (but long-gone) label, but like most of these mid to later-70's US prog are rather over-rated (IMHO) or at least, not as essential for the originality-demanding proghead. But I gather most will find a suitable place in their shelves for this nonetheless enjoyable album. Just don't look for something that you've never heard before, despite that slight AOR touch.

Report this review (#19362)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
5 stars MIRTHRANDIR were an excellent 70's symphonic-prog band. They seem to have been influenced by YES, and GABRIEL-era GENESIS. However, their sound is much more modern (you would never guess that this was recorded during the mid 70's). Best of all, the compositions have some of the most passionate playing ever recorded. In fact, these guys would rehearse up to 4 weeks to get 1-minute of music perfect! This is high-quality prog that will interest fans of bands like CATHEDRAL, BABYLON, and YEZDA URFA.
Report this review (#19363)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece, regarding of that time!! Bands such as ECHOLYN took a lot of inspiration from this band... such an important reference, despite of some excesses (the same defect which sometimes characterizes the works by YEZDA URFA); but these controversial concerns - as they can change the rate only (perhaps one or two stars less)- permit this album to represent the beginning of a New Era anyway, naturally regarding of the derivative US bands in the vein of YES and GENTLE GIANT!! Don't forget all these particular aspects, which make the present work quite essential for all the fans of classic eclectic prog and to be collected as well!
Report this review (#19364)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the one! True masterpiece of progressive music! When I first listened to it (about a month ago) I immediately realised where Echolyn are coming from. I like Echolyn very much (on the basis of "Suffocating the bloom" and "As the world")- their style is quite unique and not derivative from anything I knew before (maybe very remotely reminding Gentle Giant, and that's about all). But now to me it looks like Echolyn are following steps of Mirthrandir. Mirthrandir are great - complex songs structure, charming melodies, strong vocal and extremely skillful musicianship - everything there. Their only album is only 38 mins long, but the intensity of music and density of musical ideas is so high that the likes of Flower Kings could do two double albums out of it. The only pity is that such great musicians as Mirthrandir put out just one studio album, to my knowledge this is the only one(if anyone knows about anything else by them - could you pls let me know?) Mirthrandir are the band of the highest class and cannot recommend this album enough. If you are into this kind of music - it will definitely grow upon you everytime you spin it again.
Report this review (#36505)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A classic - one of the masterpieces of 1970s North American progressive music. Complex arrangements, brilliant playing, passion, beauty - it is all here. Lots of Gentle Giant and PFM influences here, as well as good old Yes. Along with Cathedral's 'Stained Glass Stories", Yezdaurfa's "Boris" and Sacred Baboon", Babylon, Fireballet and (of course) Happy the Man - Mirthrandir deserves a special place in the ranks of progressive music, as one of the great (but sadly short-lived) bands that demonstrated that complex, intelligent music was also being produced by musicians in the U.S. The only pity is that this is extremely difficult to find these days. But, search for it - it IS worth the effort.
Report this review (#46549)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars This one shot USA band is rooted in 1973, their debut album is from 1976. Listening to "For you the old women" bands like Yes (bass work, organ and vocal harmonies) and Gentle Giant (brass instruments and complex parts) came to my mind. Their sound is powerful and propulsive with a remarkable role for singer/trumpet player John Visocky III. The titletrack is the opener and has mellow parts with twanging guitar and flute.Then "Conversation with personality Giver" featuring sparkling synthesizer runs, dynamic drums and soli on guitar, piano and organ. The following track "Light of the candle" delivers a tasteful and varied keyboard sound, from Fender Rhodes electric piano and Moog synthesizer to Hammond - and Farfisa organ. "Number six" (the fourth song...) is a musical maverick with a Frank Zappa-like structure featuring trumpets and a complex final part. The last composition "For four" is 15 minutes long typical Seventies progrock: alternating and varied with many instrumental parts, evoking Yes, Genesis and Kansas but in general Mirthrandir succeeds to sound original with as highlight a break with propulsive drums and organ. EXCELLENT!
Report this review (#48988)
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars If only all the one-shot US prog bands were as good as the Italian's one shot bands, oh well...onto the review. The album starts off with an almost three minute Canterbury freak out. My favorite part of the album. There are time signature changes up the wazoo, but with absolutely no melody to latch onto, so subtract a star. Singing is minimal, but when he sings it's mainly caterwauling of the worst type, almost comical...sorry guy. Only when the singing is taken down a bit like in the beginning of 'Number Six' or towards the end of 'For Four' do you not cringe or reach for the volume control; subtract another star. Lyricaly, it's horse hockey...with lines like: "I'll only believe you when your hairs on fire; Written in blood, the newfound Messiah" RUBBISH! Another star subtracted. Granted, they use many instruments and play their arses off, they're from New Jersey (my home state) and they're having some fun, but once the CDs over I don't remember one bit of it. Even the worse albums of YES, GENESIS, TULL and others have something to latch onto. But I hate to say that this one hasn't a single thing that grabs me. Masterpiece? Others think so. I definately don't. For US prog from the golden days, give me Happy The Man, Kansas, Hands and Yezda Erfa anyday. 2.5 stars!
Report this review (#55157)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Certainly one of the finest classic prog albums I've heard so far, and also one of the most sophisticated and challenging ones. The band's quest for perfection certainly paid off - the music is outstanding, overflowing with creativity, great playing and memorable hooks. It's true that it is at times a bit over the top as far as prog excesses are concerned: occasionally, the band appears to have over- exerted themselves through their attention to detail and vigorous rehearsals, as the music sounds slightly over-orchestrated and a bit too pompous in places. But hey, that's the nature of prog rock, and it's silly to criticize this band for achieving levels of pretentiousness that myriads of other prog bands have only dreamed of ;) . The musicianship is certainly impressive, with every band member possessing admirable skills: the powerful vocals and impressive range of John Vislocky III are remarkable (though they may annoy some people, I find them to be a major "plus" to the album) and the drum work frequently challenging, as are the bass parts; meanwhile, the skilled keyboard and guitar work showers intricate harmonies throughout the album. And, despite all the tricky time signatures, the harmonic complexity of the compositions and the extremely dense arrangements, there is a whole lot of memorable material to "latch onto", as the music is always melodic while never loosing it's complex tendencies.

The first few minutes of the opening title cut constitute one of the more challenging parts on the album, with plenty of compositional craziness (which doesn't prevent one from liking it, mind you). The track loosens up in intensity a bit as it progresses, with the last few minutes taken up by a beautifully melodic theme, which is my favourite section on this song.

A fast drum pattern kicks off "Conversation with personality giver", which again exhibits Mirthrandir's incredibly sophisticated arrangements and compositional tendencies to great effect: the opening theme is excellent, and the complex bits are carefully balanced by more conventional and melodic ones (though the music remains melodic even at it's most bizarre).

"Light of the Candle" begins in a pretty straightforward hard rock manner, driven by a fine, slightly quirky riff, but the (somewhat cheesy) synth around 1:30 signals a return into Mirthrandir's unique prog world, where fascinating harmonies and outstanding interplay reign supreme. Once again, an impressive number.

A bit less impressive than "Number Six", though. I love the excellent opening melody , which serves as the main theme for this instrumental. But of course, Mirthrandir's uncanny ability to shift effortlessly from one great musical idea to another (without staying too long on any one of them) is still evident, providing even more prog joy.

Yet it's perhaps "For Four", the closing 14 minute track, that stands as the band's finest achievement. All of the band's trademarks are present, and more. It opens with a pleasantly peculiar piano part backed by bass guitar, soon joined by Vislocky (he could've been more creative here to be honest, instead of just following the piano melody). This section is quickly replaced by the entire band playing some funky-ish riffs, which in turn are succeeded by a lovely major-key piano theme - one of the simpler moments on the album, but one of the finest too. The theme prompts some nice jamming, eventually succeeded by another mighty prog excursion. Around the 5 minute mark, an interesting marching band-style section is introduced, to be succeeded after about 2 minutes by atmospheric guitar arpeggiation that actually sounds very modern (keep in mind that this album was released in 1976). The overall tone of the music at this point is solemn and moody, with occasional unsettling diminished-sounding guitar shapes. Towards the end of the song, the band return to their intense brand of prog, also finding time to revisit earlier themes. Overall, an excellent example of how a progressive epic should be done.

Along with other little known US bands like Yezda Urfa and Cathedral, this band deserved success more than many established prog legends. Of course, the assault of punk rock and the completely uncommercial nature of Mirthrandir's music made this practically impossible, but the band's contributions to 70s prog cannot be overstated. Besides, they're back now, and a sophomore Mirthrandir album after 3 decades wouldn't hurt (unless it would be some sort of "Love Beach").

Anyway, this is one of those albums that requires very careful listening, but if you like "complex" prog rock, you'll certainly love it.

Report this review (#68131)
Posted Friday, February 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mirthrandir is one of those forgotten and overlooked USA's prog rock bands that reveales themselves as real 'lost gems' of the genre. Not unlike their compatriots Lift, Quill and Cathedral, this band sets the foundations for their sound with a close inspiration from the archetype of British symphonic rock, but definitely this one surpasses the aforesaid illustrious examples by delivering a robust sound and a clear musical scheme more successfully, always in control of the complex arrangements, always creating well structured melodies and solos, always keeping things tight at both a compositional and a performative level. While not matching the peculiar genius of Yezda Urfa (who really were a world of their own) nor the exquisiteness of Happy the Man, Mirthrandir manages to create real interesting music in the repertoire of their sole album "For You the Old Women". Early Genesis, early Yes and quintet-era Gentle Giant are the main Britsh influences, but it would also be fair to notice the clever use of dual guitars and the energetic display of power by the rhythm section as two harmonized complements to the majestic keyboard inputs: the former are elements taken from the American dazzling tradition in order to make something special and peculiar within the parameters of symphonic prog. The namesake opener bears a dynamic vibe right from the starting point, long enough to stick catchily in the listener's mind before things shift to a languid interlude and end with a powerful symphonic theme. The presence of trumpet and flute add color to the overall sonic landscape - a very good opener, indeed. 'Conversation with Personality Giver' is a bit shorter but equally complex, including tempo and mood changes, as well as effective duels between the two guitars or one guitar and a keyboard. The general result bears a somewhat more cohesive feel to it, in comparison to the first track. Track 3 'Light of the Candle' sets a vibrating mixture of Kaye-era Yes and "Power & Glory" Gentle Giant, making thing a bit more accessible than usual with its light touch of funk-rock added in between the more obviously symphonic passages. Track 4 is titled 'Number Six' and track 5 has the number four in its title... Well... The instrumental 'Number Six' opens with a bucolic flute melody soon joined by the trumpet and the dual guitar arpeggios, with the full ensemble gradually building up a powerful symphonic intro. The momentum gets an interesting set of variations with the emergence of all diverse motifs successfully linked to each other: great compositional work, equalling the complex dynamics of track 2. 'For Four' occupies the album's last 14 4/5 minutes. It kind of encapsulates a recapitulation of all moods displayed in the previous tracks (including a pounding martial bolero), although there's preferent room for introspective ambiences similar to those comprised in the opening song's second half. Although this numbers fails at becoming as cohesive as the preceding ones, it sure makes a very good ending for an excellent album. Mirthrandir's "For You the Old Women" reemerges in the age of digital industry waiting to be properly appreciated by prog fans all over the world for what it is, a great prog item.
Report this review (#117388)
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This album has to be a four star rating. I mean the musicianship is jaw dropping, especially on the first track. The complex arrangements and playing are very impressive. Yet why can't I get into this one ? The vocals don't do anything for me but their not bad at all. The lyrics are of a religious theme, yet they are sort of veiled. Bottom line is that this should be worth 4 stars but i'm giving it 3.5 stars.

"For You The Old Women" is GENTLE GIANT-like in it's complexity. A whirlwind of sounds really, that start and stop at will. Some trumpet in this one. I get a chance to breathe as a calm arrives 3 minutes in. This is pastoral with Hackett-like guitar and flute. Reserved vocals 4 1/2 minutes in. A fuller sound arrives 6 minutes in with passionate vocals and tasteful guitar. "Conversation With Personality Giver" features a lot of synths, and it hits the ground running. I like the guitar before it settles down 1 1/2 minutes in with piano. It kicks back in around 2 minutes with some good intricate guitar. Vocals 3 minutes in. "Light Of The Candle" is heavier with vocals. Lots of organ in this one. It settles down some 3 minutes in.

"Number Six" is an instrumental that opens with some solemn flute as trumpet comes in. Full sound a minute in. Nice drumming. I like the organ after 2 1/2 minutes. Trumpet is back 4 minutes in. Good song. "For Four" is the almost 15 minute closing track. I really like the first 3 minutes as piano, flute, organ and bass really impress. More deep bass after 3 1/2 minutes. Check out the drum and sinister organ section after 5 minutes. A calm 7 minutes in continues for 5 minutes. More impressive drumming arrives with the full sound. I like the piano when it settles down 13 1/2 minutes in, but not the lyrics that he starts to sing.

Something is missing here for me, i've never warmed up to it. I think most will love this record though.

Report this review (#183788)
Posted Friday, September 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For You the Old Women is the debut full-length studio album by American progresssive rock act Mirthrandir. The album was originally released on LP in 1976 but saw a CD re-release in 1992.

The music is progressive rock with lots of keyboards/ synths but also a strong rythm section and two guitarists that also fills a lot in the soundscape. There are occasional flute and trumpet playing on the album too. Especially the presence of the latter mentioned is a succes to my ears. Itīs not a big part of the sound though. While the album is predominantly instrumental there are also vocals on the album. John Vislocky III is a skilled singer with a strong voice. The six songs which fills up the albumīs 38:00 minute long playing time are well composed and the production is well sounding. So all in all everything seems fine. When the album still doesnīt grap my attention itīs because the material arenīt that memorable or original. I hear references to most of the big progressive rock names. Yes and ELP are obvious examples. Thereīs nothing wrong with being inspired by the big names in the genre but when the material donīt stick in my mind even after listening to the album many times Iīm not impressed. Itīs too bad though because the musicianship is on a very high level and thereīs every reason to believe that this album could have been better if Mirthrandir had focused more on writing original music. When that is said Iīm still gonna give a 3 star rating because the album does have many quality elements and Iīm sure other progheads will find this album pretty nice.

Report this review (#262730)
Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A complex work, For You The Old Women is the Mirthrandir one-shot, and this shot hit the target for sure. The first and main track is a classic piece of music into my list. Progressive, the song starts full of energy in a Gentle Giant way, and follows to a slower rhyhthm, but still very detailed, filled with riffs everywhere, merging the guitar and keyboards in a very well done and detailed style, as the whole album. Conversation With Personality Giver brings relevant drums, keys, flutes, bass and guitars. Cool vocals. Light of The Candle have a nice intro, and it long until great keys, and song structure. Number Six is an instrumental track. Great bass/guitar riffs at 3:36, but unfortunatelly short. And the last and longer track, For Four, maybe the best one.

If you are a prog fan, you must check them.

Report this review (#965313)
Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mirthrandir (their name seems to be a misspelling or pun based on "Mithrandir", one of Gandalf's various pseudonyms in The Lord of the Rings) were one of those one-album wonder bands that 1970s prog was littered with, and to my ears the reason for that is sadly a little obvious: namely, they put their album out just a shade too late, unleashing it on the world after the prog wave had peaked and audiences were already looking to new sounds.

For You the Old Women is an album steeped in the sort of sounds that Yes and Genesis were exploring in the early 1970s, and most prog fans will enjoy rediscovering this stuff and find it decidedly pleasing - but what for us in 2016 is a lost treasure ripe for a new appraisal must have felt in 1976 like a band trying desperately to climb onto a bandwagon that had already driven off without them. It's a shame, because John Vislocky III's capable vocals and interesting use of trumpet adds a novel spin to the symphonic-leaning prog sound of the group which could have nicely set them apart, had they not come into a music scene already cluttered with the wreckage of risen and fallen bands.

Report this review (#1597801)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2016 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3.5 stars, really. My friend Carlos Vaz Ferreira, from the Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal E-Zine, is always posting rare, interesting stuff at the Mundo Progressivo Brasil, our Facebook page, and this obscure american band was one of them. For You The Old Women is their sole release, I guess an independent one, in 1976. It did not sell and Mirthrandir disbanded soon after. Later on, in 1992, the american label Syn-phonic re-issued it on CD. Thatīs the copy I got. And their sound is quite interesting indeed. Although it promises more than they actually delivered, Iīm sure a lot of classic prog 70īs fanatic will like it. It has all the right influences, the performances are great and the recording sound of my CD is excellent.

However, it is also easy to tell why it did not made it. First of all, they were americans, and their sound is definitely too european. Second, although they had skillful musicians, their sound was terribly derivative too. Their love for bands like Yes, Gentle Giant (their biggest influences), Genesis and Jethro Tull is very clear. Unfortunately they were not mature enough songwriters themselves at the time they recorded their sole album. I mean, the tracks are all quite good, but they did not have a personality of their own. And when the vocalist tried those high pitched vocals a la Jon Anderson, my God!, are they annoying! The band also had two guitarists, but they might as well had just one, for they were not a real guitar based outfit, the star here is keyboardist Simon Gannett, who really knows how to deliver a lush symphonic landscape with his vast array of vintage instruments. To add some little Gentle Giant like bits singer John Vislocky III plays some trumpet. To give some early Genesis flavors to the mix, bassist James Miller proves he is a good flutist.

In the end I found this CD to be quite pleasant. If Mirthrandir was a british band they probably would have been in a more prog friendly environment. And maybe they would have the chance to produce a follow up. The music in general is good and with time and experience Iīm quite sure they would find their own sound and personality. At the time they might have appeared to be another Yes/Gentle Giant wannabes. Nowadays this CD, with their (and ours) idols long gone (or far from their prime), is far more charming than it sounded in 1976. After all is good old symphonic prog. Not very original, ok, but honest and pleasant anyway. With all its faults, For You The Old Women, should be heard by any 70īs prog lover. Not essential, but itīs well played symphonic prog. And I like it.

Report this review (#1698041)
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2017 | Review Permalink

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