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Mudway - Some Strange Stories CD (album) cover

SOME STRANGE STORIES

Mudway

Neo-Prog


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lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This debut effort from Italian outfit, Mudway, reached our attention when they were proposed for addition to the site as a neo prog band. Whilst active for a little while mainly doing covers, the band have now reached the point where an expression of their own music became important, and the finished product can be listened to as a stream from their website (the link is on the artist page here on Prog Archives). I understand that an official download facility for the album will be available soon, and I, for one, will be getting this.

For whilst this debut will not, by any stretch of the imagination, set the prog world on fire, what it does do, to these ears, is put down a very important marker that this is a serious band who deserve our attention, and who will, I have no doubt, improve and be successful with each successive release.

Some Strange Stories is completely self recorded, and self produced, and, as is common with such works, cannot possibly be compared in terms of production values with the likes of Steven Wilson, but I am happy to report that it is more than adequate as a listening experience.

The album opens with First Night, a nice breezy opener, classic neo-prog with commercial sensibilities. The guitar work is impressive, backing some pleasant, if quirky, keys.

Earthificially Intelligent has to take the title for best named track of 2012, and I really like this song. My only minor quibble is that it tries, perhaps, a little too hard to produce a "futuristic/AI" sound, but, nonetheless, the bass & drums keep pace fantastically, with a nice piano as lead. The vocals strike me as being very much in the vein of classic Italian prog, and this is a strong, enjoyable track.

Mud & Rubble is a quirky, keyboard led track, slightly reminiscent to me of the type of quaint stuff early Genesis put out such as Harold The Barrel. It is rather strange, but funnily addictive, and I particularly like Matteo Salamon's guitar work at the close.

Seeking To Believe is the longest track on offer at 7:51 long. The main opening section is warm & lush, very much in the mould of classic symphonic progressive rock from the 1970's. As it progresses, it develops into a more complex and slightly darker flavour. with a very good bassline, and very good drumming work by Leonardo Alessandro Patruno, moving the track along very nicely to effectively back a fine guitar lead and complex keyboard overlays.

El Bombastico is, well, a strange story. The highlight here, and possibly of the album as a whole. is the closing keyboard passage, which is strikingly loud, almost industrial, and, well, bombastic.

Caramel is a track which takes me back to the 1980's in tone and execution, almost, in parts, to some of the better works released by the likes of John Foxx & Gary Numan, with doses of latter-day Genesis and early Floyd and Van Der Graaf thrown in for good measure. I also think that sections of this track were influenced strongly by IQ, particularly in the Dark Matter incarnation of the band. Again, the keyboards provided to us by Paolo Santambrogio, backed by Matteo Salamon & Giampaolo Filippo Parravicini, are a joy to listen to, and this is a thoughtful, deceptively complex track.

The shortest track here is What Mist Takes, and this has a heavier feel to much else present, but still indomitably quirky. Much is in line with classic 1980's neo-prog, although the end is utter chaos.

We finish with Blasted Imagination, which is a relaxant after the chaos which preceded it. The only way I can describe this track is by saying that it really should be on the next Van Der Graaf Generator album. It is a tribute to that band, and Hamill in particular, to this reviewer's mind, and the only thing it lacks is the mad woodwind a la Jackson.

So, what we have here is a promising start to what I hope will be a prolific career. I would thoroughly recommend that you go to the band's website and give this a few listens, and I have no hesitation in awarding this three stars as a good album. With success, and an appointment in the production room for the next album, this band might well be worth keeping an eye out for.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#750250)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Italian proggers Mudway came together a few years ago initially as a cover band, soon to come up with original compositions.After a period of discouragment regarding some troubles with the drummer position, Mudway established a solid line-up with singer/multi-instrumentalist Matteo Salamon, bassist Giampaolo Filippo Parravicini, drummer Leonardo Alessandro Patruno and keyboardist Paolo Santambrogio and released their debut ''Some Strange Stories'' in 2012, available as a digital album on several digital stores.

This album has indeed some strange stories to offer.The first listening passes without noticing anything trully captivating, during the second one the album starts to unleash a hidden secret, by the third there is a certain charm to be found.You can't accuse Mudway of one thing: Being unoriginal.Their style is a strange mix of modern Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Art Rock and Neo Prog with these elements circulating all the time.The vocals are carefully distorted and, without being anything exciting, they range from humouristic tunes to more emotional performances.They are nicely combined with a very artistic style of playing, where accesible music structures contain unrelated stylings.Flashy synth work, hypnotic psychedelic grooves, good breaks, furious rhythmic parts as well as piano-based light passages.Mudway show some denial to be involved in technical or virtuosic solos, this is a band focusing on tighten up music themes, which seem unrelated, but the final result seems attractively cohesive.

This album is trully inventive, quite catchy, still it has some space for development.Among the bands you should better keep an eye on, Mudway are capable of returning with some killer stuff in the future.Meanwhile ''Some Strange Stories'' is a challenging first step into the world of modern Art/Progressive Rock.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#781978)
Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Italian quartet MUDWAY have a history going back quite a few years, but they didn't start using their current moniker until 2009. "Some Strange Stories" is their debut album and was self-released in 2012.

And it is an aptly named album indeed. Strange music of the kind that I find to be rather difficult to describe too. Perhaps more intriguing due to the diversity of instrumental textures and effects utilized than to the quality of the compositions themselves, then again I'll have to admit that I haven't managed to explore this disc as thoroughly as would be warranted to establish that firmly. There are limits to how many times a busy reviewer can listen to a production prior to making a verdict of some kind, and this album is one that demands many spins before you'll be able to decide whether it's the music itself that entice or if it's merely the diverse constructions that intrigue.

In terms of style this is an album that probably fits into the art rock universe somewhere, and most likely within the corner of it that I generally describe as art pop. The melodies are strong and distinct throughout, often to the point of being hummable. The bass guitar and a steady set of rhythms are generally at the core of the proceedings, setting pace and establishing a generally catchy foundation for the vocals and additional instruments to play upon. Instrumentally wise, a frequent and recurring feature throughout are wandering piano motifs, most commonly given a subservient role in the proceedings. Describing the rest of the elements of these Italians escapades is what fits quite nicely into a description as difficult however.

Psychedelic inspired keyboard textures with a cosmic tinge to them are frequently used, generally towards the end of the compositions but occasionally also around the halfway point. Plucked guitar motifs similar to what is commonly used in neo-progressive rock is also an effect that appears now and then. As do chugging impact riffs bordering on metal on a few select occasions. While the vocals tend to have a slight avant touch to them, reminding me quite a bit of UK act Big Block 454 for this particular detail. Gently hammering keyboard motifs and occasional symphonic backdrops flavour the proceedings too, and alongside with the guitar work these details combined should probably see the band getting a favourable reception amongst a neo-progressive interested audience.

But when Mudway kicks off with a piece like Mud & Rubble, a creation that to my ears have ska in general and Madness in particular written all over it, then I guess this audience will find themselves a tad confused by the developments. Likewise with Caramel's flirt with new age and cosmic electronic music not that far away from some of Tangerine Dream's exploits, with a slight avant edge added to the proceedings for the heck of it.

"Some Strange Stories" is a perfectly named disc containing just that. Material hard to describe or put inside a well defined box, with strong and distinct melodies as a core feature alongside a rich musical diversity and what comes across as something of a tongue in cheek general approach. Innovative music for sure, and intriguing due to the sheer number of unexpected details to be found. The staying power of this album is one I'm unsure about however, it could be a brilliant item that will reveal it's strong sides over time and repetition or a novelty album whose impact will fade on frequent inspections. But whether Mudway's debut will turn out to be one or the other, it is a disc that warrants an inspection by those who tend to be fond of innovative endeavours. In particular by those favouring a high degree of diversity explored within a distinct melody-based context.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#831793)
Posted Monday, October 01, 2012 | Review Permalink

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