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Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Psychadelic Teatime" is the debut full-length studio album by German psychadelic/progressive rock act Margin. The album was released through Madvedge Records in June 2014. Margin was founded in 2011 by Lutz Meinert (Spielte, For Your Pleasure), who sings most vocals and plays most instruments on "Psychadelic Teatime". He is joined here by Carola Meinert (additional vocals) and Arne Spekat (acoustic guitars).

The music on the album is psychadelic/progressive rock, highly influenced by late 60s/early- to mid 70s Pink Floyd. The music is laid back and slow building towards louder and more epic climaxes, but always pleasant to listen to. Organic drumming and bass playing, emotional guitar playing and some nice vintage keyboard/organ sounds spiced up by the occasional sedated vocal line (Lutz Meinertīs voice and way of singing remind me slightly of a more ordinary sounding Roine Stolt). The musicianship is top notch and you donīt notice that this is basically a one-man project.

"Psychadelic Teatime" features 9 tracks, but the first 5 tracks on the album seque into each other to form the 20 minutes + long "A Mysterious Cup of Tea" suite. While the Pink Floyd influence is heard throghout the album, itīs on this track that itīs strongest. The long suite is followed by the shorter "Psychedelic Underground - The Short Trip", which is an almost radio friendly catchy track. "Landscapes On The Sky" features a folk influence while still retaining itīs psychadelic rock foundation while "Last Exit to Pluto" is a bit more ambient and atmospheric. The album closes with an extented version of the "Psychedelic Underground" track titled "Psychedelic Underground - The long Trip". While there is satisfactory variation throughout the album there is also a good flow, so youīre never in doubt that itīs the same band playing.

While I wouldnīt put the sound production in the same catagory as some of the top notch sound productions of a band like Pink Floyd, "Psychadelic Teatime" is still relatively well produced and organic sounding, which suits the music well. All in all "Psychadelic Teatime" is a pleasant listening experience and a decent quality psychadelic/progressive rock album by Margin. They donīt really cover any new ground and Iīm not sure that was the purpose either, but for what they do, they do it pretty well. While the musicianship are generally on a high level and the sound production decent, the albumīs real strength is that the tracks are easy to tell apart and that the music flow well for the duration of the album. Although the music can be very laid back and slow, itīs never boring and my attention never wanders during itīs playing time. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#1227494)
Posted Friday, August 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars The new German artist MARGIN makes it clear also in the promotional texts that PINK FLOYD is the major influence, and it's indeed audible in the music. To me this is not a problem, but if the idea of listening to a Floyd-soundalike doesn't appeal to you, you may as well keep clear of Margin. Being practically a one-man effort (concerning even the album design) this is amazingly well done, from a technical point of view.

There are many ways to interpret the essence of "psychedelic rock" today. The historical weight cannot be escaped anyhow. One can try and find a unique way of sounding "trippy" and "mind blowing", though it's harder and harder nowadays not to sound like someone. Or then one can underline the word "psychedelic" thematically and make quite safe and accessible music in the style and honour of one of the most legendary and beloved rock groups all time. It's obvious which way is easier and commercially safer. It may also be easy to forget such tribute-like band several years later. I don't mean to be cynical; these were my thoughts about relations between Psychedelia and this album.

'A Mysterious Cup of Tea' is a 23'-minute suite in five parts, numbers two and four with vocals. Definitely lyrics aren't MARGIN's strength, actually they're just escapistic day-dreaming "steps beyond the reality". "Look at this cup of tea, it's turning to a cup of sea with some islands / a saucerful of secrets sounds deep from an unknown ground / up to the highlands, it resounds". Thanks to the soaring melodic instrumental parts the suite is my favourite on this album. The best side-long epic that Pink Floyd never did! But sadly all is not up to that level. 'Psychedelic Underground' is actually a catchy pop song despite some prog rock flavour - including a mellotron sound - but especially the decision to end the album with its 10'-minute 2nd version is not good at all! It's rather disturbing how Lutz Meinert's vocals on it make me think of PET SHOP BOYS, of all bands in the world.

'Landscapes on the Sky' is a mellow and slightly melancholic track. I like the sounds of acoustic guitar, glockenspiel (xylophone?) and mellotron. My associations were the Finnish Folk-Psych group KOSMOS, and for the long instrumental section late sixties Pink Floyd at their calmest (e.g. 'Julia Dream'). Carola Meinert's backing vocals are in a very minor role on the album; I would have wanted to hear more of her, and less of Lutz Meinert himself who's a wonderful multi- instrumentalist but not a great singer. Also 'Last Exit to Pluto' concentrates on calm, Floydian sound painting. As an instrumental and relatively progressive track it's very enjoyable. But I can't help I dislike the re-entry of the weakest song, and the proggy extension of it doesn't save anything.

Three stars for a nice listening enjoyment are earned without a doubt. Weak lyrics, average vocals and the lack of real personality would make the fourth star seem quite undeserved. But in my opinion this is a very nice album to return to when in need of soothing prog-pop without harder edges.

Report this review (#1227497)
Posted Friday, August 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars MARGIN is basically a one-man band from Berlin, Germany with that one man being Lutz Meinert who handles virtually every aspect of the album ranging from all instruments, all lead vocals as well as songwriting, production and even the paintings for the album art. He is helped out a bit by his wife Carola on background vocals on a couple tracks and Arne Spekat who supplies acoustic guitar on two tracks. The name MARGIN may seem like an unlikely name for a psychedelic band but it in fact comes from a live album by Peter Hammill titled "The Margin." The music on this album is advertised as heavily influenced by early 70s Pink Floyd and it turns out that it is for the most part, however there are a few surprises on this album as well.

The album begins with the best part of the entire album, the five-part suite "A Mysterious Cup Of Tea" which does come off as one of the best Pink Floyd tributes I think i've ever heard. There are many parts that remind you of your favorite Floydian moments from various earlier albums. The acoustic guitar of Arne Spekat is quite brilliant and provides the backbone for the entire suite to expand its psychedelic tentacles including very well done effects complete with contemplations of a cup of tea that contains its own universe. One that expands its world around you and beckoning you to take the plunge and promises a relaxing tranquility and a saucerful of secrets. Definitely my favorite part of the album.

After the 23 minute plus suite MARGIN changes gears a bit and unfortunately not for the better. The next track is "Psychedelic Underground - The Short Trip" which is clearly intended to be the single off the album. It is a nicely crafted neo-psychedelia pop song that seems a little disjointed from what came before, but ok for what it is and kind of a gleeful celebration of the psychedelic world in general. Up next is the beautiful folk song "Landscapes On The Sky" which is my second favorite part of the album. We are treated to a lush trippy arpeggio laden acoustic guitar musing continuing the dreamy hallucinative lyrics that make you want to drift on the big puffy clouds and count the refracted colors as they pass through crystalline pyramids with wings in the sky. Melodic freak folk at its finest. Unfortunately this is where the album should end.

The next track "Last Exit To Pluto" feels like filler to me. For a 10 minute plus lengthy track it seems to be a bit repetitive and without enough variations to warrant its duration. I don't find the riff particular catchy and it certainly isn't as trippy as it should be. Finally we get a reprise of the "Psychedelic Underground" but this time it's "The Long Trip." Again, this seems like a futile exercise in trying to make the pop-oriented single of album seem more important than it really is. I didn't mind "The Short Trip" as it was quick and to the point but this one just seems a little forced and arbitrary. The pop hooks just don't work with the attempt to create a tripped out musical ride and doesn't really contribute to the theme of the album as it ends.

Overall I find this to be a fun album that doesn't take itself too seriously and delivers the influences that it advertises while adding other elements as well. I really wish the other members would have more prominence. Carola Meinert barely can be heard on the entire album. She only contributes shadow vocals behind Lutz' lead. Some of my favorite psychedelic music has female background vocals even if they only result in oooo's and aaaah's. Another aspect of the album that I really love is the acoustic guitar playing of Arne Spekat. I think the other songs could have benefited from his contributions as his melodic prowess makes a solid template for the other sounds to build upon. I have to admit that the vocal department from Lutz works fine on the first suite but his laid back approach seems a little weak on the later tracks and would benefit from a more dynamic vocal range and yes since it's been mentioned I have to agree that The Pet Shop Boys do come to mind on the poppier tracks. Although I don't find this a perfect album, it is a pleasant enough album and it's just bursting with some serious potential. I have high hopes that a second release will find itself a more cohesive one that irons out some of the wrinkles that make this one feel a little awkward at times. A fun album that will keep me coming back especially for the best tracks.

Tracks 1-5, 7 = 4 stars Track 6 = 3 stars Tracks 8, 9 = 2 stars

Total 32 / 9 = 3.4 so rounded down

Report this review (#1234385)
Posted Monday, August 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars MARGIN is a new band out of Berlin, Germany and it's the project of multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert. We do get Carola singing background vocals on two tracks along with Arne playing acoustic guitar on two tracks, but make no mistake Lutz does it all here. He wrote all the lyrics along with the music and arranged, produced, recorded and mixed this album, also it's his paintings that grace the front and back of this album cover. Oh to have just a little bit of that talent(haha).

Things get started with the five part suite called "A Mysterious Cup Of Tea" which clocks in at around 23 1/2 minutes. I really enjoy Part 1 which might be my favourite piece on the whole record. The guitar cries out in the background as liquid sounding keys are tastefully played. It's all so relaxed and laid back. The drums join in and the guitar becomes more prominant as this plays out. The organ becomes the focus about half-way through. Great start! Part 2 is where we get vocals for the first time and he really reminds me of Phideaux, at least the tone of his vocals. I read Matti's review and he's right, the singing does also sound like the guy from THE PET SHOP BOYS. Without question the vocals are the biggest negative on the album. They just don't suit the music and I guess that's just me 'cause i'm thinking Phideaux when he sings and I just don't enjoy them at all. The music continues to be excellent though as this part is also very relaxed with lots of acoustic guitar. Part 3 impresses me because of the prominant bass mostly. Again it's mellow and laid back for the most part, although the guitar is more on the attack here than the previous songs. Part 4 sounds a lot like Part 2 because of the vocals mostly and acoustic guitar although it gets dramatic late and this continues in Part 5. Hey some mellotron samples on this one too.

"Psychedelic Underground-The Short" really reminds me of PORCUPINE TREE's "Linton Samuel Dawson" from "On The Sunday Of Life". It's okay. "Landscapes On The Sky" is another okay vocal track. I must admit I really like the instrumentals a lot more than the vocal songs. "Last Exit To Pluto" starts off in a haunting manner which is very welcomed by yours truley. I just think ideas are so important with Psychedelic music. Some nice bass and piano lines follow before it kicks into a fuller sound before 3 minutes. It settles back again with the bass and piano standing out as themes are repeated. I like the organ later on and the mellotron after that. Excellent track. "Psychedelic Underground-The Long" has some cool sounding atmosphere early on then the Gilmour-like guitar arrives soaring away. Organ takes the spotlight around 3 minutes in. Just a great tune to finish the album with.

PINK FLOYD certainly is mentioned a lot in the little blurb the band released and you'll hear the phrase "Saucerful of secrets" mentioned on two tracks, but in my opinion this sounds more like eighties FLOYD which is fine, I just prefer PINK FLOYD's earlier stuff that had lots of ideas, atmosphere and experimentation. This is modern sounding psychedelia in my opinion. Still, if this was all instrumental I might have pulled the trigger on 4 stars. Good album and 3 stars fits the music.

Report this review (#1235495)
Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Margin main-man and Berliner Lutz Meinert had kindly sent me a request to review his 'Psychedelic Teatime' album, and after having read some of the posted reviews, I accepted willfully. The general consensus was that the music was fine if not ground-breaking and that the vocals were closer to Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant which may throw the casual prog fan for a loop. Well, Pink Floyd-influenced prog is never quite that challenging as the Gilmour Boys (sorry Roger but I never liked you a whole lot) are not the most 'turn-on-a- dime' weavers of progressive complexity, preferring a laid-back and atmospheric style that is closer to the turtle than the rabbit. That being said, there is nothing inherently wrong in having a voice that may hint at Tennant's tone, neither poor nor thundering but surely effective. Prog is not exactly the paragon of lead vocal heaven, with a vast array of groups that made amazing music with weak singing.

So let's take the opportunity to look at Margin's work at face value and judge according to its inherent merits instead of what it could have, should have been. The very first observation is the pristine sound, something Berlin has always been rather famous for within and beyond the prog universe, it hits you right from the very first relaxed notes of the 5 part suite "A Mysterious Cup of Tea", a sweeping epic example of psychedelic space rock of the highest order. The opening Part1 is all instrumental luxury and showcases one-man band Lutz Meinert's talents on all matter of instruments, especially the liquid guitar parts, the flamboyant acoustic versions as well, utilizing various keys with delectable delight , the languishing organ sweeping forward nicely and particularly crisp piano parts that give the sound a sublime sheen. It must be noted that the bass work all along is absolutely first rate, as well as the terrific drumming throughout. Hints at Swedish proggers Grand Stand come to mind, though in more space rock vein. Part 2 introduces Meinert's playful voice, actually closer to Xavier Phideaux (yes, good call Johnny!), Gong's Daevid Allen or even Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds. But it's all in the details, as the melody is enticingly soporific as the words 'A saucerful of secrets' are uttered with little guile, delicate vibraphone over ornate acoustic guitar and pastoral flute, this is world class stuff. Floydian organ (sounding like a Farfisa) seeps through the haze leading into the marvellous nearly 7 minute Part 3, where the electric piano, a punchy bass and jazzy hyper electric guitar meet in harmony, almost like a spacy version of Stealy Dan, held together by some stunning drum fills, hey, mensch, this guy can play! Moody expanse for an enchanting and LONG fretless bass solo that will knock your Pastorius head off. This is one of many highlight moments that I needed to re- listen often as I just could not believe my ears. My kind of space rock, all in all luxuriant, defiant and inspirational, conducive to the loftiest dream cycles possible. Again, the instrumental playing is technically superb and emotionally spot on. Part 4 is a brief vocal reprise of Part 2 and as such, plays well into the epic formula of returning themes and melodies. Hey, there is nothing wrong with his voice, slightly accented perhaps. Ja, und? Part 5 introduce a rifling organ and potent drum rolls that resonate lovingly, slashed by a Hackett-ish guitar and a colossal symphonic bombast. An entirely convincing piece, once again underpinned by some rock-solid bass playing. Medicating, lush and adventurous, this is definitely a voluptuous ride into the cosmos.

Things really point towards the Gong pot head pixies with the short version of the "Psychedelic Underground" , a remarkably catchy hook that you swear you have heard before, propelled by a reptilian bass, snake guitar phrasings and a charming voice , slightly accented that has that Pet Shop Boys tone, no doubt as well as that Ian Broudie-like candied trippyness. "OOOOH, what a trip!" is how this lil ditty ends. The longer version will seal the fate of this album later.

But next up is the more complex bardic tale of "Landscapes on the Sky" which really revive the Allen-Smyth vocal duet of Gong fame, fueled by a trilling organ, utterly pastoral trappings and thus oh so charming, visions of coming and going kingdoms in some celestial expanse. The elongated theme is melodically supreme, effortless and atmospheric, taking its sweet time for maximum effect. This is psychedelia after all, no time for editing and taking shortcuts. The mushroom mellotron clouds and seductive mandolin finale is simply spectacular and vivid.

The highly evocative stud bass guitar grabs the leather leash, pulling a sorceress piano along, a perfect example of simple doom and gloom in the most minimalist fashion, morphing into a heavier torrent, guitars slashing and the basso profundo bullying forward, this time the mellotron in tow. Sorry, guys, this is killer stuff, so full of self-possessed power and haunting imagery. The 10 minute+ "Last Exit to Pluto" is a space prog classic, lovingly crucifying any Ozric Tentacles or Gong fan, armed with a chirping organ solo spot that again hints at jazz-rock tendencies. But it's that devilish 4 string monster that gets my blood boiling and perspiration on the upper lip area. A deliberate guitar solo screeches and moans, fluttering from one emotion to the next, early King Crimson-like mellotron cascading in and out of the cadence (pun?). Ga ga ga!

You liked the short version, well here is the longer one! A 10 minute+ version of "Psychedelic Underground" is given a quasi Hawkwind treatment, a lively 'good vibrations' cosmic voyage where the bass shuffles , the drums attack and has a red rooster guitar pecking away at the mad hatter. This is toxically addictive, humming this as the dominating bass just goes cuckoo and the drum shudders insanely amid the mellotron washes. Damn fine music, this! It is a rare event in prog when a 10 minute tune can be so accessible and memorable, seared on your brain all day as you hum "Psychedelic Underground", big smile on your face.

Funny this as the instrumental parts are definitely Space and the vocal ones clearly Neo- prog , but who the hell cares when music is this accomplished and pleasurable , the labels can all vanish in the blink of an eye. A big surprise that really rocked my world. But when the fetish bass entices, teases and satisfies, I will always be a slave to your pleasure. Wirklich ausgezeichnet!

4.5 Flying Tea Pots

Report this review (#1258848)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This one sounds a lot to me like a continuation of 2013's AIRBAG and COSMOGRAF albums along with 2012's I AND THOU, NINE STONES CLOSE, MYSTERY, and RIVERSEA albums with a bit of THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE (especially singing voice). The album's highlight is, of course, the five-part epic entitled "A Mysterious Cup of Tea" (9/10) which sounds most like the brilliantly nostalgic music of Andrew Marshall's WILLOWGLASS only with singing and with more emotional guitar leads. The rest of the album is really good Neo-Prog with quirky, tongue- in-cheek ANDY TILLISON or T-like lyrics and singing.

Enjoyable and nice to come back to once in a while. Some really great lead guitar soloing. Often feeling a bit too familiar in the Neo-ness of it.

3.5 stars rated up for overall number of high points.

Report this review (#1320859)
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars MARGIN invites us to a 'Psychedelic Teatime' ... so, at first, do you have a guess, who is able to care for the required inspirations at best? Here we have a new solo project from Berlin, the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert, who could sum up some experiences while playing with several other local bands beforehand. Only supported by some female vocals and Arne Spekat on acoustic guitar Lutz's approach is to offer an abum which seemingly carries two faces, due to the fact that it either comes with floydy instrumental psychedelic rock - the dominant feature - as well as songs respectively parts more in a popular singer/songwriter vein.

The extended A Mysterious Cup Of Tea gives the start, an excellent midtempo epic in five sections, where Lutz proves his instrumental as well as compositional skills at best. Both parts of Psychedelic Underground are drawing on the psychedelia drenched late 60s featuring traces of beat music and Canterbury, but this is also equipped with experimental impressions coming from the soloing instruments. When listening bearly nothing leads to the assumption this would be the workout of a solo musician by the way.

I would also like to emphasize Last Exit To Pluto - another smooth exemplar including sparkling piano, decent mellotron backing, excellent drumming. This one definitely needs some attempts in order to get it completely. 'Psychedelic Teatime' is a nice relaxed album which mirrors instrumental professionalism, which is Lutz's real strength, where the vocals on the other hand are in need of getting used to partially. Anyway, this just represents the uniqueness though, makes a difference to other Pink Floyd influenced albums arriving on the table again and again. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#1337972)
Posted Saturday, January 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars German project MARGIN is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Lutz Meinert, formerly of the German band For Your Pleasure and with a past as a member of various progressive rock bands going back to the '70s. "Psychedelic Teatime" is the first studio production he has made using the Margin moniker, released through the small German label Madvedge Records in 2014.

Margin's debut album "Psychedelic Teatime" is a fairly pleasant excursion into landscapes similar to the ones Pink Floyd explored in the late '70s, and one focusing on the more accessible part of that specific style. There are few contrasts to be found, the themes tend to be fairly smooth even when the arrangements are layered, and those with a desire to encounter truly challenging material won't find them here. A pleasant, melodic and smooth take on the commercial side of late '70s Pink Floyd in short, and a production that might merit an inspection by those who tend to enjoy music of that specific nature.

Report this review (#1480844)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2015 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars This is one of the reviews which I should have written when I suddenly stopped writing reviews for about 2 years, but I remember well this album and some controversial discussions that it raised.

This is almost a one-man project of the multi-instrumentist Lutz Meinert. The first thing to notice is that he plays well all the instruments that he uses. Usually. artists of this kind have at least a weakness. This is not the case. The influence is mainly Floydian, but as often happens, if one is not very mimic and uses more "modern" sounds, the result can differ quite a lot from just a Floydian excersize.

The initial suite is effectively opened by sounds which remind to the famous "ping" of Rick Wright on Echoes, but it goes elsewhere and the only analogy with the Pink Floyd masterpiece is the length. I think that having released it as separate tracks was the right choice because more than a suite it sounds like a concept in 5 parts.

Psychedelic Underground - The short trip reveals what was one of the arguments of discussion when the album was released: the vocals and the song structure very similar to Phideaux. Lutz was concerned because somebody wrote about his "Phideaux-like" vocals as to the weakest thing of the album, so weak to jeopardize it. I remember to have written to Lutz saying that I wouldn't consider it a weakness because I LIKE PHIDEAUX, so I sent him some links where to listen to it.

Going on, the instrumental parts of the two following tracks can remind to bands like Ozric Tentacles or even some Porcupine Tree, just to give an idea, but this is what I call the "Post Pink Floyd" sound. There's a big number of artists, also acclaimed, that fit in this category. I think to Steven Wilson for example.

The album is closed by the "long trip" of Psychedelic Underground. Yes, it's sounds close to Phideaux, but I can guarantee that Lutz has listened to Phideaux for the first time only when I have sent him the links, so it's juts a coincidence due to the similar timbric of his voice.

Of course this album can have more appeal for Floyd fans, but you don't need to think to Pink Floyd to enjoy it also because it's not totally Floydian. In the end, after several relistens, I think that the Phideaux part is the one I enjoy more. Psychedlic Underground is a very good song and its catchy melody can persist in your ears for some time.

A good 3-stars album waiting for the next auspicable effort.

Report this review (#1506010)
Posted Sunday, January 3, 2016 | Review Permalink

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