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4 stars Occasionally, just occasionally, in over fifty years of listening, a record turns up which I can simply enjoy from start to finish, without risk of causing severe damage to my right thumb as I hammer it down on the fast forward button. Think of...Forever Changes (Love's tour de force and, arguably, still the greatest LP ever released), Trespass, Stand Up (relegates Aqualung to the role of admiring bystander), CTTE, Pollen, Life is Beautiful (Holly Lerski) (criminally overlooked and under-rated indie masterpiece), Script, In the Region of the Summer Stars, van Occupanther, Difference Machine, Road of Bones ... you get the picture. I wouldn't go so far as to elevate Distant Monsters to the giddy heights of the aforementioned, but this is an absolutely cracking, sumptuous-sounding CD, with all eight tracks bang on the nail, beautifully paced, with foot-tapping rhythms, swirling undercurrents, soaring guitar breaks and memorable chorus lines...all in all, neo-prog heaven. Overall sound is not too dissimilar to that of Red Sand, but that's no drawback at all. For sheer pleasure and enjoyment, this takes some beating. Release date saw it squeezed into back end of 2015, long after "Best of Year" polls, but this might otherwise have knocked the competition into a cocked hat. Absolutely loved it.
Report this review (#1513585)
Posted Sunday, January 17, 2016 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars Try to pick up the spirit and create your own thing! Since they are active for more than two decades in the meanwhile, the MARTIGAN crew have the ability to make a lasting impression, at least when it comes to such a distant monster like this. The band is mainly, but not solely, underway in the neo prog tradition. Thus, from time to time you will detect hints pointing to the likes of IQ, Marillion, Saga, RPWL, Gate6. So much for a rough orientation music-wise. What matters in the end, no wonder, touches the quality of the compositions, and the characteristics the particular members are contributing.

Concerning the latter I'd like to mention Kai Marckwordt first of all. His vocals are one of a kind really, very empathic, optimally integrated into the sound. Just starting with Theodor's Walls all the aforementioned attributes are blended here. I mean the unusual multi-variant song structure, rich guitar riffing in between, the quite simple but perfect piano loop which accompanies you over the course, and finally a singing voice which leaves me with no option but to be excited. This track appears to be outstanding, a real masterpiece!

The following songs are offering more diverse impressions, from a wonderfully relaxed and melodic appearance regarding Simplicius and TipToe to some extended instrumental parts to be found on The Lake or Fire On The Pier for example. Hell! It took some time to write my words, released in December last year the album ultimately obtained a place on my top twenty list for 2015 at least. Recommended, 'Distant Monsters' is an album of a high caliber. Don't miss that!

Report this review (#1568643)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars German band MARTIGAN has been an ongoing venture for more than 20 years, and following a few initial albums released in quick succession early on, they now come out with a new album in a five to six year long cycles. "Distant Monsters" is their fifth studio recording, and was released by Progressive Promotion Records towards the tail end of 2015.

Elegant, accessible and melodic neo-progressive rock comes across as the rock-solid foundation upon which Martigan crafts their compositions. With a foot and a half well inside early '80s neo-progressive rock, with some careful flavors and details borrowed from the sound many such bands explored in the '90s to boot, Martigan's latest production comes across as a truly delightful album for anyone with an interest in early neo-progressive rock, and perhaps especially those with a passionate interest for bands exploring similar landscapes to what the Fish-era Marillion did back in the day.

Report this review (#1580456)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Let's bring the distant monster a little closer so we can get a better look.

So, I was reading a review for another artist that I like quite a bit, and the reviewer said if you like this then you really need to check out Martigan's 'Distant Monsters'. That was great advice. As has often been the case here on the archives I discovered another great artist I had never heard of.

First glimpse of the album artwork, while amusing, didn't leave me overly optimistic of what would follow musically. But within a few notes of the first track it was apparent that this was going to be a grand adventure.

Theodor's Walls, a bit of a mini epic track starts with a haunting piano cycle and some slow guitar licks and then chunky base, and then followed by emotional vocals well suited to the musical journey to follow. The sound runs from kind of poppy happy to sinister, interwoven with vocal sound clips, from very relaxed to a rising intensity. And while not a real common thing in prog music there is a chorus hook that comes in intermittently that ties it all together, but trust me this is not hit music radio friendly ' they just wouldn't understand. A spectacular opening track that has been on my heavy rotation for some time. Amusingly to me, while the lyrics are in English, is that half the time I don't have a clue what the words are, and I don't even care as it all sounds so good! A definite 10/10

Lion starts with big beat drums and nice guitar, has a certain Genesis / Peter Gabriel feel to it. This one has a a number of tempo changes, some great keys, guitar runs, and an appealing tension that really drives it a long. Great lyrics ; one of my favorite tracks. 10/10

Simplicious is a lovely ballad with warm lyrics, and a nice guitar solo to wrap it up. Not an overly complicated piece but one that is immensely enjoyable. In a perfect world that accepts prog music maybe this would be a hit single? Probably not I suppose. 9/10

Complicious is also in a ballad mode, but an entirely different tempo and lyrical arrangement. It builds to a nice intensity towards the end and also features a guitar solo to close it up. While this and the previous track have a similar overall song structure, they don't sound much a like and both are a good listen. 8/10

The lake starts with a crunchy key board riff that runs through most of the song that sets the general tone in an up beat mid tempo pace with more urgent lyrics that suit the music well. About midway through the base starts becoming more prominent followed by a nice melodic guitar run that lasts several minutes. Eventually the base and keys come back and take over, and then finishes up with a restrained lead guitar solo. Closes out with almost singable lyrics. Very nice! 10/10

On Tiptoe starts just like the name indicates, with pensive slow piano notes, a low lyric. The singing here has a Peter Gabriel aura to it, which helps make it easily accessible. While I like this tract it never really lifts off but remains in the same tone all the way through. Maybe the weakest track, and yet not bad. It's just that the other tracks are so good! 7/10

Fire on the Pier comes out of the gate with some strong guitar and growling lyrics, as growling goes for Martigan. A nice contrast to the previous low key track. Like the lyrics on this, very melodic and memorable, again with some chorus type hooks here and there that nicely keep the song all tied together. This one features some nice drum work, guitar exercises, tempo changes, and the like. 8/10

Take Me or Leave Me starts once again with the pensive lone piano. A very vulnerable feeling song that lingers for about three minutes and then picks up in intensity and fades back. This is repeated two or three times and finally slowly fades out once and for all. While a nice track, seems a bit weak for the album closer. Might have been better placed earlier in the set. 7/10

Wow! Over all, a great find. This is melodic prog with good lyrics, well sung, and a nice array of musical highlights. While much is pretty mellow, there are moments that lift off musically, but always suitably restrained. Just the way I like it.

From what I have been able to ascertain, Martigan puts out a new album about every four to five years, so they should be about due. Let's hope!

And, oh yeah, I decided that I really like the album cover artwork a lot. Not sure how it ties in to the music, but guess it doesn't really matter when the music is this good.

Four plus distant monsters for this one!

Report this review (#2339243)
Posted Saturday, February 29, 2020 | Review Permalink

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