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I Am The Manic Whale - Everything Beautiful In Time CD (album) cover


I Am The Manic Whale

Crossover Prog

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5 stars I AM THE MANIC WHALE is a fairly enigmatic moniker for the new British quintet comprising of Michael Whiteman (lead vocals, bass duties, keyboards, guitars, drums), John Murphy (keyboards & vocals), David Addis (guitars, b/vox), Ben Hartley (drums, percussion, b/vox), Ella Lloyd (flute). Their self-produced platter 'Everything Beautiful In Time' is BIG in every sense. The trademarks are apparent: intelligently written compositions, melodic beauty in abundance, a variety of tempos, grandiose panorama of sounds, changing intonations, astounding guitar performance, a wealth of excellent keyboards, versatile rhythm section, lush harmonies and exciting chant with emotional impact. The arrangements are full of diversity and skill. If I need to define such a luxurious debut, let's say: old-school progressive rock with a touch of modern ingredients. This amalgam works perfectly. Each track exudes high class to satisfy even demanding connoisseurs... After just a few seconds on 'Open Your Eyes' you start to realize that you will listen to a captivating release which has very much to offer. Creating a superior symphonic rock paradigm, IATMW conjures some memories of mighty Spock's Beard and 70's Queen. The type of singing is well suited to the repertoire here. Michael Whiteman demonstrates his heartfelt voice, subtly reminding of other persons but never seeking to copy anyone. The affair continues by 'Pages'. Half this song is pulsating, with a vague hint to Salem Hill. Midway through the track features a beautiful instrumental bridge, akin to Steve Hackett or Andy Latimer. The addition of acoustic guitar, calm piano and flute gives a pleasant pastoral feel, which then gradually leads to a powerful completion. Its follower, 'Princess Strange', goes for the uncomplicated form. As opposed to that, the multi-layered 16+ min. 'Circles (Show Love)' moves through quirky segments, resembling Transatlantic and ACT. Still, there's a bit of early Queen' undercurrent going on. The changeovers happen ever and anon. To my mind, it's the most daunting pageant on the disc. Well, now you can try to guess: what's round the bend? A treasure! Rising up in a cappella, 'Clock Of The Long Now' grabs the essence of Moon Safari interspersed with a nod to TFK. The stellar orchestrations unite with the regal harmonies. All in its place, in flawless sonic order. On this piece, both Michael Whiteman and John Murphy handle the lead vocals. I found myself totally immersed in the swapping lines between two chaps. Next up, 'The Mess', where the group leans to almost classical guitar sound. In terms of allusions, you can expect a dose of Styx / Kansas. Again, lots of harmony filled chorus. Bringing CD to a close, the 21+ min. 'Derelict' wraps things up in epic fashion. This is the longest composition on the release and certainly a magnificent opus. Primarily, a gentle piano accompaniment and the soaring guitar support the impassioned vocal line. There's a tension waiting to grow in power and intensity. As the song progresses, consistent changes in mood and direction serve to keep the interest throughout the content. Besides, Ella Lloyd presents her wondrous flute. More than once, the specific echoes of Genesis can be heard, without being a dominant factor. 'Derelict' never gets boring, which is an accomplishment for a piece of such length. The time passes by insensibly. And before you discover this, it's all over. What a great debut! Hopefully, splendid CD 'Everything Beautiful In Time' will make IATMW a force to be reckoned with on contemporary progressive rock scene. That day is not far off.
Report this review (#1599613)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow! This is described in the booklet as "an unashamedly progressive" album. They're exactly right. The musicianship is of the highest order, the songs are lengthy and complex - not tricksy or overblown, but well crafted, There is an element of the experimental in some of the songs, which brings a freshness and originality to the compositions. This is British Symphonic Prog at its very best!

I wouldn't single out any of the musicians for particular praise (though the guitar is frequently stellar!) - they work really well together as a unit. The amount of rehearsal necessary to get these complicated arrangements to work flawlessly must have been truly staggering. Considering that this is a privately released CD, there are no evident limitations in recording, It sounds great! Some of the words used in the songs must be difficult to sing - the lyrics are pretty "wordy"!

The first track - "Open Your Eyes" - really made me sit up and listen when I heard it for the first time on the Chris Hunter Show on - I decided that I must buy the CD based on just that one track! His review was also very favourable. The whole album stands up to repeated plays - there's so much there that I keep discovering new elements to these complex arrangements. I particularly like the use of classical guitar as a contrast to the electric sounds - they're not afraid to put the acoustic guitar to the front of the mix - and the overall recorded balance is excellent throughout.

A superb first album - I hope that they can keep up the high quality of song writing, musicianship and production for their next release! I couldn't quite rate this as totally "essential" - but it's really close at about a 4.8, so I will give it the special 5-star rating.

Report this review (#1745001)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2017 | Review Permalink

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