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Third Ear Band - Music From Macbeth CD (album) cover


Third Ear Band

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars If you are familiar with TEB's sound , you can easily imagine that this sort of music would make a terrific soundtrack to a tense movie. And Roman Polanski did such a film (which I have never seen, BTW) based on Shakespeare's MacBeth.

However , one cannot say that this is a typical TEB album as the music is rather different, offering many short tracks , some with vocalizing. There is an eerie beautyfulness and gothic feel to this music , but somehow , I always found something was missing. Maybe the film images.

TEB have actually won an award (a grammy or its British equivalent) for this soundtrack , which brought them fame , but although they had recorded the following album (their best IMHO), but for some reason, they chose to pack it in. The last album called The Magus gaining only this year its release, I suggest you start out with the debut album or the Magus

Report this review (#40711)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is one of those albums I take out every 12 months or so to listen to and try to understand what it's all about. Sadly despite repeated attempts I still don't get it. What makes it so frustrating is that the 2 previous records have a lot of interesting ideas and some strong world music and folk prog elements. Glenn Sweeney is cleraly a man who knows his stuff and even with this record I can see his skill as both a musician and music composer.

This music probably works well with the film but I've never seen it. On it's own the eerie and gothic atmosphere more often jars and sounds laboured than providing atmosphere or mood. It also sounds rushed and hurried at times and on several numbers you feel it's about to burst into a well developed theme or musical interlude but instead it finishes and the next piece begins.

Simon House's violin occasional lifts the mood of gloom but he's used too sparingly for me. Sweeney as I've said is clearly talented but his percussion on this is more of the kitchen sink school that the structured and colouring type.

Maybe it's just me but the album promises much but fails to delivery. Sad as the Third Ear Band's other albums are all worthy of investigating

Report this review (#46098)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars There might not be rock band with music peculiar like THIRD EAR BAND. They are rare progressive rock band. It is musical in the Middle Ages.However, it is a work with the atmosphere of Indian music. It is suitable album for calling the masterpiece enhanced. They were going to construct the original world splendidly controlled, and to present the vision of quite new music.
Report this review (#50682)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Composed as a soundtrack, Music from Macbeth represents an other mysterious, "weird" exploration in progressive "ethnic trance". A first distinction with "Alchemy" & their self title is the accentuation put on dissonant sounds and medieval harmonies and instrumentation. The album is also less rhythmical and more difficult to approach despite that is a soundtrack. "Overture" is a dark reminiscence of what we've ever heard on their previous efforts with the addition of guitars. The combination of oboe and the violin is always as evident as before. "The beach" is an atonal atmospheric track dominated by a violin's single sustained note, some concrete noises of "birds" and guitar effects. "Lady Macbeth" is a rather bucolic composition made of plaintive oboe parts and acoustic guitar then come dissonant violin lines. "Macbeth's return" is a folkish medieval writing for dancing violin and oboe parts accompanied by a constant percussion's pulse. "Banquet" is an other folkish composition sustained by long, linear, monotonous and atonal oboe, violin lines. "Dagger and death" catches the essence of embryonic electronic rock experimentations with lot of guitar effects and violin glissandos & "drones". "At the well" is an other dissonant song with minimal jazzy guitar parts. "Fleance" features some female vocals built on a very pastoral, dancing acoustic instrumental. "Bear Baiting" also put the accent on medieval, celtic, acoustic and dancing structure. A beautiful album but less evanescent than the hypnotic and eastern minimalist "alchemy" or "third ear band". This album needs several listenings to be fully appreciated
Report this review (#83199)
Posted Sunday, July 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Just when you start to think the third ear band is made up of tone deaf hippies, they surprise you with something quite extraordinary beautiful. I believe the track is called "Fleance" and features a perfect vocal by a choir boy. This track alone is worth the entrance fee. The Film Macbeth produced by Roman Polanski is also very worthwhile and the music fits Shakespeare's dark and gloomy vision perfectly. Sadly "Fleance" is cut short in the film , so the LP becomes even more essential. The rest of the music is typical Third ear band, difficult if not impossible to categorise. However the darkness of this record means this is not such a pleasant recording to listen to as "alchemy" as an example. The tracks here are mostly short and some sound truly atonal. As its is really a soundtrack the themes do not get the same kind of extensive work as other TEB records. If you are a fan its a good recording if a bit more difficult to like. It is unlikely to convert anyone else to this band and for most other interested parties I would recommend getting a copy of the film ,which is excellent in the first instance. The album then makes a lot more sense. Many of my friends insist that the third ear band was made up of great Musicians who are experts at exploration, I was not convinced of this until "Fleance" on this recording proved them able composers not simply drug inspired fakers. As it is The Third Ear band is a taste worth acquiring, but this is not the best record to start with. Buy that film instead you will not regret it unless you really hate Macbeth of course.
Report this review (#92247)
Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Before finding this album I knew The William Shakespeare's classic drama which it was based on, and also the minimalistic and archaic ethnic sound of Third Ear Band was familiar to me, but I did not know that Roman Polanski has also directed a film from this play, the record being it's soundtrack.

The "Overture" brings forth the familiar sound of the group, raw pipe sound playing joylessly in unconventional scales, tribal calm drumming, supported by amplified guitar, bass and some strings. After this the music changes more interesting (for me), as there are some ancient European classical music elements included to the sound in interesting way, and there are some quite formless, personal sequences resembling maybe Brian Eno's Pachelbel variations. There is also some rare element for this group here present, this being singing on the very medieval oriented "Fleance" song. The storyline is followed with quite many simple songs, which are often more sound environments than tonal compositions. The music is maybe not totally fitting to my own taste, but contains still quite fine moments, and being very refreshing personal and different record. The band certainly produces something quite personal with scarce amount of musical elements. Maybe the fastness of some ideas distracted little the listening, and also the pleasant moments are companied with some phases not very pleasant to experience.

If you wish to hear very personal, raw and ancient oriented music, it is certainly provided by this record. Due my interest to European classical and folk music, I think this is so far the most interesting album by this group I have heard, and I have to find an opportunity to experience the original film of the master director.

Report this review (#230374)
Posted Friday, August 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars As with soooo many scores written for the screen the music is suited for an audiovisual experience, rather than simply listening to it. It's the case with, for instance, Popol Vuh's soundtrack albums to the Herzog movies. Extremely beautiful and engaging, when combined with the actual movie. The same goes for Third Ear Band's "Macbeth".

Whenever I watch the movie, a favorite of mine, I love everything about it, not least the music with it's chaotic, scary ambiance. When I listen to the soundtrack I am less amused. Obviously there's brilliance on this record. The band is brilliant. It is simply a question of the music not being able to sustain the brilliance on it's own. Accompanied by the movie it is an easy four star album, when listened to without the movie a solid three star. That does not mean I fully grasp the music. No, not at all ('cause I don't) but I can feel it, knowing and understanding that it is good.

My favorite track on the album is "Fleance". That track is as gourgeous as music gets. Steeped in history and molded in an amazing coat of a strong, beutiful voice of a young boy it lifts me up and transports me in to Time and Space, allowing me to touch tha world of yesteryear. Obviously I am raving but it is quite a powerful track. When combined with the footage it is heavenly, on it's own captivating. Easily a five star song and one I return to ever so often. I thank Third Ear Band from the bottom of my heart for that track.

Conclusion: Great soundtrack, not so great an album. Brilliant but not as enjoyable on it's own as with the actual movie. Still, "Fleance" is a track making the album worth every single penny.

Report this review (#930157)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm always left wondering why I bought albums by this mob. I guess I'm a real sucker for impressive artwork. Being the soundtrack to Roman Polanski's 'Macbeth' film, you'd think it would be a bit more dramatic.

They're known for their swirling, acoustic trance music. It's certainly swirling - Iistening to this makes me feel like I've been on a Merry-go-round for two hours after drinking a bottle of gin and wanting to get off pronto before the unthinkable happens.

There's an awful lot of droning atonal oboe and violin at play here and despite their professionalism it's terribly untuneful and wayward. In fact it reminds me of the superb band 'Biota' but far more minimalistic, gloomy and grey - and being from the early 70's, played with a lot less effect units. Supposedly there's a VCS3 synth used, but for the life of me I'm never aware of it.

A few notes are repeated incessantly, ovelapping and at odds with one another. It's all strangely discordant and vague. I do like the field recordings of the seagulls and later on - blackbirds. I could be cruel and say that they have more musical sense than 'The Third Ear Band'.

I've never seen the film, so perhaps I'm being a bit harsh here. Perhaps it fits perfectly with the visuals it accompanied? It does remind me of Pasolini's 'Canterbury Tales' movie. Both are similar in sound.

'Macbeth' improves the longer it plays. Your ears and senses become accustomed to the out of time beats, the groaning strings and screeching recorders. It's a 'difficult' album but with perseverance can implausibly be quite rewarding in a sadistic kind of way.

I'll give it this - 'Macbeth' must be the worst hangover album ever made. If you play this on a Sunday morning after a heavy Saturday night, you'll regret it - big time...

Report this review (#1392192)
Posted Thursday, April 2, 2015 | Review Permalink

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