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Modest Midget

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Modest Midget The Great Prophecy of a Small Man album cover
3.74 | 63 ratings | 10 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Follow the Noise (0:55)
2. Contemporary Ache (5:17)
3. Troubles in Heaven (3.13)
4. Coffee from Yesterday (2.40)
5. Back from my Trip (3.34)
6. Home seek (4.26)
7. Here I Go (3.22)
8. Baby (3.05)
9. Jorge Knows How Difficult a Musician's Life Can be, but then Again, Who Doesn't? (4.00)
10. Buy Me! (2.13)
11. Evolution (3.18)
12. I came, I saw, I left (5.29)
13. The last Straw (5.13)

Total Time 46:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Lionel (Lonny) Ziblat / vocals, acoustic/electric/spanish guitars, keyboards, bass guitar, sample sequences, percussion
- Emiel de Jong: Clarinet, soprano/alto/tenor/baritone saxphones on 3, 9, 11 and 13, lead and harmony vocals on 3
Bas Wiegers / violin on 3, 11, vocals on the 'Heavenly Troubles Choir'
Vera van der Bie / string section on 8
Ilse Eijsink / Clarinets on 8
Oene van Geel / viola on 9

According to the CD booklet:
"Other guests and band members from this chose to keep their kindness discrete and remain anonymous. With them is our utmost and sincere gratitude."

Releases information

Released and sold through

Thanks to Angelo for the addition
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Buy MODEST MIDGET The Great Prophecy of a Small Man Music

MODEST MIDGET The Great Prophecy of a Small Man ratings distribution

(63 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MODEST MIDGET The Great Prophecy of a Small Man reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progpositivity
5 stars In some respects, Modest Midget could be considered "anti-prog". After all, their songs aren't particularly long. And their melodies are infectiously hummable, even to the point of insipidly lodging themselves "stuck" in my head for hours, days, even weeks without end! (Don't say I didn't warn you!) Perhaps most "telling" of all, however, is the fact that my wife and son do not immediately place their hands over their ears and evacuate the premises whenever I play their new album "The Great Prophecy of a Small Man". One thing is for certain, MAGMA, this band is not!

On the other hand, even the most casual of listens reveals that the underlying accompanying chords often have far more in common with jazz music than with standard pop or rock. Whenever I self-righteously anticipated a plebian direction in which a seemingly simply melody line most surely would move, a sudden reconstructionist twist or turn curved away from predictable terrain, amazingly enough only to arrive back home under the most pleasant of tonal circumstances! Beneath careful economy lurked a depth of thoughtfulness coupled with a penchant for musical schizophrenia that was only surpassed by punctuating moments of brilliantly inspired eccentricity! Such eclectic and synergistic popular music simply must be deserving of the best that the term "progressive" has to offer.

And while it is admittedly impressive any time a progressive band pens memorable and captivating melodies, the true genius of Modest Midget is not that they write such compellingly clever and quirky tunes. Nor is that they somehow manage to imbue these tenaciously catchy melodies with rich vocal harmonies and arrangements (reminiscent of XTC's greater works). No. Their true stroke of genius is that they have achieved these distinctions while simultaneously introducing bold harmonic tonalities into the mix (in the tradition of Gentle Giant) to create some of the most intelligent and cogent progressive pop music I've heard in a long long time.

Although Idiosyncratic, tuneful compositions and lush vocal harmonies take center stage, the artful guitar work of Lonny Ziblat looms ubiquitously near throughout the album, supplementing and expanding the palate most tastefully. There are moments when his guitar lines achieve a subtle angularity approaching the sublime. Other times they create tuneful statements of exposition. And right when you think you have his "approach" figured out, he hits you with moments of sheer exuberance, choosing to revel in joyful repetition of simple chords constructed from a standard blues pentatonic scale. Such is the variety to be discovered on this album.

Ziblat grew up in Israel in the 1970's, which no doubt accounts for the hint of middle eastern flair you may notice as you listen to the album. His Masters Level studies of classical composition and workshops in conducting, composing and jazz explain the high quality construction of the tunes. But only an unnaturally strong musical GIFTEDNESS can truly account for the delightfully playful, richly varied, yet somehow surprisingly accessible music of Modest Midget.

My friends... Allow me to introduce you to the brave face of the Future of Progressive Pop. For I have seen this face. And it is the face of a midget! Modest Midget! ;-)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The return of the 80's! Shall we call it "Neo New Wave"?! Thank goodness for some technological advances since 1986. Here we have what feels like THE CHURCH or AZTEC CAMERA gone upbeat and electronic. BUGGLES! I must admit to being sucked into and moving around the floor to a couple of these songs ("Troubles in Heaven," "Here I Go") and smiling at many amusing instances--but to me this is really pop music--at times the kind Steely Dan, Aztec Camera and XTC made-- intelligent but with (usually) a very limited popular appeal (while churning out the occasional idiosyncratic 'hit') --while at other times it is very much Adam Ant or Duran Duran. I admire the way the singer/lyricist and musicians often go out on a quirky limb--as if to make fun of themselves. And I admit they seem to create unusual song structures with very tight and able musicianship. It's just that . . . How far do we keep stretching the envelope of what is acceptable to 'prog music?' Is this progressive as we consider YES, FLOYD, GENTLE GIANT, KING CRIMSON and JETHRO TULL? Or, is it even progressive in terms of pushing the envelope of sound, musical constructs and delivery shapes and forms? Are clever lyrics and quirky musical deliveries enough? If so, bring on DEVOTCHKA, PRINCE, EMINEM, and LADY GAGA!
Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Introducing themselves with half a minute long noise (in a 0:55 track), debuting album of Modest Midget basically starts with catchy Contemporary Ache. While very accessible track, it keeps few elements of complexity. And here comes my main problem with their music. I hope this won't be felt as knee jerky reaction, but I have some problems with accent of Lionel Zablat, which is very strong and sometimes I'm not so comfortable with it. The strange thing is that for example within song Back From My Trip, it's OK all song long, I'm certainly happy with vocals there, except last few seconds, where it's practically acoustic. Not big problem anyway, as I got used to it after few listens. However, I feel it's worth mentioning. Killer riffs here though, not completely harmonic, but not dissonant. King Crimson style I would say.

His guitar skills are on the other hand undeniable and

Album is short, almost of vinyl size and songs presented here are short as well (the longest one is 5:29 and average track length is about 3:33), certainly not normal thing in Prog Rock. However this is not a negative thing per se (for me), as songs are playful, explores various themes and there are these small elements (little guitar variations, disharmonic tiny section here and there, various genres blend together, such things that makes music lover happy)

Israel-like elements can be heard for example on Troubles In Heaven, which reminds me Israeli band The Ashqelon Quilt. There are also two songs I dislike and they are Buy Me, which sounds completely unlike the rest (it's fast paced, simple song which reminds me pop-rock band's output - based on this song only, I won't like Modest Midget at all, but I know better) and second one is intro, Follow the Noise - not a good intro, even I have to admit that it fulfills promises given by its name.But there are also many songs I like a lot, Home Seek is perfect as well as most of others.

4(+), I've thought about it for quite some time (what rating I should give) and given that some negatives are here, I've decided not to fill full stars bar. Yet, this rating means very strong album.

Also, it's very good that each song is practically different from each other with only uniting structure being Rock, which more or less connects all songs here.

I don't know Gentle Giant that much to make a comparison. I would also like to thank to Lionel for offering me this album.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Modest Midget are a strange beast with some eccentric approaches to their music, a smattering of humour and a plethora of inspirational instrumental breaks. The vocals are very nice on this and quite unique. The guitar by Ziblat is a drawcard along with the infectious melodies.

There are many highlights that jump out as you listen to this. Contemporary Ache has an excellent guitar hook with great soloing with speed picking and sweeps, and a gorgeous melody permeates the track. The ending is fabulous, all that twiddling on guitar is genius.

Troubles in Heaven is a short little gem with a cool melody, once again the ending is nice; very transient music.

Coffee from Yesterday is a short instrumental with superb guitar licks that drive it. Back from my Trip is a melodic easy listening treat, with wonderful guitar effects and some bizarre humour thrown in.

Home seek has vocals mixed to the front that are strong and clear to an acoustic arrangement. There are some beautiful harmonies too and it builds to a scorching lead break and organ freakout.

Baby is a sweet natured humourous ditty with cute musical box embellishments and a nice piano. The reflective vocals are like Hammill without the darkness.

Jorge Knows How Difficult a Musician's Life Can be, but then Again, Who Doesn't? is a great song title worth remembering, the music itself is polyrhythmic signatures on guitar and percussion, and is perhaps the most progressive on the whole album, though still only runs for 4 minutes. The violin is divine on this, absolutely the definitive highlight.

Evolution is a satire with a lot of organ grinding and is mainly instrumental, and the band really take off on this one.

I came, I saw, I left is kind of bluesy with ethereal arrangements and is lengthy for the band clocking 5.30. The guitars are awesome on this instrumental with slides and swells that are kind of psychedelic.

The last Straw ends it all with a song structure complete with pretty melody and clean high falsetto vocals reminiscent of Paul McCartney's style.

All in all this is an enjoyable album with some really inspired moments. It is not very progressive but it is entertaining, non threatening and easy on the ears. 3 solid stars.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Promising!

I my search for more Gentle Giant, I came across Modest Midget, and if they are expanding their Gentle Giant approach, I write them a check. I mean, they do have the Gary Green guitar sound with the bass backing it. I just love when a band takes the complexity of their heroes and mix it with a modern sound (like Wobbler for instance). They do have a knack to make accessible mélodies in their songs (listen to Contemporary Ache) even if they serve a decent dose of complexity.

I like also the vocals, far away from GG but closer to Beardfish. In fact, they do sound a lot like Beardfish, which is far from a crime. Like I said, if you put some influences in your music, at least do it right!

Great work from newbies, you're not hearing me complaining.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The man behind this project is Lional Ziblat, an Argentinian-Israeli multi-instrumentalist and composer with a wide spectrum of influences, including Ethnic, Classical and Rock Music.Modest Midget started to take shape around 2006, when Ziblat joined forces with Emiel de Jong, a user of wind-instruments.Two years later a tryout for live performances was established with Artis Orubs on drums and Tristan Hupe on keyboards, but the results were rather inconsistent.Ziblat took his project back to the studio to finish the rehearsals for a debut album, the whole thing lasted until 2009 with Ziblat handling multiple instruments and joined by a few guests on strings.A second attempt for a live formation was launched with Richard Zoer on bass, who had been touring live with Kayak, Modest Midget scanned The Netherlands with a closeout concert in May 2010, when the fresh album ''The great prophecy of a small man'' was officially presented.

What Modest Midget and Lional Ziblat proposed was a rich and intense Prog Pop, which still had some flavors from the past, but was updated with the new technology, even flirting at moments with Alternative Rock due to the scratching sound of electric guitars.As a result you shouldn't expect any attempt on long, epic compositions, what you should expect though is some quirky and deeply progressive music in short cuts, which sound like being influenced by GENTLE GIANT, YES and THE BEATLES in equal doses, while I even get a taste of SYD ARTHUR in specific tracks, where the band appears to introduce inspirations from the British Psych/Prog scene of the 70's.Main characteristics come from Folk, Classical, Heavy Rock and Psychedelic Music with the sound being based on electroacoustic motives, retro colors through the use of organ and more contemporary stylings like the powerful electric leads or the use of synthesizer.Occasional additions of string- and wind instruments along with the soft piano lines deliver an even richer sound, while most of the tracks feature impressive breaks, tempo changes and shifting moods, going from elaborate and smooth textures to fast-paced and complex themes.The voice of Ziblat is excellent, very clean, supported often by some lovely vocal harmonies and often used like an instrument that goes along with the music.

Very good work of quirky Prog/Art Rock combined with poppy tunes and early 70's nuances.Multi-influenced, diverse and well-composed/-executed material, deserving some warm praise.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Modest Midget was a project put together by Lionel Ziblat, a classically trained composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer. This the debut album was released in 2010, with Lionel playing most of the music himself, along with a few guest musicians (most of whom aren't named ore recognised, so it isn't possible to even say how many people were involved). This really is one of those albums that is a reviewer's nightmare as not only are the songs quite different to each other, but there is such a fractured mix of styles going on that it is hard to pin down what is going on, apart from knowing that it is excellent (and then being frustrated at not having the words to hand to describe it).

The one band these guys do get compared to more than any other is Gentle Giant, but of course they sound nothing like them, although I can understand where some people may say that given some of the arrangements. It is spiky energetic music that at times brings in Zappa and Cardiacs, as well as plenty of British pop. I can imagine The Kinks having fun with this, but really have no idea why, nor why Traffic should also be included. But, I swear that if you hear this then it will all make sense, maybe. It is progressive, but in its truest sense, and mixed with so many Sixties pop sensibilities that one can almost see the Carnaby Street suits and swagger. It certainly sounds like an album that has come out of London, with some American influences, and not from an Argentinian who lived in Israel before settling in Holland. Confused? You should be, but all you need to know is that this is awesome.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This is one of the best prog rock debuts in years. Modest Midget makes a little light, let's say, poppy prog, fusing different music styles from all over the world and time. In one song you can find rock, jazz, Klezmer and classic references together, arranged with an ingenious ease to a compl ... (read more)

Report this review (#516047) | Posted by justaguy | Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Where did this come from? Unbeknown to me I clicked on it for amusement. Their name seems to be a play on both Gentle Giant and Modest Mouse. However they sound like neither in my opinion. Certain reviews compare them to Gentle Giant because of the vocal harmony in certain songs. I can hear it ... (read more)

Report this review (#327746) | Posted by besotoxico | Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Reading the reviews about Modest Midget, here and on their website, and seeing them being associated to names like Focus, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant, The Beatles, Camel, Elvis Costello and even Steve Vai, I had to check for myself what this band is about. Their music has been analysed from differen ... (read more)

Report this review (#321420) | Posted by TweedeKramer | Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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