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MIRANDA SEX GARDEN

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Miranda Sex Garden biography
It was 1988 when Katharine Blake, Jocelyn West and Kelly McCusker three young graduates of the Purcell Music School joined to sing Madrigals in the streets of London and Renaissance Fairs, in 1991 they are discovered by the songwriter Barry Adamson while singing on a street named Portobello Road, he is absolutely impressed by "the three purest clearest voices" he had ever heard (According to his words).

Adamson immediately invites the 20 year old girls to contribute in the vocals on his "Delusion" soundtrack. After that recording, Daniel Miller who is also impressed with her voices invites them to sign with Mute Records. Almost on the run in March 1991 they release their first single "Gush forth my Tears" somehow in the vein of ENIGMA, they described this track as a Madrigal with a beat.

The classical producer Tony Faulkner listens the single and is impressed with the voices but not so much with the added mix and takes them to the studio where they recorded in the incredible time of three days their first Madrigals LP called "Madra", where the only stars are the girls and their voices.

Mute Records decide to send them to the Astoria in April 1991 to promote the album and sing their music in front of hostile Blur fans, who later gave them their deserved respect when realized this girls could actually sing.

In May 1991 Madra is released with great acceptance of the classical critic it contains 25 traditional Madrigals from the 1600's, but they wanted to do something different, more complex and experimental, so they incorporate violins, aggressive guitars, bass, drums and organ with the help of Ben Golomstock (Guitars, organ, bass, vocals) and Trevor Sharpe (Drums, percussion, bass)

In the meanwhile Jocelyn West leaves the band and is replaced by Donna McKevitt who not only sings as well as her predecessor but also plays violin and viola. With this new crew they release in 1992 their second disk more precisely an EP called Iris, an album that reminds us of RENAISSANCE'S more Folk/Medieval stuff, but with an aggressive Gothic spirit, (Gothic is the late Medieval era, much more complex than the earlier Medieval, and of course darker than the Renaissance epoch).

Even though at this point the blending of Gothic, Celtic and Rock was enough to consider them Prog', Katharine Blake comments that they were bored of this strictly classical set up and they wanted to be more adventurous.

And sure they did, in 1993 the ban...
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Buy MIRANDA SEX GARDEN Music


Carnival of SoulsCarnival of Souls
Cleopatra 2000
Audio CD$31.96
$10.43 (used)
Fairytales of SlaveryFairytales of Slavery
Import
Imports 2011
Audio CD$5.25
$3.96 (used)
SuspiriaSuspiria
Mute U.S. 1993
Audio CD$4.98
$0.01 (used)
MadraMadra
Mute U.S. 1991
Audio CD$8.94
$0.79 (used)
IrisIris
EP
Mute U.S. 1992
Audio CD$4.99
$0.24 (used)
Gush Forth My TearsGush Forth My Tears
Single · Import
Mute 2003
Audio CD$3.00 (used)
Peep ShowPeep Show
Import
Pony Canyon 1994
Audio CD$30.62
$29.99 (used)
Gush forth my tears (Dance Mix, 1991) / Vinyl Maxi Single [Vinyl 12'']Gush forth my tears (Dance Mix, 1991) / Vinyl Maxi Single [Vinyl 12'']
Import
Vinyl$318.20
$7.21 (used)
Gush Forth My Tears 12 Inch (12Gush Forth My Tears 12 Inch (12" Vinyl Single) UK Mute 1991
Mute
Vinyl$8.58 (used)
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MIRANDA SEX GARDEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MIRANDA SEX GARDEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.95 | 3 ratings
Madra
1991
3.68 | 6 ratings
Suspiria
1993
3.75 | 9 ratings
Fairytales of Slavery
1994
3.51 | 5 ratings
Carnival of Souls
2000

MIRANDA SEX GARDEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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MIRANDA SEX GARDEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MIRANDA SEX GARDEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Iris
1992

MIRANDA SEX GARDEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fairytales of Slavery by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.75 | 9 ratings

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Fairytales of Slavery
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Miranda Sex Garden present a confident and polished version of their trademark folky goth with progressive elements on Fairytales of Slavery. Combining curious medieval-influenced wind recorders with esoteric keyboard lines, along with mysterious and evocative vocals, the album adeptly evokes the atmosphere of claustrophobic entrapment in strange magical realms that the lyrics suggest. At times I am almost reminded of something on the border of post-rock, with the unusual instrumentation favoured by the band producing something which doesn't quite sound like any other gothic rock band - think, perhaps, a more avant-garde incarnation of All About Eve or Dead Can Dance, after listening to a lot of late-period Talk Talk and early Steeleye Span.

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 Fairytales of Slavery by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.75 | 9 ratings

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Fairytales of Slavery
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by The Truth
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars I could be looking at this from a not very progressive angle but nevertheless, I find it a good album.

Only Miranda Sex Garden album I have so I can't really compare it to their other releases, but as for this album the heavy use of goth-sounding violins is what draws me to it. The female vocals are some of the best I've ever heard and the variety of material really makes me glad to hear this album.

So many good things with one bad thing, I just can't get into the album. It always winds up background music somehow. It's probably my fault because I'll lose focus and then when I regain it, I feel "How did I miss that?!"

Good goth-prog-rock, I just got to focus on it more.

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 Suspiria by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.68 | 6 ratings

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Suspiria
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars Following with MIRANDA SEX GARDEN'S career, it's time to review their second album "SUSPIRIA"; a record that marks a radical change, because they leave the beautiful classical madrigals for Rock music, don't know if full Prog, Gothic, Industrial or a complex blend of the three, but surely a very original sound in the 90's.

Despite what some respected reviewers believe, it's more than evident for me that we are before a band that has it's roots in Gothic music from the Late Medieval Period, the complex organ performances in "Open Eyes" for example, present clear reminiscences of the "Notre Dame Period" (1300's) and the vocals in tracks as "Ardera Sempre" are clearly oriented towards Folk music of the 1400's, so yes, I do believe they play Gothic rather than Goth (Also known as Victorian Gothic revival).

Even though "Suspiria" is much more melodic and less aggressive than their later albums, we can witness the seeds of their peculiar Industrial - Post Rock - Alternative - Prog sound, combining the melodies with tough passage in which the dissonances are delightful.

The album starts with "Ardera Sempre" (Forever Burn) a track that begins with a long, experimental and mysterious introduction that combines, sounds and haunting echoes, but this lead to a very fast and fluid passage where the voices of Katharine Blake, Donna McKevitt and Kelly McClusker take us to a point where the Pagan and sacred seem to hold hands, the frenetic instrumentation, just completes the scene.

From the start that aggressive Industrial sound is present and helps to make the song flow `perfectly from start to end, incredibly beautiful song.

"Open Eyes" is opened by a Gothic organ that decreases in intensity to allow the voice to cover the scenes as a dense mist covers the land in a winter morning. This time the chorus are much more elaborate and melancholic, may seem a bit repetitive, but that's the effect the band pretends to create, a perpetual circle, pay special attention to the fantastic violin passages that can be heard softly in the back. As good as the previous track.

"Sunshine" is something special, because they seem to open the gates and set the beast free, until this point they seemed repressed, like trying not to show us all their weapons, but now they let themselves go and the heavy artillery free, excellent drumming, the vocals are extremely complex and elaborate, the orchestral instruments play softly while guitar and keyboards pass over everything. Frenetic from start to end.

"Distance" is opened by a melancholic and paused piano, in the background an almost haunting voice adds the touch of mystery required, then a second voice enters to the chorus and a third one singing three different lyrics and or sounds, when one is soft and high, the other is loud and low covering all the musical spectrum. Again strong arrangements.

Play has just everything, for several minutes flows gently in a tense calm guided by the beautiful voice of Katherine, until they explode in a burst of sounds, howls, noises that create a wonderful chaos, now they seem closer to what is known as Darkwave, but much more elaborate and experimental.

"In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)" has a short and claustrophobic violin intro that leads to a vocal passage where Katherine dares to take risks and be different, even more radical when the other two vocalists join her in a terrifying lament that tries to turn into a sweet melody but is brought back to the dark side, it's clear that the Purcell School of Music has done a great job with this girls being that they have absolute control of everything they do, doesn't matter if they are respectful or irreverent, the sound is always perfect.

"Bring Down the Sky" marks another radical change, if all the previous tracks had a Medieval Religious/Pagan touch, this one is hard to be defined, now the Rock component is more evident, the tense drum section prepares the audience for an explosion that seems to be there but never blows, leading instead to a `passive instrumental break that seems like the eye of the storm because after a few minutes of tense calm, the repetitive guitar enters in the scene with it's constant sound that goes in crescendo with a terrifying violin in the background,preparing us for a new explosion that again never happens but instead leads to a very fluid passage where the whole band and voices present us an extremely beautiful section, if this guys know something, is to play with the audience.

"Feed" is a lesson to those bands that focused in Celtic music but fell in the tedious monotony of New Age, MIRANDA SEX GARDEN never tries to relax us, they threaten our senses, jumping from calm melodic passages with sweet voices to dissonant vocal arrangements and contradictory instrumentation, it's a shame many other talented vocalists didn't dared to be different as this girls and guys.

"Inferno" is the central piece of the album, the tension MIRANDA SEX GARDEN creates from the start with that constant violin is just breathtaking, the keyboards add more drama to the scene while the sound effects create moments of horror, what a perfect infernal atmosphere has been achieved here.

And when the moment comes the drums blow with desperation and strength to allow the guitar in an unusual style to join the feast, but again they change and the violin takes the lead with a spooky melody which again leads to another explosive passage where all the instruments jump inside in a complex cacophony more common in Avant bands than in folk one, superb song.

After the previous tension, some change is required and "Willie Biddle And His Waltzing Maggot" provides a it, first with a strange collection of sounds that could be described as a magical traveling fair that changes into an angelical chorus to come back to the chaotic sound, still I'm trying to understand this.

The album is closed with "My Funny Valentine", some sort of Cabaret Jazz music that gives the relief necessary after the festival of sounds and effects that the band has provided for almost an hour. The vocals are amazing, not the most complex track, but has it purpose and fulfills it, special mention to the accurate drumming that helps to create the scenario.

Even when I love this album and would love to give a perfect rating, I believe has a few weaker moments that don't allow to call it a flawless masterpiece, but is very close to that status, 4 solid stars that should be 4.5.

Only for those Prog listeners who are ready to take risks.

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 Carnival of Souls by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.51 | 5 ratings

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Carnival of Souls
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars About two years ago added MIRANDA SEX GARDEN to our database, despite the addition of was approved by administrators and collaborators, I wasn't sure if I had done the best thing, because even when I was sure they are a Prog band, the sound broke all the schemes I had of this sub-genre.

The time passed and having seen how Prog has grown, I don't have the slightest doubt, this strange band leaded by "Katherine Blake" presents us a delicate mixture of Gothic (Medieval, not Gothic revival of the 1800's), Alternative, Celtic Folk and even some hints of Industrial and Vaudeville, to create music that attack the senses, unlike most Folk based bands that handle with care delicate sounds, MIRANDA SEX GARDEN throws the music in our faces, and lets thank God for that, because they are forced to take risks, and only the one who takes risks will rise over mediocrity.

In 1996 after the release of "Fairytales About Slavery", the band splits and Katherine focus in her other project called "MEDIÆVAL BÆBES", but despite the success of this project, the band joins again, this time with the excellent bassist and vocalist "Teresa Cassella", Mike Servent on the keyboards and Barney Hollington playing violin and Hammond organ, who join the crew that had split two years before.

On Friday the 13th of August, 1999 in the Norwich graveyard, MIRANDA SEX GARDEN starts the recording sessions of "Carnival of Souls" there are many mysterious tales about this sessions but haven't passed the status of urban myths, the only fact is that in 12 days the album is ready and they start the tour session which sadly lead to the definitive split of the band with the new millennium.

The album starts with "Are you the One?" a mysterious song that begins in the alternative vein, even when much more dynamic, but almost instantly is evident by the selection of instruments that this guys are in something different, they jump from peaceful and bucolic to loud and explosive without leaving behind that strong atmosphere which surrounds the band as a dense mist.

"Sleeping Beauty" is one of the most beautiful songs I ever heard, performed in a clear Celtic Medieval mood with delicate instrumentation and arrangements that cover even the most insignificant detail, but as usual they keep some sort of tense calm that always lead to some strong guitar performance of Industrial side, the perfect blend between sweet and acid, of course the Purcell Music School trained voice of Katherine is the cherry on the top of the pie.

"Tonight" as "Havana Lied" in their previous album, takes us to a cabaret, but this time the mood is much more jazzy and sentimental, like taken from a 40's detective movie, and that's the biggest achievement, despite they blend horn with modern synths the atmosphere sounds perfectly credible. "All there Is" sounds like Post Rock meets Industrial, the members of the band manage to play with the timing, being that while the vocals are soft and mellow, the instruments are absolutely frantic, to a point where they produce an effect of claustrophobia, excellent material.

"Escape from Kilburn" is another frenetic song where the percussion is simply wild, again we can feel that horror to silent spaces the band usually presents, not a single second of rest, they bomb us from all the fronts, reminds me a bit of FANTOMAS.

"Token" is a short percussion based interlude that leads directly to the extremely dramatic "Without Trace", where the violins enhance the drama, the vocals almost take the listener to tears, but strangely the percussion remains without alteration from start to end, surely this guys know how to play with times.

"Caravan" is an amazing cover of the same title classic by Duke Ellington, words just can't describe what they gave done with the track combining the soft melody with the frenetic rhythms and the dissonant instrumentation, this song alone could pay for the album.

"Thrusty Bob's Hardcore Lounge (Incidental)" is another short but really strange interlude that leads to the acoustic "Close to the Sky" in which they return to the Medieval Celtic sound giving Katherine Blake another chance to show her wonderful vocal range, but around the middle a dramatic change takes us to a totally different scenario, full of dissonant instruments and haunting echoes, strange but good.

The album is closed with "Ever and Ever", a soft song with that allows us to enjoy the sweet voice of Katharine and as usual ends breaking all the schemes we may have.

At the end, another outstanding album in the MIRANDA SEX GARDEN discography, not in the level of the predecessor but worth no less than 4 solid stars.

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 Suspiria by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.68 | 6 ratings

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Suspiria
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars No one was more surprised than me when Miranda Sex Garden began to be referred to in the same sentence as the term progressive rock. Not my recollection for sure, but looking back now after more than fifteen years I guess it sort of makes sense.

Back in the early nineties there seemed to be an awful lot of these lipstick goth bands coming out of the woodwork. Miranda Sex Garden were one of the more unusual ones simply because they actually had some talent and seemed to be interested in evolving that talent and their image on a regular basis, at least for the first few years. This was their second studio album, and the one that really started them down the road of musical experimentation after a rather dull a cappella debut release.

My vague memories of the band are mostly around the sultry and rotating wave of females who made up most of the group’s membership. Also, the strings were a bit unusual at a time when most females in bands either stuck to fronting on vocals or played pedestrian keyboard riffs. These girls actually had some skills on their violins, violas and keyboards.

The themes and titles of most of these tracks are centered on that weird yet seductive world of cinematic horror that was also present in most of their live performances and occasional videos. The persistent feedback drones and malevolent chanting became a trademark that would pretty much mark the band throughout their existence. It was a role they played quite well, and the music had a tendency to get you into a trance at clubs or at home on dark weekend evenings.

The one track on this album that I could do without is “Open Eyes” simply because it seems to go on forever and has annoyingly repetitive lyrics that remind me of the stereotypical loud American who thinks he can make any non-English speaker understand him by simply repeating the same phrase over and over in an increasingly louder tone. We get the message already ladies – it just isn’t a very interesting one.

Otherwise this is a good album, not great and not really memorable but good enough at the time in which it was released. Better than two stars because I think there are people who will still find the band interesting even outside the context of nostalgia. But not more than three stars simply because the sound doesn’t age all that well, and I don’t find myself playing their music all that often and you probably won’t either. Recommended for goth types who don’t take themselves too seriously and prefer stick-on tattoos to real ones.

peace

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 Carnival of Souls by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.51 | 5 ratings

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Carnival of Souls
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

After six years of silence (most likely founding their respective families), MSG came back for one album, which took the scene by surprise, but strangely enough kept it to just that album. I suppose this comeback was just a poke to see if their career could resume in parallel with their family lives. Apparently not, because this album is just as strong as their previous two. MSG was not about to make a carbon copy of their previous works, though. And again, they decided to intrigue the public with a catchy sexy artwork.

This album may surprise by its Alternative Rock feel, still mixed with Bjork-influenced vocals and the slight folk-influences as highlighted with the odd flute and strings lightly peppering the album as is on Sleeping Beauty. As they had tried before with My Funny Valentyne, but this time with more success, MSG returns with a heavy jazz instrumentation in Tonight, sounding like a cross between Bjork and Paatos. All There Is is reminiscent of dEUS, while Broken Glass is very average. As the first part of the album is not really off to a sizzling start, content on cruising a bit lazily, the album suddenly takes on an feverished climax with two instrumentals in a row, the first, Kilburn, strongly influenced by dEUS, while the second being a short percussive interlude, prefacing the calm and reflective Without Trace, which is maybe my fave on the album. With Caravan (a Duke Ellington reprise) and its ambient outro, the album is now definitely on track, and will cruise nicely through the last two songs with some post-rock characteristics mixing with some trip hop.

In retrospect, it is now clear that Paatos took their main influences on MSG, but since I was not aware of the group, I will now make amends. More of an art rock group than a folk prog group, MSG is for modern prog lovers.

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 Fairytales of Slavery by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.75 | 9 ratings

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Fairytales of Slavery
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Down to a quartet, from the five-piece combo of the preceding Suspiria, Fairytales Of Slavery is a relatively provocative and ambiguous album, not just by its artwork and title , suggesting female submission, but also sex role interchangeability as the booklet picture might indicate with two female members portraying as butch and the male suspiciously effeminate-looking. Well sex does sell in music also; check out the women-catering music such as boys-band and teen stars like Britney. So MSG's third album is another building stone and probably their best album ever.

Compared to the previous Suspiria, this album is very synthetic, more electronic but not any less gothic/ from the previous rather acoustic, we now jump to influences ranging from Post Rock/Trip Hop soundscapes (get load of The Wooden Boat) or at times (mostly in the vocals) Bjork mixed with Kate Bush. This FoS album is a more difficult-to-grasp affair than its Suspiria predecessor. Les "folky" or acoustic-driven and much less classically influenced, it is a bit darker too.

Strangely enough, while MSG appears to be on top of their game (but who knows, they probably would've bettered some more), this was to be the last album for six years. Not really familiar with the band's history, I would suppose they had a big "baby break" and started families. But it is always a little sad to see artistes having to stop their career while they are at their peak. Well at least MSG did not overstay their welcome either as generally seems the rule. I would advise most progheads un-familiar with Gothic-influenced muysic to start with this album as it might just a revealming of your Goth aptitudes.

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 Suspiria by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.68 | 6 ratings

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Suspiria
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars From the 90's alternative rock scene comes one of the stranger outfit called Miranda Sex Gardens with a majority of female members and being anything but a girls group (Banarama or Bangles) or even a basic-RnR group (ala Runaways or Four Non Blondes). These musicians developed a very potent music rather indefinable, but with incredible powers of fantasy inducing. Their music is anything but ordinary and although not progressive in the strict sense, it is certainly so by association. Back in those days (early 90's), few of these groups could be considered adventurous so Miranda Sex Garden was sticking out like a sore thumb in the musical landscape. But around that time happened the start of the second prog boom where the US label Magna Carta was creating a lot of hope and ther famous Swedish trilogy of Anglalandberkdoten arrived, so I must say that I ignored MSG (not to be confused with the awful Michael Schenker Group), much to my dismay more than a decade later.

Enough "Mea Culpa", and let's get on with this quintet of which at least three female members (depending on the album - none babelicious but all rather cute and cuddly) are choosing the sober presentation and vastly talented by introverted music rather than flaunting or strutting their bodies to cameras. Yes, MSG is all about climates and ambiances and rather unusual instrumentation for the times (this was the Grunge years). Picture a sort of alternative rock hovering between Kate Bush (voices and music development), All About Eve (that early Gothic Rock feel), early Radiohead (just starting around the time), and the awesome Dead Can Dance (for the pre-classical music influences) and you might just start to understand how this band was actually fairly original back then. And if I speak of Goth rock and pre-classical music, it is necessary for me to make a precision: we are not talking of gothic classical period influences here, but more of the wave of an acoustically-driven Goth Rock (this was just the start of the movement) with strong classical instrumentation/arrangements. A real strange thing progheads did not pick up this group and widely include it in their fave groups. Because if MSG is still not thought as a progressive group, I can assure you that it is scandalous that progheads still have not picked on them: they are progressive as hell. The extended use of strings is just one of the many hints. But calling this group gothic period classical is an unwanted and misleading shortcut: somehow their classical music influence are much closer to an elitist folk music, not really medieval either, sometimes reaching String Driven Thing or early ELO.

If this album does not reveal MSG at the top of their game, one can already get a glimpse of things to come with Bring Down The Sky and the amazing 8-min+ Inferno. The album ends strangely and unexpectedly enough on a cover of the jazz standard My Funny Valentine, which is certainly not helping the average quality of the album: completely off base and easily the worse track on the album.

While hardly a masterpiece of prog, this little baby could be a very treasured little gem providing you with many thrills. I would consider MSG more as a chief or reference group of the close relative Gothic Rock (in the sense that the Heavy Metal scene is also in the same family as Prog Rock is) and is likely to please the vast majority of progheads. And clearly MSG and DCD are responsible of many of the newer gothic prog bands' major inspiration as Devil Doll is.

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 Fairytales of Slavery by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.75 | 9 ratings

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Fairytales of Slavery
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars Since their debut with the exclusively vocal "Madra", MIRANDA SEX GARDEN kept making changes in the music and lineup, 1994 is not the exception, before the release of "Fairytales of Slavery" Kelly McCusker left the band and is replaced by the talented vocalist and keyboardist Hepzibah Sessa and the band recruits Kim Fahey to take care of the bass, leaving Trevor Sharpe only in charge of Drums and Percussion due to the complexity of the rhythm section of this album.

The first problem is how to describe this album, still we can listen the evident and main Gothic/Folk/Medieval influence but with a more aggressive edge that leaves them closer to Industrial and Post Rock with a touch of Symphonic, probably if we listen carefully we'll find some other genres but the main thing is that this is a clearly Progressive Rock album.

It's a pity that "so called" critics have lumped this band into the underground Goth genre keeping it hidden from the world, because it's not accurate, they are Gothic in the classical sense of the world because they are Medieval and as we know Gothic is the name that was given to the last two centuries of Middle Age music (For God's sake, their first album is only composed of Madrigals from the 1600's, how more classical and late Medieval can it get?). .

Of course is obscurantist because the Middle Ages were dark and obscure but this self proclaimed experts probably believe that the main genre is Goth (The black, vampire inspired rock sub-genre) and not just a commercial derivation of this classical epoch, in the case of MIRANDA SEX GARDEN they keep the Gothic sound intact but adding many different influences in a complex and perfectly elaborated way.

If you are searching for epics and abrupt changes maybe you'll be disappointed, but if you love atmospheric, dark and aggressive music, well this is a good choice, sounds like RENAISSANCE meets FANTOMAS, the result is absolutely scary but excellent, somehow like "The Director's Cut" sung by Annie Haslam.

But lets go to check the 13 tracks (Cabalistic number by the way):

The album starts with an unusual rock oriented track based in a strong guitar and the wonderful vocals that seem to float above this chaos of sounds, the violent violin by Donna McKevitt is simply delightful, frantic from start to end with perfect synchronicity between bass and drums, no time to breath, of course the usual strange sounds add the darkness required.

"Fly" starts with a mysterious guitar surrounded by low bass and keyboards absolutely dark and haunting, the vocals slowly blend with this phantasmagoric atmosphere until a sudden explosion shows us that they have enough power, but again they return to the softer and dark sound and again another explosion that marks the end of the track.

"Peep Show" starts so soft that is almost not audible for the first 30 seconds, but in a fraction of second and out of nowhere the band and vocalists attack us based mostly in drums, bass and guitar, the vocals sound as being in a second but different plane, by moments I feel some Oldfield like sections. But of course with Katharine distinctive vocals.

"The Wooden Boat" sounds much more Medieval, like a return to their early Madrigals album, but the soft instrumental arrangements and strange sounds reminds us they have a post rock edge, very experimental song even when not one of my favorites.

"Havana Lied" is a Cabaret song in German (Creating some sort of WWII atmosphere), Andrew Blick's trumpet (Guest musician) is simply perfect for an excellent recreation, this song prove once again that this band is really weird but imaginative and original. "Havana Lied" is a repetitive but interesting experimental track.

"Cover My Face" is brilliant, so strong, so violent and at the same time softened by the beautiful vocals that seem to hide behind all this aggression, some ancient maybe Egyptian influences that can be barely listened above the Industrial background, one of the best tracks by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN, no abrupt changes, but absolutely dramatic, the ending is an absolute chaos, simply love it.

"Transit" of course starts with the guitar drums and keyboards simulating the sounds you can listen in a traffic jam, honestly too weird for my taste, the instruments seem too fight one against the other and Katharine uses his voice only to hound like a police or ambulance siren.

"Freezing" starts almost like Overture from Tommy, the guitar reminds clearly of Pete Townsend, but the howling by Katharine and the other girls return us to a different reality we're before another strange track, short but effective.

"Serial Angels" is one really beautiful track, different to all the previous, the vocals are not so important, the problem is that the first half is recorded so low that you have to rise the volume to the max to barely listen it, but then a soft guitar and drums that go in crescendo mark the change, to a more rhythmic section where all the melody is provided by a soft chorus.

"Wheels" is like a time machine, from the late XX Century we return to the XIV or XV, this is almost like a cyclical song that describes perfectly a carrousel, seems absolutely repetitive but don't let this impression fool you, each repetition or cycle is different to the previous, as I said starts clearly medieval, but in the next round an instrument is added, first some chords, then bass, keyboards and at the end a beautiful and shocking chaos, almost the same procedure used by Mike Oldfield at the end of Tubular Bells side one, but more chaotic.

"Intermission" is just a collection of sounds like an Orchestra of bagpipes, but in the deepest part of this sounds there's a haunting melody, pretty scary but short.

Now if you want weirdness "The Monk Song" is your best choice starts with the strangest vocal arrangements, lots of howling and moaning perfectly synchronized by the three women who have an incredible vocal range, all this screams supported by the drummer playing the metals, interesting and advanced but absolutely out of this world.

The album is closed with the best song "A Fairytale about Slavery" wonderful and magic track that starts absolutely Medieval with piccolo, drums and completely haunting vocals, creating a beautiful melody, the rest of the instruments especially keys and violins blend progressively creating a second tune in the background that slowly starts to take the lead and relegate the vocals to a second plane, until it reaches a point where the aggressive instrumentation and the vocals mix loudly with a very heavy and distorted guitar, creating as usual a dreamy mixture of the ancient and sacred with the modern and Pagan, a collision between two worlds and two conceptions of music, at the end the melody dissolves as if it was blending with the air and we can only listen the repetitive piccolo. 100% Progressive Rock, lovely and brilliant.

Hard to rate it, maybe some people will say this is subjective and too high, but something as adventurous, weird, dramatic and beautiful can't be rated with less than 5 stars, yes it's shocking for people used to melodic Symphonic, but Progressive Rock must also be innovative and dramatic.

If you never heard of this band, start with "Fairytales of Slavery" I'm sure that Symphonic, Post Rock, Folk and even Industrial fans will love it, probably is too weird and aggressive for Art Rock and Neo Prog fans because of it's extreme complexity, but not everybody has to love the same music.

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 Madra by MIRANDA SEX GARDEN album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.95 | 3 ratings

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Madra
Miranda Sex Garden Prog Folk

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

3 stars MIRANDA SEX GARDEN is a weird band and "Madra" is a weird release even for them, just to start I must say that this album is the only one from their catalogue that has almost no relation with Progressive Rock, because it's mainly a collection of 25 Traditional British Medieval Madrigals sung by three young women with excellent voices.

All the tracks except the single "Gush Forth my Tears" are sung mostly a cappella. But don't believe that just because it's not Progressive it's bad, by the contrary the album is excellent, even the exigent classical critic received it with great enthusiasm, but must be appreciated by fans of this vocal genre.

"Madra" doesn't represent in any way what Miranda Sex Garden will become from their second release (Iris) but is essential to understand what's the background of this women, because even when they will develop a sound that blends Folk, Celtic. Gothic, Post Rock, Industrial and Prog, will always keep the love for Traditional British Medieval music.

It's worthless to describe song by song because we're talking about Madrigals which are essentially very similar, except for the already mentioned Gush Forth my Tears, which as they describe it is a Madrigal with a beat, in other words Medieval music with a poppy remix in the vein of early ENIGMA.

This song was released previously to "Madra" as a single, but Katharine always hated this remix, I read that still today she refuses to listen it.

I can say without any doubt that the voices are pristine, the lyrics describe pastoral scenarios and even strong emotions as love with great sensuality, in simple terms the poetry is provocative and the production is excellent, as a Medieval music fan I love the album and I can't rate it with less than 3 stars, but I don't encourage anybody who is not familiar with this genre to attempt buying it.

Unless you're a Medieval nut, better save your money and get any of MIRANDA SEX GARDEN later releases that would be easily appreciated by any Proghead which with the pass of the days will be reviewing for those who are interested in a different conception of Progressive Rock.

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Thanks to ivan_2068 for the artist addition.

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