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THE RED MASQUE

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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The Red Masque biography
"The Red Masque is an original avant rock band from the Philadelphia area. Part art, part alchemy, the group's experimental songwriting style is both angular and eerie, accented by freeform space rock improvisations, intricate acoustics, dark atmospherics and chunky riffs. Unconventional and eccentric in musical form, the sophisticatedly sinister The Red Masque fuses together such disparate musical references as horror movie soundtracks, rock-in-opposition, zeuhl, heavy rock, gothic, psychedelia and kraut rock.


Founded in February 2001 by bassist/keyboardist Brandon Ross and vocalist Lynnette Shelley, the Red Masque went through several lineup changes over the years, but its intent and integrity has always remained the same. The band's goal was, and is, to create original music that pushes the envelope of the listener's expectations. With such influences as Magma, King Crimson, Hawkwind, Gong, Pink Floyd, Bauhaus, Art Bears, and Van Der Graaf Generator, The Red Masque's compositions are as intense as they are unique.

One of the group's first concerts was at the Prelude to the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARFest) in 2001. Other notable shows include the 2005 Rogue Independent Music Festival in Atlanta, the 2001 World Con Science Fiction Convention, the New Jersey proghouse series, Orion Studios in Baltimore; the Philadelphia Landing Pad Space Rock Festival; and The Gate to Moonbase Alpha concert series at the Rotunda in Philadelphia. The Red Masque also organized and performed in the 2002 and 2003 Philadelphia Underground Music and Culture Festival. The Red Masque have also opened up for notable performers and musicians such as Chris Cutler (Henry Cow, Art Bears), The Muffins, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and Present. They have also performed on stage with such well-regarded drummers and percussionists as David Kerman (5UUs, Present, Thinking Plague) and Paul Sears (The Muffins, Thee Maximalists).

Steadily growing an audience within the underground progressive and psychedelic music communities for their uncompromising and intense style of music, The Red Masque have released to date one EP ("Death of the Red Masque" in 2001), and two albums ("Victoria and the Haruspex" in 2002 and "Feathers for Flesh" in 2004). "Feathers for Flesh" was released through the Big Balloon Music label out of Washington state and garnered critical reviews in the press, including Wire Magazine, Harmonie Magazine, Progresiste Magazine, iO Pages, Colussus Ma...
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THE RED MASQUE discography


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THE RED MASQUE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.14 | 6 ratings
Victoria And The Haruspex
2002
3.93 | 5 ratings
Feathers For Flesh
2004
3.05 | 3 ratings
Fossil Eyes
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mythalogue
2013

THE RED MASQUE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Stars Fall On Me (Live at Orion Studios)
2009

THE RED MASQUE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE RED MASQUE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE RED MASQUE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 4 ratings
Death of the Red Masque
2001

THE RED MASQUE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Victoria And The Haruspex by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.14 | 6 ratings

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Victoria And The Haruspex
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

1 stars The Red Masque's activity would expand also in organizing music events entering year 2002 and one of these was the Philadelphia Underground Music and Culture Festival.The same year Kevin Kelly would leave his place to drummer Brian Van Korn (aka Vonorn) with the band recording the first-full length album during the spring 2002 at The Underground Studio in Philly.The title would be ''Victoria and the Haruspex''.

''Haruspex'', which is the centerpiece of the album with a running time over 24 minutes, refers to the ancient method by a person trained to practice a form of divination called haruspicy, but stylistically it is not close to what you should imagine The Red Masque would developed to.This one borders between experimental forms and loose structures, based on guitar dissonances, sinister drumming, low-key moments and KING CRIMSON-ian experimentations, including vintage keyboards, dark chord scratching, dreamy synths, electronic or instrumental, distorted manifests and haunting female voices by Lynnette Shelley.Nowhere near to what the band offered in the previous EP and practically directionless with a mood towards abstract music palettes.With ''Birdbrain'' things will be back on track for a nice seminar of old and modern prog sounds, this is good female-fronted Prog Rock with occasional keyboard flashes and slightly symphonic undertones, while the changes in tempos are present and eventually some nice melodic guitar lines will sit next to Shelley's deep voice.The next two tracks, ''Afterloss'' and ''Cenotaph'', are primarly acoustic-oriented numbers with a minimalistic atmosphere and lots of harp lines, ending up to be rather boring and monotonous with only a good performance by Shelley on vocals.The second of these cuts was dedicated to Nathan-Andrew Dewin's brother Alan.

I think The Red Masque were unfair to themselves with such a release, because the talent is there.''Victoria and the Haruspex'' is more likely to please fans of Experimental Rock and Acoustic Music than any Prog Rock fan.One decent piece over a running time of 48 minutes is not enough to save this work...1.5 stars.

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 Victoria And The Haruspex by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
2.14 | 6 ratings

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Victoria And The Haruspex
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Red Masque's first full-length album is dominated by the 24 minute epic Haruspex, a twisted music box journey into the Red Masque's wild RIO territory. To be honest, I think the band here were trying to run before they could walk; as opposed to being a packed and tightly composed and cohesive piece which really merits its long running time, Haruspex ends up devolving into jazzy jamming in an embarrassing "I hope you like our new direction" Spinal Tap sort of way in its midsection. The album is somewhat salvaged by the sorter tracks, but I still think this is a step down from the very promising debut EP.

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 Death of the Red Masque by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.52 | 4 ratings

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Death of the Red Masque
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Red Masque are a spooky RIO band in the tradition of Univers Zero, who put their own unique spin on that band's complex chamber prog sound by including a talented female vocalist (Lynette Shelley) and including the odd musical influence from the likes of mid-1970s King Crimson and just the lightest sprinkling of more melodic symphonic prog influences to make things a bit more approachable. As well as providing a clever rearrangement of the name of a famous Edgar Allen Poe story, The Death of the Red Masque also offers just over half an hour of the band's intense musical vision. Props have to go to bassist Brandon Ross, whose highly technical playing makes him an important presence in the mix.

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 Death of the Red Masque by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.52 | 4 ratings

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Death of the Red Masque
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The Red Masque is a US outfit based in Philadelphia and formed in early 2001 under the force of bassist Brandon Lord Ross and female singer Lynette Shelley.Immediately the band had a good impact performing at the Prelude of the 2001 NEARFest and releasing a self-produced CD-R under the title ''Death of the Red Masque'' the same year, featuring also Nathan-Andrew Dewin on keyboards and harp, Kevin Kelly on drums and Steven Blumberg on guitars.

The opening 11-min. Tidal kicks off with some nightmare music.Bass, guitars and piano dissonances are mixed with dark chant-like vocals before the track finally takes some shape.Still the bass riffs are complex, the guitar playing pretty disharmonic and the drums have a marching sound all the way, while Shelley's voice has a very haunting operatic color.Obscure and really hard to get into Avant/RIO-esque prog.''Ended Ways'' clocks at 10 minutes and the first half is dedicated to dark, cinematic and abstract Avant soundscapes based on a doomy atmosphere.The second half though holds some more interest, having a slight KING CRIMSON vibe under a steady groove with distorted guitars and synths on the background till the final notes.The centerpiece of this short release though is the 13-min. '' A Moon Falls''.Another atmospheric intro with soft electric guitars will lead to some great series of symphonic organ-based sections with some pretty nice guitars surrounding and a dynamic rhythm section.The outro holds also some great melody coming out of Blumberg's guitar chords with a light /GENESISYES influence and Shelley eventually adding some sensitivity in her voice.

This is an album getting from full dissonant pieces of music to quite well-structured arrangements as it unfolds,the later being of more interest to my ears.The originality of the sound makes me eagerly keep an eye on The Red Masque and I really wonder how a unique experience it would be to follow this band on a live show.Warmly recommended, even more if you are into obscure dark Avant-Prog.

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 Feathers For Flesh by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.93 | 5 ratings

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Feathers For Flesh
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Technically just below 4 stars, but rounded up to it.

Although this writer has been, aware of Lynette's gang for a while and had two albums that periodically played in his deck, I had never had the time to actually sit down behind my computer while it was spinning. The least we can say is that TRM's musical landscapes are rather unique, mixing a certain idea of Goth (or macabre) music with avant-garde prog rock, which makes them rather unique, despite some obvious influences. Indeed the crazy illustrations (courtesy of the delicious Lynette) on the album's booklet could come out of a Lovecraft book, but they reflect fairly well the oppressing ambiance of this FFF album. Each of the four multi-instrumentalist take on a fictional (or is it?) character name, even if drumming guitarist Vornon kept his moniker.

Opening on the lengthy 4-movement suite House Of Ash, which start hostilities on an electronic Corridors piece, before directing towards a Crimsonian ambiance in Judgment, with extreme Gothic and operatic vocals from the statuesque Lynette. Definitely one of a kind., with only the Icelandic Thursaflokkurin band coming close. The almost-instrumental King's Lament's two parts enhanced the oppressive Crimsonian oppression on your eardrums. The following Passage mixes some post-rock influences (at first) with some acoustic arpeggios and Lynette's more reserved vocal prowess. I must say that the following Yellow Are his Opening Eyes is a little too much for this proghead and repeated listens only worsen the experience and provoke a compression of the FFWD button on my remote control until we reach the crimsonian Outscream movement, filled with trons of mello. Will the delicious Lynette ever forgive me? Excellent third movement, though. The eerie folky medieval piece Beggars & Thieves feature two acoustic guitars arpeggio-ing away over eerie layers with Lynette lyrics being most-straightforward on the present album. The closing Scarlet Experiment returns to spoken-vocals and eerie noises like in the opening movement of Opening Eyes, which is easier to evade by pressing the eject button.

I find it a little too bad that TRM chose to go overboard with their delightful siren's impressive vocal capacities in the last quarter of the album, but otherwise, this is an almost-stunning album. Not far from being TRM's best album, but the vocals bits sort of damage its perfection.

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 Fossil Eyes by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Fossil Eyes
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The soundtrack to a horror story

The Red Masque - the name alone conjures up in my mind images of mystery tales and horror stories a-la Edgar Alan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. The foursome that makes up The Red Masque fills my imaginary world with sounds that fit these very well with their dark, heavy, thumping and bizarre sound world. With two albums (which I love) and one EP to their record they continue their musical path with this new offering entitled Fossil Eyes. This time around, there are more songs than on Feathers For Flesh and those are shorter, but no less effective or impressive. In fact, one might listen to this as a one continuous song separated into several shorter parts as the mood and sounds persist throughout this release and due to the natural sense of flow that links the songs very well together. Zeuhlish bass, nightmarish throbbing sound (in a good way!), desperate evocative cries, heavy guitar riffs; these are still here and even more emphasized than before.

The first song (and not only it) continues the sound found in the opening of House Of Ash which opened Feathers For Flesh. That tormented sound that makes me feel someone has unlocked the door to hell and all the cries of the damned souls are coming through the open gates. The guitar sounds a lot heavier this time around, almost metal-ic at times. Indeed, the overall atmosphere is very "heavy" and dense. I feel overwhelmed after listening to this as if I've overdosed with music; highly intense. It feels to me as if walls of sounds are closing in on me from all sides and I'm in the middle unable to escape them. It reminds me somewhat of the listening experience I have with Tool (it doesn't sound like them; I just want to point out the effect the music has on me). This style continues in songs like Carbon 14 and Das Snail. The heavy and distorted feel, the bewitching vocals and the eerie mood all create a special ambiance that is found in albums like Guapo's Five Suns and others of their ilk and add to that a vocalist such as Diamanda Galas and you get an idea of what to expect. To touch on that issue, let me say only that I am at awe with the voice Lynnette possesses. It matches the power of all the other instruments (also thanks to the mixing, but still).

What I respect and like about The Red Masque is that they seem to have created this particular and recognizable sound that while one can (think they) spot their influences and also identify similar bands, it is very much their own. This seemingly chaotic frenzy and anguish; topped with haunting zeuhlish- sounding bass and all-over the place drumming. Twisted would be another word I would use to describe the atmosphere they create. By that I mean, twisted as in a weird horror story where sense and logic are lost and the unnatural world has taken over. The opening song alone gives me this impression with its bone chilling and even "perverse" atmosphere that can easily fit as the soundtrack to an H.P. Lovecraft story (the name will come again here). This, mixed with occasional sense of despair, oozes from most of the songs here. Anger and anguish intertwined. The album also features shorter tracks (1-2 minutes long) which purpose it is (I guess) to create a proper ambience surrounding the songs and creating a connecting and leading thread from one song to the next.

One of the most experimental and bizarre tracks here is The Hive which makes a brilliant use of electronic effects to create exactly what the title suggests; A gorgeous or nightmarish soundscape (depends on how you look at it) which sonically sounds like you're surrounded with a million electronic bees.

Polyphemus is bewitching. It is an eerie song (keeping up with the rest of the bunch), one that can fit very well into some horror movies (again, not different from the others). A brilliant track, with twists and wonderful playing; Lynnette's voice appears every now and then, broken down. The middle of the track sees its change to a different pace and mood and also has now Lynnette singing without being cut out but with over-dubs. This is a fabulous track, a great exercise in how to create sonic terror (meant in a good way).

The last song, The Anti-Man, mixes the two prominent characteristics here, those being heaviness (displayed by the heavy guitar riffing and powerful drum performance) and the eeriness (which is the result of the overall sound and song structure as well). It is the only song here that gets near the epic length of past albums tracks. Despite its length it was quite accessible to my ears and soon (-er than the other tracks) became a favourite track here. It ends with a feel of desperation and closure very well executed by the whole band, particularly by the solo guitar going almost berserk.

After all this I must also address what are (possible) flaws in this album. Two possible downsides in this release for some listeners can be that 1) it might be too much intensity at the expense of melody and 2) that it may be hard to distinguish between the different tracks (relating to what I noted at the start of this review). It is "brutal", which is fine with me and I like it a lot, but some may feel that what characterized their two previous releases is lacking a bit here; that is their wonderful crafting of odd and special melodies. Not to say these are non-existing here but it drowns in the "sea" of intensity, the massive sound of the instruments that seem to overshadow everything else. This is why this album deserves the full attention of the listener and repeated listening. It may be a bit too much to listen to at times (and certainly while in the proper mood) and therefore a feeling that there's a lack of diversity here may creep through. But one needs to look at this album as a sort of concept album or at least a consider there's a sound- concept here, which is why there's a dominancy of this tone throughout the album. For those who know and like the band and for those who like the styles and bands referenced in this review, I easily recommend this album. It is creating out-worldly sounds and conjures up some disturbing and weird images when listening. It is a fantastic listening experience which I will return to listen to (like their previous albums). One more thing, there's superb performance by all the band members, wonderful playing which makes this even more pleasurable to listen to.

For PA rating, 3.5 stars

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 Feathers For Flesh by RED MASQUE, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.93 | 5 ratings

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Feathers For Flesh
The Red Masque RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars feathers for flesh; music as their shield

I will not go into details about the band, as you can read them in the band bio here in PA, taken from their website.

Starting with a wind and occasional percussions and then hissings that go stronger and stronger with some chanting and cries floating by, this haunting and frightening atmosphere creates a tension and anticipation in me, the listener - what will come next? An explosion of sounds? Yes! A powerful, fuzzing and fantastic bass gives a great complex rhythm accompanied by the rest of the band, and Lynette's cries. This is a very powerful entry, one that grabs me strongly and gets my undivided attention. TRM know how to create a compelling, even frightening atmosphere, whether it be in a fast, bombarding way, or in a slow, more minimalist and gloomy fashion. Their sound pierces, traverses through my brain leaving deep markings (in a good way). The opening sung lyrics - "I Live In A House Of Ash" - as Lynette performs them are mesmerizing! Her voice is as beautiful as it is powerful and controlling. She manages to convey feelings very well with her deep evocative voice. However, in this case, if TRM would have only vocals and the band would not be as effective as them it would lose much of the effect. This brings me to the point, that the band plays very well and with passion. The drums are all over the place when needed and give the right amount of support when they recede more to the background.

While you might recognize influences in their various songs, I feel they have well crafted a sound of their own, a niche that they inhabit and a comfortable place they hold. They cover a ground from quiet (yet it can still sound terrifying) and unhurried (as in the songs Passage, Beggars & Thieves) to the fast, furious and complex (parts of House Of Ash and of Yellow Are His Opening Eyes); they also play a more conventional sound, but then shift away suddenly and make it more complicated sounding or the other way around, move to the simpler from the more complicated parts (see Passage). Basically they are varied with respect to the complexity and intensity of the music they play. They move from angular form to a smoother, softer and rounder sound. They also tend to go for the more epic form of songs; long, with various different parts and complex with regards to structure and playing style. They are not afraid to experiment, and do this in the sound they create and in the composition's structures, not forgetting the original theme and musical idea that started the song. Another aspect to the band is the more avant-garde approach as can be heard in the last two songs. In "Yellow Are His Opening Eyes", Lynette's voice as she narrates/sings, reminds me of Diamanda Galas. What a fabulous voice! In this song when the abstract, rhythmless part ends, they show how they can rock (heavily) and do it very well, in a sophisticated way with an influence from King Crimson Red-era. In fact the King Crimson vibe can be heard in various points in the album (again, Red era). It's as if they've taken KC sound and "mutated" it so that it fits their vision. You might think that beauty is absent here. Well what is beauty in your eyes? I think that all the songs here are beautiful; but if you want a more common perception of beauty then, Beggars and Thieves with its folk sound is definitely the song here which will appeal to the wider musical palate. With another powerful vocal delivery, Lynette is fantastic in this song, backed up by the excellent musicians in the band. With the closing song, Scarlet Experiments, comes experimentation as the name implies. The songs is amorphic, going up and down in volume, it has "disturbing" sound effects, hissing vocals; it is abstract as if someone were painting a musical canvas not sure what he wants to paint, only having a vague image in his mind, a very basic idea; and he uses the brush with violence one moment and then calming down the next to bring to life his unclear vision. It is a sort of exercise in "drawing" the music to describe your vision.

I find this album to be a magnificent listening experience. The band performs wonderfully, bringing to life a vivid vision which is as beautiful as it is complex. I recommend this highly to people who want an artistic, adventurous and experimental form of rock that takes in what is perceived as common and usual and absorbs it into what is viewed as unusual.

Go to their websites to listen to their music!

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