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MODEST MIDGET

Crossover Prog • Netherlands


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Modest Midget biography
Modest Midget is a project of Lionel Ziblat, a Argentinian born trained musician who lives in The Netherlands. Son of a pianist mother and a rock 'n roll father, he studied at the Utrecht Conservatory for eight years, topped with an MA degree on classical composition. In parallel, he also studied jazz guitar and orchestral conducting. Based on this, he is very active working as a composer (classical, jazz, film music, close-harmony choirs), arranger and conductor with various ensembles and theatre productions.

Still, he likes contemporary music, and as part of that he has his own band Modest Midget, which has been compared to Gentle Giant in the past on the ProgArchives forums. Not surprising, given the name of the band and the style of music they play. An intricate mix of Jazz, powerful guitar rock, Spanish guitar, but also Middle Eastern (Israeli) sounds can be heard in the music, often as part of one track. On some tracks the vocals choruses do indeed resemble Gentle Giant, but the music is more modern and contains many influences other than progressive rock. Still, Gentle Giant fans should try a track like Troubles in Heaven, which contains some familiar sounding vocal arrangements.

On the debut album The Great Prophecy of a Small Man , most of the basic rock instruments (guitar, vocals, percussion, bass guitar) are played by Lionel Ziblat himself, while guest musicians join on various instruments - some named, some deliberately anonymous. Still, photos on the band web site show a quartet, and a tour through Europe is planned for 2010, making it clear that the band is not just Lional.

A sensible addition to Crossover, and a nice addition to any album collection - Modest Midget.

Angelo Hulshout, April 23, 2010.

Modest Midget official website

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Great Prophecy of a Small ManGreat Prophecy of a Small Man
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MODEST MIDGET discography


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MODEST MIDGET top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 54 ratings
The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Crysis
2014

MODEST MIDGET Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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MODEST MIDGET Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Partial Exposure
2008

MODEST MIDGET Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by justaguy

4 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 complete and joyful whole. A modernised and diversified Gentle Giant will be a nice reference point, but then a GG that also has a lot of air-play potential. MM keeps all compositions on a quite accessible level. Their music is balancing between prog and pop. By the way, talking about Gentle Giant, wasn't it the inspiration for the band's name?

Well, the most important is, that all the songs on the cd are most skilfully composed. The tunes are beautiful and catchy, and some are even danceable. In this, I definitely don't agree with the MM's claim that one can not dance on their music. I just do it, while shaving in the morning! Yeah, it is a morning music, optimistic, playful and energising. There is even a certain amount of humour in it, especially in all this style changes and composition tricks.

Amsterdam (Holland) based Modest Midget is centred around the composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Lionel Ziblat, who also wrote all the songs on the album. Actually, the group started to exist as such only after recording of the album was finished. The recording itself was mostly managed by Lionel himself, who invited various musicians to contribute on the disk. The concept of a real rock band and playing live music crystallized eventually, involving 3 other musicians: Richard Zoer(Bass guitar & vocals), Artis Orubs (Drums) and Tristan Hupe (Keyboards), who didn't play on the disk. I wonder, how will it all sound on stage. I will definitely attend to any gig they are going be playing soon.

Here is some more bio information on Lionel Ziblat. Born in Buenos Aires in 1972, Lionel emigrated to Israel, where he worked as guitarist and composer with various musicians and theatre productions. He then moved to the Netherlands, where he graduated in classical composition, having also specialized in Jazz guitar and orchestral conducting. He composes for different ensembles and vocal groups and is also active as a guitarist, arranger and producer.

The album gets almost 5 stars from me, and it is a really high appreciation, for the originality, fun and enthusiasm of the first Modest Midget offering, 'The Great Prophecy Of A Small Man'. Let us hear more of those prophecies, please!

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by besotoxico

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 albeit slightly. The music is very refreshing and restores my faith that prog and pop are not necessarily enemies.

Every song on this album is completely accessible to both the mainstream and the midstream. Small complexities pop up from time to time but done in a very smart way. The guitar playing on this album is phenomenal. Although Lonny is no Steve Vai I find his melodies and soloing to be much tastier.

The album length is short but sweet. Just long enough for one to feel they got their monies worth. Just short enough to leave you wanting more. Major points for that. Songs are short with none clocking over 5:30. Which is preferable when implementing a prog approach to pop (or is it the other way around?) When songs are short I tend not to skip through the tracks even if I heard the songs a million times.

This album is a voyage across many genres. Both Western and Eastern music influenced throughout. A truly crossover progressive album. Most notable tracks for this are Evolution and Troubles in Heaven. Jorge Knows is my shiz right here. I can't stop listening to this song. Instrumental with a very strong composition. A very high quality performance. There is a video on You Tube of the Riccotti Ensemble performing this song. It gives the viewer/listener a better understanding of the subtle complexities found throughout this great performance.

Altogether an awesome first album and if Lionel keeps the energy flowing I see them going very far.

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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.

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by TweedeKramer

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 different angles, including Lionels playing, which is often praised (and rightfully so!), as well as the compositions, the arrangements, the "attractviness" of the songs, their length, the dose of moog use etc etc.

Gentleman, I have been following this band since the first time I heard their EP, and I am telling you that this band is not merely just another incidental progressive attempt. In fact I believe that even Lionel himself never referred to his band as belonging to the Prog-Rock world. I would like to dispute that. None of the reviews I read realizes the true treasure that this cd is, and what a bright future this band has.

I believe that this album is so innovative and rich, complex and yet so easy to listen to that it achieves something that very few progressive bands have, if any. No two songs are the same, and no two moods are comparable. Every song is a world onhis own, waiting to be discovered. The instrumentals: Jorge Knows, Coffee From Yesterday & I Came I Saw I Left, show true compositional craftsmanship which no classical composer would be ashamed of. The texts are weird, but wonderful, and the production is spotless, managing to avoid any exhaggerated pompousness which is so often the case in Prog music.

Even a song like "Buy Me" which is often described as the simplest most commercial number on the cd,is actualy brilliant, with a great sense of humor that we so lack in this genre, very well written and perfectly performed. The quirky finale leaves no doubt who far beyond Modest Midget are in comparison to Green Day (being a Punk Rock parody song).

The rest of tracks are just as brilliant; Troubles In Heaven which sounds like a revival of the Beatles, but is absolutely original, Evolution, the magestic Contemporary Ache, and the wonderful closing track; The Last Straw. My fellow reviewers mentioned the fact that the songs were " not long " as if it prevents them from qualifying as a Prog Rock band. I think that true brilliance is independent of technicalities like length, instrumentation or even sophistication. Although it must be said that the compositions are far richer than anything that Pink Floyd, Deep Purple or even Genesis have ever done. Especialy concerning the melodies, the harmonies and chord progressions. If you haven't heard this album, you haven't heard the best of 2010. The simplistic genius of Syd Barret and John Lennon manage to mingle with the symphonic abilities of Keith Emerson and Frank Zappa. Dear friends, mark my words: The Great Prophecy is likely to be a classic within 20-30 years. I truely believe so. And I've been priviliged to be one of the first to have heard it on the same year that it came out.

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

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.

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

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!

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 The Great Prophecy of a Small Man by MODEST MIDGET album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.81 | 54 ratings

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The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
Modest Midget Crossover Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

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! ;-)

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Thanks to Angelo for the artist addition.

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