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THE MADCAP LAUGHS

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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The Madcap Laughs biography
UK act THE MADCAP LAUGHS is a recent addition to the British progressive rock scene, with an outspoken and ambitious goal: To become one of the most innovative and enduring bands of the 21st century. So far this has lead to a number of live performances, the release of the EP The Pith Of Eleutheria in December 2011 and a sophomore production planned for a 2012 release.

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THE MADCAP LAUGHS discography


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2.98 | 3 ratings
The Pith Of Eleutheria
2011

THE MADCAP LAUGHS Reviews


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 The Pith Of Eleutheria by MADCAP LAUGHS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
2.98 | 3 ratings

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The Pith Of Eleutheria
The Madcap Laughs Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars What would have happened if Syd Barrett had stayed in Pink Floyd in a purely songwriting role behind the scenes, keeping the experimental space rock spirit of their early days alive right into the Wish You Were Here era? The result might have sounded a little like the better songs on The Madcap Laughs' debut EP, The Pith of Eleutheria. Opening with two mostly- instrumental tracks which encompass Floydian influences ranging from A Saucerful of Secrets to Wish. You have the pristine Gilmour guitar work of Floyd's classic era, some great Ummagumma-ish instrumental noodling, and some Dark Side of the Moon-esque saxophone all within the first ten minutes of the EP.

And it's not just the most famous stylistic elements of Floyd which are captured here either - take, for instance, Hey You In the Sky, an attempt to add laid-back jazzy saxophone to a dreamy pop number reminiscent of the shorter songs on Atom Heart Mother. And hey, if you want some slamming of the music industry reminiscent of Welcome To the Machine mashed up with some of the heavier moments from The Wall, there's Overshadowed By Shh, which somehow manages to combine all that with trancier moments reminiscent of the more peaceful parts of Meddle.

Assessed solely on the strength of its best tracks, The Pith of Eleutheria would probably get a three star rating from me - the mimicry of Pink Floyd really is impressive, but the band don't really bring enough original ideas to the table for me to rate it more highly than that. Unfortunately, the EP has more than a few snags which make me rate it slightly lower. The track Thanks, Konrad Zuse is quite appallingly mixed - the vocals and guitar are way too low, for instance - and sounds jarringly out of place in the running order, prompting me to wonder whether this is an odds-and-sods collection of tracks recorded over a wide time span. (It certainly doesn't seem to fit in with the songs surrounding it.) In addition, the vocals are regularly a weak spot - as on the album closer, Sanity, for instance, where at points the vocalist actually seems to just give up and mumble some of the words (though the mix on that one is also a little off so possibly their performance has been muddied by that).

On their Bandcamp page the band boldly declare their intent to become "one of the most innovating and enduring bands of the 21st century". If they want to do that they really ought to emerge from the shadow of Pink Floyd sooner rather than later; as it is, listening to The Pith of Eleutheria, I hear no suggestion that they're even aware other bands exist, beyond the shimmering and admittedly quite effective opening to The Post-Childhood Blues, which reminds me a little of some of the better Jade Warrior moments. Though once the lead guitar kicks in it's Gilmour all over the place yet again.

And that's really the problem here - the band are so dependent on borrowing Floyd's stylistic motifs and lyrical themes (there's even a song entitled "Sanity", for goodness' sake) that for them to present themselves as being innovative in the slightest is simply absurd. The only people who'd mistake this for innovation are those audience members who haven't heard any Pink Floyd at all.

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 The Pith Of Eleutheria by MADCAP LAUGHS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2011
2.98 | 3 ratings

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The Pith Of Eleutheria
The Madcap Laughs Crossover Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars From what I understand, this EP is a kind of teaser for The Madcap Laughs' debut album, which is currently being worked on. If that is in fact the case then I think in the near future they're going to have a very good debut album on their hands, as "The Pith of Eleutheria" is an incredibly solid sampling of tracks.

Musically, I would venture a guess that The Madcap Laughs was extremely influenced by Pink Floyd. Despite their name, however, this is far more similar to post-Barrett Floyd, with the long, spacey sections of the Wish You Were Here album probably providing the best comparison. However, there's a healthy dose of alt-rock sound thrown in as well, and that gives this music a very fresh sound despite its clear influences.

"Inceptum Finis" begins the album on a very relaxed note, with a very simple repeated series of notes over which a variety of instruments play, from spacey, liquid guitars to smooth, jazzy horns. Midway through the track the intensity picks up and some heavier, distorted guitars come in, lasting until the end of the track and helping to add to the excellent pacing of the track. I have to remark especially about the horn part; it gives the track a totally unique flavor and definitely strongly adds to the overall sound.

"Mendax" is a longer track, starting off with some pulsating guitar before adding percussion, piano and vocals. The vocals fit this kind of music very well, with a laid back, almost monotone delivery that reminds one of Pink Floyd's spacier moments. The interplay between the instruments is very good as well, with the percussion laying down an insistent but non- intrusive beat and the piano and guitar working off each other perfectly to create an excellent melody that really highlights the vocals. There's an excellent guitar solo beginning in the middle of the track as well that lasts until the song's end, and the playing is very impressive, emotive, and melodic. The guitarist deserves a lot of credit for putting together a solo that can effectively fill half the track without sounding repetitive or tiring, and it's largely thanks to this that "Mendax" is such a good track.

"Thanks, Konrad Zuse" has an almost trancelike feel to it, with those same dreamy vocals returning and a plethora of great synth sounds to back them up. The song features an excellent chorus as well, with the synths matching the vocals nearly perfectly to create an excellent sense of drama. Guitar plays a much more understated role here than on the previous track, but there's nothing wrong with subtlety, and all of the background distortion and spacey mini-solos it provides still add a ton to the atmosphere of the track. The horn returns as well with a great solo towards the end of the song that lends the piece a jazzy air. It's the guitar, however, that again gets the privilege of closing out the track, and while the solo isn't as involved as on "Mendax," it's no less effective.

"Hey You In The Sky" begins with a guitar and keyboard part that really strongly reminds me of David Gilmour's solo album On An Island. When the vocals enter they only reinforce this similarity, with languid delivery that's spot-on for Gilmour. The song has an incredibly peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, making the listener feel like they're lying on a beach, lazily strumming a guitar and watching the waves. Another great, jazzy horn solo adds to the atmosphere as well, with orchestral synths in the background to complete the sonic picture.

Next up is "Overshadowed by Shh," which starts off on some orchestral synth chords that set a very grand, cinematic mood. When vocals enter, they're much in the same vein they have been, and as a result "Overshadowed" has a very laid back atmosphere, similar to most of the album so far. Piano gets its turn in the spotlight on this track as well, with a very pretty solo throughout the middle of the track. There are some brief moments of heaviness as well, with a recurring guitar riff that pops up every now and then, providing a nice contrast in sound.

"The Post-Childhood Blues" is the penultimate track here, as well as the longest, coming in at seven and a half minutes. Beginning with a barrage of swirling, shimmering synth, the track sets up a very nice atmosphere before electric guitar enters, creating a feel not unlike the beginning sections of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." After a nice solo, the guitar drops back out and vocals are left alone with the wash of synths, which creates a very otherworldly effect. This dreamy opening section only enhances the effectiveness of the heaviness that comes in midway through the track, with killer guitar parts and distorted vocals creating an unbelievable amount of intensity while still not losing the spacey feel of the track.

"Sanity" is the final track. Beginning with some clips that all sound like news items, it features one of the more uptempo vocal lines, though the overall feel of the song is still very languid. Orchestral synths and percussion provide most of the music, though there's some electric guitar used as the track goes on, as well as another killer guitar solo. The music fades out and the final moments of the track are taken up by a voice clip from John Lennon.

So overall this is a very solid first release from this group. Fans of "Wish You Were Here" era Floyd should absolutely check this out, as should any fan of this extremely psychedelic, spacey kind of music. Coming in at just under 40 minutes, this is nonetheless a very fulfilling (and relaxing) musical trip.

4/5

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