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Margin - Psychedelic Teatime CD (album) cover

PSYCHEDELIC TEATIME

Margin

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.27 | 21 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Margin main-man and Berliner Lutz Meinert had kindly sent me a request to review his 'Psychedelic Teatime' album, and after having read some of the posted reviews, I accepted willfully. The general consensus was that the music was fine if not ground-breaking and that the vocals were closer to Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant which may throw the casual prog fan for a loop. Well, Pink Floyd-influenced prog is never quite that challenging as the Gilmour Boys (sorry Roger but I never liked you a whole lot) are not the most 'turn-on-a- dime' weavers of progressive complexity, preferring a laid-back and atmospheric style that is closer to the turtle than the rabbit. That being said, there is nothing inherently wrong in having a voice that may hint at Tennant's tone, neither poor nor thundering but surely effective. Prog is not exactly the paragon of lead vocal heaven, with a vast array of groups that made amazing music with weak singing.

So let's take the opportunity to look at Margin's work at face value and judge according to its inherent merits instead of what it could have, should have been. The very first observation is the pristine sound, something Berlin has always been rather famous for within and beyond the prog universe, it hits you right from the very first relaxed notes of the 5 part suite "A Mysterious Cup of Tea", a sweeping epic example of psychedelic space rock of the highest order. The opening Part1 is all instrumental luxury and showcases one-man band Lutz Meinert's talents on all matter of instruments, especially the liquid guitar parts, the flamboyant acoustic versions as well, utilizing various keys with delectable delight , the languishing organ sweeping forward nicely and particularly crisp piano parts that give the sound a sublime sheen. It must be noted that the bass work all along is absolutely first rate, as well as the terrific drumming throughout. Hints at Swedish proggers Grand Stand come to mind, though in more space rock vein. Part 2 introduces Meinert's playful voice, actually closer to Xavier Phideaux (yes, good call Johnny!), Gong's Daevid Allen or even Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds. But it's all in the details, as the melody is enticingly soporific as the words 'A saucerful of secrets' are uttered with little guile, delicate vibraphone over ornate acoustic guitar and pastoral flute, this is world class stuff. Floydian organ (sounding like a Farfisa) seeps through the haze leading into the marvellous nearly 7 minute Part 3, where the electric piano, a punchy bass and jazzy hyper electric guitar meet in harmony, almost like a spacy version of Stealy Dan, held together by some stunning drum fills, hey, mensch, this guy can play! Moody expanse for an enchanting and LONG fretless bass solo that will knock your Pastorius head off. This is one of many highlight moments that I needed to re- listen often as I just could not believe my ears. My kind of space rock, all in all luxuriant, defiant and inspirational, conducive to the loftiest dream cycles possible. Again, the instrumental playing is technically superb and emotionally spot on. Part 4 is a brief vocal reprise of Part 2 and as such, plays well into the epic formula of returning themes and melodies. Hey, there is nothing wrong with his voice, slightly accented perhaps. Ja, und? Part 5 introduce a rifling organ and potent drum rolls that resonate lovingly, slashed by a Hackett-ish guitar and a colossal symphonic bombast. An entirely convincing piece, once again underpinned by some rock-solid bass playing. Medicating, lush and adventurous, this is definitely a voluptuous ride into the cosmos.

Things really point towards the Gong pot head pixies with the short version of the "Psychedelic Underground" , a remarkably catchy hook that you swear you have heard before, propelled by a reptilian bass, snake guitar phrasings and a charming voice , slightly accented that has that Pet Shop Boys tone, no doubt as well as that Ian Broudie-like candied trippyness. "OOOOH, what a trip!" is how this lil ditty ends. The longer version will seal the fate of this album later.

But next up is the more complex bardic tale of "Landscapes on the Sky" which really revive the Allen-Smyth vocal duet of Gong fame, fueled by a trilling organ, utterly pastoral trappings and thus oh so charming, visions of coming and going kingdoms in some celestial expanse. The elongated theme is melodically supreme, effortless and atmospheric, taking its sweet time for maximum effect. This is psychedelia after all, no time for editing and taking shortcuts. The mushroom mellotron clouds and seductive mandolin finale is simply spectacular and vivid.

The highly evocative stud bass guitar grabs the leather leash, pulling a sorceress piano along, a perfect example of simple doom and gloom in the most minimalist fashion, morphing into a heavier torrent, guitars slashing and the basso profundo bullying forward, this time the mellotron in tow. Sorry, guys, this is killer stuff, so full of self-possessed power and haunting imagery. The 10 minute+ "Last Exit to Pluto" is a space prog classic, lovingly crucifying any Ozric Tentacles or Gong fan, armed with a chirping organ solo spot that again hints at jazz-rock tendencies. But it's that devilish 4 string monster that gets my blood boiling and perspiration on the upper lip area. A deliberate guitar solo screeches and moans, fluttering from one emotion to the next, early King Crimson-like mellotron cascading in and out of the cadence (pun?). Ga ga ga!

You liked the short version, well here is the longer one! A 10 minute+ version of "Psychedelic Underground" is given a quasi Hawkwind treatment, a lively 'good vibrations' cosmic voyage where the bass shuffles , the drums attack and has a red rooster guitar pecking away at the mad hatter. This is toxically addictive, humming this as the dominating bass just goes cuckoo and the drum shudders insanely amid the mellotron washes. Damn fine music, this! It is a rare event in prog when a 10 minute tune can be so accessible and memorable, seared on your brain all day as you hum "Psychedelic Underground", big smile on your face.

Funny this as the instrumental parts are definitely Space and the vocal ones clearly Neo- prog , but who the hell cares when music is this accomplished and pleasurable , the labels can all vanish in the blink of an eye. A big surprise that really rocked my world. But when the fetish bass entices, teases and satisfies, I will always be a slave to your pleasure. Wirklich ausgezeichnet!

4.5 Flying Tea Pots

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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