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Taal - Mister Green CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.90 | 101 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Mister Green' - Taal (71/100)

Some bands have trouble finding a style on their debut. On Mister Green, Taal plunged into several. Taal is what happens when a rag-tag group of prog rock lovers meets an avant-garde flair for the eclectic. Although their second, final album Skymind dawned to the world way back in 2003, I would associate them with the modern trend in so-called 'traditional prog'; that is, the sense that no possible outcome was left unturned. Proggers tend to be eclectic listeners by nature, and many of the bands that have carried the torch of the 70s' reflect that in their work. On this (mostly instrumental) album, Taal explore most of the great schools of progressive rock. This is including, but not limited to: Genesis-type symphonic prog, Pink Floydian chillouts, jazz-rock, avant-prog, and even progressive metal of the Dream Theater variety.

For starters, I don't think Taal quite managed to seamlessly fuse these styles together. Mister Green gives the impression of musical window shopping; Taal take their listener on a survey through so many of these styles, but don't seem to come out of it with a sound of their own. There's not much about the bombastic hard rock of "Flat Spectre", for example, to tie it to the jazz-metal of "Ragtime", much less the King Crimsony explorations on "Super Flat Moon". Although the diversity isn't so far-fetched as to make these songs incompatible with each other, I can listen to the entire album without knowing feeling a characteristic style about them.

Taal bit off more than they could chew with a debut, but in the end, I'm not complaining. Whether it's metal or ragtime, the styles they incorporate on Mister Green are all handled with the expertise I'd associate with a band that had specialized in them. "Barbituricus" is a progressive epic in the image of the 70's greats, and "Coornibus" follows it up with a beautifully pastoral nostalgia. Taal have dipped their wicks in a number of the old greats' styles, and I don't think they follow any band better than King Crimson. The more sprawling parts of "Super Flat Moon" remind me of the infamous instrumental noodlings on "Moonchild", albeit with a far greater impression of momentum. While Taal spend the majority of the time exploring traditional progressive sounds, I think they sound most at home on the avant-garde end. "No Way!", "Mister Green" and "Mister Grey" form the album's single centrepiece, a weirdly theatrical jaunt with vocals that sound a greater part tongue-in-cheek than sincere. Nonetheless, getting avant-garde and sporadic with their sound affords Taal the opportunity to fit all of their ideas on the album. Saturating their composition with ideas is something they try to do regardless of style. Understandably, this has the effect of making the 68 minute runtime feel even longer than it should.

Although I've had no preconceptions of Taal's music going into them, it's still hard for me to believe this was the band's debut. Mister Green may not sound like the work of a band who know what they want to do, but each of their little stylistic expeditions enjoys the aura of expertise I'd associate with well-seasoned veterans. Mister Green is too self-indulgent for its own good, and it's questionable that the band did anything entirely fresh with any of their styles. Regardless, each of their sounds are a result of clear love on the band's part, and likeminded proggers should love most, if not all of the colours Mister Green has to offer. For my part, I'm impressed by Taal's exploration of prog conventions, and I'm looking forward to see how they developed with their second, final album Skymind.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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