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The Mandrake Memorial - Puzzle CD (album) cover


The Mandrake Memorial


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.54 | 17 ratings

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4 stars The Mandrake Memorial was a criminally underrated band capable of doing some pretty good music and, even though not a lot of people know them, giving some better-known bands a good run for their money.

The Puzzle is, in my opinion, their best record: a departure and, in the same time, union of the psychedelic atmosphere of their debut and progressive sound of their second, but while the former was a bit too simple and the latter was mainly tedious and directionless, there are great instances of innovation and brainstorming here, resulting in a record that's both interesting and mysterious.

From the opening soundscape of "Earthfriend Prelude" to the avant-gardist-in-guise melodic "Just A Blur (Version 3)", the interest and awe is kept with ease as pop songs and freak-out improvs are juxtaposed in a clever and fun way, also including occasional bursts of the pioneering electronic experimentation Craig Anderton would be known for, most specially on "Bucket Of Air".

It is not a flawless record, though: sometimes the electronics get too much in the way of the actual music and the overuse of church music borders on bad-taste filler, and yet, it can be mostly forgiven because such passages are actually very rare and everything is neatly arranged. Also worthy of note is the fact that this was recorded by a trio (Michael Kac having left as soon as the previous album was finished) consisting of Randy Monaco's powerful bass and relaxed voice, John Lally's drums, and Anderton's guitar and synth, however, the sound is actually quite charged and rich, due to the production but most specially because they also make good use of a real orchestra in some spots.

Reduced to a mere also-ran status nowadays, Mandrake Memorial was much more than just another psychedelic band, it was a band capable of holding on it's own without owing much to anybody else, and The Puzzle alone proves it.

JackFloyd | 4/5 |


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