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The Mandrake Memorial - Medium CD (album) cover


The Mandrake Memorial


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.06 | 7 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Sometimes it's good to be humbled, to give new cahnces, and to discover how you were wrong in the past. In a lifetime, there may be a record to polarise you and disgust you, only to prove you wrong the next time it's listened to: Medium is such a record for me.

The first time I heard Medium was in a transfer from the original vynil, with a sufferable sound quality and a volume so low it was almost impossible to listen to in an acceptable volume. Looking back to it, I regret not grabbing the CD release of this, because I finally realise what I missed.

While I still consider Puzzle a better record, Medium is nowhere near as bad as I originally judged, actually it is quite impressive, specially when compared to the first release, with darker textures, better-crafted melodies and more mature songwriting and instrument skill: long gone are songs like "Bird Journey" or "Dark Lady", the time has come to explore the sombre atmosphere of "To A Lonely" and "Strange", and this record has plentyful of it.

What I find interesting in Medium is Mandrake Memorial's ability to merge the psychedelia of the debut and the prog of Puzzle, at that, this is still a transitional record, but the transitions are better perceived when you can hear the actual songs.

Every single song here has something nice to offer, even the ones I once judged as dreadful: who could tell that "Last Number" had such a great hook, that "Barnaby Plum" has a charming flute atmosphere, or that "Cassandra" actually sounds alive and breathing? I couldn't, but now I'm glad I can. On a retrospective view, it was clear Michael Kac would last much longer, even if he matured with the rest of the band, his poppy style of singing and the already outdated Rock-Si-Chord weren't fit for MM's constantly complexer style. After Medium he left for good not to be replaced, leaving them as a trio.

P.S.: I left my original review untouched for further reference, so that I can kick myself for not getting it at first.

Original Review (1 Star): A transitional phase, gladly. Unfortunately, this was released, and with only three records in their discography, this is definitely not the place to start.

As much as it pains me to give this only one star, it is precisely what it deserves, because it is a record without any charm or interesting moments, just an endless collection of samey, twisted songs.

Here, The Mandrake Memorial is caught between the sort of music they did before with what they would do later, but not knowing what to do with any of them, resulting in an unsure, sub-par effort.

Some parts are quite good, like the demented "Smokescreen" or the haunting "Witness The End/Celebration", however, two songs and a fancy cover are not enough to save a whole record, and so, while the highlights are so few, stuff like "Barnaby Plum" or "Cassandra" can easily put you to sleep and the strangeness of "Snake Charmer" would be much better if the music wasn't so simplistic.

Alright, being as rare as this seems to be (or at least it used to), this could make a good item on a collection, but I'm still unconvinced that even hardcore fans could find something useful here with the exception of witnessing how Puzzle became a much better experiment than previously thought.

Well, at least this works as a good album to put on when you're having insomnia...

JackFloyd | 3/5 |


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