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Mirthrandir - For You the Old Women CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.91 | 124 ratings

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5 stars Certainly one of the finest classic prog albums I've heard so far, and also one of the most sophisticated and challenging ones. The band's quest for perfection certainly paid off - the music is outstanding, overflowing with creativity, great playing and memorable hooks. It's true that it is at times a bit over the top as far as prog excesses are concerned: occasionally, the band appears to have over- exerted themselves through their attention to detail and vigorous rehearsals, as the music sounds slightly over-orchestrated and a bit too pompous in places. But hey, that's the nature of prog rock, and it's silly to criticize this band for achieving levels of pretentiousness that myriads of other prog bands have only dreamed of ;) . The musicianship is certainly impressive, with every band member possessing admirable skills: the powerful vocals and impressive range of John Vislocky III are remarkable (though they may annoy some people, I find them to be a major "plus" to the album) and the drum work frequently challenging, as are the bass parts; meanwhile, the skilled keyboard and guitar work showers intricate harmonies throughout the album. And, despite all the tricky time signatures, the harmonic complexity of the compositions and the extremely dense arrangements, there is a whole lot of memorable material to "latch onto", as the music is always melodic while never loosing it's complex tendencies.

The first few minutes of the opening title cut constitute one of the more challenging parts on the album, with plenty of compositional craziness (which doesn't prevent one from liking it, mind you). The track loosens up in intensity a bit as it progresses, with the last few minutes taken up by a beautifully melodic theme, which is my favourite section on this song.

A fast drum pattern kicks off "Conversation with personality giver", which again exhibits Mirthrandir's incredibly sophisticated arrangements and compositional tendencies to great effect: the opening theme is excellent, and the complex bits are carefully balanced by more conventional and melodic ones (though the music remains melodic even at it's most bizarre).

"Light of the Candle" begins in a pretty straightforward hard rock manner, driven by a fine, slightly quirky riff, but the (somewhat cheesy) synth around 1:30 signals a return into Mirthrandir's unique prog world, where fascinating harmonies and outstanding interplay reign supreme. Once again, an impressive number.

A bit less impressive than "Number Six", though. I love the excellent opening melody , which serves as the main theme for this instrumental. But of course, Mirthrandir's uncanny ability to shift effortlessly from one great musical idea to another (without staying too long on any one of them) is still evident, providing even more prog joy.

Yet it's perhaps "For Four", the closing 14 minute track, that stands as the band's finest achievement. All of the band's trademarks are present, and more. It opens with a pleasantly peculiar piano part backed by bass guitar, soon joined by Vislocky (he could've been more creative here to be honest, instead of just following the piano melody). This section is quickly replaced by the entire band playing some funky-ish riffs, which in turn are succeeded by a lovely major-key piano theme - one of the simpler moments on the album, but one of the finest too. The theme prompts some nice jamming, eventually succeeded by another mighty prog excursion. Around the 5 minute mark, an interesting marching band-style section is introduced, to be succeeded after about 2 minutes by atmospheric guitar arpeggiation that actually sounds very modern (keep in mind that this album was released in 1976). The overall tone of the music at this point is solemn and moody, with occasional unsettling diminished-sounding guitar shapes. Towards the end of the song, the band return to their intense brand of prog, also finding time to revisit earlier themes. Overall, an excellent example of how a progressive epic should be done.

Along with other little known US bands like Yezda Urfa and Cathedral, this band deserved success more than many established prog legends. Of course, the assault of punk rock and the completely uncommercial nature of Mirthrandir's music made this practically impossible, but the band's contributions to 70s prog cannot be overstated. Besides, they're back now, and a sophomore Mirthrandir album after 3 decades wouldn't hurt (unless it would be some sort of "Love Beach").

Anyway, this is one of those albums that requires very careful listening, but if you like "complex" prog rock, you'll certainly love it.

Pafnutij | 5/5 |


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