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Netherland Dwarf - Moi Moi CD (album) cover


Netherland Dwarf

Crossover Prog

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4 stars If you have ever asked yourself the question "Boy, I wonder what ELP would have sounded like if Keith Emerson had used Mellotron?", then Netherland Dwarf's debut album Moi Moi is definitely for you. Taking a lot of cues from Emerson's idea of updating classical works with modern rock instruments, Netherland Dwarf has arranged a really exciting album, and also makes a pretty good case as an original composer.

Netherland Dwarf is an, at this time, anonymous Japanese artist listed here as Crossover Prog. I don't quite understand the inclusion there as opposed to Symphonic Prog because the classical music is obviously symphonic, and the original compositions are also quite bombastic. It's not really important what genre of prog this site considers ND, because the music speaks well enough for itself.

Moi Moi, which I still haven't figured out how to pronounce, is a completely instrumental made up of five original compositions, three arrangements of classical pieces, and a bonus classical piece after the main eight songs. Although the only classical piece that I recognized off the bat was "Hallelujah," listening to the other three has shown me that these arrangements are very faithful to the original works, almost down to exactly the same running times.

Where Netherland Dwarf makes his mark is in his instrumental choices. What was once a soft and beautiful string section becomes a furious and loud mixture of synthesizers and Mellotron. Each of the four classical pieces is extremely exciting with a special note having to be made for the drums, which rarely drop in intensity during the songs. The pieces seem to be quite famous and from how quickly I had tunes stuck in my head, it tells me that ND made good choices with these four.

I absolutely love the synthesizer sounds as the incredibly fake tones they provide throw these 18th century pieces into the modern era. The Mellotron, thrown into nearly every minute, is also used incredibly well, and it generally throws away the traditional use. Instead of filling in the background, the instrument is mostly used to play fast melody lines, or provide counterpoints to other keyboards. As an example, the vocal melody in "Hallelujah" is played with the choir sound, while the organs and drums play underneath. These two are the main choices by ND, but he occasionally uses organs and guitars, which provide variety if nothing else. The use of instruments is enough to differentiate this from ELP, as Emerson stuck more to organ, but any comparison to that band would be fair.

As for the original compositions, they are good, but the highlights are definitely on the classical pieces, where the performance makes them so exciting. The album is bookended by the two longest original songs, which share the same framework, and open and close the album well. The two short songs in the middle form more of an interlude, but are well composed nonetheless. The second original song is the most different of the five, being very rhythmic, but feels slightly out of place. In general, ND's own pieces don't have nearly the same intricacy as the four classical ones, but are done well enough that I have hope for his future compositions.

The time between my purchase of Moi Moi and my introduction to it was about 10 minutes, and I don't regret it in the least. However, the previous point is in my mind what holds the album back from being truly amazing. While I love Netherland Dwarf's arrangements of the classical songs, I can't ignore how much stronger they are than the original ones. However, they are done well enough that, in combination with the arrangements, make this well worth a purchase. If you're a fan of ELP's classical songs, an avid Mellotron lover, or just somebody who likes energetic symphonic music, then Moi Moi is something you should give your time to.

Report this review (#499343)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A one man project from Japan with a very Dutch symph prog sounding album.

It is pretty obvious classical music has made an impact on the symph prog scene. Many men/women and bands has tried to fuse classical music into a modern setting. In some cases, by also including other elements from the music world too into this sugary stew.

Netherland Dwarf takes a large chunk from George Frideric Handel's symphonies and fuse that into a modern setting with some house and a lot of rock. As per usual on a symph prog album, Johan Sebastian Bach is also been called upon to perform some duties. Made in Japan, this album also have a lot of eastern classical music influences. But enough, in my view.

The result is a tangents induced mix of classical music and modern muzak. You get mellotron, keyboards and church organs here in addition to some (sampled ? ) guitars, flutes, bass and drums.

The result is good throughout. Most of this album is a "guess the name of the symphony here". It is a good festive season album for the dancing elves around the Christmas tree at the local Marks & Spencer shop. But it can also be enjoyed at home. My main gripe is that the music on this album oversteps the border between symph and muzak on a too regular basis. Muzak is not what I rate. Festive music it is, but it is not making me celebrating this album.

3 stars

Report this review (#587679)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Moi Moi' - Netherland Dwarf (7/10)

Released by the well-regarded modern prog label Musea, Netherland Dwarf is a one-man act from Tokyo, and that's about all the information we're given about it. 'Moi Moi' is the debut album from this project, and by all appearances, it has the sound of a European band. Disregarded the fact that the music is being distributed by a French company, Netherland Dwarf focuses its music around Western classical music, particularly the Baroque oratorios of Handel. Performing this music through a variety of different electronic instruments, the result is a quirky piece of neoclassical music that's sure to inspire a few smiles on the face of the listener.

The sound of Netherland Dwarf is fairly narrow, but it's quite fun and enjoyable. At times even flirting with avant-garde experimentation, Netherland Dwarf may be best labelled as an electronic act, even though there are live instruments in the sound as well. Fuzzy electric guitars are there to add a little extra punch, but the keyboard work is where 'Moi Moi' hits its stride. With renditions of many pieces of baroque classical music- particularly Handel's 'Hallelujah'- Netherland Dwarf is not creating something new, but rather putting a fresh spin on something classic. The heavy focus on synthesizers and quirky keyboards makes me think of the Japanese legends Yellow Magic Orchestra, and their pioneering take on synthpop. Western listeners should find many of the ideas here as being derived from classical music. Netherland Dwarf does compose some of its own music in the same style, although there is little distinction between the covers and originals. The defining trait of Netherland Dwarf is its intense arrangement of sound.

Netherland Dwarf is an adventurous act in regards to neoclassical composition, but it's also very fun to listen to. The song 'Salad Bowl' is possibly my favourite, bringing in a Hawaiian luau sound into the Ozric Tentacles-soundalike instrumental mesh. Although this is an electronic work first and foremost, there is some impressive complexity to the performance and ideas throughout the album. Although the Handel influence is overbearing at times, Netherland Dwarf has an impressive grasp both of spacey psychedelia and neoclassical rock.

Report this review (#613409)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars NETHERLAND DWARF is the name chosen by a Japanese composer and instrumentalist for his creative endeavors. The main man himself prefers to stay anonymous, the line of reasoning being that the person behind the music is unimportant, while the music itself is all that matters. "Moi-Moi" is his debut effort, and was released by Musea Records in 2011.

Japanese artist Netherland Dwarf has accomplished something relatively unique with his debut album "Moi-Moi": a CD of symphonic progressive rock that is uplifting, positive and filled with a number of fun details. Art rock that invites to dancing and toasting rather than introverted concentrated listen. Not a perfect production by any means, but one of the most vibrant and fun filled albums I have encountered in years. Fans of artists like ELP might want to check this one out, especially those amongst them who enjoy a hearty laugh and music that celebrates life in a joyful manner.

Report this review (#789938)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Netherland Dwarf will definitely become a cult name within the prog circles in the future.With a name derived from a breed of rabbits and a person, who's identity is still unknown, this project came in life in Tokyo in 2010, when this anonymous musician recorded the debut ''Moi moi'' with the help of Kaipa's Hans Lundin on one track.The album was released the following year on Musea Parallele.

''Moi moi'' is for the most of its part a keyboard-based bombastic Symhonic Prog effort with huge doses of Mellotron and synthesizers, creating grandiose and cinematic soundscapes, strongly influenced by Classical Music, and drawing links with bands/arists such as E.L.P., TRACE, JAIME ROSAS or even NEXUS.The musicianship is often plumped with some fine choirs and contains also room for harsichord and organ passages.However, despite the use of analog instruments, the album sounds very fresh and dynamic, as exactly indicated by the year of its release, led by Mellotron-drenched parts, synthesizer solos and other keyboard acrobatics, which are surprisingly both virtuosic and memorable.Mr. Anonymous even supports his keyboard affairs with some fiery electric guitar parts at moments, making the whole effort sounding like a regulal band.

Great instrumental Symphonic Rock with changing keyboard themes and a really bombastic and powerful atmosphere.Highly recommended.

Report this review (#826165)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2012 | Review Permalink

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