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Maudlin Of The Well - Leaving Your Body Map CD (album) cover


Maudlin Of The Well

Experimental/Post Metal

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4 stars The companion album to Bath and another distinguished accomplishment from Maudlin of the Well[, now Kayo Dot and still evolving. This band, from the next town over from me around the Boston, MA area, has approached the merging of progressive jazz and classical influences into effing heavy doom, death and black metal (on a whim, this band is so versatile) in a different way than most. While a lot of songwriters attempting such combinations will approach a piece as a work and write for that format, Toby Driver and the MOTW band seem to have a riff by riff approach to songwriting, investing as much attention to the tension and suspense of the development and progression of each sequence of notes for each instrument involved. The band might be, if the idea can be fathomed, a sort of metal Beach Boys - imagine Brian Wilson's incredible talent for short, catchy cycles of arrangment but for both clean and distorted vocals and guitar, string, reed, woodwind and brass instruments, as well as some analog organs, piano and synths in INCREDIBLY restrained and hypnotic arrangements. This is true sonic diversity, and it allows a wide range of moods to be covered, but also for heavy and progressive music to be expressed in a way that can be marvelled at for many reasons.

The ten tracks on this album are in general softer, slower and usually more acoustically based than the songs on Bath - and while, as a fan of high-energy metal I'm more fond of Bath, Leaving Your Body Map is a fantastically progressive album that holds a lot of nontraditional ideas within. The riff-for-riff songwriting approach on this album is really effective; notice, after the masterful wind-ensemble and ambient guitar intro to Stones of October's Sobbing, the seemingly dissonant clean guitar riff once the song picks up - holding the listener at full attention with a tense, jarring melodic progression that repeats once before mercifully resolving into a beautiful phrase that is rewarding and makes perfect sense to the notes that precede it. My experience listening to Maudlin of the Well is much like my experience learning classical music - in that, within individual phrases and bars, I may find myself confused by the notes written - they sound wrong, out of tune or just obnoxious, that is, until some chord or arpeggio further on down the line explains it perfectly and rewards you for your patience. Listening to Maudlin of the Well requires much less patience than learning classical music, however, for the genius is provided in full.

The band's approach to doom metal is masterful, a crushing guitar tone and snap-crisp drum fills with sick, evil grooves, as appropriate to darker thoughts as Black Sabbath was to teens and twenties in the seventies. They handle jazzier syncopation, some crackling death and black metal passages with furious tempo that loses none of the beauty of the more restrained sections. We get a good range of this throughout the various songs, as well as masterful and heartwrenching acoustic sections. Interlude 3 and 4, the predecessors to which are on Bath, are more rewarding and more developed than versions 1 and 2, and more restrained vocal numbers like Sleep is a Curse and Monstrously Low Tide (after a crushing 45- second intro) are effectively subdued, employing piano and all manner of ethereal male and female vocals as well as tastefully minimal synth-strings to get a very spacy and light atmosphere to run in perfect contrast to the heaviest moments of the album. And like any good multi-part song, both sections of Riseth He, The Numberless, build intelligently and with good pace from unconventionally quiet beginnings, the first an airy trumpet solo to evoke Miles Davis' most ambient moments, and the second from harp, guitar and piano over a bombastic drumline that is met perfectly by swelling epic synths and finally a metal riff. None of the excursions here are trite or contrived, and they all feel really sincere - and it's a wonder that these folks have the talent to envision and then perform work of this complexity.

For metal that is progressive without an overdose of shredding guitar and keyboard excess - in otherwords truly progressive music that ignores formula - Maudlin of the Well is a good bet. They get more progressive in the Kayo Dot incarnation, while the high-speed inhuman metal is more prevalent on Bath and the previous album; but Leaving Your Body Map is a quality progressive album that is challenging, rewarding and unique.

Report this review (#42648)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Good luck finding an audience maudlin of the Well.

maudlin of the Well is a very strange band mixing polar oposite genres into one polished breed. They're oddballs trying to fit in the crowd. Too hard for soft ambient like music fans and too soft for speedy death metal fans and, to make it even harder, a mild feel of avant-garde in their overall sound.

This album is more heavy and menacing than Bath wich is more on the soft side but both still haveng a good mix of the two styles. The album starts with their trademark soft styles wich makes you fell you're floating and in seconds it plunges you into the ground when growling vocals start to kick in with some very nice soft horns and guitar playing as he growls, but the trip doesn't end here. Over the top fast death metal starts playing for some seconds ,but still with some soft post-rock like guitar behind all the madness only to finish soft and melodic floating like it started. Crazy? With this song you get a feel of what's to come so its a very nice start for the album.

The second song is more accesible since it doesn't have growling vocals and its fast passed. It's the first song wich shows the fragil like vocals of Toby Driver at first, but then shows the brutal screaming of him. A very diverse singer I might say.

Most of the songs carry the same feelings wich is very somber and depressing and angry also for the most of the death metal parts. Very energetic (all thanks to the drummer) when they go through that road It can keep a headbanger going through all of the hard passages.A great example of those parts is Riseth he, the numberless. The horns also are a very important isntruments in the role of both styles, but sadly it isn't used much on this album . The soft acoustic parts are very nice and with lyrics that gives a light of hope through all of the growling and heavy parts. Of course, this side of them is more clearly pronounced in their other album in company, Bath, It's still very well spread around the album. Songs like Interlude 3 and Interlude 4 are incredebly beautiful soft acoustic symphonic songs that can leave you with a tear easily, but my favorite of those type of songs is Sleep is a course. Wich is a very nice acoustic song with some very emotional lyrics wich by the end of the song violins and cello keep company the acoustic guitar so it can end very emotional. A good merging of both styles is the last song wich starts very heavy and then falls back into some nice female vocals and Toby's soft like whisper voice and ends with nice guitar playing wich gives a little clue of Kayo Dot's sound.

A very enjoyable band when in the mood and very unique. Although I find Bath better because of my love for soft music, Leaving your body map is still a very worthy listen.

Report this review (#82252)
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What an incredible album. It totally exceeded my expectations after the near-masterpiece Bath. Maudlin of the Well's final studio album would mix the two styles that they play even more together, and it would also prove to be their best album in my opinion. Toby Driver and his gang of cohorts really are able to flow seamlessly from death metal to space rock within a matter of seconds, and they are really really good at creating exciting music in both fields. The metal here is well composed, well played, everything about it is played well. The acoustic sections are gentle, somber, and heartwrenching all at the same time. This album is probably one of the best progressive metal albums I've ever heard, and I think it'll be hard to top this one. As Bryan said in his review of this album, why is this band not more recognized?

As with the preceding album Bath, this album begins with gentle guitars and a very mellow atmosphere thanks to the horns. But it all fades quickly as some death metal vocals enter the mix, giving the first song, Stones of October Sobbing, a more hectic and uneasy atmosphere. It never gets crushingly heavy and the song takes many twists and turns that are very well performed by everyone in the group. Gleam in Ranks is a jazzier piece, with frantic piano and interesting guitar work, the growling vocal is absent and replaced by some fragile vocals from Driver. It has a similar feeling musically in parts to They Aren't All Beautiful off of Bath. Bizarre Flowers/A Violent Mist is a high energy song thanks to the drumming of Sam Gutterman. It begins majestically with some tubular bells in the background underneath the heavy riffing. Towards the middle of the song, death metal screams and riffing come into the mix underneath this strange keyboard sound that feels out of place but works well with what is being played. The lead guitar on this song is also great, giving some interesting solos. It's the longest piece on the album and among the best.

Interlude 3 is a gentle acoustic piece in the vein of the other Interlude pieces on Bath. The horns are very prominent here and the acoustic guitar motif is very well played. It's a very beautiful piece and it can make one wonder how a death metal band can create such pretty acoustic music. The violin line is also hauntingly beautiful when it swirls with the horns to create a main theme. All in all, I love this side of the group, it really offers a nice counterpoint to the maelstrom of metal riffs. A Curve That to an Turn'd is a crushing metal piece that begins with some clean guitar chords and some forboding instrumentation along side it. It soons becomes a crushing dissonant riff with some high pitched harmonics and some heavy growls. The rest of the song has a feel of doom metal and it doesn't really evolve, but it doesn't need to be to be a great song. Sleep is a Curse is another gentle acoustic piece, with a pretty vocal performance from Driver. It's the closest thing the group has done to a ballad and it really can bring a tear to someone's eye, especially during the acoustic guitar solo in which the guitar and violin swirl together to create a beautiful atmosphere.

Riseth He, The Numberless is a two part piece of avant-garde metal. Crushing riffs and soft interludes give this song a bit of an Opeth feel, but they never actually sound like Opeth. The first part begins with trumpets and some anxious keyboards as well as some dynamic drumming. It becomes a crushing metal piece with brutal riffs and unforgiving vocals. Drums introduce the second part, that takes a similar path except for the oriental introduction. Interlude 4 is another acoustic instrumental that feels mich like Interlude 3, and still retains the same beauty and atmosphere as it as well. Monstrously Low Tide begins with menacing riffs and vocals, but towards the ends is a modulated guitar outro that has a strong post-rock feeling. It also gives a hint to the future sound of Maudlin of the Well, who would become Kayo Dot for their next effort, Choirs of the Eye.

In the end, Maudlin of the Well's final studio album proves to be my favorite and I cannot really find any faults with it. It's a perfect blend of metal and acoustic. The musicianship is killer, the songwriting is killer, everything about this album is top notch. If you are a fan of progressive metal, do yourself a favor and get this album. If you are a fan of softer acoustic music, you will also find something to like about this album in the Interludes and Sleep is a Curse. One of my favorite progressive metal album ever. 5/5.

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Posted Sunday, July 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The companion to Bath, and no less innovative or enticing, LYBM is an incredible find, one that will instantly click with you that this is no typical album, and that this band has some very special qualities to it. This is arguably motW's best album, but both are excellent in my humble opinion. Please also see Bryan's excellent review on this album.

To start with, we have relatively gentle horns, combine this with some excellent post-rock, and then throw in a splash of death metal, and a broad vocal range, and you have this album more or less in a nutshell. Styles vary so much it's really impossible to describe this album in full without excluding something. This is what we call branching out and exploring new boundaries, and not only doing that but succeeding as well in creating a distinctly beautiful album.

I challenge you today to go out and find this record. Do not be satisfied with the "giants" of the genre today. There is more out there, more to be discovered. "Progressive" as a genre still has creative minds. They may not be as apparent as they were in the past with the popularity of the bands of prog in the 70's, but there are those out there who are still fighting the good fight, sailing the seas of creativity looking for something more. Leaving Your Body Map is one of these albums, just give it a chance.

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Posted Thursday, October 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very good avant-metal.

This is a fantastic album unlike any of the other prog metal CDs I have heard recently. MotW is a previous form of Kayo's Toby Driver and is generally considered to be somewhat easier to get into initially, somewhat more variable in sound, but every bit as challenging, progressive and exciting.

"Leaving Your Body Map" is in the prog-metal category and while there is metal here, there is so much more going on. There is some spacey stuff, some ambient wanderings, some jazzy playing, some non-growl screaming that would make Henry Rollins jealous, and a great variety of mood and texture. Body Map also provides a different feel to the art than the stereotypical metal avenues traveled by some (not all!) metal bands. The overall vibe of MotW is more avant-garde/alternative metal and I think there is a clear nod to hard core punk going on here too.

One moment you will find yourself drifting into a daydream with soft meandering acoustic guitar. The next moment you'll be blasted off your chair by raging metal complete with growls and crushing blast, followed by sweet female vocals softly accompanied by a jazzy interlude. Then you may hear a single horn, an organ, or some sound effects. Suddenly you'll get nightmarish vocal loops followed by a gorgeous guitar solo. Anything can happen and it will. This stuff seems more diverse in character than Kayo Dot and I think that's why some prefer it. Another band that can be compared in spirit (if not totally in sound) to Maudlin is Discus. That same sense of musical insanity present on "Tot Licht" is here although the metal portion of the mix is way better with Maudlin.

Without any doubt, Maudlin of the Well is a superb musical journey recommended to fans of eclectic prog-metal, punk, and avant-garde. It is a must for Kayo Dot fans but if you happen to hate Kayo, don't just assume you'll hate Maudlin. They are similar in some aspects but not identical by any means.

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Posted Saturday, August 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars motW has caught my attention shortly after I've experienced (I ain't dare to say 'listened to') KAYO DOT stuff. I've checked 'Bath' and it has left me impressed. I've purchased 'Leaving your Body Map', and soon it has become one of my favouritest albums.

But nothing is easy. The first song I liked here was as you may guess 'Sleep is a Curse'. Gentle and moody, with unconventional approach to chord progressions, with awesome violins-driven coda, it has become my favourite pretty soon. It seemed so different from other album tracks, that I had hard times listening to them. But later I noticed that two more favourities appeared alongside with 'SiaC' - they were interludes 3 and 4. The more I listened to them the better album it seemed. So I began to emphasize on heavier tracks then. My Doom-Metal past has helped me a lot with it, and soon I felt no troubles with getting into the whole record. Need I say that I've fell in love with it shortly after?

This album is diverse and eclectic, it's truly progressive and avant. But fortunately it has deep emotional side, unlike most avant bands which seem to be keen on amount of dissonant notes played at once. It's built like a layered rollpie, with mystical 'Stones of October Sobbing' and 'Monstrously Low Tide' framing it, heavy 'Gleam in Ranks' and 'Riseth He, the Numberless' epic, doomy 'Bizarre Flowers / A Violent Mist' and 'A Curve That To An Angle Turn'd' and airy interludes. 'Sleep is a Curse' serves as a central point of it all, as a starting place for all other tracks, disregarding the order in which you'll be playing them. Amazing, awesome album, one of the few perfectly balanced flawless records the world has ever faced. And you know what? MAUDLIN OF THE WELL were far better than KAYO DOT, I think. But that's just me. Highly recommended! A Must!

Report this review (#165133)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The companion album of Bath, Leaving Your Body Map is the culmination of maudlin of the Well's avant-garde mix of multiple styles in a metal framework that was started on my Fruit Psychobells... a Seed Combustible (which itself was the culmination of years of work), and in itself attains a near musical perfection. In my review of Bath, the companion album of Leaving Your Body Map, I said that listening to it takes me to a place that leaves me completely immersed in the music, and the same applies here. However, this time there is no unfortunate inclusions of old materiel that wasn't re-recorded to break the flow and the result is perfection. Musically the album has many moments that just blows me away, whether its the incredible bass melody/rhythm of Gleam in Ranks, any of the highly impressive guitar solos, the ominous use of wind instruments (wood and brass) or the sheer beauty of the acoustic parts, its a ride from start to finish. If there's one complaint that I can think of (and I'm getting pedantic here) its that Maria-Stella Fountoulakis is slightly under-used on this album, but I'll let it pass as there is only a small number of parts that she could have been in that she wasn't. A highly diverse, mature album that demonstrates impressive compositional skills dedicated to creating a mood, this is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard, an absolute must.
Report this review (#168622)
Posted Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Leaving your body map, what a refreshing and eclectic album!!

Toby Driver is one of the most inventive and adventurous musicians at the moment in the post-metal scene. Maudlin of the Well is clearly less experimental than Kayo Dot, but the additions of avant-garde into the mixed style of death grunts and prog rock, is just amazing in the first one. So, in Kayo Dot you'll find the more experimental side of Toby Driver, instead, in Maudlin of the Well, you'll find a more accessible (relatively of course) style of music, but, not less good (in fact I do prefer Maudlin of the Well than Kayo Dot).

The opening track, Stones of October's Sobbing, combines some flute tunes, acoustic guitar and clarinet, followed close by the Toby Driver gruntings, so, at the fist 2 minutes of this song, you can imagine the very eclectic style of this band. The next one, Gleam in Ranks, is a very different track. Toby uses clean vocals, and a clear piano tone adorns the heavy-metal piece, finishing with scream singing. Very good rhythm. Bizarre Flower/A Violent Mist is a two part piece that features some more Doom (how I hate this word) rhythms, combined with the avant metal passages. I love the guitar solo segment here. A Curve That To An Angle Turn'd is a more mellow track, with acoustic guitar based work. Simply beautiful post-metal. Sleep is a Curse is a very special piece, featuring some mellow acoustic prog rock work, very nice. Riseth He is the main piece in the album. The introduction is simply smart, genius trumpet work, opening the heaviest track in the album. Monstrously Low Tide is the final track, which features again a very dense and slow passage which is great. There are some interlude tracks, featuring mainly acoustic works, that fit perfectly into the melt.

Along this album you'll find beautiful wind instruments tones, heavy guitar riffs (a-la Opeth) excellent and variate vocals (because you don't have just grunting here :-D), technical drumming, acoustic guitar-based works, and so many many elements that makes this album an accessible (relatively), eclectic and artistic masterpiece.

Five stars well earned, for this wonderful experience!!!!

Report this review (#174341)
Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars maudlin of the well - Leaving Your Body Map

So, I'm here to finish up what I started in my Bath review a few weeks ago, but first I would like to promise that this review will be much, much shorter hopefully, for two reasons really: one) i honestly just have less to say about this album; and two) i said a lot of what i would've said about this album in my Bath, I'd recommend that one should read that review before this one, as it has a lot of content in it about the ideas and concepts behind both albums, as well as similarities and differences between the two. Anyway, here goes:

Leaving Your Body Map is the companion album to Bath. As I mentioned in my Bath review, the two of them have loads of similarities shared between them--running time, track numbers, the interludes and their placement in the track listing, conceptual themes, and the list goes on. They are, truthfully, more than companion albums--they are one entity--one album in and of each other. A masterwork of music. There is, however, a rather large stylistic difference between the two of them--musically, at least. Leaving Your Body Map is much more rooted in metal than Bath was, and as such, the sound on Leaving Your Body Map, while similar in many ways to the sound on Bath, is a bit different on the whole.

Note the differences between the two openers, for example, as a good reflection of the overall difference in sound between the two albums: The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth, from Bath, is essentially a post-rock song--and an extremely good one at that. But then there's Stones of October's Sobbing, the opener to this album, and instead of post-rock, we get a much more post-METAL song, in terms of the pacing, and, truthfully, the style. Stones of October's Sobbing features almost exclusively the death vocals of Byron, over top of some soothing and graceful music--a combination that sounds almost unthinkable on paper, but works extremely well in practice. The openers are equal in quality, but rather different in their execution.

But enough about the two albums as a whole; since they were released separately, sort of, it's time to get in to treating them separately. So, if we're comparing the two albums, it is my duty to note that, despite common opinion being that LYBM is the better of the two discs, I consider it the obvious weaker of the two, for a few minor reasons. Bath, to me at any rate, is a perfect album. From start to finish it takes many risks, all of which pay off, and none of which sound contrived or quirky--put in place for oddness' sake. It all sounds natural.

Leaving Your Body Map is much the same , at least until the Riseth He the Numberless tracks later on in the track listing. This is, to me, where the album begins to wane a little bit in quality, as those two tracks are, in my opinion, the weakest between the two albums (and even weaker than a lot of the material on the band's debut). This is not to say that these tracks are bad--they aren't at all. They are extremely listenable and of very fine quality--they just aren't as perfect to me as essentially every other track on either of the two albums.

This album has as many--honestly, it may have more--highlights as Bath; there's the soaring, almost power-metal-driven Gleam in Ranks, an obviously great track--then there's the two Interlude tracks, which are far superior to the shorter Interlude tracks on Bath. There's the wonderfully emotional and entrancing beauty of Sleep is a Curse, driven by glistening guitars and heartfelt vocals to a displacing climax full of natural ease and just plain awesomeness--the great suite Bizarre Flowers / A Violent Mist, and a wonderful closer in Monstrously Low Tide. The album is certainly cohesive, and very well written, produced, and performed. It is every bit as good as Bath. Hell, it may even be better--so many seem to think so.

But not me. I love it, assuredly, but I just love Bath more. Not just because of the Riseth... tracks, but because of the ending of this album as well. After the song proper in Monstrously Low Tide--which is only about two to three minutes long--ends, the album continues to ponder on for about three to four minutes of straight guitar nothingness. Reverb, and haunting, but rather bland. To me, this is a but of a failure, at least in design. I think it's completely unnecessary. It's not that it's bad, but I think it goes on for too long, and kind of dulls the album on the whole--especially since, other than Interlude 4, I consider the last quarter of this album to be much weaker than the first three quarters of it.

But I'd better stop before I go on one of my rambling and incoherent tirades. I love this album. Very much. But I can't call it a masterpiece, because it isn't one--not in my eyes at any rate. Now, the albums together, as one whole, are certainly a masterpiece, and Bath singularly is one as well in my eyes. But LYBM just has a few small flaws in design, at least in my opinion, which hold it back. Perhaps if the first Riseth... track were omitted, the noodling at the end of the closer shortened, and the Secret Song from the same sessions attached as the real closer, I could call this a masterpiece.

But alas, this isn't the case. So, while this album is certainly an amazing piece of work, because of its small falters here and there, I cannot bring myself to give it the 5-star rating it very likely deserves. On my scale, this one's easily about a 9 or a 9.5 out of 10...but that just doesn't cut it for me to be a 5 star album on this scale. 4.5 yes, but not 5. However, I am lost for what to do. There are other albums that I'd give a 4.5 to that I'd easily round to 5 on this site, without any qualms at all. But this...this one's giving me a hard time.

I will settle for giving this one 4 stars...with reservations. Please, if you have read this, go read my Bath review, as it will better explain my love for that album, and this album as well--as I have said, the two as a whole are unquestionably a masterwork; however, when taken and compared against each other, this one comes out a slight bit weaker in my opinion. So, for one last reiteration: 4 stars, but almost 5. Read the Bath review, and treat the albums as one whole if you decide to listen to them at all.

And also, one final word: At the time of my writing this, another maudlin of the Well album is planned to be recorded and released. This is wonderful news, and I just want to put into text my hope that this album will be as amazing as either of the two albums that came before it.

So: 4 stars, but just barely that. 4.5, really.

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Posted Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Charlie Brown Death Metal Christmas...

I am unsure how to rate this album. I really am. I know for sure that I absolutely love it. Is it progressive? Oh yes. Is it experimental? Oh yes. Is it original? ...

It is so many things. This is one of the most disjointed and unnerving albums full of so many flowing styles and mixes. Styles touched go anywhere form progressive rock and death metal, to indie rock and jazz. So many brilliant musical ideas are given to you, and with such conviction. Folk passages with clean vocals, death metal stomping in the midst of pretty sounds. The lyrics are something to ponder. This entire record strikes me as a virulent enigma, yet it captivates me with so vitriol.

The songs flow into each other in a way, and the entire album has an atmosphere (one that changes rather often.) The acoustic passages are beautiful, the heavy sections are well played and sound strong. One song in particular "Sleep is a Curse" is one of the prettiest pieces of music I have ever heard. How could they have come up with such a style? I do not know, and it makes this hard to rate.

The music is most certainly not easily accessible. It will alienate death metal and heavy fans, and it will alienate fans of soft acoustic/folk music. But, whatever they choose to do, they do so vibrantly, so skillfully, and with so many evocative melodies that entrance me completely.

There are interludes interspersed through the main songs, and are quite enticing. The entire album never stops being highly intriguing. So much material here to delve int0o and get lost in the lilting sounds. I will give this 5 stars. It is highly experimental and progressive, the songs go from powerfully brutal and dark, to emotionally moving and majestically pretty. By no means essential to everyone, but essential to me.

Sleep is a curse...

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Posted Sunday, April 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The American act maudlin Of The Well has been a delayed discovery for me, but oh man, how glad I am to finally have discovered. I've really learned to appreciate their avant-garde rock input at a fast pace. After the pleasant revelation that was their last effort "Part The Second", looking back at their previous catalogue led me to "Leaving Your Body Map", and so I find that this band's legacy meant a source of refreshing vigor for the latest expressions of experimental rock focused on exploring atmospheres and textures. Post- rock and all other related sub-genres as they stand labeled by critics and connoisseurs ? maudlin Of The Well is an undisputed champion of those. 'Stones Of October Sobbing' begins quite smoothly, displaying a minimalistic set of woodwind sounds that gently evoke the soft mystery of a grey fog in an autumnal afternoon? and then, prompted on a slow tempo, the whole ensemble settles a menacing portrait of mystic anguish. The growling vocals add an edge of uneasy weirdness, in this way completing the bizarre atmosphere in a very unique fashion. Another relevant factor is the use of some double bass drum in the rhythmic development ? more than just post-rock, this is something like post-death metal. 'Gleam In Ranks' is more colorful and enthusiastic, mostly focused on a clever combination of noise-rock and hard core within a patently frantic framework. Track no. 3, entitled 'Bizarre Flowers / A Violent Mist', is a real maudlin Of The Well classic. It starts slow yet aggressive, displaying a mood that stands somewhere between controlled fury and abstract contemplation. Later, after the 3'30" mark, things get deconstructed with the band aiming at another exploration into the dark realms of standardized post-rock rooted on death metal. The track's climax states a dense languidness that may remind us of Tortoise and Isis, to a certain degree. Or so I learn, this is pure mOTW. 'Interlude 3' is a whole different animal. It is an exercise on acoustic fusion, built on a lovely architecture of acoustic guitar, percussion and an orchestration of woodwind, viola and keyboard. This solace of musical poetry gives the listener a convenient rest after the preceding demonstrations of experimental energy. 'The Curve That To An Angle Turn'd' starts on a slow pace, but there is an air of suspicion about an impending display of emotional tension? and yes, it emerges incarnated under a metallic guise. But the whole story that these metallic sections are really interludes within a framework where subtle, introspective passages are the dominant ones. In these passages, the lyricism is well-ordained, even giving some room for some lovely flute solo along the way. The speed metal-tinged closure generates an intriguing explosion to wrap up the whole thing: yet another mOTW classic. 'Sleep Is A Curse' bears a pronounced pastoral nature ? soft singing and delicate dual acoustic guitars make up its sonic core. As much as this description may sound like this piece is out of place here, actually it serves as an inspiring, new approach to the album's overall emotional density. The orchestration featured on this song's latter half portrays an eerie beauty that one has to hear for themselves. The pairing of tracks 7 and 8 states what is arguably the most majestic portion of this album. Even though the main features happen to be recognizable at this point, these tracks remain a steady manifestation of the band's grandiose side. The metallic aspect of track 7 is convincingly explosive, while that of track 8 enhances the ever-present ethereal side. 'Interlude 4' is another exercise on lyrical moods, dominantly acoustic and sustained on soft percussion. The closer is the 6 ¾ minute long 'Monstrously Low Tide', which finds the band leaning closer to your regular post-rock akin to Tortoise and alike. The way this album ends signals the band's effective talent to make things work at varying levels, while strictly maintaining an artistic cohesion. "Leaving Your Body Map" is a significant album in the contemporary avant-garde rock trend.
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Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Toby Driver project's, maudlin of the Well is one of the most innovative progressive rock projects I've ever heard. "Leaving your body map" is an incredible accomplishment which you probably want to take into consideration if you want to be up to date with one of the greatest bands of progressive rock from the last years. Mixing and combining lots of influences and instruments in a very inspired mode and the result in this great album.

There is a very strange combination between the introspective, melancholic lyrics and the way the lyrics are sung in the first song. Stone of the October's sober is absolutely great with is beautiful and relaxing intro. The listener is slowly introduced in the atmosphere with a slow and tranquil flow. The lyrics are absolutely fantastic leaving an outlandish impression. I felt like returning back in the city after a weekend visit in the countryside in the autumn.

The second song (Gleam in Ranks) is heavy, has fast tempos and is much more dynamic then the first one. The lyrics are a little bit abstract. For me the impression is that it this song tries to communicate frustration and disappointment. I'm not even sure if this has something to do with someone's experience or is just someone's dream or imagination.

Not only flowers are bizarre. The third song is also bizarre. I'm beginning to think that this album was developed based on high degree of imagination and by searching those hidden and fuzzy gullies of consciousness. I like very much the metaphors like "wither'd day". A characteristic often encountered when describing the vegetal reign applied to the moment of the day end, of the dawn. The sound and the lyrics are translucent and crepuscular.

After this magnificent into we should have a short break to meditate after these three songs. There is time for interlude. Interlude 3 is in fact the name of the forth song. There is a little more than four minutes of beautiful, relaxing and gloomily song.

A curve that to an angle turn'd. I admit that the song name is very unusual. Aggressive but slow parts combine with melodic, dreamy moments and Maria-Stella Fountoulakis agreeable voice. Plenty of metaphors all over the place ("Dead, and I pierce her body with shards of me", "The knives in your eyes bled my joy lifeless"). The last strophe is whispered with a shivering voice leaving remains of sorrow.

Sleep is a curse is also very interesting and melancholic song. The atmosphere is placid and some traces of regret are glimpsing here and there. Indeed probably the sleep is a curse. This is probably true because we are condemned to switch slowly to this state every night. This is something you cannot avoid. Being hooked up in this body cage, being forced to fall over in this state every now and then and seeing this as a curse is for me a very different approach of contemplating this state.

Riseth He The Numberless (Part 1 + Part 2) is good moment of extreme metal combined with very strong lyrics. The song is epic from beginning to the end and the music reminds me of Tiamat - Wildhoney. The beginning of the first part sounds very much alike Los Jaivas - La poderosa muerte. Meditative and introspective intros on both songs mixed with dynamic and powerful parts resulting in probably my favorite part of this release.

Well again there is time for an interlude: Interlude 4. The second instrumental song of this album is similar to Interlude 3. But this time it is a little bit longer. It has the same slow and nice atmosphere with very beautiful guitar and cello arrangements.

Monstrously Low Tide, the last song has the same atmosphere as the other songs. Dense and powerful start up and stained with slow and inspired guitar and female voice interludes. The guitar ending part (in fact the second half of the song) is simply amazing and vaticinal. It is an easy passing to the end of a magnificent piece of music.

All in one this is a great album. Very good lyrics, very inspired compositions combining different kinds of influences from extreme metal to classical strewn with progressive elements utterly. Autophysiopsychic music concept of jazz musician Yusef Lateef had for sure a great deal of influence over the way maudlin of the Well decided to create music. This is definitely something more than worth checking out if you want some avant-garde piece of modern music. Highly recommended.

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Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
4 stars Maudlin Of The Well must be one of the most unique and memorable bands from this decade. Blending elements of several very different styles of music into one mold would shape two unique and astounding albums: Bath and Leaving Your Body Map. Two companion albums of which Leaving Your Body Map is the heavy counterpart of the more delicate Bath, though both share the same level of innovativity and distinctiveness.

Leaving Your Body Map shows a lot of metal with death growls, heavy guitars and some very aggresive moments. Metal is only one of the many musical styles blended in the sound of this album though. Others are jazz, classical, psychedelica and countless others. This is probably what makes Maudlin Of The Well such an unique band, they manage to blend so many musical styles into the 61 minutes of music that Leaving Your Body Map is and don't make it sound unnatural or forced at all. I think It's pretty much impossible to fully describe the sound that Maudlin Of The Well creates with words and the music really has to be heard to believed, which I think is a very good thing.

Leaving Your Body Map is not an album full of innovative heaviness though. There are plenty of more delicate parts like the majority of the music on Bath that give the album a very diverse sound and make it a great experience from the beginning to the end. I must say that I prefer Bath to this album, though it is essential to hear both albums which makes their distinctiveness and strengths more clear. I give Leaving Your Body Map a four star rating, though it's very close to being a masterpiece.

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Posted Sunday, May 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Leaving Your Body Map' - maudlin of the Well (9/10)

Many artists have said one of the hardest things to do is to write a follow up to a breakthrough album. With the first piece of this companion duology, 'Bath' swept through the avant-garde metal scene like a tidal wave, spreading their unique brand of psychedelic experimental music to sound systems throughout the progressive world. Taking a bevy of various styles and compiling them together into one beautiful, head-scratching sound and executed magnificently by a host of passionate musicians, 'Bath' would later be known as a modern classic only a few years after its release. With this procession, there were definately high stakes involved in creating something to follow up 'Bath;' a so-called classic would not accept a companion lightly. Apparently, this pressure seems to have paid off. Not only is 'Leaving Your Body Map' on par with its predecessor, it is a completely unique experience all its own.

Developing on the theme of 'Bath,' 'Leaving Your Body Map' takes things to another level; fixing problems while ultimately adding alot of new sounds to the mix. While you can tell these albums are more or less 'brother and sister,' there is a much more experimental and spacy side here that was seldom shown in the former. With this in mind, 'Leaving Your Body Map' is certainly a more challenging listen, and a very apparent transition to the even stranger work of Kayo Dot.

The sound here is eclectic, but Toby Driver and company manage to make it work like a charm. Instruments that would otherwise seem out of place outside of jazz, classical and folk music are brought here and meshed beautifully with the typically heavy, metal soundscape. However, while things are heavier for Maudlin than ever before, the sense of melody and calming moments of 'mellowness' do not suffer. Much like its sister album, there are two acoustic interludes here, a 'ballad' style track, and an epic which runs through the course of many different dynamics. On that note, much is shared between the two albums; they are the same length, have the same amount of tracks, and even have a similar flow in terms of how the interludes are dispersed and where the mandatory 'epic' sits in the album. Hell, they even use some of the same musical ideas, although the ideas themselves go in completely different directions.

In terms of song highlights or 'standout' moments, something that distinguishes 'Leaving Your Body Map' from many other albums is that it remains incredibly consistent throughout. There are 'more enjoyable' moments than others here, but the overall quality is maintained more or less, throughout the entire album. While this is a good thing on one hand, the songs are not as individually memorable as they were before, which makes it an album that works best listened to from start to finish.

Unfortunately, the collective that is maudlin of the Well would go on to break up later on in 2001, but we would happily be blessed with the coming of Kayo Dot, and another masterpiece under the Maudlin title almost a decade later. 'Leaving Your Body Map' is probably not the best place to start with this band; it is rather something to work towards. This is some of the more challenging metal out there, and the listener must be involved with the music in order to get the most out of it. However, it is a fantastic conclusion to the more accessible (although not by much) and mellow 'Bath' and yet another classic of modern metal.

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Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Leaving Your Body Map' - maudlin of the Well

Some bands like to recreate certain genres of music. Others like to push forward, or develop into a whole new musical genre, one that is hard to explain but fresh and exciting to the ears and to the mind. Maudlin of the Well fit into this latter category and have certainly crafted a masterpiece album with 'Leaving Your Body Map.'

The music that motW (as I will now call them) make is somewhat an amalgamation of certain other genres, but never too derivative, thus making their sound very unique. The band fuse free-jazz elements, progressive metal, indie rock, chamber rock/metal, and various avant-garde stylings. Toby Driver (guitar, vocals, bass) claims that the band grab certain parts of their music (ie: inspiration [as I interpret it]) from the practice of astral project and/or lucid dreaming. This, though it may not be entirely true, seems very accurate as the music has such an otherworldly sound: the atmospheres, the instrumentation, the vocals The music is very harsh at times, with screaming vocals, distorted and dissonant guitar playing, double bass drums with a mixture of viola, flute, and trumpet. The premiere brutal tracks are likely, "Gleam in Ranks," "A Curve that to an Angle Turn'd," and "Riseth He, The Numberless 1." In stark contrast to such a crushing side, motW also have an ethereal and atmospheric soft side on this certain album. Non-distorted, echoey guitar, soft drums and a audible bass add contribute to this softer side. This side of motW's music is beautiful and is well-executed in tracks like "Interlude (3 & 4)," "Sleep is a Curse," and the majority of "Monstrously Low Tide." Toby Driver's singing is sublime in these soft parts and his voice just carries the listener away. Even when the vocals are growling, they can even be pleasant because the vocals don't really fluctuate; it's almost like someone distorted the vocals, but to where they're not irritating or grating to the ears. It's hard to explain and much easier to be able to listen and hear exactly how the vocals sound.

There are never any flat spots to this album. Each note, each sound, each vocal moment is precise and fitting. Some tracks can take surprising twists, which is partly why I rate this album so highly. For example: the fast, jazzy-guitar solo in "Bizarre Flowers/ A Violent Mist" and the soft, moody middle section of 'A Curve that to an Angle Turn'd." These sudden and unexpected changes give the album a progressive and very eclectic feel, and it's easy to tell that motW are very passionate and serious about the music they make.

All-in-all, a perfect album. It takes more than a few listens to really grasp the music (and it's not for everyone), but when that happens, only then will the listener truly appreciate the genius of such a work of modern musical art.


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Posted Monday, August 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars With higher highs and lower lows than Bath, Leaving Your Body Map is another absolutely stunning and totally unmatched piece of music.

Leaving Your Body Map is the second half of a two-disc release by maudlin of the Well, preceded by Bath. While these two albums are not a double album (they're completely separate and different pieces of music), they are similarly structured, carry the same thematic material, and are stylistically similar, although a number of stylistic elements are different between the two (you can read my review of Bath if you'd like a more complete summary of their style).

Leaving Your Body Map is generally held to be the heavier of the two albums. There is a lot more metal to be found here throughout: whereas the metal parts on Bath came in heavy, concentrated doses in regular intervals throughout the album, Leaving Your Body Map has heaviness to be found in most nearly every part of the album (although it should be noted that the heaviest pieces were found in Bath). Another noticeable difference is the type of non-traditional instruments used between the two albums: where Bath heavily used instruments like the clarinet, saxophone, and the organ, here Leaving Your Body Map replaces that focus with instruments like the violin, horns, and bells. All of the instruments are still performed incredibly well, from Greg Massi's impressive guitar soloing to the avant- garde horn sections. Vocally the album is also very sound. Jason Byron is given much more singing time, and his rather evil-sounding growls do a wonderful job complementing the heavier focus on the album. Toby Driver gets a more equal share of vocal duties but does less of the extreme screams found in Bath, and his singing is excellent on many of the softer sections.

The overall feel of the music is heavy, yet at the same time incredibly spacey, "astral metal", if you will. There were certain sections in Bath that hinted at this but this is where the feel comes around full-force. It's an interesting vibe the album gives off: the listener is simultaneously exposed to both awesome and magnificent feelings, the feelings of one who is traveling the vast expanses of space, but there's also a certain tension to everything. A very subtle sense of dread or horror, and on certain occasions during the album, this becomes more apparent. The music portrays a certain awe and wonder for the vast chasms of space and the untold wonders of what lie in the astral plane, but this is a very fearful kind of awe, as if some incomprehensible horror exists out in the astral fields, lurking but benevolent and omnithreatening. It could be some sort of warning from the band, but the music itself takes this form, like the band supposedly takes its elements from the vast cosmic archives of art (see my review of Bath for a summary on this). It's an incredibly engrossing element to the music and really transports the listener outside of this world and into this dark, mysterious plane.

Conceptually, this album continues the themes of astral projection and lucid dreaming. The lyrics here are again ridiculously strong; they read as actual poetry, and in many cases they're stronger than the ones found on Bath. Hearing Byron growling these otherwise beautiful poetic lyrics adds a "beauty found in heaviness" aspect to a lot of the album, in what is already what I would consider some very beautiful metal. An interesting thing to note is that (to me; I should let it be known that all of this is personal interpretation) this album seems to follow a processual arc within this theme of astral projection: if Bath was about the process of separating one's physical body from the esoteric spirit through lucid dreaming, e.g., the process of astral projection, then Leaving Your Body Map is about the now-separate spiritual body exploring the vast, mysterious, and frightening astral planes. This may be where the titles of the albums come into play: Bath is a reference to the sort of cleansing of the spirit from the physical body (also seen in the numerous references to water and actual use of water in Bath), and Leaving Your Body Map is then referencing the astral "map" that one's spirit follows in the journey through the astral plane, possibly to this vast cosmic archive the band has cited as the source of all their inspiration.

Another interesting thing to point out is the structure of the album. While I've said that Bath and Leaving Your Body Map are two very different pieces of music, the two albums are structured to mirror each other. All of the interludes are in the same place on both albums, the epics are in the same place, and even the strongest and weakest moments of each album are in nearly the same place. More parallels can be seen in the lengths and sections of certain songs, though this is only really apparent after multiple listens. I'll go over it in some detail during the track-by-track breakdown. Another puzzler is the album artwork. The artwork for Leaving Your Body Map shows a bathtub and a window, whereas the artwork for Bath depicts what appears to be a representation of an astral map, or a long and winding path marked with signs representing planets. At the end of this path the very small object at the end is the bathtub and window seen in close detail on the cover of Leaving Your Body Map, providing a seemingly opposite process to what I had analyzed before. The band stated in an interview that the covers are switched simply to represent the dual nature of each; that one can't exist without the other. What it represents beyond that, however, I cannot tell.

The album opens with "Stones of October's Sobbing" in a soft, similar fashion to the way Bath does. It opens with an eerie guitar chord backing a soft flute melody. Some more delicate guitar chords continue guided along the flute melody, which goes from shrill to pleasant on occasion before a loud drum beat takes it into the main section of the song. An oddly soft and very spacey section sets the backdrop to uncharacteristically loud and thundering drumming and some harsh growls. This semblance continues, creating an odd structure and some creepy undertones into the second verse where some random horn noodling in the background creates a chaotic tension amidst a peaceful backdrop. Eventually this section morphs into the original spacey melody being played with lightning fast death metal distortion while a shrill flute plays a disturbingly peaceful melody over the top. This continues for a while before the flutes start to go slightly off tune and it turns into a scary metal section with some backdrop screaming provided by Toby, eerie electronic screeches, and the piece ends in some odd start-and-stop heaviness. Overall this is a very avant-garde piece that effectively portrays the unsettling mood of the album, and, on an off note, this piece is a good representation of the musical direction that future Toby Driver project Kayo Dot would pursue.

The next piece "Gleam in Ranks" is an absolutely amazing piece of prog metal and possibly my favorite motW song. It starts out with some soft, almost whispered vocals and an upbeat palm-muted guitar riff that is accented by some awesome keys and a very good bass line. This continues until Toby's voice elevates to hit a high note before turning into a very upbeat progressive metal song with some cool guitar interplay and spacey backing keys. Eventually Toby's voice kicks in with an incredibly catchy vocal melody. It's very dynamic, probably his best vocal showing yet. The original riff changes to something a little more sinister and the piece builds up to a frenzy of crazed vocals and fast chugging riffs before ending very suddenly.

The next piece "Bizarre Flowers/A Violent Mist" starts off with some soft feedback noises before opening into a very epic metal riff, guided by Driver's voice and given a strong backing melody by what sound like church bells. Eventually a solemn guitar solo joins the melody before the bells escalate in a large unison. This section ends and another section of distorted percussion, guitar feedback, and a number of very creepy, agonizing growls occur in the background. The growls eventually escalate into a chaotic mess of noises before a grand metal riff starts again. Byron's growls lead this into a very slow-churning metal section that eventually goes momentarily silent, and leads into a... funk fusion section? All of a sudden this spacey metal stops and it turns into a fast, fun, upbeat section with strong bass rhythm and an absolutely brilliant guitar solo. This section continues but eventually adds the same melody in heavy metal guitar tones. When this ends we get into another spacey section with some odd electronic noises and some echoic vocals.

"Interlude 3" follows, and it's noticeably longer than the first interlude on Bath. It's also an incredibly beautiful piece of music. Some delicate acoustic guitars play a very peaceful melody before some soft bongos add a light percussion. Eventually a very pretty violin adds on, and a soft clarinet, and some grandiose horns create a stunningly beautiful and magnificent piece devoid of all the scary undertones present in the songs before it, leaving only pleasant bliss in songwriting.

The wonderfully pleasant note that "Interlude 3" ends on is a nice segue into a folksy section that begins "The Curve That to an Angle Curve'd". This pleasant little intro doesn't last long, however, as the song suddenly turns into a very slow and heavy doom metal piece, with some slow chugging riffs and Byron's menacing growls. Eventually the heaviness stops and we get a soft rock piece with some sorrowful vocal exchange between Toby and the female vocalist. The lyrics are somewhat of a love exchange. Some more sad guitar chords start another building process, where some background whispering and an eventual increase in tempo lead to another upbeat metal section with some very evil sounding layered screams, and while it appears as though the piece is going to elevate higher, it slowly deconstructs and dies out. While not a weak piece in any way, this song is comparatively the weakest on the album.

"Sleep is a Curse" is a pretty different song to show up halfway through the album. It's a somewhat sad indie folk song with some powerful vocals performed by Driver. He also wrote the lyrics to this song (Byron normally writes all the poetry for the lyrics), and they're a lot more down-to-earth than most of the other lyrics, and quite touching. The first half of the song is guided by some folksy acoustic guitars and Toby's vocals, but halfway through the song some percussion and violin are added, making for a very pretty folk rock piece.

Up next is the epic "Riseth He, the Numberless" suite, which, ironically, is split up into two parts. It opens with a solo horn in a similar fashion that "Girl with a Watering Can" does on Bath with the clarinet. Eventually a very loud note leads into an unsettling spacey section that is joined by some very menacing metal riffage. Byron's growling is top-notch here as it leads into an absolutely fantastic and utterly horrifying spacey metal riff. It follows with some rather menacing death metal and a cool guitar solo as the lyrics foretell what sounds like some sort of end times event. The guitar solo ascends into a frenzy as all the metal very quickly slows down into a non-music section that bridges into the second section of the song. In between we have what sounds like the distorted sound of wind blowing into a microphone, and eventually we start to hear stifled screams in the background. These eerie voices continue to cry out in agony as a soft ticking escalates, and I get this picture in my mind of some unspeakably horrible, timeless evil awakening and bringing about the end times. The second section begins after about a minute with some cool drumming and soft guitars, and eventually even a harp. Eventually some echoing keyboards start a very spacey metal section. Once the vocals kick in it becomes a rather evil sounding piece that's complimented by a wicked guitar solo and the menacing church organ. It ends on a long creepy organ note and some accompanying guitar distortion.

"Interlude 4" is supposedly the band's crowning achievement. In the liner notes for the re- issue, Toby states that this song was completely imagined through dream composition and translated just through lucid dream remembrance. It opens with sleigh bells ringing and a soft guitar melody with a fingered upright bass in the background. What sounds like a fretless guitar later adds a lead line. When the drumming kicks in it's accompanied by some very soft and soothing viola. The piece continues like this on some minor variation before the music fades away, leaving only the sleigh bells left, which had been ringing throughout the concourse of the whole song. This whole piece is rather beautiful in a mystifying way and indeed sounds like it was inspired from some astral body; it's a truly otherworldly piece.

"Monstrously Low Tide" is the closing song and it opens with immensely heavy guitars and thudding bass before slowing down into a very spacey metal section with some trippy piano melodies in the background. This section ends very quickly and then a passage with some dark acoustic guitar starts. This soft section continues with some echoing background vocals provided by Driver and some very soothing female lead. Eventually the tempo picks up slightly and Toby provides some very beautiful lead vocals while some soft chanting vocals in the background end this section. The last half of the song is some free-form spacey guitar, all clean, but with some heavy loop and reverberation effects going on. The album ends pleasantly as the guitar fades to a stop.

And thus ends the second part of possibly the most incredible 2-part suite of music I have ever heard and possibly will ever hear. I think when all is said and done Bath is the better of the two albums; it's a lot more consistent and overall a better package, but Leaving Your Body Map is otherwise just as good in every respect and is worthy of nothing less than a perfect score as well. People, if you ever get a chance to listen to either of these albums in their entirety, do so. Any fan of challenging, mature metal needs to listen to this album.

Five stars.

Standout tracks: All of them.

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Posted Sunday, October 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Toby Driver is probably the most innovative musician in the last decade or so, and this album is nothing but pure brilliance. This album is ethereal, it's gut-wrenching, it's painful, it's curious, it has individuality. After listening to the works of Toby Driver, I've decided that every metal band needs a horn player and a flutist. There is such incredible, unique beauty on this album, I don't even know where to begin. Leaving Your Body Map is just beautiful metal--there is such nice interplay between the various non-conventional instruments that I don't know how else to describe it. From angst-filled "Stones of October Sobbing" all the way through to the touching conclusion of "Monstrously Low Tide," this album is perfect. It takes progressive metal into an entirely new direction and shows there are still creative musician's in this genre.
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Posted Saturday, October 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beauty, Raw Emotion, Brilliance, and Warts

Toby Driver is one of the wunderkind geniuses of the last 10 years, and I've come to appreciate his avant take on metal through quite a few listens to albums by both MotW and his current project Kayo Dot. LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP is one of a pair of albums that put Driver on the map. Maudlin is more of a band affair than Dot, and this lends a bit of balance that even KD's best works lack. I absolutely loved the recent PART THE SECOND which led me searching for the early works. I found LYBM used at one of St. Louis' better record shops, and it's been a great journey.

Compared to PtS, LYBM contains much more metal. A variety of harsh vocal sounds are used, thrashy guitar tones weave in and out, and we get some blast beats from the drummer. This is a mixed blessing. The heavier elements add a greater variety of feels and weapons for Driver's muse, but the harshest parts are sometimes just too much for the music to my ear. On the other hand, there is a youthful energy on LYBM that is virtually gone from more recent Driver work.

This is an enormous and daunting album, one that deserves a track by track.

Stones of October Sobbing - Beautiful opening with guitar and flute in a jazzy, dreamy stroll gets broken abruptly by a death metal growl and a heavy guitar that sounds like a biker with a dirty yellow beard taking a dump in the middle of the stage during a performance of the Nutcracker ballet. Driver adds in some screams for good measure, while the band simultaneously plays the nasty and sweet parts. The voice leaves and the two parts seem to find a happy common ground. When the vocals return, Driver intentionally screws with us some more with random atonal horns. Again, a respite, and then blast beats. Here the growls make sense in context for a brief moment. Without a doubt, this is one of the most ambitious songs ever recorded to even come close to succeeding. It's brilliant, but it sucks a little too.

Gleam In Ranks - One of the fastest songs I've heard Driver do, probably the only one that I would use the word "Rock" to describe. I love this song. Strange rhythmic choices, piano flourishes, and one of Driver's best vocals. Prog metal heaven!

Bizarre Flowers / A Violent Mist - After pummeling and confusing me, and then rocking my socks off, the Maudlin boys deliver a song that is quite solid but certainly doesn't evoke the same level of emotion I'd experienced before. Where I'm force to live some of the songs on this album, I simply listen to this one. Driver's harsh vocals are more black-metalish here and though the song is certainly quite heavy, it doesn't pack the punch of track 1.

(Interlude 3) - Is, surprise, surprise, a quiet acoustic guitar interlude. It echoes one of the melodic themes that recurs through the album. First hand drum and then violin and horn enter to create a tonality similar to some Kayo Dot, but much more accessible. Frankly pretty, a nice respite from the intensity.

A Curve That To An Angle Turn'd - develops much like the opening track, with a nicely composed clean quiet bit that turns to heavy sludge with growled vocals. This gets a bit boring and repetitive for about a minute but then gets interspersed with clean jazzy sections. Eventually there is a gentle female vocal interlude and the piece finishes with an angry outburst. I'm left a little lost, a little bored.

Sleep is a Curse - This jazzy guitar / vocal from Driver is still for me the signature tune from the genius. Toby sounds young but the music is vibrant and mature, and the vocal melody weaves in an out with a lyric that sticks with me. Driver's quirky harmonic sense still makes this clearly his work, despite a very spare and intimate performance.

Riseth He, The Numberless 1 - The opening trumpet promises so much, and when the band comes in, they deliver. Here the heaviness works with death march snare and harmony guitar raising the intensity until again we get the growl vocals. The lyrics can be clearly made out here, and the tonality fits. When a true thrash metal beat comes in at about 2:45, I just want to yell "YeSSSS." And it just gets better. A perfectly metal guitar solo is short and sweet but just adds more intensity. Abruptly we get a stop with some distant muffled screams...

Riseth He, The Numberless 2 - Slowly we rise again, first with trapset, then piano, then the rolling bass with yet another part to a piece that goes so many places but maintains its identity. An almost Sabbath-y riff accompanies a simple key line before we get the end of the story. The guitars during the vocal part are much more complex than track 5. Never do I lose attention. A two-part progressive death metal feast of an epic that would have made Opeth pick up the pad and start taking notes.

(Interlude 4) - Of all things, after the horror fest, we get...sleigh bells. Another intimate acoustic piece with Driver's unmistakable tonality. Quite distinct from the other acoustic bits, it features a beautiful bass solo. Just when it begins to seem long, the band drops in and we're transported. Beauty. This is musical heaven, foreshadowing Part the Second, and Driver at his most sublime.

Monstrously Low Tide - Great, massive riff that sounds like Alice In Chains with 10 ton cajones opens the final song deceptively. After about a minute, an acoustic guitar brings in an ethereal female vocal. Driver then enters with his adolescent voice, and this time it sounds a bit out of place. The whole piece has great moments, but is a bit meandering. There is a long slap-back guitar solo in the style of Devin Townsend to close the song and the album in a strange, wandering into the woods way.

There are parts of this album that reach masterpiece level, and I wouldn't argue with anyone who chose to bump the whole album to that level. It's a bit too uneven for me award 5 stars, but is a truly progressive, creative, musical piece of metal that has something to say.

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Posted Friday, December 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Blown away once again by a TOBY DRIVER project! Started with "Part the Second," then went into Kayo Dot stuff before circling back round to earlier motW stuff. While "Part the Second" is out of this world, this one is within this world but still exploring and pushing boundaries and stylistic experimentation like no one--NO ONE--is doing (to my knowledge).

1. "Stones of October's Sobbing." (10/10) To start an album with spacious guitar notes and flute and then so smoothly flow into an unique pounding-yet-minimalistically-constructed moody jazz/pop metal song with slow (and easy to understand!) death metal growls is nothing less than astounding! Astounding! Then to have it evolve into a true metal song with angels of jazz flitting in and out, over and above, then decaying into a death scene with the odd spasm of metal guitar life. It defies description much less explanation.

2. "Gleam in Ranks" (9/10) is an unbelievably fresh-sounding song with components and accents that defy definition or description. I can't tell you how amazed I am over the choice of vocal styling and effects (distant, very melodic human-emotional singing, interspersed with screams and growl-screams) over this amazing driving song.

3. "Bizarre Flowers/A Violent Mist" (9/10) as repetitive as it is, is probably my favorite song on the album. The amazing vocals, epic tubular bells, and weave of all kinds of tertiary and background instruments and effects, presents a wall of sound that strikes deep within my core. Then! it all cuts out at the three minute mark, leaving some cymbol play, electric guitar feedback, repeated electric guitar note play and voices screaming in the background like thunder rumbling--till it all builds to jump start the song's third section with its growl vocals--at first fast, then mysteriously slowing--as if the world is being played in slow motion. Then the odd, dissonant electric guitar and bass chords and double bass drum machine gun hits play a few seconds before everything switches to a very straightforward driving rock beat with an almost normal electric guitar solo playing over the top. Oops! Switch again! Slow down to that slow-mo heavier music only this time with the floating upper register male vocals singing till song's still and anti-climactic end.

4. "(Interlude 3)" is a beautiful acoustic guitar (and, later, tabla, and still later, violin) piece--almost like a CHOPIN étude. (10/10)

5. "The Curve that to an Angle Turn'd" (8/10) begins as a rather slow-paced study in electric guitar chords before turning into a proper albeit slow metal song with growl lyrics as in the opening song. This song's development and evolution are slow and subtle, then suddenly diverting to jazz, interrupted with metal power chords, then back to the jazz theme with quite pastoral female and (far in the background) male vocals. Kissing seems to be the topic of their woven discussion before we find ourselves left only with an slow laying electric guitar. Guitar is then joined by jazzy drums and some whipsered background voices before the scream-growl master reutrns with flayling drums (bass, mostly) and composed guitar chords. God this music is so fascintating! Like nothing I've ever reviewed! Not sure of the point of this song.

6. "Sleep Is a Curse" is a kind of folk ballad about the singer's own suicide. Acoustic guitars being picked at seem to be telling a story of their own--a kind of underlying confidence to go with the ethereal lyric. Almost three-quarters of the way into the song, the guitars are joined by bass, drums, and violin to finish out the song. The vocals only hum in the background. (Must be the angel getting to know himself and his boundaries.) Cool song. Melodic and probably poignant. (8/10)

7. "Riseth He, The Numberless, part 1" (7/10) Opens with low brass (baritone or French horn?) before meaty bass and drums and then guitars join in on a kind of military march with Post Rock/Math Rock leanings--that is, until the growl vocals enter. Later the tempo doubles, a virtuosic guitar solo spills out before the music suddenly cuts out, leaving the sounds of rain and wind with a screaming man far in the distance.

8. "Riseth He, The Numberless, part 2" (8/10) is a kind of slowed down, angelic carry forward from "part 1" with a harp-like instrument playing a pretty melody in arpeggio. At the two minute mark, the music solidifies into a more heavy mode with fuzz guitar and a brief growl vocal. At 3:00 the music briefly adds some electronic keyboard arpeggio accents before returning to the death metal format and a brief lead guitar solo decaying with multiple fuzz guitars playing an odd chord progression over and over.

9. "(Interlude 4)" (8/10) begins with sleigh bells (yeah: sleigh bells) which are joined by one and then a second Windham Hill-like acoustic guitar, playing off of one another (or are they each in their own separate universes?) before being joined by jazz-like drumming and violin/strings.

10. "Monstrously Low Tide" (9/10) begins by giving the listener a true journey: from power metal to acoustic jazz to FRED FRITH sound experimentation to be unexpectedly joined by our female (think "JOANNE HOGG") and male (think "MICHAEL FRANKS") vocalist/lovers from Song 5 then turning down another electric guitar effects étude--where it stays until song'--(and album')--s conclusion.

What a journey! I swear this album took/takes me to alternate universes I had never imagined! Just what I want my music to do! Just what truly PROGRESSIVE music should do. Definitely one of the most adventurous, exciting, and beautiful albums of the 21st Century! A true masterpiece of progressive music! (And I don't really like metal or growling!)

Report this review (#377607)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Craniopagus parasiticus...

The second in a pair of albums, kindly 'retrieved' from the astral plane by maudlin of the Well.

The Good: Interesting atmosphere and lyrics. A few nice sleigh bells dotted about.

The Bad: As the brother release to Bath it's almost impossible to listen to this album without making direct comparisons. After all, they are inextricably linked, featuring opposingly descriptive artwork. Their similarities lie in their weak vocals, and extended periods of monotony. However, whereas Bath harnesses the juxtaposition of styles to create powerful, emotional songs with great character, Leaving Your Body Map falls flat on its face and just wanders around aimlessly for the best part of an hour. For me the only noteworthy track on the whole album is the finale, Monstrously Low Tide, but by the time I get there it feels like I've just been dragged face-first down a gravel motorway which hardly makes it worth the wait.

The Verdict: The runt of the litter.

Report this review (#438139)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars My reaction to Leaving Your Body Map is, predictably, much like my reaction to its companion album Bath. Whilst Maudlin of the Well are doubtless good at the different genres they dabble in on these two albums, the problem is that dabbling is all they do - none of the individual parts are top-notch examples of death metal or post-rock or any of the other genres they bring to bear, but because they're all put next to each other people tend to think Maudlin of the Well are doing something radical and new when in reality they're just doing a lot of old stuff that other people did better and with more focus.
Report this review (#645826)
Posted Sunday, March 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the second album in a duo of albums that almost seem like the same album (quite alot of "albums", there), released by the grandeur maudlin of the Well. Leaving Your Body Map explores different tones and sounds, and at the same time sounds acceptable to a person just beginning to listen to experimental music. This album, is quite possibly, the greatest album released by maudlin of the Well, and if anyone is curious about the band, this might be the best window to their great catalog.

This album opens up with "Stones of October Sobbing" a song that may seem odd to some, but in reality is great. Stones of October Sobbing begins with a mellow flute and guitar playing, and eventually leads to more riffs and infamous death growls (using "infamous" in a good manner). In the midst of this chaos, trumpets sing a tune that sounds, very oddly, like Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire". In text, you might be confused as to why I'd say this song is good, but I suggest for you to listen to it for yourself.

Following Stones, "Gleam in Ranks" rises from the ashes. This song is upbeat and catchy. It has strong guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and fast drumming all packed in about 4:00.

"Bizarre Flowers/ A Violent Midst" has a haunting tone to it. Starting with ringing bells and soft vocals, the song then blasts into a... "violent midst" you could say. With a distorted guitar ringing in the background, you can hear untamed and unclear screams in the background. It then comes back to Byron's death growls, a catchy solo, and ends with quiet, and yet again, "haunting" vocals.

"(Interlude 3)" is mostly an acoustic guitar piece, to prepare you for the next set of tracks.

"A Curve That To An Angle Turn'd" begins with a folksy guitar riff. But not long after, the song immediately explodes into a slow, heavy doom metal piece, with more death growls dominating the music. Then, we come to a part with sad guitar chords and vocals from Maria-Stela Fountoulakis.

But then it all leads to the song "Sleep is a Curse" Much like "Marid's Gift of Art" from their previous release, "Bath", Sleep is a Curse is an acoustic piece that rests you from the previous chaotic tracks.

"Riseth the Numberless" is a 2 part song with good use of distorted keyboards. It is a rather simple song, and has strong relations to progressive metal.

"(Interlude 4), like 3, is a simple acoustic piece, only this time used to lead to the album finale.

"Monstrously Low Tide" opens with a strong, heavy riff, but as unexpected, tunes down to mellow piano and acoustic guitar riffs. It floats to the end like a raft in water with ambient (I guess you could use that word) guitar riffs. This song is almost like a peek into Kayo Dot, what Toby Driver is soon to become.

My suggestion is that you should definitely get this album. When i say essential, I mean this album is essential entirely to avante garde metal and rock, which is why i give this a 4 star rating. Again, that still doesnt mean this album shouldn't be heard by a plentiful amount of prog fans. But, this album is definitely essential to avante garde music and all who enjoy it.

Report this review (#955940)
Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars For a band who claims that the ideas for the twin releases of BATH and LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP came from astral projection, I would think that there would be a more dreamy feel to them. In fact nothing on these albums makes me think of a strange dimension where a spirit rides the ethers throughout the universe. It simply sounds like experimental metal in its nascent form. For me the thing about dreamscapes is that everything would seem more surreal and bizarre. Oh well, guess my ideas are different than most since these albums seem to be extremely popular.

This album starts off immediately with the death metal thing and I commend the band for adding flutes and whistles and all kinds of new sounds to the mix but something about these albums just doesn't click with me where the KAYO DOT ones do. As with BATH the gentler jazzier post rock parts work best for me while the growly metal parts seem to lack any legitimate luster. Not a bad album but doesn't live up to the subject matter projected and fails to transgress into the astral planes the way I imagine such music sounding like. Basically I think they tackle too lofty of a goal and fail to deliver the goods.

Report this review (#1100533)
Posted Thursday, December 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5 Stars. Darker journeys into the Astral Plane

Leaving Your Body Map is the second album of a 2-part concept on the subject of Astral Projection, where the band try to find music in the Astral Plane and put it to pen and paper. The previous album Bath combined gentle Post-rock with abrasive Death metal to reflect the heavenly and hellish things that can be found on the Astral Plane.

While this album does not have any fundamental changes in direction from its predecessor, there is a notable shift to the darker end of the spectrum and more metal songs are present than before. Even the "light" songs now have a melancholy in them which was not present on Bath. Also the divide in soft and hard is not as extreme as before which makes it the album appear more coherent and easy to follow.

The overall complexity of this album is also higher compared to Bath, with some of the longer metal songs ("Stones of October's Sobbing"," A Curve That To An Angle Turn'd" and "Riseth He, The Numberless") sounding not very different from Opeth. While their Death metal is not on the same level as Opeth's one thing they do have over them is that their soft side is far more diverse and better crafted to suit the heavy sections. This is one area where they have improved from their last album, with some of the softer songs (especially the interludes) being breathtakingly beautiful.

While Bath had a few weaker songs LYBM has no sub-par track, however unfortunately nothing quite beats the levels of "Girl with a Watering Can" and "Birth Pains of Astral Projection" found in the previous album. The narrowing of the heavy and soft gap also works against them somewhat as it dilutes the signature sound of this band and risks them sounding like any other Deth metal band.

Initially I was nowhere near as impressed with this album compared to Bath as it just did not hit the same heights in music nor subject matter. however over time the subtle but very powerful parts of the album take effect and leave a lasting impression. For example the transition between "Riseth He, the Numberless" part 1 and 2 is simply distant screaming and wailing which was occurred due to demon possession (and is the scariest part of the entire album, but only once you have properly read and understood the lyrics). Also the closer "Monstrously Low Tide" is the reverse of the opener of Bath ("The blue ghost"). While the opener starts with light Post rock and finishes with metal, the closer starts with metal and finishes with pure Ambient music. All these subtle but very well thought out effects do add up and enhance my enjoyment of this album. There is very little for me to fault in LYBM and an increasingly growing number of things for me to praise. Up to 2 months ago this was a clear 4 star album for me, but the more I listen to this album the more everything seems to fit perfectly together which is why I am giving it 5 stars. Maybe in the future I might even enjoy this more than Bath? It definitely has the potential.

Report this review (#1453161)
Posted Friday, August 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars I listened to this album because I wanted to hear more post metal and avant metal. I was very impressed with this album. The album mixes death metal, and acoustic passages together sort of like OPETH but it sounds nothing like OPETH. It also reminded me of MR BUNGLE but again it sounds nothing like MR BUNGLE. The instrumentation and the vocals on the album are very good and the presence of different vocal styles are always great for progressive metal albums. The softer acoustic songs paired with the faster heavier songs make this album a trip to listen to, taking the listener through different moods and trips all throughout the album. You never know whats going to come next on this record.
Report this review (#2431544)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2020 | Review Permalink

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