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Thinking Plague


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Thinking Plague A History Of Madness album cover
4.12 | 100 ratings | 10 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Blown Apart (8:35)
2. Consolamentum (4:02)
3. Rapture Of The Deep (5:59)
4. Gúdamy Le Máyagot (An Phocainn Theard... (2:54)
5. Marching As To War, No. 1 Performed By Thinking Plague / Ladies Senior Piano Crusade (1:22)
6. Our -Way Of Life- And -War On Terra (5:23)
7. Marching, No. 2 (0:41)
8. Least Aether For Saxophone & Le Gouffre (8:52)
9. The Underground Stream (6:02)
10. Marching, No. 3 (0:47)
11. Lux Lucet (9:36)
12. Marching, No. 4 - Reverie For The Children (1:00)

Total time 55:13

Line-up / Musicians

- Deborah Perry / vocals
- Mike Johnson / lap steel, electric & acoustic guitars, bouzouki, shaker, tambourine, maracas
- Matt Mitchell / piano, synths, harmonium, sampler
- Mark Harris / saxes, flute, clarinet
- Dave Willey / bass, accordion, melodica, guitaron
- David Shamrock / drums, percussion, tambourine, bells

- Mark Fuller / voice (1)
- Leslie Jordan / vocals (4)
- Ron Miles / trumpet (2)
- Jean Harrison / fiddle (4)
- Kent McLagan / acoustic bass (1-4)
- Dave Kerman / percussion (4,11)
- Mark McCoin / samples & treatments (6)

Releases information

Artwork: E. M. Thomas

CD Cuneiform Records ‎- Rune 180 (2003, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THINKING PLAGUE A History Of Madness Music

THINKING PLAGUE A History Of Madness ratings distribution

(100 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THINKING PLAGUE A History Of Madness reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Unreasonably difficult and stinking of something gone bad in the corner is Thinking Plague's fifth... it's only later you begin noticing the strong jazz underpinnings easily missed, the high level of musicianship masked by odd moods and settings, and clear if stark visions of a music liberated from even its own Avant Garde origins. Mike Johnson plays acoustic and electric guitars for these gypsys and also handles bazouki and various light percussion, carried just right by Matt Mitchell with his buggy piano and synths, Mark Harris on reeds, Dave Willey's bass and ants-in-your-pants accordion, Deborah Perry's unstable and brainsick soughing, and of course the drums of Dave Shamrock. Plus six others handling everything from trumpets and fiddles to bass, samples and percussives. 'Blown Apart' with its jazz lines, Perry's unglued triplets and Mike Johnson's irritated plucking breaks into a great monster of a jam for the second half of this 8-minute opener. 'Consolamentum' and 'Rapture of the Deep' are pure nut house, and 'Gudamy Le Mayagot' shreds, wriggling under your skin with a mad fiddle from Jean Harrison. More of this in 'The Underground Stream' and pianist Matt Mitchell outdoing himself with a tremendous opera seria piano passage, and 'Lux Lucet' is a standout, edging this distraught record past typical avant prog. Faint influences from the Crims and Univers Zero but not much like either and though it contains a lot of hidden beauty, this is one bad acid trip of modern experimentalism and will surely piss you off.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This one is a lot different then their last one "In Extremis". I really enjoyed "In Extremis", in fact it's one of my favourite Rio / Avant albums. "A History Of Madness" isn't as melodic, it's sombre, melancholic and more acoustic. This was a little difficult to digest actually but there are some passages I love. Even Deborah's vocals are more serious and monotone. Unfortunately Dave Kerman is reduced to a percussion role, but at least we have former SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM drummer David Shamrock taking his place behind the kit.

"Blown Apart" really has it's focus on the vocals that are at times mechanical-like and at other times used to sing melodies. There is some good guitar, drums and percussion in this one that turns pastoral for the last 3 minutes. "Consolamentum" features vocals that are both soft and reserved, while heavy drums pound. The tempo picks up with some aggressive guitar towards the latter half of the song. ""Rapture Of The Deep(for Leslie)" has some beautiful acoustic guitar melodies with gentle vocals coming in. The vocal melodies are great and some heaviness is added 4 minutes in. Amazing tune. "Gudamy Le Mayagot" is a mixed bag with tempo changes, accordion and harmonium. "Marching As To War, No.1" along with the other four "Marching" songs that make up that suite, are made up of piano melodies and are around a minute in length. They make up songs 5, 7,10 and 12.

"Our Way Of Life And War On Terra" is divided into two parts, the first "Our Way Of Life" being dominated by vocal melodies and angular guitar. While the second half "War On Terra" is really a soundscape of eerie sounds. "Least Aether For Saxaphone & Le Gouffre" opens with these sombre sax melodies that are slowly played. There is an applause as it ends after 3 1/2 minutes. Next is the sound of running water and then we get a haunting soundscape of eerie sounds that reminded me of "Saucerful Of Secrets" . "The Underground Stream" is a top three for me on this disc. Gentle guitar, vocals, horns and accordion all create such a fine sound. It seems like there is so much going on. Piano comes in after 3 minutes sounding like a stream. A full sound arrives 5 minutes in as drums and vocals lead the way. "Lux Lucet" is the other top three track for me. It changes and evolves throughout with different moods and tempo changes. A good beat at times with some angular guitar. Just a feast really.

This really is a trip. Where do these guys come up with the ideas ? Amazing album

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars TP's 2003 opus 'A History of Madness' is probably their most difficult album thus far, not only in complexity but the fact that the songs are more subtile in contrast to the previous avant-rock apex 'In Extremis', featuring slower, darker and more acoustic oriented compositions. The tension is intruging, but requires a few listens to catch it all due to all the messed up clues within the music. Of course, the music is enteriely atonal, but the clever orchestration of the songs and rhytmic syncopations are throughoutly exciting, with some really impressive musicianship, notably from former Sleepytime Gorilla Museum drummer David Shamrock, which lays down some of the most creative avant grooves I've heard so far. The first part of the album is fairly dark and jarring, the opener "Blown Apart" sets the tone instantly and takes you through a brain-scrambling rollercoaster ride into a house of horrors, while the next track sounds like a ritualistic nightmare reminiscent of earlier Plague tunes like 'Malaise' and 'Moonsongs' from their earlier years. Apart from some nicely done atonal piano interludes, the mid-section of the album is more ambient oriented which I feel fits nicely to the brooding mood of the whole album, though it might not be to everyones taste. The last proper tracks "Underground Stream" and "Lux Lucet" are two of my favorite TP tracks ever which really sums up the progression the band have made since the early 80's, these tunes are intense, uncomfortable (in a good way) and features some of the best ideas from Mike Johnson's mind. I would absolutely rank this album up there with 'In This Life' (my other favorite TP album) but this one definitely nedds more time to sink in to you. The music ain't pretty at first, as TP is indeed one of the strangest bands out there, but the rhythmic cleverness and multiple musical details are so cleverly constructed that you'll be left confused, scared and highly impressed by the whole thing. I can't go under 5 on this one, albums like this need to be explored by any avant-rock enthusiast!
Review by Warthur
3 stars Thinking Plague's History of Madness demonstrates that a little thinking goes a long way. Often cited as being difficult, the fact is that none of the Plague's output has exactly been simple and accessible, and the avant-jazz stylings of this album don't feel like an enormous departure from past precedent. To my ears, each Thinking Plague album since the debut saw a fairly major development of their sound, but by this point they are more evolutionary than revolutionary, and this evolution takes them a little too far into the realms of complex technical execution without a distinct and strong idea behind it. Competent, but not classic.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I am suprised by the relatively low rating for this album, I thought it would be well over a 4. This album isn't necessarily heavy, and would probably suit an audience that prefers Gentle Giantisms and Henry Cowisms as opposed to King Crimsonisms. You can kind of chill out to this album, if havi ... (read more)

Report this review (#170309) | Posted by kabright | Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In terms of score this is a 4.5. Much as I like it it's not a masterpiece, but it's very close. This is the first Thinking Plague album I heard and whilst many people said get "In Extremis" first, and which I ordered first, but "A History of Madness" arrived first, I figured I'd listen to it m ... (read more)

Report this review (#82528) | Posted by x_bruce | Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think, Thinking Plague (what a great name!) is a merger of the concepts of Relayer-Yes, Western-Culture- Henry Cow, Interview-Gentle Giant, probably a litte Gravity-/Speechless-Fred Frith and of ... only mastermind and master guitar player Mike Johnson could explain. And what develops from th ... (read more)

Report this review (#79461) | Posted by Cometa Rossa | Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm afraid "A History of Madness" doesn't reach the heights of 'In Extremis' in terms of consistency and overall compositional quality - although one might argue that it doesn't really aspire to. After all, despite a similar cover, this is quite a different work, mostly due to the co ... (read more)

Report this review (#70293) | Posted by Pafnutij | Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Blown apart - blown away. That's what I felt when I came to know this album, a couple of years ago. (This review is edited in August 2009). I was thrilled by the contemporary music ideas and techniques assimilated in a wonderful rock creation, I was entranced by the sheer beauty all over, and I w ... (read more)

Report this review (#50641) | Posted by ShW1 | Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The intrumental arrangements show a development from previous albums - more subtle, more diverse; however, the score for voice lacks the inspirations we find on the previous albums; at the end of the album I get a sense of "dullness" because of this, end therefore I do not get that often back ... (read more)

Report this review (#23865) | Posted by | Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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