Posts Tagged ‘Progressive Metal’

h1

Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

Saturday, April 18, 2009
Deadwing (2005)

Deadwing (2005)

From the first time I listened to this album it felt so innately familiar, like I heard all these songs before. This is definitely not a bad thing, in this case.

Every one of these songs are great and add something to the album, which I can’t really say for In Absentia. Certainly some are weaker than others, but every song shines here.

It starts hard with the nealy ten minute “Deadwing.” Next the pop-metallish “Shallow.” Then my favorite song on the album, “Lazarus,” is very pretty and spacey. It has a piano background which really make the song tender and warm while maintining its progressive elements.

Deadwing is my second Porcupine Tree album and it just makes me want to explore the band further. This is the beginning of a great and new obsession, I’m sure.

“Arriving Somewhere but Not Here” is just an epic twelve minute thrill ride. “Mellotron Scratch” is also good. I could just go through the rest of the songs and devote a sentence to each of them, but there really is no point. I’d just be repeating myslf.

I’m not really an expert on Porcupine Tree, but this album makes me want to be one. It’s very surprisng to me that they are not as popular. I know, there are a lot of people who know about Porcupine Tree, but I guess what I’m saying is if you were to walk up to someone at my unversity and ask them if they’ve heard of them, maybe one of fifty would say “yes.” As such, Porcupine Tree seem to be a secretly amazing band that only a lucky few will ever hear about.

Deadwing is fun. While In Absentia has some better songs, Deadwing seems more consistent. I’ll probably review Fear of a Blank Planet soon.

h1

maudlin of the Well – My Fruit Psychobells…A Seed Combustible

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Fruit Psychobells...A Seed Combustible (1999)

My Fruit Psychobells...A Seed Combustible (1999)

Alright, this is the last album by these guys I have yet to review. After this, I promise not to talk about them until they release their new album this year (or something newsworthy happens).

My Fruit Psychobells…A Seed Combustible was my very first maudlin album. I ordered the re-issue via Amazon a little over a year ago.

Up to this point, I hadn’t listened to anything so freakishly strange as maudlin of the Well. I lived in Iowa City, IA, where I attended the University of Iowa. I had recently transferred from the University of Oklahoma and was starting from scratch – no friends, no family, no life.

So, I turned to music, in a way.

This era of my life was defined by two bands – Sonic Youth, and maudlin of the Well. The chaotic and often beautiful music of both seemed a suiting metaphor for my life at the time.

It wouldn’t be until the following summer that my mind would be graced with the sheer majesty and epicness of Bath and Leaving Your Body Map. Consequently, it was this album I listened to constantly when I needed my maudlin fix.

Though this album is not as great as the other two, it is still worthy a full five out of five stars. “Ferocious Weights” begins the album strong. Slow and methodical, it reaches high trying to grasp at whatever it’s trying to attain, seeming to fall flat at the end (in a good and fitting way, if that makes sense). “A Conception Pathetic” starts strong and takes some interesting twists and turns along the way. As I was listening to this for the first time on a walk through downtown Iowa City, the part where the song sort of turns into a demented circus orgy of sorts made me think, “what am I listening to?” maudlin of the Well. Duh. They do crazy stuffs sometimes.

The first truly memorable track comes with “Undine and Underwater Flowers.” This is one of the few maudlin songs that follows a verse/chorus/verse pattern. The outro at the end is wonderful. Very desperate sounding.

“The Ocean, The Kingdom, The Temptation.” Epic. This is the greatest song on the CD, no doubt. It has that underwater quality to it that literally transports you to some fantastical realm – the music maudlin conjures bears you away to places which can only exist in dreams. This song is the epitome of a dreamscape – the tension holds throughout until the nightmare unfolds around minute four or so. Very cool song.

“Pondering a Wall”… meh.

“Catharsis of Sea-Sleep and Dreaming Shrines” is really high up there, second place to “The Ocean.” The intro is just so killer. Killer might not be the right word…the majority of the song and album is very relaxing, like you’re floating on a vast, glass-still ocean under a canopy of stars, drifting towards the line where consciousness ends and sleep begins.

While nothing on the album really sticks out, such as on Bath and Leaving Your Body Map, the songs work really well together, more cohesively, I daresay, than their other two. The lyrics, as in all maudlin songs, are absolutely poetic and destroy 99 percent of other bands do.

For what it’s worth, I recommend this album without reservation to anyone who’s interested in the slightest. Perhaps you might be better off starting with Bath, but if you start with My Fruit Psychobells…, you’ll likely not go wrong.

This album isn’t for anyone who’s just going to listen to it once or twice. I’m convinced it’s impossible to truly appreciate this album unless you’ve had it for months. It’s so complicated that you could never “get it” on the first or second go-around.

So, as in both other maudlin of the Well albums, be patient, be kind, and be loving, and it will duly return the favor.

h1

maudlin of the Well – Bath

Saturday, February 7, 2009
Bath (2001)

Bath (2001)

I reviewed Bath on my blogspot, and I’ve also reviewed it for Blogcritics. I just can’t shut up about this album.

maudlin of the Well is one of the greatest bands I’ve heard, yet sadly few people seem to know them. I should say maudlin seem to be gaining popularity – when I first joined last.fm about a year ago, they had less than 100,000 plays. Now, they’re up to about 4oo,ooo.

Bath itself is indescribable. Post-Rock, jazz, progressive, and indie are the main genres maudlin touch on, though their emphasis is metal.

With so much variety it would seem easy to assume maudlin have no focus.This is far from the case. All these elements are seamlessly blended to create something otherworldly. Toby Driver, singer and composer of maudlin’s music, used astral projection to write the music.

Now I’m not a metal guy. Rarely does metal appeal to me. But maudlin of the Well is different.They make great music, not really so much seeing how many notes they can fit in a beat, which is what a lot of metal seems to do. 

My favorite songs here are “The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth,” “Heaven and Weak,” (definitely “Heaven and Weak!”), and “Girl With a Watering Can. ” However the album is best listened to as a whole.

You’re better off downloading this album than buying it. It’s now out of print, so the band won’t be losing any money off you. Besides, copies go for upwards $50 on Amazon.

And good news! Due to a very generous fan who gave the band $10,000, maudlin have come back together for a new album, to be released in 2009. I will be walking on air, come that day.

So, listen to the song posted below, visit maudlin’s MySpace. Do all the usual “I really want to check these guys out!” sort of legwork. They deserve it.

h1

maudlin of the Well – Leaving Your Body Map

Monday, January 19, 2009
Leaving Your Body Map (2001)

Leaving Your Body Map (2001)

This has to be the most pretentious piece of music ever composed. Yet I love it.

Why do I love it? I can’t exactly say. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. I don’t just say that. The opening track, “Stones of October’s Sobbing,” has flutes, clarinets, heavy metal guitars, double kick drums, electronica, you name it. This has to be the most diverse lineup of instruments I’ve ever seen in a musical group. It’s ballsy. And the thing is, it works. That is, whatever “works” is for you.

“Works” is for me when it comes to this album. For the longest time it seemed like nothing special. But last week, I could not fall asleep. So, I propped myself up in my bed and listened to this with my headphones. There was nothing but me and the music going into my ears, lighting up the pleasure centers in my brain.

Leaving Your Body Map is jazzier than it’s companion album, Bath, which I reviewed last year (feels weird saying “last year”).

Though Bath and Leaving Your Body Map are companion albums, and by listening to each I can obviously hear they are both of maudlin, they are different shades of maudlin. Bath is more epic –Leaving Your Body Map is more chill. I listen to Bath when I want to feel echoes of the deepest feelings imaginable. I listen to Leaving Your Body Map when I want to think and be challenged, have my brain be turned upside-down and inside-out.

Track three, Bizarre Flowers/A Violent Mist – is truly otherworldly, and you’ll get the vibe of Leaving Your Body Map’s jazzy atmosphere. The song, by the way, is the highlight of the album for me.