maudlin of the Well - "Bath" & "Leaving Your Body Map"
(Dark Symphonies 2001, 2-CDs)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
These two CDs constitute a meeting ground in the psychic landscapes of progressive rock, space rock, death metal, doom metal, gothic, psychedelia, jazz, and even classical music. I was apprehensive about writing this review because I know I cannot possibly convey the importance and scope of these releases, so don't forget that these descriptions are limited. This music stretches the unknown faculties that hold the secret of why we listen to music in the first place. Through conventional and unconventional styles and instruments, motW have forged a new standard and possibly even a new paradigm for all the genres I have mentioned. They call it a "dreamer's education" meant to develop a "higher consciousness through music." That goal is timeless, but their methods and execution are utterly original and invigorating.
From the traditional core of guitars and drums to astral keyboards, then clarinet, cello, flute, trumpet, and more, motW transmute the familiar into an other-worldly experience. As with most of their songs, "Riseth He, The Numberless" moves from the artistic minimalism of soft guitar strumming to monumental synth-driven fanfares. "Gleam in Ranks" launches us into pure up-tempo progressive bliss, then veers into the darker faces of the same musical conception. Each atmosphere is melded seamlessly with the others. MotW can jam their way into deep space with Hawkwind and plunge into the coldest black hole with My Dying Bride or Tiamat within the space of a single song. The most remarkable facet is how natural and perfect every interlude and nuance turns out on both CDs. I'd say that's a sure sign of a milestone release with imitations soon to follow.
Their music is extremely difficult to describe because it never really sits still or settles into a single classification. I will say that these CDs are not meant as a feast in any one style. You can't drown in doom metal or space out with endless jams. You can, however, fill all the empty spaces in between and find paths to places that did not exist until motW released these CDs. This project is an alchemy of emotions distilled from many genres. From rumbling trumpets backing up guitars and drums to jazz outbursts and hushed folk vocals, these sounds can paint a collage or a monolith depending on the mood of the song.
Maudlin has carved out a path from the heart of rock music to the furthest fringes of experimental space, doom, and gothic. Their new territory welcomes a broad diversity. Fans of Hawkwind, Anubian Lights, Current 93, The Tea Party, Iron Maiden, My Dying Bride, and Samael will all find something extraordinary in motW. The production is just amazing. It conveys the music with perfect accuracy. The only real way to experience it is to buy the CDs. They go for $12 each, or $20 for a set including both CDs, a poster, and a sticker. Definitely the must-buy release(s) of 2001.
For more information and free sound samples visit: http://www.maudlinofthewell.com.
You can visit the Dark Symphonies web site at: http://www.darksymphonies.com.
Reviewed by Anish Bhatia