Sunday, 29 June 2008

PINK MOON (feminine musick)

MIRANDA SEX GARDEN

FAIRYTALES OF SLAVERY

Original Issue: 1994 Mute Records (CD STUMM 129) Buy it here

Margot-meter: 4,5 moons / 5

1. Cut
2. Fly
3. Peep Show
4. Wooden Boat
5. Havana Lied
6. Cover My Face
7. Transit
8. Freezing
9. Serial Angels
10. Wheel
11. Intermission
12. Monk Song
13. Fairytale About Slavery

from Progarchives:

Since their debut with the exclusively vocal "Madra", Miranda Sex Garden kept making changes in the music and lineup, 1994 is not the exception, before the release of "Fairytales of Slavery" Kelly McCusker left the band and is replaced by the talented vocalist and keyboardist Hepzibah Sessa and the band recruits Kim Fahey to take care of the bass, leaving Trevor Sharpe only in charge of drums and percussion due to the complexity of the rhythm section of this album.

The first problem is how to describe this album, still we can listen the evident and main Gothic/Folk/Medieval influence but with a more aggressive edge that leaves them closer to Industrial and Post Rock with a touch of Symphonic, probably if we listen carefully we'll find some other genres but the main thing is that this is a clearly Progressive Rock album.

It’s a pity that “so called” critics have lumped this band into the underground Goth genre keeping it hidden from the world, because it’s not accurate, they are Gothic in the classical sense of the world because they are Medieval and as we know Gothic is the name that was given to the last two centuries of Middle Age music (For God’s sake, their first album is only composed of Madrigals from the 1600’s, how more classical and late Medieval can it get?).

Of course is obscurantist because the Middle Ages were dark and obscure but this self proclaimed experts probably believe that the main genre is Goth (The black, vampire inspired rock sub-genre) and not just a commercial derivation of this classical epoch, in the case of
Miranda Sex Garden they keep the Gothic sound intact but adding many different influences in a complex and perfectly elaborated way.

If you are searching for epics and abrupt changes maybe you'll be disappointed, but if you love atmospheric, dark and aggressive music, well this is a good choice, sounds like RENAISSANCE meets FANTOMAS, the result is absolutely scary but excellent, somehow like "The Director's Cut" sung by Annie Haslam.

But lets go to check the 13 tracks (Cabalistic number by the way):

The album starts with an unusual rock oriented track based in a strong guitar and the wonderful vocals that seem to float above this chaos of sounds, the violent violin by Donna McKevitt is simply delightful, frantic from start to end with perfect synchronicity between bass and drums, no time to breath, of course the usual strange sounds add the darkness required.

“Fly” starts with a mysterious guitar surrounded by low bass and keyboards absolutely dark and haunting, the vocals slowly blend with this phantasmagoric atmosphere until a sudden explosion shows us that they have enough power, but again they return to the softer and dark sound and again another explosion that marks the end of the track.

“Peep Show” starts so soft that is almost not audible for the first 30 seconds, but in a fraction of second and out of nowhere the band and vocalists attack us based mostly in drums, bass and guitar, the vocals sound as being in a second but different plane, by moments I feel some Oldfield like sections. But of course with Katharine distinctive vocals.

“The Wooden Boat” sounds much more Medieval, like a return to their early Madrigals album, but the soft instrumental arrangements and strange sounds reminds us they have a post rock edge, very experimental song even when not one of my favorites.

“Havana Lied” is a Cabaret song in German (Creating some sort of WWII atmosphere), Andrew Blick’s trumpet (Guest musician) is simply perfect for an excellent recreation, this song prove once again that this band is really weird but imaginative and original. “Havana Lied” is a repetitive but interesting experimental track.

“Cover My Face” is brilliant, so strong, so violent and at the same time softened by the beautiful vocals that seem to hide behind all this aggression, some ancient maybe Egyptian influences that can be barely listened above the Industrial background, one of the best tracks by
Miranda Sex Garden, no abrupt changes, but absolutely dramatic, the ending is an absolute chaos, simply love it.

“Transit” of course starts with the guitar drums and keyboards simulating the sounds you can listen in a traffic jam, honestly too weird for my taste, the instruments seem too fight one against the other and Katharine uses his voice only to hound like a police or ambulance siren.

“Freezing” starts almost like Overture from Tommy, the guitar reminds clearly of Pete Townsend, but the howling by Katharine and the other girls return us to a different reality we’re before another strange track, short but effective.

“Serial Angels” is one really beautiful track, different to all the previous, the vocals are not so important, the problem is that the first half is recorded so low that you have to rise the volume to the max to barely listen it, but then a soft guitar and drums that go in crescendo mark the change, to a more rhythmic section where all the melody is provided by a soft chorus.

“Wheels” is like a time machine, from the late XX Century we return to the XIV or XV, this is almost like a cyclical song that describes perfectly a carousel, seems absolutely repetitive but don’t let this impression fool you, each repetition or cycle is different to the previous, as I said starts clearly medieval, but in the next round an instrument is added, first some chords, then bass, keyboards and at the end a beautiful and shocking chaos, almost the same procedure used by Mike Oldfield at the end of Tubular Bells side one, but more chaotic.

“Intermission” is just a collection of sounds like an Orchestra of bagpipes, but in the deepest part of this sounds there’s a haunting melody, pretty scary but short.

Now if you want weirdness “The Monk Song” is your best choice starts with the strangest vocal arrangements, lots of howling and moaning perfectly synchronized by the three women who have an incredible vocal range, all this screams supported by the drummer playing the metals, interesting and advanced but absolutely out of this world.

The album is closed with the best song “A Fairytale about Slavery” wonderful and magic track that starts absolutely Medieval with piccolo, drums and completely haunting vocals, creating a beautiful melody, the rest of the instruments especially keys and violins blend progressively creating a second tune in the background that slowly starts to take the lead and relegate the vocals to a second plane, until it reaches a point where the aggressive instrumentation and the vocals mix loudly with a very heavy and distorted guitar, creating as usual a dreamy mixture of the ancient and sacred with the modern and Pagan, a collision between two worlds and two conceptions of music, at the end the melody dissolves as if it was blending with the air and we can only listen the repetitive piccolo. 100% Progressive Rock, lovely and brilliant.

Hard to rate it, maybe some people will say this is subjective and too high, but something as adventurous, weird, dramatic and beautiful can’t be rated with less than 5 stars, yes it’s shocking for people used to melodic Symphonic, but Progressive Rock must also be innovative and dramatic.

If you never heard of this band, start with “Fairytales of Slavery” I’m sure that Symphonic, Post Rock, Folk and even Industrial fans will love it, probably is too weird and aggressive for Art Rock and Neo Prog fans because of it’s extreme complexity, but not everybody has to love the same music.

Iván Melgar-Morey

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

YES!!
Margot, this is (mad) love, that's what it is. Thank you for this wonderful, wonderful band. I Had thi sone already, but it was a really bad rip. Now you saved us all!

Kisses,
Jan

Margot said...

Totally agree with you Jan!

This is a really good album that I'm listening to from '94 without boring me at all

hopov said...

Thank You!
I've listened it 10 years ago on cassette. Now it's very interesting for me to listen it again.
Andrew

Anonymous said...

Especially the song Havana Lied -

(my rip says Havehe, which I proclaimed Hebrew at the time, now I'm not too sure anymore...)

- it is very entertaining, if you know German of course.

Jan

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this one. I've always like MSG, but didn't even know they had put out this particular album; they are excellent. Thanks again, Brue (Portland, OR)

gert said...

For some reason I only have their first EP Gush Forth My Tears (1991) at home, when MSG was heavenly a cappella. Thank you for the addition.

Richard said...

Thanks Margot great post,
I really like the way you post a large selection of obscure music,I dont always like it all but ive found some real gems here.and i always listen to your new posts because you've introduced me to some great sounds.And the Rating System is a good idea also.
Wheel of the year is one of the best blogs around.

greenrabbit said...

Hey Margot :)

I already have this one :) im just post a comment becouse i have all the Miranda Sex Garden discography, but the "Madra", "Iris" and "Gush Forth My Tears" albuns i had record on Tape, so can you help me or anyone else get me the links of this works?
Thanks

HarrisonX said...

Hi Margot, it's You who has a nice blog. Thanks for invitation to be You're friend, I'm very happy to do so. Naturally You are on my -Gods, Pals and Friends- list, yeah, naturally.
Catch Ya later.
HarrisonX

bongo man said...

nice album,never heard of.beautiful cover too.

BananaYogi said...

I had never heard this band (although I had heard OF them). That was my loss!

Really enjoying this one - will have to look for more by them.

Thanks Margot!

drfeelgoed said...

Intriguing album, thank you again!