(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
The Psychedelic Ensemble is essentially a one man project, but his name remains a mystery. According to the website, this musician has performed and recorded with major players since the 1970s and has garnered over twenty-five awards. The Art Of Madness is his first album and it is an impressive debut to say the least.
The Art Of Madness mostly recalls classic progressive music of the 1970s and for the most part gives off a mellow vibe. I do not want to paint this music into a corner but I was mostly reminded of early to mid 70s Pink Floyd, especially some of their acoustic stuff. What really impresses me about The Psychedelic Ensemble is that it is only one person. Believe me, this does not sound like a one man band. The skill of this musician is evident as he handles all the instruments himself, including some excellent guitar work. Another plus are the vocals which are quite good throughout.
This is a concept album inspired by the musician's visit to the Living Museum which features the art of patients of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, New York. The song titles suggest different episodes of madness, and chaotic laughing and haunting screams adds a feeling of unease as the listener is pulled into the chaos. The eleven songs bleed into one another making this an ideal album to listen to in one sitting.
The album's first song is the serene "Prologue/Ecstasy" that ebbs and flows like a dream with lovely organ and crisp, clean electric guitar giving it an early Floyd feel. The tempo increases, as well as the chops, in the progressive rock of "Panic" with frantic keyboard play and some searing electric guitar. The gentle guitar melody in "Fantasy" invokes memories of classic 70s prog, while the ominous "Moon Mad" with its psychedelic edged guitar and slow plodding riffs creates an atmosphere of doom with strategically placed screams adding to the sinister sound. The spacey intro in "Despair" is very nice, leading to acoustic guitar reminiscent of Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". "Apparition" is a classical based piece heavy on the keyboards, while the album's last song, "Revelation/Epilogue", ends the CD with a bit of folky prog that has a nice acoustic melody.
This is an impressive debut loaded with melody and just plain good songs. If you like 70s prog, in the vein of bands like Pink Floyd, you will probably want this in your collection. You should also be on the lookout for the band's upcoming release The Myth of Dying. I know I will.