(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
“The music of The Psychedelic Ensemble has been categorized as progressive rock, neo-progressive, neo-psychedelic, fusion, classical rock and other genres. The music , is in fact, a kind of hybrid of all these categories. The Myth of Dying, like its precursor The Art of Madness, is a journey, both in dramatic and musical design, that traverses a variety of musical terrains and sensibilities.”
The Psychedelic Ensemble
The spirit of progressive music is alive and well and albums like the latest release from the project known as The Psychedelic Ensemble entitled The Myth of Dying proves it. I loved The Art of Madness, please see my review on this site, but I think I like the new album even more. For those of you who have not followed this band, The Psychedelic Ensemble is actually the work of a single artist whose name is unknown.
I have heard a few one person projects this year and this is one of the best. I should note the musician does have help with strings (played by an unknown guest artist). The Myth of Dying is a concept album about a poet’s travels in the hereafter. The album is actually one song broken up into parts I through IX. Although the album is broken up into nine pieces it works best if you listen to it as a single piece as the songs flow wonderfully from one to the next.
Although this album has great musicianship, the focus is on the quality of the songwriting and arrangements, not on a see ‘how fast I can play mentality’. Now, you may be wondering just what kind of music does this mysterious musician play. The above quote taken from the CD’s liner notes is as a good an assessment as any as The Myth of Dying cannot be pigeon-holed into any one genre, although progressive rock would be a good starting point. While listening I thought of bands like Camel, ELP, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis.
The short instrumental/narrative “Incident at Charing Cross Road” starts the concept with the death of the young poet. The sounds of street noise course through the speakers so one can only assume a traffic accident takes the poet’s life. This leads directly into “Transcendence” where synths and piano create a slightly ominous yet relaxing sound. Subtle drums and vocals take hold while the instrumentation becomes more lush. The lead vocals are very good as they are throughout the CD. The music recalls elements of Camel and Genesis with a keyboard solo reminding me of '70s era Manfred Mann. Dreamy soundscapes of synths and acoustic guitar continue and give this song an epic feel. The keyboard playing throughout the album is particularly riveting. Just listen to the awesome organ sounds in “The Visions of Eternity” or the vintage keyboards in the funky “Beyond the Light”. The music turns slightly quirky in the electronic sounding “The Devil’s Proffer” with dissonant brush strokes of guitar, distorted vocals and some pretty wild violin. With “The Devil’s Lament”, blues and heavy rock combine to give the music a different direction but demonstrates just how richly diverse this album is. Other highlights include the acoustically driven “The Realm of the Skeptics” and the psychedelic prog of “The Truth of Eternity” with a Dark Side of the Moon flavor.
Besides excellent music, the CD packaging is also well done with paintings and lyrics to help the listener follow along with the story.
In a year that has seen many fine albums, The Myth of Dying stands out as one of the best and most refreshing listens of 2010.