(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
The Psychedelic Ensemble is really the work of one musician who prefers to remain anonymous. The band’s first album The Art of Madness was released in 2009 followed by The Myth of Dying in 2010. You can find both of those fine albums reviewed on this site. This brings us to 2011 and their brand new release The Dream of the Magic Jongleur and what an excellent album it is.
As with the artist’s previous work The Dream of the Magic Jongleur is a concept piece. The story is about a travelling musician (referred to as the Jongleur) on a quest to acquire ‘magic music’ (is that not what we are all after)? The album is beautifully packaged and the artwork of Sam Del Russi is superb and does a nice job linking the album’s concept with his magnificent pictures.
Starting with the majestic “Overture – Into the Night” the album is off to a wonderful beginning. Eerie effects, bells, flute and organ lead to Middle Eastern guitar stylings and some dramatic organ work. It doesn’t take long for the song to hit its full groove and bares some resemblance to classic Genesis. The lead and harmony vocals, like the music, are very good and fit the song nicely. The keyboards play a prominent roll and the solos are well crafted and never over indulgent. All the pieces of the musical puzzle are here and every note has a purpose.
Next is “The Quest”, again with a prominent keyboard intro and a nice guitar solo. The song travels through retro progressive rock hitting its stride before a softer nuance unfolds. The guitar and bass is excellent.
In “The Secrets of Your Mind” keyboards again reign supreme although the acoustic guitar is quite lovely. The dreamy vocals and multi layered harmonies is another definite highlight.
In the organ drenched “The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard” there is an ELP feel and the playing has goose bump moments written all over it. This all-organ extravaganza builds dramatically leaving no doubt this is a progressive rock album through and through.
The gentle yet busy “Listen to Me” features more excellent keys, nice drum fills and biting electric guitar nicely contrasted with more calming acoustic sounds. The short “Stones to Flowers” and “Magicking” flow together beautifully as both offer gorgeous melodies and sweet acoustic guitar that can be quite intricate, especially in the latter.
More highlights include the classically inspired “Dream and Premonition” where gentle guitar sweeps across the soundscape becoming more intense as the song unfolds making this my personal favourite.
The album ends with “End of Days – Epilogue” and as the bells chime and the keys build leading to heavier guitar rhythms, organ and exceptional synth/keyboard solos, one realizes just how a good an album this is.
Like a fine wine, The Psychedelic Ensemble gets better and better with age as The Dream of the Magic Jongleur is their best and most thought provoking work yet. A pure diamond in the rough and one of the best releases of 2011, bar none.