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Mechanical Poet - 2004 - "Woodland Prattlers"

(72 min 2CD, Aural)


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Prolusion. Italian label Aural Music presents Russia's MECHANICAL POET and their first two CDs. The set is packed in a beautifully designed pasteboard box.

Disc I (22 min) - 2003/2004 - "Handmade Essence"
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TRACK LIST:

1.  Handmade Essence 3:49
2.  Frozen Nile 4:44
3.  Hermetical Orchard 5:50
4.  Clue of a Scarecrow 3:57
5.  Clockwork Shrimps 1:24
6.  Waltzing Skip-Jack 2:13

All music: by Plotnikoff & Tokmakoff, except:
Vocal lines: by Samosvat. All lyrics: by Plotnikoff.
Produced & engineered by Tokmakoff.

LINEUP:

Max Samosvat - vocals
Lex Plotnikoff - guitars, bass; keyboards
Tom Tokmakoff - drums; bass, keyboards

Analysis. "Handmade Essence" is only 22 minutes in length, but it does not matter, as the album is just flawless. The last two tracks are instrumentals, though musically they hardly much differ from those with singing. In short, the entire album is done within the framework of quite a unified stylistics. The music is a highly original Prog-Metal with distinct symphonic tendencies. There also are the bits of Black Metal, but can be found only in some vocals. The trio is strong both compositionally and technically, and the arrangements are so well conceived and are so exquisitely executed that many of the band's more mature brothers in the genre would've been proud of. All the compositions develop rapidly, with lots of unexpected changes of theme and tempo. From soft and crystalline symphonic aquarelles through the Renaissance-like sfumato, the sonic palette brings the listener to the depths of intense, dense and tough stratum of heavy progressive music. The fantastic variety of timbres and the wide diapason of a singer's voice intensify the impression's power of this effort, which clearly displays that its creators not only have impeccable taste in music, but are also possessed of a sense of proportion. Great album.

Disc II (50 min) - 2004 - "Woodland Prattlers"
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TRACK LIST:

1.  Main Titles 1:39
2.  Stormchild 4:21
3.  Bogie in a Coal-Hole 5:48
4.  Sirens from the Underland 4:00
5.  Will O' the Wisp 2:02
6.  Strayed Moppet 3:43
7.  Old Years' Merry Funeral 6:41
8.  Natural Quaternion 11:11
9.  Shades on a Casement 3:38
10. Swamp-Stamp Polka 2:57
11. End Credits 4:00

CREDITS / LINEUP: same

Analysis. The logical continuation of the band's debut mini-CD, this full-length album affirms Mechanical Poet's status as being one of the most serious and, creatively, most significant Prog-Metal acts to come out from Russia, along with Azazello. Here are even more subtle nuances in the arrangement, more unexpected timbre changes in the vocals, more polymorphous patterns and more emotional saturation. The sound - dense and volumetric - is also an improvement. The overall musical atmosphere arouses distant associations with Psychotic Waltz's monumental, imperishable masterwork "A Social Grace" (1990). The raw, aggressive Techno Metal (Stormchild), elegantly melodious Art-Rock-inflected ballads (Shades On A Casement), experiments with off-center music forms (Swamp-Stamp Polka) and lush symphonic Prog-Metal (most of the other tracks) are equally within this Moscow band's grasp. All the guys are very skilled musicians. Although Max Samosvat didn't contribute to the album's compositional or lyrical spheres either, his vocals are worthy of a particular commendation. Possessing a nimble, flexible voice, from the low notes of a nearly operatic baritone he with ease soars up to the heights of an effervescent falsetto, and from the rough Rock overtones fluidly turns to warm lyrical intonations. I have no doubts about the album's overall status; it's a masterpiece. My only complaint concerns the song Strayed Moppet, which is rather ordinary melodically. The band should have more diversified its thematic development by including the larger number of different melodies there. Well, it's not a fatal flaw, and the general impression the album made on me didn't suffer for much because of that.

Conclusion. There is plenty here to pique the interest of the tried symphonic Prog-Metal adherents and newly initiated as well. Fans of the early (classic!) period of creation of Psychotic Waltz and Pain Of Salvation might be in ecstasy over Mechanical Poet.

>VM: March 26 & 27, 2005


Related Links:

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