The Tale of the Golden King
10 of 10
Some four years ago now I did my first review of a Psychedelic Ensemble album, at that time his debut album. If you do not know The Psychedelic Ensemble yet, TPE is a one man band - a musician extraordinaire. Four years ago I started my review with: "If you are looking for a band or music that is in a league of its own, go out and find yourself the music of The Psychedelic Ensemble. This band, or better still one man show, really rocks the house”.
Since then there have been two further albums and now a third, TPE's fourth all together. Once again a concept work of high level and superior class, I know some of you will now put aside the review because of all the bombastic words that I have started with. Your choice all together as long as you do try and give TPE's Golden King a spin to at least confirm to yourself you do not like it.
I do like the album - you probably noticed that from my words already. Again I can say that TPE surprised me with this album, so much so that I dare to state that he has really outdone himself and compiled, composed, produced and arranged an even better work than its predecessors. Some of the arrangements have a familiarity to them, stating the original sound that TPE has created with his music.
Multi-instrumentalists, or musicians of creative mind producing music all by themselves are a strange breed I guess, not allowing anyone to interfere with their works, at least not within the arrangements and production. At times they seek help from others to create just that piece of music that they hear in their mind. For the Golden King, TPE has made use of a real orchestra, albeit a chamber orchestra, but nevertheless an orchestra of real instruments and not one conjured from his synthesizers.
Also a female voice is used for the vocal parts of the Queen in "The Queen of Sorrow". The voice and timbre of this vocalist has a resemblance to Annie Haslam of Renaissance fame. Introducing the chamber orchestra and female vocal adds a new dimension to the music on this album.
Words fail to describe the intensity and beauty of this musical extravaganza. You could call the concept a 'rock opera' but in my eyes this does little justice to what this musical experience really is. At times rocking, then going into the smoother works of neo progressive, a little psychedelia here and there, but to my eyes most of the time an eclectic work of art made by a creative mind extraordinaire.
Yes I know I use a lot of Superlatives in this review once again but I cannot help feeling that way. Each track is literally full of creativity with lots of different instruments used, too many to mention in a review. Once again I am overwhelmed by the creativity, but most of all by the sheer unlimited musical talents, of TPE.
The album comes nicely packaged with a short introductory tale on the inside of the booklet along with all the lyrics so you can read along with the songs as they progress.
To conclude, I can only state to all of you once again, try this album - you will not be disappointed. But one remark also needs to be made; take your time, you will need it. Listen but listen closely, not once but...you'll be as overwhelmed as I am.
The Tale of the Golden King
Finally I get to hear this much talked about ensemble, which actually and most impressively is a one-man band and this multi-talented artist/musician has chosen to be anonymous. All very intriguing, mysterious and really the stuff legends are built upon! Already at first listen I was blown away by the sheer brilliance, the grandeur and excellence this magnum work offers. I actually couldn't believe my ears, this is what real prog/symphonic prog is all about, old school prog renewed, refined and fresh blood infused. Think early Renaissance, early Yes, slight ELP, then add chamber orchestra, invited guest on superb female vocal, great compositions and excellent musical delivery and you are almost there!! I promise you are in for a very special treat. I haven't heard such excellence/brilliance in a very long time. The superb arrangements, musical brilliance, beauty and complex time signatures just oozes and floats from this masterpiece. So there is hope after all, real prog is not dead and believe you me this is the real deal!! Let me explain, many new bands claim to be (crossover/blend/hints and allegations to) prog music, I guess it is due to the renewed popularity of prog these years, but a certain tag is not always valid, is it? This however is genuine prog music in the retro/old school super class. If you don't like this album, I dare say you are not a real prog fan! There is not a dull moment on this album (despite its duration of 72 minutes plus) it absolutely brims with fantastic tunes, brilliant musical ideas, loads of keyboard play, fine vocals and great lead guitars, adding to the whole picture of symphonic prog, pompous rock, even cinematic sequences, folk and art rock combined, to mention just a few of the musical idioms herein! Highly recommended to every serious prog collector! Needless to say (even though I do) this one goes straight into my private collection! A fine release that will return to my cd-player ever so often. Thank you, Psychedelic Ensemble, for this masterpiece!! Now someone please tell me who this musical genius is!
The Tale of the Golden King
Two years after The Dream of the Magic Jongleur (2011), that we ranked among the best records of that year, the mysterious American The Psychedelic Ensemble returns with his fourth album, The Tale of the Golden King. The Tale of the Golden King is their most ambitious, rich regarding the orchestration and production, and more conceptually complete work. The use of the word “work” is not coincidental – this is how the punk fanatics used to call the progressive achievements 35 years ago even if the post punk scene (besides a few exceptions) never succeeded to produce equally marvelous music and restricted itself in constructing “situations”. Here we are dealing with . . . a “work”. As a matter of fact, the revival of prog is, of course, a reality since the 80’s but the pop and metal conventions and restrictions have always underlined it. The Psychedelic Ensemble, however, has shown and continues to show that he doesn’t feel the need to “put water in their wine” and follow the conventions of our time. He does what he really feels like doing, deep from his heart.
The Tale of the Golden King is a typical concept album. The ten pieces, besides being played as parts of a complete musical work that lasts 72 minutes (a suite in terms of classical music) without pause, narrate linearly the episodes of a story of medieval imagination with sleeping kings, civilizations that are attacked by barbarian hordes and magical mountains that is given in the booklet of the record which also contains beautiful pictures and all the lyrics. Musically we could talk of symphonic rock since, besides the usual guitars, keyboards, percussion bass, mandolin that one of the musicians who is hidden under the name TPE (and who insists on not revealing his name), there is in the project the sound of a regular string orchestra with 20 woodwinds. Like the the previous albums the music is not experimental, everywhere there are echoes of the classical style of prog from from Genesis and the ELP and Caravan, but this time the timbral palette is much richer, while the female voice of Ann Caren next to TPE gives the project an ethereal and “polyphonic” dimension.
With The Psychedelic Ensemble one has the impression of the total revival of 70s art rock, that irrefutably have been, from the musical point of view, the peak of rock creativity and which, for those who haven’t experienced them, is mythical and for us who have experienced them as the Lost Earth of rock Blessedness. Given that the calendar shows “2013”, if this is not by itself an achievement, what else is it?
The Tale of the Golden King
! of 6
Prolusion. The US project THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE appeared more or less out of thin air back in 2009, and has since then been an active contributor to the progressive rock universe, fairly steadily recording and releasing new material. "The Tale of the Golden King" is the fourth full length studio production to be released under this moniker, and was commercially available from the fall of 2013.
Analysis. One of the intriguing aspects about The Psychedelic Ensemble is that few know who the person creating and releasing this music is. He prefers to stay unknown for personal reasons, and so far he has mostly catered for all aspects of his productions by himself as well. This latest production does see the man behind this project expand his creative borders dramatically however, with a handful of guest musicians involved as well as employing an orchestra to record classical symphonic passages used throughout this CD. And as far as changes go, this one is all for the better as far as I can tell. Symphonic progressive rock of various kinds has been the chosen field of The Psychedelic Ensemble throughout, and on this occasion this is taken to a whole new level entirely. We do get plenty of the features we kind of expect from an album released under this moniker of course – swirling, flamboyant keyboards aplenty, majestic organ textures, dark and dampened guitars, and more often than not arrangements with a distinctly dramatic nature either as a dominant trait or as a more dampened undercurrent. Especially the keyboard arrangements are of a kind and nature that should make most avid fans of this brand of progressive rock salivate, richly layered, complex and quirky, often with a feeling that these could very well be rearranged to be performed by a full scale classical symphonic orchestra. The manner in which the classical symphonic recordings are utilized throughout this production adds a certain emphasis to that point of view in my opinion: The transitions between the classical and the rock based sequences are seamless, and there are moments where both of these aspects are tightly interwoven as well, and so tightly that separating one from the other when listening to these passages is a challenging task indeed. The stylistic palette utilized is a fairly broad one, too. And while The Psychedelic Ensemble never strays from the symphonic progressive rock territories, he does include a fair share of details from other genres, such as folk music tinged instrumental details, occasional psychedelic touches and quite a few instrumental details and movements with a distinctly jazz-oriented sound to them. As far as in-genre references go, I did note some tendencies towards Yes first and foremost. Not in any major way, but occasional details here and there struck me as familiar sounding in that specific context.
Conclusion. "The Tale of the Golden King" comes across as an impressive production through and through. Excellent compositions, excellent musicianship, superbly assembled and with a quality production to boot. While it may not hold a universal appeal, this album should most certainly be of interest to those with an affection for symphonic progressive rock, and then most of all to those who cherish music of that kind made with a high degree of sophistication. A truly superb production, and just about as close to perfection as you can get in my point of view.
The Tale of the Golden King
He's done it again, folks! TPE has created another masterpiece of progressive rock--this time a "prog rock drama" telling an original story synthesized from medieval sleeping hero and mountain king legends, The Tale of The Golden King. A benevolent, Arthurian-like king is rewarded by the gods by being turned into a gold statue with the attached promise to his sad reverent subjects: When the time comes your king will return. The Great King's disappearance results, of course, in the invasion of a greedy and oppressive lot, "The Henchmen." Fear and despair fall upon the citizens until finally a revolt is planned--with the ensuing battle, victory and celebration. The "return" of The Great King, however, is not as one would expect, which is the clever twist in this allegory for a new age. Musically, TPE has surpassed all previous work by not only expanding upon his multi-layered, multi-instrumental wizardry but also by exploring a broader variety of musical genres than previously . . . Also, TPE has expanded his horizons by incorporating orchestration in the form of The Psychedelic Ensemble Orchestra and guest vocalists, including the crystalline voice of Ann Caren for female leads and background vocals. And, as usual, the artwork of TPE's CD and booklet are breathtaking . . . .
TPE's unique multi-layered multi-instrumental sonic weave and sophisticated composition skill always make for a listening experience that I highly recommend for all music and prog lovers. The music TPE creates is fascinating, creative, and intricately worked--and masterfully performed. Check it out!
Another masterpiece of music that is difficult to compare and categorize and yet awesome to behold.
The Tale of the Golden King
20 out of 10 Stars
JOSE LUIS MARTINEZ, SPAIN
Translated by Emily Everett
The anonymous multi-instrumental group, “The Psychedelic Ensemble,” recently released its fourth album of pure symphonic conceptual rock, in which all the themes tie together to create an assemblage of coherent narratives. The new album, full of dramatic spirit, is loaded with progressive ideas not only in its structure but also in its depth. Its spectacular and magnificent compositions, developed from a melodic and dynamic feeling, are full of the heaviest and most legendary symphonic rock references. What’s more, touches of religious and classical renaissance arrangements, epic vocals, exquisite and highly technical performances built on long instrumental progressions, spirited keyboard solos, skillfully played electric guitars, attractive traditional instruments not only enrich the music being expressed but also, like never before, portray an epic poem of an infinite genre of possibilities.
It’s just that the music, in an illustrious and intelligent way, knows how to construct themes from melody and musical drama to produce symphonic rock of the highest quality. Perhaps we have before us one of the greatest composers since the 1970s that, on top of everything, does not blush at any moment because of his approach to progressive rock of authentic and traditional academic taste.
We are allowed to depart from a sensationalist concept that not only serves as a pretext for an instrumental exposition of supreme magnitude that flows from a perfect narrative that is both of sensitive and technical execution that transports us to a world of unsuspected labyrinths where abrupt musical landscapes rule, diabolical technical rhythms continuously break the compasses of musical developments in the most tasteful way, but we are also afforded, more than anything, a great intelligence that sustains the gorgeous and beautiful compositions of this fabulous piece of work. Without realizing it, we have entered a time machine, and it has transported us to that long-lost nostalgic era of musicians that told us stories. We are before tales from the Renaissance or the times of Rick Wakeman, Le Orme, Pink Floyd, ELP, Jehtro Tull, or PFM that seem to have been forgotten, but from a modern and new perspective that, more than anything, accentuates the longing and hope of such a dismissed genre. There are a lot of progressive musicians that shield themselves behind a cinematographic sound to recreate sonorous spaces that guide their music, but The Psychedelic Ensemble does not need such excuses to show a raw and authentic progressive sound in which their music is worth exactly what it is: emotion, sensibility, virtuosity, tenderness, delirium, enthusiasm, and, on top of everything, heart.
I listen, astonished, to one of the greatest instrumentalist and one of the greatest publications of our time and I surrender admiringly at the splendid and flawless music. Wonderful work, that, I feel, could never be forgotten. An indisputable genius. Twenty over ten.
Lady Obscure Magazine, UK
The Tale of the Golden King
I started reading at an early age and it was obvious from those formative years that heroic fantasy was going to be my genre of choice. I tried Michael Moorcock, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and other science fiction authors but, it was when turned the first page of The Hobbit and read novels by Terry Brooks, George R.R. Martin and Raymond E. Feist that my imagination took fire. My interest focused on heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery if you like and I really enjoy reading novels by the likes of Conn Iggulden, R.A. Salvatore and Bernard Cornwell, a solid base in history but with a liberal licence taken and drops of magic and mystery thrown in, perfect for me! So, it would seem a perfect fit for me to enjoy listening to progressive music that relates to these kinds of literary genres and novels, generally concept albums as the whole story would be seen as a concept in any case.
When I was asked to review The Tale of the Golden King by The Psychedelic Ensemble I was intrigued by the description of ‘a 72-minute concept presented in 10 gapless tracks. The concept is based on medieval sleeping hero and mountain king legends’. To me, this was progressive heaven, as you probably know, I’m a huge prog rock fan anyway but, to find an album that was based around fantasy legends, swords and sorcery et al was like nirvana to this reviewer. Before we get onto the review of the album, let us find out more about The Psychedelic Ensemble.
The Psychedelic Ensemble is actually a misnomer being, in reality, a one-man, multi-instrumental enigma. TPE (as we shall call him) has garnered numerous awards including more than 20 ASCAP awards and many others. Having worked as a performer, composer, and arranger with many preeminent musicians worldwide, The Golden King is the fourth solo album released under the moniker of The Psychedelic Ensemble. In 2009, Musea Records released the debut album, The Art of Madness, which received many nominations for various progressive rock awards, this was followed in 2010 by The Myth of Dying and, in 2011, by The Dream of the Magic Jongleur, both of which were garnered with extensive praise. For The Tale of the Golden King, TPE is joined, on certain tracks, by a full chamber orchestra conducted by Jonathan Roberts and featuring Amanda Smith Roberts as principal violinist and concertmaster. Furthermore, Ann Caren provides lead vocals for Queen of Sorrow and backing vocals elsewhere and Kurt Fowler is the cello soloist on Queen of Sorrow. As an aside, I have to mention the amazing artwork on the album booklet by Yimin Lee which is totally in key with the concept of the album and adds to the whole package.
As is the norm with most progressive rock epics nowadays, the album opener is an overture, Overture – Our Great Kingdom to be exact, and it is a huge behemoth of an opening song, the intro just builds up the intrigue with layer upon layer of intricate and spellbinding music before the superb vocal kicks in. I am dumbfounded that one person can produce this astonishingly complex mix of sound, keyboards swirling here, classic guitar soaring high and, in keeping with the concept, there is a definite mediaeval feel to proceedings, expertly emphasised by the clear as a bell organ sounds and harmonised vocal. The complex guitar notes and keyboards lead you on a fast paced, meandering journey away from the real world, superb from the first note until the last. There is a gentle acoustic guitar and keyboard introduction to The Prophecy of the Seer- The Transformation of the King that leads in a vocal that is more focused on the narrative and telling a story. There are hints of Yes, Rick Wakeman and prog legends of the 70’s flying around with the intricate time changes and convoluted keyboard sections. Whilst being a concept album, each individual track is given its own chance to shine and this song goes heavy on the 70’s psychedelic keyboards and quick fire guitar runs to produce a sophisticated smorgasbord of musical delights.
The Golden King starts delicately with a delightful orchestral introduction, fans of modern progressive stalwarts Glass Hammer will be very much at home here. The music has a lilting quality to it, dancing on your aural receptors, before a vocal glides in with a delicate timbre, adding to the fantastical feeling that is all pervading. The vocals offer a narrative as the principle and secondary voices converse back and forth. There is an incredible lightness to the proceedings emphasised by the nuances of the songwriting and expert musical ability on show, another admirable part of the ever impressive whole. Captive Days takes the listener on an instrumental journey though the world of The Golden King giving, as it does, a feeling of movement, perhaps a journey. The musical arrangement is a delight, the whole piece having an ethereal quality that, rather than making it feel like an interlude or break in the main composition, gives it a life all of its own.
Now to one of the masterpieces of the album, Queen of Sorrow is a quite breathtaking song, the angelic vocal of Ann Caren providing beauty and soul which gives this track a folk rock feel. The guitars, cello, flute and piano all take their place in the musical majesty on show. There is definite melancholy feel to the song, hinted at by the quality of the vocal and, especially in the low key, almost sinister section where the vocals become eerie whispers and the instruments take on an almost chaotic, distorted sound with staccato keyboards and guitars firing back and forth. The superb orchestral backing to the final vocal section is bordering on genius, giving this song the finale that it deserves.
Save Yourself moves away from progressive rock to a very modern jazz feel, funky basslines and rat-a-tat drum beats backing an ululating vocal. The virtuoso keyboard playing is a fine touch and adds to the ultra smoothness of the groove and the catchy chorus. The music strays into fusion territory in places including some stylishly imagined jazz piano, a super-smooth insert into the continuing narrative. In a clever contrast, Make a Plan – Golden Swords takes on a laid back blues mantra with a cool blues guitar in combination with a sultry piano note. The keyboards take on a mind of their own but work well with the more intense vocal eventually performing an intense duet with the scorching licks from the guitar. A lot of that chaotic intensity finds itself flowing over into The Battle, a raging instrumental that evokes the chaos and disorder that happens in war. The time changes come thick and fast imbuing a feeling of discord and even anarchy. If I have one small criticism it could that, on these three tracks, there is a feeling of smugness and cleverness, of being abstract for abstract’s sake, only my opinion but, it does detract from the whole very slightly.
We return to the calm and harmonious theme that runs through the rest of the album with the heavily Yes influenced, Great Day. The acoustic and 12 string guitars glide in with an all encompassing feeling of serenity, ably aided and abetted by the serene synthesizer. The vocals are silky and polished hitting a higher range than elsewhere on the album and harmonising with great effect. There then follows a section of intense competition between the instruments as, one after the other, they come forth to burst into life with a brief solo before the song is lead out by a precisely harmonised choral section that harks back to the initial part of the track.
This fantastical concept is brought to a close by Finale – Arise! – Great kingdom, the recurring orchestral themes are brought back into play with increased grandeur and meaning. There then follows a dazzling, multi-layered vocal section with energetic, vivid instrumental interludes that, rather than detracting from the vocal sections, add subtle overlays and nuances to the overall sound. The frequent solo incursions are precise and delicate incisions in a complex piece of music that seeks to give an overview of what has gone before, a précis of the whole story in instrumental fashion, and the energy and enthusiasm are superbly judged. The finale is another excellent combination of the orchestral and vocal that comes to a flamboyant and grand close.
To be fair, The Psychedelic Ensemble has been hovering around the edges of my consciousness for a while and yet, I have never had the foresight to listen to any of their work, more fool me! The Tale of the Golden King is an epic piece of work in more ways than one, a superb, engrossing story told with amazing skill and musicianship. It is 72 minutes that just fly by, immersed in the music as you are and is not just a glorious piece of music but a complete listening experience that makes your life just that little bit better.
The Tale of the Golden King
Two years ago I was taken by surprise when I first became introduced to The Psychedelic Ensemble (TPE) through the album The Dream of the Magic Jongleur. Upon interviewing TPE I found out about his next album in the works which would feature not only all the goodness that this one man mystery exhibits, but would raise the stakes even more by including an orchestral ensemble. Needless to say the expectations were high and I’m glad to say that high expectations were met by the new release, The Tale of the Golden King.
What perhaps pleases most about The Tale of the Golden King is that it is basically everything we already love about TPE with bigger sounds, grander orchestration, and more nuanced writing. The record kicks it off with “Overture: Our Great King,” a piece that demonstrates stunning arrangements from the start, offering mysterious moods, dueling guitars and keys, and some of the best narrative vocals ever by way of the “Enter all who with to hear the tale” segment which presents some fantastic church organ and bells before diving into a nicely executed fugue. “The Prophecy of the Seer” offers great dialogue between principle and secondary vocals, a sort of call and response if you will. Additionally, the instrumentation on this piece is a real gem, with loads of acoustic instruments that are subtle yet powerful. The dreamlike section about two thirds into the piece is absolutely killer as the church organ presents descending patterns flanked by fluttering chord changes while blasting you with bursts of aggressive keyboards; one of the coolest moments on the album from where I’m sitting, and that’s saying a lot.
Those who heard the sample tracks on TPE’s webpage should be well aware of the glory of “The Golden King” and “Queen of Sorrow,” some of the absolute highlights of the album. The former shows TPE taking full advantage of the orchestra to lay down a beautiful intro followed by and an epic, almost cinematic, outro. In between we see all the melodic phrasing, weaving synthesizers, solid groove, and catchy vocal lines which have become trademarks of TPE, all presented on a superb level. “Queen of Sorrow” shows itself to be a stand out track as well, this time due to the gorgeous vocals of Ann Caren who demonstrates vocal, angelic beauty this a sense of power and melancholy worthy of the title “Queen of Sorrow.” Musically speaking, this, like “The Golden King” stands out at the top of this album, taking full advantage of piano, acoustic guitars, cello, and horns to create a distinctive atmosphere, particularly in the uber eerie middle section in Ann’s voice takes on a ghostly whisper which is highlighted by echoing strings and fading voices before diving into an aggressive array of guitar and key solos. To cap it off, TPE leads us toward a final verse and chorus which opts for orchestral arrangements to back up the main vocal lines, providing a somber and majestic ending to one of the strongest pieces on the record. In a word: breathtaking.
While the middle section just described was most definitely the highlight of the album for me, the rest of the album continues in the tradition of strong tunes. “Save Yourself” and “Make a Plan” constitute a perfect complimentary duo both in terms of music and lyrics, with “Save Yourself” offering funky, jazzy basslines, solid groove, and one of the catchiest choruses around, while “Make a Plan” does it up nicely with some fine bluesy vocals and organ, and an eventual shift into a storm of scorching guitar and keyboard solos, more of which can be found on the rhythmic instrumental storm known as “The Battle.”
The closing track, “Finale: Arise, Great Kingdom” is determined to give us a grandiose closing to this wonderful tale. After opening with a fantastic, album encompassing orchestral arrangement, TPE launches us into a multi-layered vocal arrangement that recalls Yes in the most wonderful of ways, with a nicely added pastoral touch. I must also say that as so often I feel with TPE’s music, I am impressed by the delicacy of instrument treatments on this piece, both on the lighter vocal sections as well as those that might conventionally be called more busy; we simply get what seems like an infinite number of instruments coming and going, but never feeling forced or like they’re just making an appearance for the sake of it. Furthermore, unlike many artists’ albums which seek to make grand use of motifs by merely rehashing themes in the most banal ways throughout the album, this finale truly weaves together the best melodies of the album while finely portraying the spirit of the complete work. Finally, I must put in a plug for the solo sections on this piece, particularly the one that starts as we approach the seven minute mark; they’re remarkable, and capitalize not only on the treatment of leads and phrasing themselves, but are skillfully supported by the entire arrangement. After hearing the climactic closing of “Finale,” I marvel at a piece which so well captures the essence of The Tale of the Golden King and sits among the strongest of songs that I’ve heard all year.
Just in case I have to spell it out more clearly, The Golden King is a remarkable album that should grab up some great attention for The Psychedelic Ensemble. While the last album was good, this one really went all out, demanding many a thorough listen due to its complex arrangement, variety, and skillful performances. In reality, The Tale of the Golden King takes everything I love about TPE, crafts them to near perfection, and still manages to give you more. There have been a number of brilliant albums that have come out this year, and I suspect there’s still a few more to come, but as for myself I think I can safely say that this one will find its way among them as a memorable release of 2013.
The magic started in 2009 with the release of The Art Of Madness and continued with The Myth Of Dying (2010) and The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur (2011). All three are excellent with each successive release adding to the artists considerable repertoire of outstanding musicianship and fine song craft. Fast forward to 2013 and TPE's new album The Tale of the Golden King.
The Tale of the Golden King
The Tale of the Golden King just might be TPE's best album yet. For those of you unfamiliar with the band, TPE is essentially one musician who prefers to remain anonymous. There is the occasional guest on vocals as well as the TPE orchestra. His previous albums are conceptually based and that trend continues here. The concept involves a magical kingdom and it's great king who is transformed into gold and the kingdom laid to ruin. A time of darkness descends over the land until one day the kingdom arises once again. The music meshes beautifully with the lyrics and concept, making for an absorbing and intriguing listen. This is complex stuff and the music often careens in different directions but never at the expense of the wonderful melodies found throughout the disc.
The CD begins with "Overture – Our Great Kingdom". The moody section at the start carries a darker motif. One gets the feeling the music will burst forth as the orchestral instrumentation continues onward. A myriad of instruments join in, including pretty acoustic guitar and intricate synth work. The melody is one those that you want to hear again and again. Eventually the intensity level increases as organ, synths and frenetic guitar passages take hold, almost reminding me of the Yes classic Relayer. This leads directly into the second track "The Prophecy of the Seer – The Transformation of the King" where delicious acoustic guitar and synth work ensues. Yes and ELP fans will love the intense orchestral moments and as the electric guitar took on more bite, my mind wandered back to those glorious '70s prog rock epics that we all know and love. "The Golden King" starts in an orchestral vein with a myriad of instruments making for a breathtaking intro. The softer tranquil moments will make fans of the Moody Blues happy before the music gets heavier turning into a full blown prog rock epic. "Captive Days" is one of two songs under five minutes, the other being the frenetically intense instrumental "The Battle". The former has a somber feel, with splashes of piano, synths and other orchestral flourishes. The synthesizer work is particularly spellbinding.
Other moments of excellence include the wistful "The Queen of Sorrow" with sublime lead vocals courtesy of Ann Caren. I really dig how TPE injects heavier organ and guitar parts into the mellower acoustic framework. The album ends with the equally satisfying "Finale – Arise – Great Kingdom". Melodies and themes are revisited closing the album in grand fashion. The other tunes not mentioned are also superb with not a duff track in the bunch.
The Psychedelic Ensemble is able to weave rich sonic tapestries of complexity and melody like few others can at the moment. To put it simply, The Tale of the Golden King is one of the best modern symphonic progressive rock albums I have heard in a very long time. This is without question an outstanding work of art that needs to be in every progressive rock collection.
Casually, the anonymous author of this project moved on to his fourth album. We remember the first album of THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE, "The Art of Madness," published in 2009. Then two other albums were released (2010 and 2011), all are of superior quality and are all concepts. The latest, " The Tale of the Golden King," which is also a concept of 72 minutes spread over 10 tracks, is a story that makes us move through time and takes us back to the middle ages .
The Tale of the Golden KingRating: 4.5/5
(Translated by Marc Fromm)
The spectacular compositions are developed from a very acute sense of melody. They are full of references to legendary symphonic rock . There are a few influences from classical music and also those from the Renaissance in the arrangements, with the addition of memorable and highly technical vocal performances. The vocals are inserted into long instrumental developments, full of solo keyboards and electric guitars that are played with ease. Also included is the appearance of The Psychedelic Ensemble Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Roberts and its traditional instruments enrich the music of "The Tale of the Golden King." I wouldn't describe the album for you piece by piece, but I must tell you about some. "Overture --Our Great Kingdom"-- sets the tone for what is to come, and this is a title that offers magnificent orchestration, and with the inclusion of flute and guitar, creates an atmosphere. The vocals enter accompanied by synths and drums. " The Queen Of Sorrow " begins with acoustic guitar and a sound that approximates the time of knights and castles. The voice of ANN CAREN presents this melancholy melody. "The Battle" is an instrumental and, for those who know THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE, is the trademark of the group. Guitar and keyboards, and in fact all instruments involved in the confrontation, go a little crazy and bring joy to the heart. "Great Day" brings a more sedate pace with the female vocals. Here you will recognize slight parallels with YES and the voice of Jon Anderson. The instrumental section gives us the impression of participating in the celebration after the victory. "Finale - Arise! -Great Kingdom" ends the story with the longest piece, about 12 minutes. There is heavy orchestration early then the guitar emerges. The song begins with a festive atmosphere that is felt throughout the room. The sung parts come and go and contrast with up tempo instrumental explosions.
This album confirms the talent of the musician and anonymous protagonists that accompany this project. "The Tale of the Golden King" is unquestionably the most ambitious of all the band's discography. If you do not know THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE, this album is, in my opinion, a great way to get acquainted with this group. I invite you to participate in this adventure of medieval times.
The Tale of the Golden King
I'm in an orchestra? I am an orchestra!
THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE is the name of a single musician who, despite the name of the project, has played, recorded, and composed an album single-handedly for the fourth time. All alone? No, because this time he has brought support from a singer and an orchestra that make "The Tale Of The Golden King" a bombastic experience for the fan of the sound of prog and art rock.
In keeping with the fantasy concept and supported by the sweeping orchestration, the album develops parallels to classic film soundtracks that are only strengthened by the fact that there are no real song transitions. Thus the listener from the first note dives into the world of the Golden King in which acoustic guitars, virtuoso keyboard and charming folk melodies rule while the title's hero stews in the dungeon. From the first note it is clear that the orchestration is extremely successful and goes far beyond what one hears in most cases in this style. The individual classical instruments are used competently, and receive all the space to unfold and are not wasted as just harmony-supporting strings, but act more like guitar riffs played with their own timbres. THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE understands his craft, also one hears keyboard and guitar duels, which create another cornerstone of the album. Here friends of straight Heavy Metal may be quickly bored, but they probably do not listen often to orchestral art rock. The diverse styles of music are played here skillfully and varied, sometimes one hears jazz elements, then again blues, before they all burst into a neo-classical soloing.
We repeatedly see the various main themes of the album, which are not only presented in their main songs, but alluded to again and again. For example, the theme of the title track ["The Golden King"] you have already heard presented before the actual song appears, and that emerges time and again in the later stages. Thus, one of the highlights of the album is the title track, the other title, 'Queen Of Sorrow', lets guest vocalist Ann Caren play out all her charm.
The result is deeply emotional . . . distorted guitars are almost exclusively used for solos, extensive acoustic passages through many of the pieces ensure a fantastic folk atmosphere.
But even without the intertwining and playfulness in the songwriting and musical implementation "The Tale Of The Golden King" consistently captivates, and is a beautiful album, in whose depths there is always something new to discover.
. . . We still do not know who is behind this project, only that it is an American, in his the fifties, and he has been in the business for a very long time . But the main thing is the music . . . already his fourth album. The Dream of the Magic Jongleur, his previous record chronicled in our columns, dates back to 2011.
The Tale of the Golden King
THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE is back with The Tale of the Golden King, a refined and lengthy album accompanied by a symphony orchestra. Another concept album, this time drawing its source from the middle ages, oh what a fascinating and mysterious period. The CD begins with a sensational introduction where we are immediately plunged into the medieval era, only the flaming electric guitar comes from our time embedded in multiple synthesizers and Hammond organ, and the voice of our mysterious storyteller.
The truth is, it is quite dramatic, with a taste of well-pronounced YES and even the electric guitar style of STEVE HOWE. An acoustic guitar on synthesized background followed by a cavalcade of electric guitar introduced the opening of "The Golden King", accompanied by the symphonic orchestra with 2 piccolos, 2 flutes , clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets , trombone, cello, bass , the whole being conducted by JONATHAN ROBERTS. "The Golden Kin"g is a masterpiece of mastery with acoustic guitars, its strings, cello, synthesizers, the voice of our unknown being supported and accompanied by vocals from ANN CAREN. There is a great electric guitar solo, the end from the large orchestra and flute, dazzling.
Another high point, "The Queen Of Sorrow", with ANN CAREN singing the role of the queen, displays a graceful voice. It has also made an important contribution to the creative process of the album by being more choral.
"Save Yourself" highlights a talented bass with a jazzy funk style . This is also the whole title is in the jazz movement, in short, here's a one-man band , a kind of MIKE OLDFIELD. The Battle sounds like an epic ELP … with debauchery guitar, organ and orchestral fury.
The ANN [Caren] voice is back on "Great Day", pure YES or PFM. Returning forces on the last track the 12 ' Finale titled - "Arise - Great Kingdom" concludes the album in a mix of influences between the medieval and progressive …. The Tale of the Golden King is a gold album by a goldsmith, 72 minutes of musical success. ... A tour is in preparation, will it be hidden? Add a beautiful cover produced by YIMIN LI .
Jean -Pierre Schricke
The Tale of the Golden King
4 of 4
In the purest tradition of concepts albums of large-scale, "epic" proportion, we arrived at this year-end album from The Psychedelic Ensemble, which is a project of several musicians who have collaborated in this grand sonic fresco. As the name of the group suggests, The Psychedelic Ensemble produces a music that returns to what many regard as the golden age of rock: the dawn of the progressive music and to its first glorious years. The main musician, a multi-instrumentalist, as well as all the other musicians (with a few exceptions) prefer anonymity so that their musical project can be taken directly and without being associated with a person who may or may not be well known ... "The Tale Of A Golden King", packed full of dramatic spirit, is in charge of "progressive" climates, not only in its structure but also in its depth. The compositions are spectacular and grandiose, and developed from a melodic and dynamic feel, and full of the heaviest and the most mythical of references to symphonic rock.This collection of songs will be appreciated in a dreamlike vein, this new PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE album is full of dramatic spirit. There is also a certain mysticism and great references to symphonic rock, but that seems appropriate in this type of album. In addition, arrangements in a renaissance tone presented by superb female or male voice (the fact that they are not mentioned thus prevents me from telling you who they are) are perfect and the technique of using long instrumental sections is masterful. Long dialogues with keyboard and other synths (ubiquitous and full of absolute lyricism) are fiery allies to devastating and skillfully played guitars, and give a fascinating side to this work of the highest caliber, depicting the long epic poem, all that makes this album a major attraction that will satisfy the most jaded of us. I can not conclude without mentioning that the keyboardist is an absolute virtuoso. Listening to this great disc there is little doubt that the future looks bright.
The Tale of the Golden King
Tempi Duri-Rome, Italy
The fourth studio album by The Psychedelic Ensemble, a solo project of a talented musician who wishes to remain anonymous, but who stands strongly at the center of the progressive scene in 2013 with this interesting album titled "The Tale of the Golden King" much appreciated by both audiences and critics alike. The atmosphere of this one-man band lies within an area that ranges from symphonic progressive rock to the classic styles, with occasional incursions into jazz fusion. The four discs are all concept albums that move seamlessly between one song and another and seek to address true musical journeys into uncharted territories. In particular, in this fourth album, you will enter into a mythical and magical realm…Truly impressive about the work is the compositional arrangements on this disc…The multifaceted style, sometimes simple, sometimes symphonic tracks, the variety of compositions, solos and combinations of the various instruments will strike music connoisseurs and music lovers, especially the so-called educated, symphonic, progressive listeners. A great album with eclectic musical solutions and much to hear in one breath that will surprise the audience. One of the best records of the year in the area of new progressive music.
The Tale of the Golden King
Nik Brückner - BabyBlaue-Seiten (Germany)
Wonderful album! Quite wonderful album! …this man is a seasoned composer, who knows what he's doing: it is obvious that he knows well the genre of musical and operetta, all right, and opera . . .
The Tale of the Golden King
At last . . . waiting for this piece of art . . . and [it] arrived . . . this masterpiece at last. So beautiful and complex compositions . . . so well recorded . . . with great instruments and performance . . .
The Tale of the Golden King
12 of 15
A miracle has happened! A miracle has happened again!
The mysterious and exceptional talent behind THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE, an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and songwriter, strikes again. This time with the story of the "Golden King ", which, like the three previous albums, again wrapped in a concept, is rich and very demanding, illustrated with the help of YIMIN LI. And just as in the past four years and three albums, the progressive music is is again awesome, more awesome than what the FLOWER KINGS or SPOCK 'S BEARD are producing nowadays. And always just when you think retro prog is playing itself out, then out of nowhere appears a new album from THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE and turns it at 70 minutes!
The musical jack of all trades, "Mr. Anonymous " puts the venerable prog - gods of PINK FLOYD on YES to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER in a modern style and breathes new life into our memories of " Meddle ", " The Gates Of Delirium" and " Brain Salad Surgery " . . .
. . . our solo multi -wonder instrumentalist gets help from many professional string players who bring a fresh new element to the music . Exactly the ingredients that could be the newest album by CHRIS, but we are surprised to find it is the exceptional neo-progressive work of the anonymous U.S. prog-musician.
Then there are the many refined vocals from "The Tale Of The Golden King." For example, "The Prophecy Of The Seer " is like a combination of floydian "Great Gig In The Sky" , "Pictures" of ELP and TANGENT. No wonder, since the story behind this song and the entire album is the struggle of the great king and his golden kingdom when threatened and despite all his wealth, and is just as exciting as the music.
Medieval sounds are in this release, of course. After the threatening beginning in " Overture - Our Great Kingdom" with strings, acoustic guitars that give way to electric guitars and keyboard bombast plus clear YES connections, the story really begins to gain momentum and move towards the big battle. Woodwinds and brass indicate this (battle), as well as the driving percussion rhythms. The captivating vocals of ANN CAREN, who somewhere inherited ANNIE HASLAM'S vocal cords,as convincingly demonstrated in "The Queen Of Sorrow " and " Great Day ", even set a RENAISSANCE feel and makes this CD not only fun but deserving of respect.
The influence of musical ideas of primarily YES permeate the entire album. But also flutes and horns, which rise in " The Golden King" to a classical symphony with strings, giving the music an extraordinary appeal. " Save Yourself " then surprises us with a heavy psychedelic broadside, which is reminiscent of very early Pink Floyd . And after the great battle is over, we find the "Great Day", which sounds like RENAISSANCE with RICK WAKEMAN on keyboards .
In the three -part "Finale " it seems like we are listening to a "MikeOldfield goes classic" album, . . .
. . . a stunning retro-prog album full of secrets.
CONCLUSION: Welcome to the house of the King, who only through the exceptional progressive rock of The Psychedelic Ensemble reaches his true power and glory!
The Tale of the Golden King
. . . A concept album revolving around the story of a king transfigured into a golden statue, and how later generations in the kingdom make ingenious use of the statue to win a battle against tyrannous forces, the band manage to dip into the styles of a range of prog acts of the past. For instance, there's a really good Emerson, Lake and Palmer-styled bit there which reminds me of the best of Tarkus-era ELP, and a bit later on which sounds uncannily like Close to the Edge-era Yes.
The really neat thing they accomplish, though, is having the music of the album flows smoothly from section to section, so the dipping into the styles of past bands don't feel artificial or forced - they arise naturally from the direction of the overall composition, and so they feel much less gratuitous than they otherwise might. This puts the Ensemble well ahead of much of the retro- prog crowd, and it's excellent stuff.
The Tale of the Golden King
. . . The prog fan will get from "The Tale" the whole range of what defines traditional progressive rock . . . Symphonic and epic moments meet dense and tight compositions, showing TPE as an accomplished musician . . . In my humble opinion, TPE's "The Tale" is an impressive traditional prog-rock opus that should satisfy all fans of this kind of music.
The Tale of the Golden King
Well - WELCOME ALL YE to THE CD of 2013, Yep - this has got to be the best release this year by a parsec or more I reckon. I have given this two spins and it's knocked the old skin off the prog rice pudding!! yep it most surely has! If you like your prog pudding richly sprinkled with moog runs and bombastic themes, then this is surely for you ! I will be definitely investing in the back catalogue after this masterpiece has tweaked my aural-synapses to the point of prog-ejaculation! It has bits reminiscent of yes (Sound Chaser off Relayer) and a bit of old yes off the "Yes Album" , but I am also reminded of ELP (the drumming is a bit Carl Palmer-ish) - Also - a bit of Greenslade in the keyboard/combos. Loads of sumptuous Moog and Hammond - really nice guitar licks, good strong themed lyrics which add to the overall pomposity of the piece. I think that this is not NEO-PROG but more Keyboard oriented Symphonic Prog or KOSP for short!! Just buy it people and SHARE the LOVE.
The Tale of the Golden King
7 of 10
The band's name is misleading, because behind THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE lies only a single, anonymous musician. This is all the more remarkable , as the music on " The Tale Of The Golden King " equally playful as complex is set in scenes while demonstrating every impeccable technical skills on every single instrument.
Granted, in the orchestral passages , the artist has brought help from the outside. Fortunately, the symphonic elements are not in thick, highly viscous mass of kitsch but used very targeted and drown the music . So THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE proves the right instinct to leave despite an average length of more than seven minutes pleasingly compact sounding and always transparent structured pieces to their full advantage .
The album is intended as a work of art and hits accordingly smoothly through the piece . . . you can still mentally be completely absorbed in the music and henceforth dream while listening to "The Tale Of The Golden King" . . .
An extremely pleasant addition turns out to be the guest vocals by Ann Caren, who twice sings a female lead vocal in addition to scattered backing vocals over the entire disk. "The Queen Of Sorrow " thereby becoming the ballad-like tip of the disc, and in the second half once again clear drama and suspense. Especially in the three-part final piece THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE still pulls out all the stops and brings an all-around pleasant listening experience to an amazing degree. . .
The Tale of the Golden King
Cool concept and approach for a progressive rock album by The Psychedelic Ensemble! "The Tale of the Golden King" provides an adrenaline rush as this U.S. band merge medieval music and cultural influences with their exciting sound . . .
ALEX TORRES 10 out of 10
GERT HULSHOF 9.5 out of 10
Alex Torre's Review
If you are one of those DPRP readers who trusts our recommendations and ratings then you may well be very familiar with The Psychedelic Ensemble's previous two albums, 2009's The Art Of Madness and 2010's The Myth Of Dying, which received lofty scores of 9.5 and 10 from my colleague, Gert Hulshof. High scores indeed! So, a new album and a change of reviewer – can The Psychedelic Ensemble do it again?
The answer is as positive a "yes" as you're likely to get. Frankly, music doesn't get much better than this. The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur is possibly the best of what is fast becoming an extraordinary sequence of high quality albums.
As the artist's name suggests, The Psychedelic Ensemble produces music that harks back to what many regard as the golden era of rock: the dawn of progressive music and its first few years. From within that era, each of The Psychedelic Ensemble's albums has been internally sonically consistent, but slightly different from the last. So, for instance, the main reference calls for The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur would be bands such as the progressive music of The Beatles, classic Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, whereas memories of Pink Floyd were evoked during The Art Of Madness. In the way that the fusion of these various influences work through to the compositions, we experience something totally new that, at the same time, reminds us of those great bands.
It therefore follows that a criticism that might be levelled at The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur might be that the musical composition is not innovative, but is a variation on well established techniques. This may be true, but innovation per se is over-rated. There are not many people who listen to classical music of the twentieth century: composers valued innovation over musicality but the paying public have a much greater preference for musicality! So, is this the dreaded commercialism? Well, you try and write a pretty melody or a catchy riff; it's not easy, or we'd all be heroes! Let me also say this: had The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur been the 2011 Yes album, rather than Fly From Here, then my guess is that Yes's album reviews would have been unanimously praiseworthy!
The care taken with the choice and variety of sonic textures throughout the album really enhances the listening pleasure and, together with the classical-leaning nature of compositions such as The Benefaction Of The Noble Wizard and Magicking, puts the music overall in the European, rather than American, progressive music stream.
The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur follows on from its predecessors in that it is – in all respects – a concept album. There's no messing about: the concept is not just in the story but in the artwork, the musical themes and in the way that the story is told. Seven of the eleven compositions are sung but the accompanying CD booklet tells the story through quatrains – rhyming poems of four line stanzas – even for the instrumental compositions. Together with Sam del Russi's evocative artwork, commissioned especially for the album, this means that The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur isn't just an album of music, but a magical, interactive experience. Sure, you can just listen to the music – even to single compositions out of sequence or context if you want, and still get enjoyment – but the primary experience is to enjoy the whole package; to let yourself enter into this fantasy world. Great music, great art, great story – as I said, classic progressive rock!
The music is deceptively catchy, addictive, whether the focus is on melody or rhythm: I found myself waking with it playing in my mind even before I had become sufficiently familiar to be able to identify the particular compositions.
Let me give you some thoughts on the individual compositions. The album kicks off in fine style with Overture - Into The Night, which is sung and whose melodic development reminds us of George Harrison's Indian-influenced writing for The Beatles; we also get some instrumental variations on the theme. The principal "instrument" of The Psychedelic Ensemble are electronic keyboards: his selection of sounds is first class and the musical textures throughout the album are gorgeously varied, as we begin to appreciate in earnest on The Secrets Of Your Mind, a deliciously rhythmic piece with tubular bells, vibe sounds and much more (tasty whiffs of piano and electric guitar, Spanish guitar). The depth of composition on the arrangements is significant, and always well allied to the story concept. A prime example is the instrumental The Benefaction Of The Noble Wizard, which is an unaccompanied church organ composition, beautifully played. Listen To Me takes us closer to Yes, which also has very slight whiffs of folk via a flute and lute (?) section; this suggestion links into the folkier Stones To Flowers, which then has the response of the beautiful, acoustic, mediaeval-feeling Magicking: in the story, this is played on the lyre, but I can't quite tell what the instrument used here is; it's a very beautiful sounding guitar, with a crisp, clean sound, if it is that. Gorgeous, whatever it is. The Riddle picks up the pace and has some attractive rhythmic work and some super and varied sound textures throughout; the vocal harmonies are also attractive in the singing section. Dream And Premonition starts ethereally before going into a sonically exciting plucked bass section, then oscillating between the two. The finale consists of Strange Days, which might be categorised as psychedelic folk-rock, given the vocal style and flutey influence; and the heavier, brooding End Of Days – Epilogue has some mean electric guitar work and good rhythmic elements; lots of sonic textures again.
As you may know, the identity of The Psychedelic Ensemble has not been revealed. It is a solo project. All of the instruments and all of the singing, including the harmonies – with the exception of the fiddle part in The Riddle and the falsetto harmony in Strange Days - are performed by the anonymous artist. The purpose behind this irregular approach is an attempt to allow the music to speak for itself, rather than rely on the brand of celebrity to sell it. If you don't understand what I'm alluding to then may I remind you again of Fly From Here, an album, incidentally, that I personally enjoyed. Had that not been issued under the Yes brand it may well have "bombed". Brand sells, anonymity does not but excellent music should.
On that basis, it's time that you really checked out The Psychedelic Ensemble, if you haven't already done so. Can you really afford to ignore an average rating in excess of 9.5 per album?
Gert Hulshof's Review
The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur marks the release of the third long play album for TPE, short for The Psychedelic Ensemble, a one man band who really stirred up things in the progressive rock world with his first release in 2009. As were its predecessors the Magic Jongleur is a full blown concept album, telling the tale of a young musician, "The Magic Jongleur", in his quest to find magical music.
The complete story behind the album and various tracks can be found in the accompanying booklet, which also contains the artwork of Sam del Russi, who has done a terrific job in depicting the story/poetry of TPE into pictures. The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur, however is not only available as a CD and or Download, but is available through a designated website - like with his first two albums. The story can be found there as well as the drawings by Sam del Russi. True artwork. We are not reviewing the artwork although great artwork is a blessing for our eyes. It is about the music here. It all looks as if it is supposed to be this way. The Art Of Madness, The Myth Of Dying and now The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur. All captivating stories dealing with what most of us appear to banish from our day to day lives.
Starting all the magic is Overture - Into The Night, with bells chiming laying foundation to what can be expected. As before TPE makes use of the sounds and interpretations of progressive music of the 70’s, which I might add he does this very well. When you listen to the songs all influences become apparent. It is a blessing rather than a curse how this music is composed and performed. Beautifully crafted melodies draw us into the night our quest begins. And The Quest is fully instrumental, with complex rhythmic changes along with keyboard and guitar battles. The next track has been released for a while as an excerpt preview of this album. So this one may already be familiar to some. The Secrets Of Your Mind is a song of balladry with great lyrics and melodies. Outstanding craftsmanship.
Next up is the instrumental The Benefaction Of The Noble Wizard, a track performed only on keyboards. Think Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Don Airey, Patrick Moraz, need I say more. The Benefaction Of The Noble Wizard is has a great melody and even better performance - an exceptional piece of music. Listen To Me is the next title and rocks as if it was The Tangent playing it. Stones To Flowers is a very short track, marking a sort of transition or crossover song - with beautiful harmony vocal section, followed by an instrumental ditty going by the name of Magicking. This track is a solo on acoustic Spanish guitar, approaching classic music.
Next up we have The Riddle and as the title implies we are in for a complex treatment. The song is full of changes in tempo to aid the riddle. In Dream And Premonition the bass playing is fabulous, not only keeping the rhythm alive but performing a splendid solo. The premonition was perhaps one of "strange days" - a prelude to the stranger themes of the epic on the album. The highlight, no climax, of the album End Of Days – Epilogue. Everything we heard is passing by again, a magnificent closing to an outstanding album. I like to think so.
The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur is the most accessible album of the three albums created by TPE. Probably suited for a wider audience than its predecessors. Nevertheless a fine example of what you can be achieved in modern day music business. The accessibility also proves itself in more or less tracks you can listen to without damaging the concept per se. Highlights to me are The Benefaction Of The Noble Wizard, Magicking and End Of Days - Epilogue.
Will we see another album with again a concept and of sheer beauty, I hope so? Only TPE can tell us, may be an album about birth and rebirth?
. . . Does anyone recognize how lucky we are to have The Psychedelic Ensemble in our lives? Three top notch albums in three years--and all conceived, composed, performed, and produced by one guy! Has there ever been a solo composer/performer who has produced music of this quality? And people: This Is The Best of all the Psychedelic Ensemble releases. It is utterly astounding! Time after time I am blown away by the emotion, the virtuosic performances--on many instruments--and the incredible clarity and engineering of this production. There are many times on this album that I am hearing an instrument solo, duelled by another, then a third! a FOURTH! even a fifth instrument gets into the act-- all playing top notch riffs, talking to each other through the fire of their instruments. Astounding! Amazing! God! . . . This, not "Shattered ..." or "Visions" or "Grace for ..." or "Ghosts" or SKE may be the Album of the Year!! Certainly the year's Best Album . . . ! There is no keyboard player on the planet that can compare to this guy's power and versatility.
The album opens with a cacophony of beautiful world sounds: bells, sitars, church organ, fuzz guitars and so much more, before it kicks into a great rocker with such a fullness of sound. "Overture: Into the Night" (9/10) is such a 'complete' well-thought out, well- constructed song (much like many of the BIG BIG TRAIN compositions of recent years)--which sets the stage for a whole album of absolutely TOP QUALITY music. The 5:54 mark gives the first real introduction to the ride you're in for: amazing soli, multiple instruments dueling (in this case like STEVE HOWE and RICK WAKEMAN in their finest hours).
The instrumental "The Quest" (9/10) begins with a STARCASTLE/ROBIN TROWER sound until the main themes are played simultaneously buy guitars and multiple keyboards. Love the 'bubble bass' sounding not unlike fretless master PERCY JONES. He even gets a solo (an awesome one at that!) at the 2:40-3:10 span. Return to STARCASTLE/YES sound. Awesome energy!
"The Secrets of your Mind" (9/10) opens with a bit slower pace but with exciting 'bubble' JACO PASTORIUS-like bass patterns. Vocals are rather high and etheric--somehow similar to JAMES TAYLOR--with some really well-constructed intricate harmonies. The long solo section has more laid back and layered approach to multiple instrumental soli--electric and acoustic guitars, electric and acoustic keyboards, GENIUS! Absolute genius!!
Next is the mind-bending church organ song, "The Benefaction of the Nobal Wizard" (10/10). This was my first experience while listening to this album of goosebump and awe. It starts simply, unassumingly. Then, suddenly a full organ chord is added. Then second had and bass pedals. The effect is humbling, truly humbling. Not unlike Wakeman's intro to Yes' "Awaken" combined with the the traditional Yes intro, Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite"--but with more emotion.
"Listen to Me" (9/10) brings us back to Earth--but at fairly high speed--and with some incredible keyboard and guitar work--the level of instrumental performance has just been turned up to 11! Vocals are the ONLY weak point here--and they aren't bad!
The all-too-brief "Stones to Flowers" (10/10) brings us back to the BEATLES/MAMAS & THE PAPAS 60s before gently fading into a dreamy BBT-like vocal collage.
"Magicking" (10/10) presents a beautiful, sensitive, virtuosic acoustic guitar duet. Somewhat reminiscent of "Mood for a Day" but moreso of Brother Ape's gorgeous BILL EVANS-like "In a Rare Moment" from 2010's In A Rare Moment of Insight.
"The Riddle" (10/10) puts speed and multi-instrumental soli back in our faces in a BIG way! My favorite song on the album, it is full of such hauntingly beautiful melodies--every vocal, instrument's sound, instrumental solo is of such high adrenaline pumping value that I don't think even JAN AKKERMAN could do it better! Once in a rare eon you wish there was a rating number higher than 10! This is it; my 11/10 for 2011/12! Amazing song. I listened to it over and over--had such joy trying to imagine playing all of the soli, imagining the level of extreme genius that could compose and perform at such a high level. He simply cannot be human!
Then--GET THIS--"The Riddle" is followed by a truly rare and amazing song of deft skillmanship:
The bass performance on "Dream and Premonition" (10/10) is jaw-dropping in a JACO PASTORIUS way. A song if you heard you would not soon forget!
The vocal harmonies and guitar and flutes on the JETHRO TULL-like "Strange Days" (9/10) is wonderful. Not unlike 2010's CICCADA release, like getting a fresh dose of great TULL!
The album's closer, the 11-minute epic "The End of Days: Epilogue" (9/10) is interesting for its emotional Richie Havens-like lead vocalist, high paced frenetic drumming (à la BROTHER APE), and of course, amazing interplay of what seems like an infinite number of keyboards and guitar. Great BIG BIG TRAIN feel to it.
A TIMELESS MASTERPIECE. (No arguments accepted.)
5 of 5
W. A. Fisher (January 2012)
. . . Whoever the person responsible for this project is, his taste on all matters, musical, technical and artistic, appears to be impeccable. "The Myth of Dying" proves to be a splendid production of the symphonic art rock variety, with numerous details to savor and plenty of intricate compositional features to enjoy. All of these are placed within a brilliantly produced single composition that spans the entire album. Beautiful cover art, extensive liner notes and a high quality booklet are treats for those who prefer to buy a physical CD. And while the latter isn't needed to be able to enjoy this splendid creation, they will enhance the overall experience. A few very minor details aside, this is a brilliant production and obviously highly recommended. Read the Complete Review
(6 of 6)
Olav M Bjornsen (Spring 2011) London
» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:
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.
(5 of5 )
Jon Neudorf (January 2012)
2011 brings the third effort of one man band The Psychedelic Ensemble. Like the first two album The Art of Madness and The Myth of Dying, The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur is of conceptual nature. This time we'll crawl into the mind of a young searching musician, for the storyline depicted as the magic jongleur. As surprised as I was after I listened to album no.1 is as stunned I am now. We are three albums on our way from this band and still the music is growing stronger each album better than the last. Yes you've read it. This is the finest of the three albums by The Psychedelic Ensemble.
The album is more keyboard driven than the previous albums, more a sound in a modern jacket like the music produced by Yes, Genesis, ELP and the likes in the '70's.
Just listen to a track like the "Benefaction of the Noble Wizard", this complete song is like wizardry, keyboard wizardry that is. It is an absolute stunning piece of work, the classical sound of the organ and keys playing . . . I am short of words.
Need I go on? Quite simply all the music on the album speaks and tells the tale of the Jongleur in search for his answers. Did he in the end get them? I can't tell, but if I were able to hand out 6 stars, I would.
(5 of 5 )
Gert Hulshof (January 2012)
First off, who is this guy and why does he want to remain anonymous? The Dream of the Magic Jongleur seriously took me by surprise and knocked my socks off. Apparently this anonymous bard plays just about everything on the album, and it’s all amazing. Ultra spacey synths everywhere, brilliant layers of vocal harmonies and intertwining keyboard and guitar leads and melodies make this album a fantastic listen. What we basically get here is an amazing blend of jazz fusion (reminds me very much of Return to Forever’s first album) with northern European folk overtones joined together by hyper-spacey symphonic prog arrangements. All the notes and chord shifts count on this record. The leads are fantastic, the tone is gorgeous and the runs are fun and expressive. On songs such as the Overture, you get this great vocal like dialogue going on between keyboards and guitar leads, in a Borg Sex kind of way (for the Satriani fans out there). The vocals are fantastic (somehow recalling a bit of Jethro Tull?), making you enjoy the entire composition rather than skipping straight to the keyboard solos. For all the comparisons to other bands, I didn’t feel like the album was a rip off in the least bit. This is just fantastic symphonic prog. Period.
(5 of 5 )
Matt Di Giordano
Prolusion. The US-based outfit THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE appeared more or less out of nowhere in 2009, a one man project whose creator prefers his endeavors in the field of progressive rock to stay anonymous. "The Dream of the Magic Jongleur" is his third full length production and was released in 2011.
It’s pretty rare for me to get excited about singles. Apart from the fact that what we usually want is a full album, my relationship with singles is that they always pick the most “accessible” piece from the album and market it in hopes that it’s going to expand their fan-base For me, it usually makes me wonder whether the album is going to suck as much as the single. Well, I can honestly say that with The Psychedelic Ensemble’s release of the “Silent Sam” and “Undone” singles, you get neither of the pitfalls that I loathe in so many other singles. Both pieces are of the highest quality and in the style that we have come to love from The Psychedelic Ensemble.
“Silent Sam” is the more relaxed of the bunch, a song that is both calming and bard-like, bringing to mind the mystical jongleur feel of the last TPE album, albeit with less ‘magical’ lyrics. A gorgeous acoustic guitar leads us into a great groove in four with a very folky feel, lightly textured with keyboards and spacey effects that float about in the background. After some catchy singing, TPE goes into passing the melody along through the various instruments and building the piece up into a light explosion which takes us to a keyboard solo which is very TPE trademark sounding, with top notch phrasing that melds the perfect degree of melodic-ness to complexity. After the guitar solo, the song gets to perhaps what is my favorite part, a short little section that is full of atmospheric flutes with a very tron-like feel and bardic vocals weaving in and out of each other. After some cool organ and sparkly bells, the melody continues to get passed around before we head into the final verse which has some rocking/bluesy organ over a very upbeat groove. Mind you, this isn’t your grandpa’s blues, there’s something here with the texturing that throws us out in space for a session.
“Undone” takes us into some more menacing territory with its somber overtones and dark lyrics. The piece kicks it off with some acoustic guitars and crystalline synths. As we have come to love in The Pyschedelic Ensemble, there is no rule saying that instrumental melodies can’t take prominence along side vocals at the very same moment. This is most effective on the “You’ve come undone” chorus section where we get some blazing synth leads delivering jaw dropping power that is refined by cool little details of sparkly keyboards floating on the top layer of the music. After some catchy solos on keyboard and guitar we get some great arpeggiator work with fantastically layered synths and return to the main verse which does not hold back one bit. After getting the main instrumental melody a few more times, I was surprised to hear a bit of piano doubled by acoustic guitar, which was great fun, follwed by great fusion playing augmented by fast little runs with delightful lead tones. As the song starts to climax, the vocals return, backed by a descant like high pitched scream that really drives home the lyrics of the song. TPE calls it a day by wrapping it up with some clean guitar and keyboards and a somewhat unexpected major chord finale, typical of classical music but taking me completely by surprise in this setting; a very clever move indeed.
Overall I must say that I am once again stunned by The Psychedelic Ensemble’s work. Not only is the songwriting top notch, the production is, likewise, fantastic. The layering of the instruments is ultra nuanced and the melodies will get stuck in your head quickly, but the playing and composition is complex enough to make these pieces something that you will keep coming back to. The keyboard arrangments and performances on breathtaking, and when it comes to the track “Undone,” they are so good that we now have another piece to consider for this years keyboard nomination in The Proggies. Don’t pass up these singles, and be on the lookout for TPE’s fourth studio album coming up just around the corner. The way things are headed, it should be very promising.
POTENTIAL PROGGIES NOMINATION FOR KEYBOARD?
Matt Di Giordano
Analysis. Sometimes one of the easiest tasks you can get is to place an artist or an album within a specified context. It can be a daunting task, and an exercise that occasionally leads to tearing your hair out or banging your forehead against the nearest brick wall, but on other occasions it's just a matter of stating the blatantly obvious. And in this case symphonic progressive rock is just that; it'll take less than a minute to firmly pace this CD within that context and it stays firmly deep within that realm throughout. In fact, if this production had been released some 35 years ago I suspect it might have been canon at this point, an entity important enough to become a referential item itself. Not a perfect creation though, at least not one that will be universally regarded as such, but then again you won't find too many albums that can be described as such, even among the canonical items inside or outside of the art rock universe. I suspect those with a deep affection for the 70's brand of symphonic art rock will find plenty of slight nods on this production that reference the giants of old. But while there are numerous details of that kind, I find that they are used and utilized in more of an accidental manner. Because this is an album that doesn't try to replicate any specific sound or approach. Moments reminding of Yes, Genesis and Gentle Giant come and go, and in lead vocals kind of manner I did think I came across a few details closer to Jethro Tull as well, but all of these fleeting, brief instances are all a part of a greater whole. One dominated by fairly elaborate arrangements, and more often than not a striking lead motif with a plethora of instrumental details beneath, the latter often of a fairly complex and often intricate nature, ear candy for the connoisseur and deep listener. Details are something of a key word, as there are lots of them to discover. But rather than utilizing the various flamboyant instrumental escapades to dramatic effect they are dampened and subdued more often than not, carefully implemented within compositions that have been planned with care and affection. Technically speaking, mix and production are just as carefully executed as the compositions themselves and the in studio performance. High quality through and through, obviously catered for by someone with a vast amount of experience in such surroundings. What's left is the impact of the compositions as such, and in that department I surmise opinions will be many. The pieces most firmly placed within the symphonic art rock realm are by and large impressive ones, richly arranged, detailed and with well developed themes and motifs throughout. And most intriguing of all to my ears is the final one, with its almost panic-like dampened rhythms and spare instrumentation, with shifts towards a majestic, grandiose and joyful end sequence in the second half as a logical and well executed development. Other compositions will be more of an acquired taste though, from the intricate instrumental flourishes of The Quest and the bombastic church organ that is the heart and soul of The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard to the bass dominated landscapes of Dream and Premonition. It's not a case of hit and miss, but rather a case of how much you enjoy certain individual items by themselves rather than as part of the total package. An impressive disc on a number of different levels.
Conclusion. "The Dream of the Magic Jongleur" is an impressive creation, especially since it has been conceived, developed and recorded by a single person. And while some friends do help out with some details, this is the vision of one man. A man with a strong and deep affection for yesteryear's brand of symphonic progressive rock, and who has tried and, at least to my ears, succeeded in crafting a disc filled with music that should find strong favor among others who share his fascination, in particular for the sophisticated varieties of it.
(5.5 of 6)
Olav Bjørnsen (June 2012)
Von einem Ensemble zu sprechen, obschon lediglich ein einziger Musiker hinter der Materie steckt, ist eine gewagte Sache. Doch die Suggestionen, die THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE wecken, werden auf dem neuen Album keineswegs enttäuscht; "The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur" ist eine absolut ambitionierte Reise durch die Welt der progressiven Rockmusik, hier und dort sicherlich von Acts wie PINK FLOYD und YES beeinflusst, aber grundsätzlich eine Exploration der vielschichtigen Eindrücke, die die Sparte nun einmal bietet. Doch in fast jedem Song gewinnt man den Eindruck, als würde das Projekt noch einen Schritt weiter gehen, als es selbst die ausgefallensten Muster des Genres hergeben - und genau darin besteht der Reiz von "The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur"!
Die Platte beginnt bereits mit einer sehr interessanten 'Overture', die fast schon den Charakter eines Jams präsentiert, sich jedoch dank der vielen sphärischen Elemente immerzu im Zaum hält, schon zu Beginn völlig abzuheben. THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE ist hierbei keine Ausdrucksform abgefahrener Instrumentalkunst, sondern bewahrt diesen kontrollierten Forscherdrang und bewegt sich konsequent zwischen den unterschiedlichen, harmonischen Soundlandschaften, die mit viel Liebe zum Detail, aber weitestgehend überraschend still erkundet werden. Es ist ein steter Wandel zwischen einzelnen Symphonic-Prog-Arrangements, einem leichten Kammermusik-Abstecher und den bereits erwarteten psychedelischen Elementen, die entgegen der Erwartungen jedoch nur einen untergeordneten Part übernehmen. "The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur" definiert sich durch seine bestechenden Harmonien, die vielen langsam aufgebauten Variationen einzelner Hauptthemen und letztendlich durch seine verträumte Grundstimmung, die jenseits jedweder Melancholie unglaublich einladend erscheint - und selbst so manchen etwas sperrigeren Part schnell vergessen macht.
Dennoch sollte man nicht vergessen, dass "The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur" gewissermaßen Special Interest ist. Das neue Werk von THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE will entdeckt und erforscht, bis ins letzte Detail aufgesogen werden. Und gerade weil hier viele unkonventionelle Elemente an Bord sind, muss man sich die Ruhe und Geduld gönnen, das Ein-Mann-Projekt und das aktuelle Werk gründlich zu studieren. Und überdies wird man sich mit der Dominanz der Synthies arrangieren müssen, die in diesem Fall aber keinesfalls störend ist. Aber wie so häufig, so ist auch in diesem Fall ein Werk, das viel Zeit in Anspruch nimmt, genau jenes, welches sich am Ende am meisten lohnt - und Letzteres kann man für "The Dream Of The Magic Jongleur" ohne jede Einschränkung bestätigen!
Anspieltipps: The Quest, Listen To Me, Magicking
8.5 of 10
Björn Backes (February 2012)
The Psychedelic Ensemble is a pseudonym for the renowned multi-instrumentalist who has maintained a career in the music business for thirty years! In 2009, Muséa distributed his first album, The Art of Madness, well received by critics and meeting critical acclaim. 2010 saw the release of The Myth of Dying, a concept of the afterlife with Floyd atmospheres. Nominated for best album and best foreign production at ProgAwards, it reached No. 29 in the Global Top 100 Progressive Rock Poll 2010. The Dream of the Magic Jongleur is the third production from The Psychedelic Ensemble, released in 2011. After listening, it is an album of enormous potential if you like Yes, Genesis, and ELP.
The Dream of the Magic Jongleur is situated in a dream world, offering 11 songs beautifully illustrated with drawings by Sam Del Russi. The artist was able to erase the influence of Floyd in favor of Yes, Genesis, and ELP with majestic keyboards reigning in the undisputed masters. Yet the keyboard color is not uniform, and range from keyboards to traditional church organs. The opening starts with the ringing of church bells, nimbly and delicately engulfed by synthesizer and guitar, which are followed by a charming song that captivates you and guides you to the magical land of dreams. The symphonic style is ubiquitous throughout the work. Without transition, comes The Quest with its vertiginous synthesizers, biting guitar, and very catchy rhythm like a supercharged ELP. More wild keyboards continue in The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard, which reaches the sublime. Jazzy guitar opens [Listen to Me] where all instruments burst and blaze in this musical allegory as flute sways alongside galloping electric guitar and synthesizers. Stones to Flowers, where the vocals have a taste of Gentle Giant, is followed by a short interlude played on acoustic guitar. The Riddle is a very creative production, seated on a long carpet of keyboards, while the sound of the guitar is worthy of Steve Hackett, is a perfect surprise in perfect harmony with the medieval universe of Gryphon. Dreams and Premonitions begins with dramatic notes highlighting a phenomenal bass performance. Strange Days is a very cool piece, reminiscent of Gentle Giant or Jethro Tull, in a prelude of magical flute, acoustic guitar, and minstrel-like singing.
Then unfurls a Yessien torrent doubled in a female voice where virtuosity serves the music. The eleven-minute wild finish, End Days-Epilogue, is an apotheosis where we forget all that has been to create this piece and outstanding star in progressive rock!
Jean-Pierre Schricke (August 2012)
Issue 57, 2012
The Psychedelic Ensemble have released a number of albums and their latest is a superb example of modern Neo Prog. "The Dream of the Magic Jongleur" is the vision of the one man multi instrumentalist who remains anonymous and proudly enigmatic. His style is extreme psychedelic at times sounding like the acid rock of the 60s such as on 'Overture Into the Night', a blistering keyboard driven master work.
The bass is incredible on this album and really glistens with creativity on 'The Quest'. Each track sounds different, the vocals are pleasant and there are even shades of quasi-Neo on tracks such as 'The Secrets of Your Mind'. The harmonies are terrific and the music is organic, and creative at all times.
'The Benefaction Of The Noble Wizard' begins with piercing cathedral church organ, reminding me of one Wakeman. Even the melody is like Wakeman. One can imagine a royal procession making their way down the aisle. The pipe organ is joined by bass pedals, and "rollerball" atmospheres. Hmmm, church was never like this.
'Listen To Me' has a guitar intro, striking after the church organ. A very nice funkadelic rhythm locks in with spacey keyboards, and glorious Happy organ sounds. The vocals return, interesting lyrics; "gather ye round, hear ye what I found, my magic is on display to all, I've got a tale to sing to you, now listen to me." The lead break is great. The tale continues of a Wizard of dreams where it is said the dragon dwells. The flute sound and lute is as medieval as Gryphon. The keyboard runs are stellar on this, a definitive highlight.
'Stones To Flowers' is a short thing sounding like the 60s are back. A throwback to the flower power scene.
'Magicking' is a wonderful twin acoustic virtuosic guitar solo. The harmonics are beautiful, so good to hear at the end of the day as night falls.
'The Riddle' is an 8 minute labyrinthine journey into mystical musicianship. The keyboard runs are frenetic, the vocals are multi tracked and beautifully harmoinised, the percussion is deliriously sporadic and the soloing is incredible. The synergy of dynamic tension and release, instruments competing and warring against wild time sigs, is masterful. This is a quintessential highlight not to be missed.
'Dream And Premonition' brings things into a dreamy soundscape, a bass solo over an ambient keyboard pad. It builds into some awesome dramatic blasts and bass guitar heaven. One of the best basslines I have heard.
'Strange Days' is quite strange, acoustic chord progression and a flute sounding like Ian Anderson dropped by or a chat. The vocals are even a bit like Anderson; "strange days indeed, am I lost in a dream, these are strange days it seems, like the darkest of dreams." There is an angular guitar over a keyboard solo and gorgeous flute embellishments. The lead break is good but mixed a little low. I love that shimmering Hammond though. Then a louder guitar break and keyboard run chimes in. It is a relaxing journey and definitely well worth listening.
'End Of Days ? Epilogue' is an 11 minute romp to finish this incredible album. It begins with esoteric effects, a bell chimes, a grand lead guitar is heard, reminds me of Pink Floyd but it is very regal pop rock. The heaviest riff crunches in with lighning fast key runs answering. I love that off kilter time sig and heaviness. The music is so dense it needs to breathe and so the sig is fractured with a new sig, speedy percussion and steady vocals; "the sea is churning blowing over me, the stars are burning blazing down on me, and it seems like end of days." The next key run is very techno and way of the scale. As good as Jordan Rudess running over his continuum. The musicianship is exemplary.
I am glad I heard this and it was a prime example of a one man genius, a vision and virtuosic skill doing what he loves; creating a compelling album of glorious prog. Some parts could be improved, and more musicians would augment the overall feel, maybe some guests vocalists, but this is excellent psych prog by any standards.
(4 of 5 )
If you are looking for a band or music that is in a league of its own then go out and find yourself the music of The Psychedelic Ensemble. This band, or more accurately one man show, really rocks the house . . . how is it possible that only one man is capable of making a musical concept like this? We have not seen this since a certain Mike Oldfield stepped up to the plate back in the seventies, bringing Tubular Bells and the likes.
. . . Now this review comes rather late as The Psychedelic Ensemble have recorded a follow up to this beautiful trip into the Art Of Madness, a psychedelic, eclectic trip into the world we all know. As I have a very distinct feeling listening to this masterpiece - it is our everyday life encapsulated in a nutshell of music.
Ever since this album fell on my doormat it has had regular spins, yes the whole thing, not bits and pieces, but the album. I find it absolutely awesome. The artwork from the booklet, where various painters give "their view" of the story of a song can be found on the mini site - this is a must see. Really outstanding, but there are always ways to do better so my concluding rating therefore will not be 10 out of 10, but just under. I cannot wait to listen to the follow up. Read the Complete Review
Conclusion: 9.5 of 10
Gert Hulshof (Fall 2010 Vol. 55 Dutch Progressive Rock Page)
Apparently a one-man project, the Psychedelic Ensemble has created a progressive masterwork that explores the nature of creativity and artistic production through the psychotic adventures of its protagonist. Inspired by the artwork of patients at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, N.Y., this music is extraordinarily ambitious, taking cues most noticeably from Pink Floyd, but also bearing subtleties reflecting the Alan Parson Project.
According to liner notes these tracks were largely improvised. That's surprising, given that the songs sound well crafted with little hap-dash feel to them. The production is of a uniformly high quality; clearly, this self-produced musician knows how to twist and turn the knobs. There is a dreamlike quality throughout, alternating between pastoral ballads and spacey explorations into folk-rock territory. The vocals and guitars will surely bring to mind David Gilmour.
While contemporary in nature, the 11 songs on The Art of Madness would not sound out of place on an album from the 1970s, which speaks to the talents of its unnamed creator.
Autumn 2010, Issue 60
The Psychedelic Ensemble - der "Band"-name ist irreführend. Kein Ensemble verbirgt sich dahinter, nur ein einzelner Musiker, der unerkannt bleiben möchte, vermutlich weil sein eigener Name nicht unbekannt auf anderen (musikalischen) Gebieten ist. Und Psychedelic? Gewiss sind da Ansätze. Ansätze - viel mehr nicht. Die drei bislang unter The Psychedelic Ensemble veröffentlichten Alben, das erste bei Musea, das zweite als Privatpressung, das dritte wohl ebenfalls, nur dass jetzt mit ‚Glowing Sky Records' ein Labeltitel angegeben ist, der wie The Psychedelic Ensemble wohl nur ein weiteres Synonym für die Person ist, der diese drei wohl geratenen Babys zuzuschreiben sind, diese drei Alben sind retrospektiver Symphonic Rock mit großartig komplexem Aufbau.
In den beiden Interviews, die Progressive Newsletter und Progarchives mit dem seit 35 Jahren aktiven Komponisten führten und die auf seiner Webseite (siehe unten) nachzulesen sind, erläutert der für seine musikalische Arbeit als The Psychedelic Ensemble unerkannt bleiben möchtende Musiker, warum dies so ist und was "Psychedelic" im Bandnamen bedeutet: "The "Psychedelic" component of The Psychedelic Ensemble derives from my belief - and perhaps I am alone in this belief - that both albums are neo-psychedelic projects. Psychedelia lies more at the core of the concepts of both albums than the musical style." Hätte der Mann sein Projekt The Progressive Ensemble genannt, wäre er - mit denselben Alben und der gleichen Musik - wahrscheinlich bekannter und erfolgreicher. Namen sind nicht nur Schall und Rauch, sie sind Orientierung und Bindung, etwa wie die dumme Denke der musikalischen Schubladen, die schlicht nicht auszumerzen ist.
In "The Realm of the Skeptics" singt - ab jetzt nenne ich ihn Mr. PE - von verschwendeter Zeit. Und Musikhören kann, diese Erfahrung sammelt ein jeder Musikhörer im Laufe des Musikhörerlebens, durchaus massive Zeitverschwendung sein. Wenn die Musik nicht die Qualität erfüllt, die/den Hörer(in) aus der Zeit zu reißen und in sein Mysterium zu ziehen.
Ganz eindeutig haben alle drei Werke beeindruckend hohe Qualität. Vor allem werden Progressive Rock Süchtige ihre Freude an den Alben haben. Das momentan leider angesagte und überaus überschwemmte Genre (alle Bands wollen plötzlich ‚progressiv' sein, oder so genannt werden, haben sie damit auch kaum etwas gemein) erfährt mit den drei in erstaunlich kurzer Zeit veröffentlichten CDs einen enormen Qualitätsschub. Stilistisch macht Mr. PE kein schmales Brett, da sind tatsächlich stilistisch psychedelisch anmutende Unwägbarkeiten zu hören, viel mehr symphonische Komplexe, erstaunlich neumusikalische Einlagen, gar Blues und liedhafte Pseudo-Folk-Sprengsel - aus allem lässt sich die klassische Handschrift als Komponist und als Handwerker an den diversen Instrumenten, die Mr. PE tatsächlich im Alleingang bespielte, erkennen. Zudem Sozialisation in den Sechzigern und Siebzigern, als Rockmusik aus drei Minuten hinauswuchs und mit Jazz, Klassik, Blues und Avantgarde in seinen wildesten, befreitesten und besten Momenten zu dieser klassischen Größe fand, die Progressive Rock genannt wird.
Die stilistische Mischung der drei Alben ist ungewöhnlich und erfüllend. Mr. PE lehnt sich nicht an bestimmte Klassiker der Progressive Rock Szene an, bedient sich nicht des Stiles eines Vorbildes, sondern findet seine eigene Qualität, seinen eigenen Klangraum und Stil. Gewiss sind viele Parts in den diversen Songs auf den drei Alben leicht nachvollziehbar, als seinen sie bekannt. Die instrumentale Ästhetik des Rockinstrumentariums, die Rhythmuskomplexität, die elegische bis ausgefallen ‚schräge' Note einiger Parts, der bisweilen symphonische Breitwandsound, E-Gitarren, Synthesizer - Musik kennt keine Grenzen, jedes Genre darin schon. Und doch ist nicht ein Song herkömmlich oder abgekupfert. Manche Parts in manchem Song erinnern an ganz bestimmte Parts in Rockklassikern, wenn die Hammondorgel dem Blues frönt und Bass, Orgel und Schlagzeug samt Gitarre ein den Song auflösendes Motiv vorantreiben - solche Ideen sind in tausenden historischen Rocksongs zu hören, und doch nicht in einem weiteren so, wie das Arrangement hier entwickelt ist.
Die Qualität des Psychedelic Ensembles ist die besondere, inspirierte und begabte Art der Komposition, und das über viele Songs und (bisher) drei Alben hinweg, und die Ungewöhnlichkeit und nachvollziehbar hohe Qualität der Arrangements. Nicht zuletzt ist die technische Einspielung am Instrumentarium locker und versiert, erstklassig und ohne jedes Manko. Kopf und Hände wissen, was wie zu spielen ist.
Ganz besonders freut und beeindruckt mich, dass die auch in guten, inspirierten und begabten Bands oftmals tumb bis blöd geschriebenen und ausgeführten Gesangslinien hier keineswegs solche sind, sondern von eigener intelligenter, inspirierter Art, nicht und gar nicht langweilen und überaus hinreißend geschrieben und gesungen sind.
Während Psychedelic Freaks mit den drei kunstvollen Alben des Psychedelic Ensembles weniger anzufangen wissen werden, weil Mr. PE nicht diese tumbe Krassheit und den extravaganten, Punk-rüden, wilden Ton trifft, der nie besonders avantgardistische, sondern provokative Kunst sein will und kaum etwas am Psychedelic Ensemble im Psychedelic Rock stattfindet, sind die Schöngeister im symphonischen Progressive Rock alter Schule, denen der ganze Quatsch ab Neo & Co. herzlich egal ist, von drei hinreißenden Alben umgarnt, die es zu entdecken gilt. Vieles der drei Alben kann gewiss unter Neoprog laufen, ohne indes den üblichen simplen Strukturen zu entsprechen, eher, weil der komplexe Sound diese Sanftmütigkeit bedient, die dem Untergenre so fad eigen ist.
Ganz besonders hat es mir persönlich das Instrumental "The Quest" vom jüngsten Album "The Dream of the Magic Jongleur" angetan - wie überhaupt die weit ausgeführten symphonisch elegischen Instrumentalpassagen, die manche ganze Songs umfassen und in den Stücken mit Gesang weite lyrische Strecken absolvieren. Avantgardistische Schräglagen passieren auch hier, indes gut ins harmonisch-lyrische Arrangement eingebettet, so dass die Freaks des abgefahrenen Avantgarde-Prog weniger Erfüllung finden. Drei Alben für die klassische Progressive Rock Szene.
Volkmar Mantei (Germany, February 2012)
. . . 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 . . . I have heard a few one person projects this year and this is one of the best. . .
Although this album has great musicianship, the focus is on the quality of the songwriting and arrangements . . .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 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 . . . 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. Read the Complete Review
Jon Neudorf, (Fall 2010)
. . . The structure is reminiscent of Fragile, because The Dream of the Magic Jongleur has - like the classic Yes - some solo tracks. So it is with The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard, which is a fantastic organ solo track played by TPE that recalls a mixture of Wakeman's "Jane Seymour" from "Six Wives" classic and Tomas Bodin's wonderful "Daddy in the Clouds" from his solo debut. But also a great track featuring solo acoustic guitar is present (Magicking), which demonstrates both the dexterity as well as compositional skill of TPE. "Dream and Premonition" in turn makes features very strong bass, which characterizes this title decisively. This did not require a guest bassists; this was also recorded by TPE himself. The drums are not programmed, but is - in an electronic drum set - the way of TPE . . . And the great thing: the vocal melodies are great, they complement the instrumental excursions in an absolutely coherent way. Some of them are actually quite catchy and settle in the ears. And you guessed it: of course this [the vocals] is also TPE himself!
The typical style and brand of psychedelic ensemble is heard again: the nimble, shimmering synthesizer runs, where I can see immediately TPE. It has its own note, and determines, among other things, the recognition of this "band". . . TPE has found his own unique style that speaks for itself, and no form of cloning is necessary.
Of course, it is very impressive that such a work was actually recorded almost single-handedly, which is possibly a bonus point unconsciously in this evaluation. But quite independent of whether a solo artist or a band is responsible for this work, this is simply a great album . . . This is no mere display of dexterity, but a coherent prog masterpiece! . . . Read the Complete Review
Jürgen Meurer (January 2012)
The Psychedelic Ensemble is a welcomed guest and heard here on ProgLog Afterglow. The first two albums, The Art of Madness (2009) and The Myth of Dying (2010), drew top marks from the editors. The third work of this still unknown artist, The Dream of the Magic Jongleur, is just as good. Again this is a concept album. This time the story is based on 'dreams' and it is not surprising because the composer says his musical ideas often emerge in this mystical way. He quotes Cicero in his De Re Publica who wrote "It happens often that the things about which we have been thinking and speaking bring about something in our sleep." This I can not deny.
All instruments are played by the multi-instrumentalist, a single contribution in a falsetto voice and fiddle by musicians not to be named . . .
Again, there is this is a sweeping virtuoso symphonic album with special keys and synths in particular playing a major role. The compositions have a nice build and have strong melodies and generally refer to the time of Camel and Yes's The Yes Album and occasionally to The Alan Parsons Project, typically without sounding retro. . .
Absolute monumental in the existing eleven tracks album is The Secrets of Your Mind, which is not just a catchy theme that sticks in your right brain but also peerless synth solos and keyboards. And the strong "The Riddle" is impressive with a great 'fiddle'. Oh, and that applies to the whole album: High quality, up-tempo pieces and somewhat restless balanced with subdued passages, and thus a strong use of dynamics.
The Psychedelic Ensemble has been well established. Three strong symphonic albums including The Dream of the Magic Jongleur, a big contender for the inevitable end of 2011 list. It will cut this year. Beautiful 'artwork' too, by the way!
Harry De Vries (December 2011) The Netherlands
With the musicians third concept album, the anonymous multi-instrumentalist behind The Psychedelic Ensemble distilled magical sounds from his dreams. This album is much more accessible than The Art of Madness and The Myth of Dying. The 63-minute journey is less arduous. Besides exciting soundscapes it offers more songs since this time more room is given for the vocal parts. The opener, Overture-Into the Night, provides the basic mood of the album--gloomy, mid-tempo, plausible melodies with numerous retro-prog citations and distinct melodies. Often Emerson, Lake and Palmer seems to be heard with analog synthesis, sometimes classical (The Quest), and sometimes even sacred (The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard). The Secrets of Your Mind is convincing with its complex vocal arrangement. And Listen To Me reminds one of the vocal and rhythmic style of Yes. There are also classical guitars as in PFM, a virtuoso multiple bass solo as well as Tull and Magma influences. What more does a retro progger want?
Eclipsed Magazine (January 2012)
Translated by Marianne Herrmann
The Psychedelic Ensemble is the name of a multi instrumentalist who has pursued a solo career. . . and who wishes to remain anonymous! This practice is unusual, especially when the person is so talented and should not feel the need to supress his name! Nevertheless it remains that this mysterious man is doing remarkably well in this industry already with three sublime albums in as many years in his repertoire: The Art of Madness (2009) and The Myth of Dying (2010). The Dream of the Magic Jongleur is intended as a logical continuation of the preceding works and remains in the same style. The artist plays all the instruments while managing this enormous creative freedom without constraint. His music, rather cozy and atmospheric, is full of finesse, with delicate melodies and catchy ballads with his detached, soft and smooth voice, which succeed each other in frenzied passages on keyboards, solo classical guitar, organ variations in church style, and jazz bass guitar; all this within an infrastructure of perfect progressive style. The artist fills our ears with his breathtaking virtuosity on all the instruments at the service of a creative genius unrivaled!
Richard Guay (March 2012)
What an astonishing experience is The Art of Madness! Astonishing because the group that performs, The Psychedelic Ensemble, is in fact comprised of only one member, and that this mischievous multi-instrumentalist decided to remain anonymous is rather unusual in the world of the music. Astonishing too because we are in the presence of a concept album where all the titles link to form a single piece of about 55 minutes, and rare are the groups today that risk this kind of endeavor. Astonishing finally because the artist asserts that the primarily materials of the work were improvised to which he later added the other parts like bass, drums, and melodies.
One is therefore intrigued by all these elements and a little anxious to discover if the result is merely smoke for advertising, or a pretentious work that has escaped the control of its creator. Not at all. The Art Of Madness held all its promises: this is a rich album, varied, inspired, melodious, and resourceful. And very surprising.
First, because it is difficult to believe that a single artist has himself produced alone all of these titles. There is an abundance of instruments making some very symphonic pieces . . . There is both a great overall coherence, but also a beautiful variety with a perfect balance between the titles of the more intimate symphonic harmony in moments and more discordant harmony between sung and instrumental passages. Far from improvisation, the overwhelming impression is rather that all elements have long been matured and carefully arranged.
. . . simply to compare this album to those of early Floyd is unfair and too restrictive. The Art Of Madness has its own originality and inspiration of the author that sometimes leads to strange melodies reminiscent of Prokofiev or Art Zoyd . . . There's something for everyone. Do not miss this disc for any reason. Read the Complete Review
9.0 of 10
November 2010, France
THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE . . . debut effort was initially self-released in 2009, but following negotiations with a number of record labels the artist decided to sign for Musea Records, which issued this CD in 2009 . . . The Art of Madness is a concept album, and much to the joy of aficionados of this kind of production, it's constructed as one continuous composition. The chosen genre for this venture is probably best described as art rock, mostly made up of relatively laidback symphonic progressive . . . energetic symphonic territories are explored as well though . . . Richly textured arrangements are common features throughout, . . . Careful but frequent use of dissonances and disharmonies is the main effect utilized, mostly to give a musical voice to the state of mind and soul we commonly describe as insanity or madness . . . Heavy guitar riffs take the lead on a few select occasions to add additional darkness and gloom to the proceedings . . . The soloing tends to be of the atmospheric variety, with ones provided by the guitar often reminiscent of David Gilmour's in sound and expression . . .
Conclusion. The Psychedelic Ensemble has made a promising and rather intriguing initial effort with The Art of Madness, and in terms of a target audience I'd imagine that those who have a soft spot for mid-70s Pink Floyd might be ones who will find the CD to be most interesting. But those with a general liking for elaborate art rock made with subtle finesse might also want to find out more about this disc, in particular if they are generally interested in concept albums. Read the Complete Review
(5.5 of 6 Stars)
Olav M Bjornsen (Summer 2010)
One might assume that because The Psychedelic Ensemble's album was released on Musea in France that the artist behind the project is French. In fact, the artist remains anonymous and worked in a solo capacity to compose. perform, and record the album, The Art of Madness. We know simply that the artist chose to remain anonymous, but since the 70s has collaborated with some of the biggest musical artists.
Also mysterious is the album itself, The Art of Madness, which is a concept album based on insanity. In 11 titles, the artist developed a musical and psychical journey reconstructing the evolution of madness. . . Mystical and introspective, this disc quickly shows extraordinary qualities of writing and ambience. The content is primarily traditional progressive . . . No name is credited for the writing except the generic name The Psychedelic Ensemble. But if it is true that it is only one artist who composed the whole, then I take off my hat to him because the work is completely extraordinary. One feels this artist has dozens of years of experience behind him. The musical voyage fully works and the listener feels transported . . . Breakdown is the most agitated work on the disc with a dissoluteness of organ like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer . . .
Connoisseurs of progressive [rock], and particularly of Pink Floyd, will by happy with this disc, which harkens back to the purest traditions of the 70s and which always reveals on successive listenings more details in the music . . . Read the Complete Review
François Becquart (August 2010) Belgium
In his debut album, The Art of Madness, released also in 2010, The Psychedelic Ensemble took us on an astonishing journey into the world of the mind and psyche. It followed the journey of a man discovering a new art form after going through various manifestations of mental illness.
A few months later, the mysterious author behind The Psychedelic Ensemble returns with a new project, just as interesting and disconcerting, The Myth of Dying . . .
This story is worthy of Dante and illustrated by a progressive music as interesting as the previous album. It is necessary to listen to the pieces in a single pass, and to re-listen to immerse one's self in the complexity and beauty of this music . . . The music passes successively from fast rhythms and techniques (with guitars and organ out front) to quieter passages on acoustic guitar, illustrating the dense and complex journey of the mind into the infinite . . . In the CD booklet, each song is associated with an image using paintings from the 18th to the 21st century with the lyrics.
It is unknown if paradise exists, but if we listen there to music as good as this, we have no need to fear death. Read the Complete Review
François Becquart (October 2010) Belgium
Well, this is a rare beast! A “one man band” album that, despite the misgivings roused in me when I saw the “band” name, making me fear yet another “retro” journey, turns out to be one of the best releases of the year! The music actually does what it says “on the tin”. The music may be rooted in Pink Floyd’s Meddle/Dark Side of the Moon/Wish You Were Here period but the effect of its other influences - ranging from The Beatles’s . . . to modern classical music – means that this conceptual cycle of songs sounds refreshingly new, as well as being highly enjoyable. My misgivings soon gave way to a broad smile when I listened to this for the first time. The concept tells the story of an ordinary man who, without warning, experiences a psychotic ecstasy. The attractive booklet features artwork painted by patients of a psychiatric centre in New York; these works being the inspiration behind this music. Do not be afraid - this is rather special!
9 of 10
Alex Torres (Fall 2010) U.K.
A generic band name, a one-man-band who keeps his name under wraps – it annoys me, so I came to this CD with a not particularly good disposition. Yet, I have to admit that The Art of Madness is a very strong album, and an ambitious concept album to boot, in the vein of Dark Side of the Moon with neo-progressive overtones. Pink Floyd is definitely a major influence, but I also hear the kind of arrangements Steve Thorne favours. An album about mental illness, where tracks segue in suite form. Tempi are slow, but the music doesn’t drag on. Melodies are efficient, the recording is skillful. In this genre, this is a great piece of music, and it’s easy to be seduced by it. So may The Psychedelic Ensemble step out of anonymousness, that we can laud his efforts appropriately!
François Couture (August 2010) Canada
Following a debut that was favorably received by the followers of the Pink Floyd style arrives the official second album from The Psychedelic Ensemble . . . that, to a large extent, maintains the psychedelic characteristics of The Art of Madness (the debut), adding in addition a good dose of melodic rock and commercial neo-progressive. The formula worked, placing the album, The Myth of Dying, at the head of the 2010 progressive rock charts.
Credit must be given to whomever is behind this project. I do not recall having heard the fusion of psychedelic rock with neo-progressive rock, and it is truly an interesting style . . . The Myth of Dying is a good continuation of The Art of Madness. Those who enjoyed the debut they will, without a doubt, enjoy the second, and those who know The Psychedelic Ensemble from the second [album] will equally enjoy their debut . . . (the second to me with its extraordinary The Mysterium of the Divine . . . Read the Complete Review
8 of 10
Alfredo Tapia-Carreto (November 2010) Mexico
. . . 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 . . . The eleven songs bleed into one another making this an ideal album to listen to in one sitting . . . 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. Read the Complete Review
John Neudorf (March 2010)
The Art of Madness is the initial effort of a US-based composer and multi-instrumentalist who prefers to stay anonymous, and was initially self-released in 2009. Musea Records would subsequently sign the artist. And if this debut album is an indicator of what's in store later on, fans of sophisticated art rock have quite a lot to look forward to . . . this is a good quality production through and through, and a very promising first CD from this US artist. Read the Complete Review
Olav Martin Bjørnsen (July 2010) Norway
. . . I would like to say that I have listened to this album completely, several times over . . . I quickly became totally fascinated and completely overwhelmd with the enormous amount of feel and great depth of artistic expression. Each song has an indepth meaning, that is extremely intense and visually intoxicating. This album is much more than just music, it is a totally brilliant work of creative arts, that will blow your mind, while it takes you on a psychedelic journey full of genius imagination! I highly recommend this album to those looking for something different, that is really far out there!
Psychedelic Central (Fall 2009) U.S.
A mysterious musician lies behind The Psychedelic Ensemble. He chose to remain anonymous so as not to be directly linked with his successes in the 70s, that seems to be certain. Is it Alan Parsons? Here in the newsroom, we also thought Andy Ward, ex-Camel, who has become a multi-instrumentalist and is also known for having had all sorts of psychological problems. And that is what The Art of Madness is about. Or is Gordon Giltrap reverting to his folk albums from his Fear of the Dark period? The male image on the [The Art of Madness] CD cover seems similar to the male image of Giltrap's Perilious Journey. It could be because all these influences, in addition to Floyd, are present on The Art of Madness. At the center, there is traditional symphonic rock.
The work is fodder for psychologists, and we have three of them at ProgLog Afterglow. The tracks are different manifestations of madness such as psychosis and they succeed very well. Listen to the desperation in Despair and the terrifying Breakdown. But there is hope and a new beginning in the beautiful Revelation-Epilogue.
A psychiatrist suggests on the album that "creativity and artistic production are almost a symptom of mental illness." The experience of the main character on the album is not ruined by the madness but it manifests itself precisely as unprecedented creativity. I just had to think about others, including Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson, and Peter Green.
Beautiful album. Now, on to the new album, The Myth of Dying, by our "musician without a name" released this month.
Harry de Vries (Fall 2010) Netherlands
At what point does the reputation of a musician influence his success? This disc is a curiosity, initially given its release in 2009 . . . Musea then signed this concept album that consists of eleven contiguous songs . . . Musically, the style ranges from the soaring progressive, acoustic and chamber rock . . . Voices are treated well and have a dense warm sound. . . . The album proves to be a great achievement, especially that this work was done alone is stunning. With its awards gleaned in 2009 and its Musea distribution, comes this anonymous artist's highly anticipated new musical epic, now fresh out, The Myth of Dying.
Florent Simon (Fall 2010) France
It is hard to believe that this product was actually recorded by only one musician. What a great talent! . . . He is working in completely different genres in a very confident way, mixing several styles that all fit together well. Whether guitars, keyboards, acoustic or electronic percussion . . . respect is due for the obvious talents of this musician! . . . the music is not only extremely complex instrumentally, but even the voice is so diverse that one would think that different singers had been at work here.
. . . This is strong, difficult stuff . . . An album that impresses with its diversity and--as a logical consequence--every now and then ends up in my CD player . . . Hats off . . . Read the Complete Review
Jürgen Meurer (Fall 2010) Germany
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK MAGAZINE
. . . I was extra curious about the way Mr. X. has translated his ideas into music. Well, he did very well . . . a sumptuous ELP atmosphere . . . the Psychedelic Ensemble enables us to translate the subject ‘madness’ into a captivating and varied musical adventure. . . . Recommended! Read the Complete Review
Erik Neuteboom (Issue 96 Fall 2010) The Netherlands