|About The Myth of Dying
Purchase CD Reviews
The Myth of Dying is a musical journey that follows a deceased young poet through the afterlife. The story combines excerpts from famous literary sources--C.S. Lewis, William Blake, Dante, et al--to create an original vision of the hereafter. Artwork from the 18th through 21st centuries accompany each Canto as visual representations of the music.
As The Myth of Dying begins, we find ourselves witnesses to a young poet's final moments of earthy life as he dies on Charing Cross Road--a London street well-know for its rare and second-hand bookstores (Canto I). A series of Cantos follows in which the protagonist finds himself in different realms of eternity. Following his demise, the young poet transcends to a realm of concentric and brilliant lights (Canto II). There he encounters a spirit who informs the poet of his whereabouts and the nature of eternity. The spirit prompts the poet to travel about infinity. Overwhelmed by the multitude of paths and visions of eternity, the poet is uncertain of which path to follow (Canto III). Seduced by a black star, he travels for miles and miles beyond the light (Canto IV). In the dark Realm, he encounters a second spirit who warns the poet that he has chosen a path to a dreadful state. The poet asks to be shown the black star and is obliged by the spirit. There the poet meets the devil who invites him to peruse his domain (Canto V). After surveying hell, the poet slips out. The devil, angry at his evil minions for not successfully recruiting the poet, chastises his servants for having lost a soul (Canto VI). The itinerant poet travels then to a Realm inhabited by the well-known skeptics--Hume, Kant, Plato and others (Canto VII). The skeptics hover, perpetually circling like a carousel, in endless contemplation about the afterlife. Travelling to the highest peak of eternity, the poet encounters a golden staircase on which the Divine awaits him (Canto VIII). There, in The Mysterium of the Divine, the poet witnesses the Supreme being performing miracles to pass the time. Forced to continue his aimless journeying, the poet recognizes the truth of eternity (Canto IX): Whatever we imagine the afterlife to be is precisely what it is. Accordingly, the scholarly young poet, steeped in the dramatic visions of eternity presented by the great literary and philosophical figures, encounters the very visions to which he had ardently subscribed. As the work concludes, a degree of pathos surrounds the wandering poet as he calls out to the living and expresses an existential angst and loneliness brought about by his fate of endless wandering through all time.
The Myth of Dying was composed, performed, and recorded in a short period during 2010. All of the instruments and vocals are performed by a solo artist except the violin and viola, which are played by an eminent guest artist. The music is constructed as a single, continuous work; however, separate tracks are provided on the CD to facilitate navigation to particular Cantos. It is recommended, however, that the work be listened to in its entirety.
CD Liner Note
Purchase The Myth of Dying CD with 12-page booklet that includes the lyrics, narrative, artwork, and liner notes.
(six of six)
Prolusion. The US-based project THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE entered the world of progressive rock in 2009 with the concept album "The Art of Madness", a likeable production in the Pink Floyd vein that was well received by the progressive community at large. "The Myth of Dying" is the second venture by this composer and multi-instrumentalist who prefers to stay anonymous so that his musical endeavors can be enjoyed on their own without being associated with a person who may or may not be well known.
Analysis. "The Myth of Dying" is a musical journey that follows a deceased young poet through the afterlife. This opening sentence of the liner notes for this CD sums up the concept explored on this second production by the unknown entity that has chosen to release music under the moniker of The Psychedelic Ensemble, an enticing conceptual setting with numerous literary references in general, where Dante for many will the one most familiar to people as a whole. Clocking in at just under an hour and consisting of one musical piece divided into several chapters, "The Myth of Dying" shares many traits with its predecessor on a superficial level. But musically we're taken into a much different universe this time around. Art rock of the symphonic kind is the style vividly explored on this occasion, and a rather sophisticated variety of this style to boot. The overall sound and to some extent the stylistic expression refer back to artists such as Yes and Gentle Giant, with quite a few details fans of acts such as Camel and Genesis will recognize as additional flavorings. But unlike the giants of the 70's, the instrumentation is a contemporary one. Modern synthesizers and keyboards are preferred over the vintage analog kind, with violin, viola, piano and acoustic guitar used to add gentler, warm instrumental touches to the proceedings. Compositionally this is a fairly advanced creation, and one that demands an almost total immersion to reveal all its details. The instruments are tightly interwoven, and on most occasions we're not only dealing with multiple instrument layers, but also with multiple instances of harmonies, disharmonies and dissonances at the same time. The latter two of a subtle variety I might add: the contrasting elements aren't polarized and the non-melodic aspects are normally given a subservient placement in the arrangements, but they are there to be discovered and appreciated by the avid and interested listener. One of the representations of that aspect of the album which impressed me to no end was the manner in which the various instruments were utilized to craft the rhythmical as well as the melodic foundations of the compositions, where impact notes from different instruments, instrument bursts and the prevalent rhythmic qualities of the piano and acoustic guitar are tightly interwoven with the drums to craft intricate rhythmical motifs and not merely underscoring or enhancing the drum patterns. And while the quirky arrangements may be a bit too much at times - in the opening parts of the CD first and foremost – later on these details are some of the many small details that result in a truly rewarding musical experience. While most parts of this epic composition reside within the heartland of the symphonic art rock universe, we're treated to a token few ventures into other genres as well. The Devil's Lament is a curiously dissonant blues-based affair with jazz-tinged details, with a final passage consisting of a single violin – perhaps playing the devil's music, as the violin at one time was an instrument favored by the horned and tailed one in Christian-inspired folklore. The Mysterium of the Divine is a fine example of classical chamber music, with acoustic guitar and piano creating a tightly interwoven theme contrasted by string bursts and an enthralling violin solo. These exceptions maintain the same high quality as the rest of this album and add a nice flavor of variety to the proceedings. And for those concerned about audio quality matters, mix and production are top notch, the overall sound much less compressed than what has become the norm over the last decade or so, and by and large this is a production that has a high quality mark about it in all details great and small. Whoever the person responsible for this project is, his taste on all matters, musical, technical and artistic, appears to be impeccable.
Conclusion. While initially perhaps appearing to be slightly too chaotic and quirky, "The Myth of Dying" soon 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.
Olav M Bjornsen
Spring 2011, London
"The music of The Psychedelic Ensemble has been categorized as progressive rock, neo-progressive, neo-psychedelic, fusion, classical rock and other genres. The music , is in fact, a kind of hybrid of all these categories. The Myth of Dying, like its precursor The Art of Madness, is a journey, both in dramatic and musical design, that traverses a variety of musical terrains and sensibilities." The Psychedelic Ensemble
The spirit of progressive music is alive and well and albums like the latest release from the project known as The Psychedelic Ensemble entitled The Myth of Dying proves it. I loved The Art of Madness, please see my review on this site, but I think I like the new album even more. For those of you who have not followed this band, The Psychedelic Ensemble is actually the work of a single artist whose name is unknown.
I have heard a few one person projects this year and this is one of the best. I should note the musician does have help with strings (played by an unknown guest artist). The Myth of Dying is a concept album about a poet's travels in the hereafter. The album is actually one song broken up into parts I through IX. Although the album is broken up into nine pieces it works best if you listen to it as a single piece as the songs flow wonderfully from one to the next.
Although this album has great musicianship, the focus is on the quality of the songwriting and arrangements, not on a see 'how fast I can play mentality'. Now, you may be wondering just what kind of music does this mysterious musician play. The above quote taken from the CD's liner notes is as a good an assessment as any as The Myth of Dying cannot be pigeon-holed into any one genre, although progressive rock would be a good starting point. While listening I thought of bands like Camel, ELP, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis.
The short instrumental/narrative "Incident at Charing Cross Road" starts the concept with the death of the young poet. The sounds of street noise course through the speakers so one can only assume a traffic accident takes the poet's life. This leads directly into "Transcendence" where synths and piano create a slightly ominous yet relaxing sound. Subtle drums and vocals take hold while the instrumentation becomes more lush. The lead vocals are very good as they are throughout the CD. The music recalls elements of Camel and Genesis with a keyboard solo reminding me of 70s era Manfred Mann. Dreamy soundscapes of synths and acoustic guitar continue and give this song an epic feel. The keyboard playing throughout the album is particularly riveting. Just listen to the awesome organ sounds in "The Visions of Eternity" or the vintage keyboards in the funky "Beyond the Light". The music turns slightly quirky in the electronic sounding "The Devil's Proffer" with dissonant brush strokes of guitar, distorted vocals and some pretty wild violin. With "The Devil's Lament", blues and heavy rock combine to give the music a different direction but demonstrates just how richly diverse this album is. Other highlights include the acoustically driven "The Realm of the Skeptics" and the psychedelic prog of "The Truth of Eternity" with a Dark Side of the Moon flavor.
Besides excellent music, the CD packaging is also well done with paintings and lyrics to help the listener follow along with the story.
In a year that has seen many fine albums, The Myth of Dying stands out as one of the best and most refreshing listens of 2010.
Fall 2010, U.S.A.
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. It is now a journey into the afterlife, made by a young poet who has just died and left his earthly form. His path is illustrated in a series of titles, called Cantos and numbered in Roman numerals (Canto I, II, III, etc.). Initially, the man discovers the nature of eternity with the help of a spirit guide. Seized by confusion, the poet is confronted with a multitude of possible paths, before being seduced by a black star that he decides to follow. Warned by another spirit, the protagonist realizes that he has taken a dangerous path. He meets the devil but manages to escape. Then he meets the souls of famous philosophers, (Plato, Kant, Hume) who had always expressed skepticism about the afterlife. Towards the end of his journey, the protagonist discovers the Supreme Being and sees that his destiny is fixed in eternity.
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. We find again the influences of Pink Floyd and Italian progressive rock of the 70s. 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. The music is completely composed and performed by a single musician who wishes to remain anonymous, except the violin parts that are performed by a guest, who also remains mysterious. 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.
October 2010, Belgium
To my ears The Psychedelic Ensemble´s second studio album is one of the most fresh sounding and profound releases of 2010 both thematically and musically. This synthesizer-heavy neo-prog frenzy, written mainly in minor key and played with heaps of distinctive synth effects and odd time signatures is especially powerful when added the well-crafted concept that has inspired the melodies and lyrics.
According to it The Myth of Dying is a musical journey that follows a deceased young poet through his afterlife. Each of the nine cantos represents one step of his spirit wandering through different realms of eternity - brilliant lights, the black star, hell etc. Excerpts from famous literary sources like C.S. Lewis, William Blake, Dante and others are combined in the lyrics to support and create an original vision of the afterlife.
Although very little is known about the solo artist who forms The Psychedelic Ensemble (as he perfers to remain anonymous) his work is outstanding. The instrumental base for almost all songs on this album are multi-layered and fast-paced synthesizer movements accompanied by longer and more psychedelic backing riffs with occasional contribution from accoustic and electric guitars. As some of percussion and bass line is also played on synths, the overall sound is rather electronic. In that sense the album reminds largely the soundscapes from Jordan Rudess´ 2007 release The Road Home and in some cases also Ozric Tentacles.
Despite heavy synths the album is still surprisingly versatile. Probably a lot of it has to do with quite original vocals and humble melodies that somewhat add oddity to this otherwise psychedelic chaos. Each song takes in a slightly new perspective. For example in The Devil´s Proffer we can hear influences from late King Crimson (Similar whiny vocal distortion. And I swear I can see Tony Levin every time I hear this bass line). The Devil´s Lament on the other hand is based on blues rock guitar riff and ends with a brilliant classical orchestral violin outro.
There is a weird but utterly enjoyable transition in the last three songs though. All of a sudden, in The Realm of the Skeptics, the sound clears out and synth melodies fade into background, leaving accoustic guitars to end the day in ELP´s Still...You Turn Me On-style. The Mysterium of the Divine serves as a short classical piano composition and the second half of The Truth of Eternity is as Pink Floydish as anything except Pink Floyd can possibly be.
Nevertheless, this piece of pie is not for everyone I´m afraid. You shouldn´t expect any virtuous guitars or drumming from this album. Rather than melodies, this release is all about richly diverse psychedelic soundscapes. You might like The Myth of Dying if you feel comfy with The Road Home by Jordan Rudess and Tarkus by ELP.
For me, this is a masterpiece and every time I listen to it, it leaves me mesmerised.
SUPERB (5 of 5)
December 2010, U.S.
The project from this unknown artist from the United States began a few years ago, when after reading an article in The New York Times that dealt with an exhibition of works produced by patients suffering from mental illness and hearing an interview with a psychiatrist. It was this that triggered a switch in our unknown composer and he produced the first concept album from The Psychedelic Ensemble entitled The Art of Madness released in 2009 and distributed by Musea. In The Myth of Dying he deals with another subject equally mysterious, that of death. The album tells us throughout its nine tracks, of the tragic death of a poet and his journey into the afterlife. At the beginning of this column I mentioned that the artist is unknown, no credit is noted in the booklet or on the band's website. There is no name or reference that identifies the composer. The band then is just one man who plays all instruments and vocals, except for the presence of violin and viola that are credited to a guest artist.
Let me speak first about the container. The presentation of the book is very neat. Works of art from the 18th to the 21th century associated with each Canto, are used to give a visual representation of each of the nine compositions. The band's website (in English), which I invite you to visit, is filled with relevant information that helps us to understand the concept. Now to the content. Several styles of music are incorporated into the compositions--neo progressive, psychedelic, fusion, classical, jazz, and others that all intertwine destabilizing the listener. The main instruments are keyboards and electric or acoustic guitar. Each of the titles are linked, which brings enhanced credibility to the concept. And it is important to mention that The Myth of Dying should be listened to in one go as a song divided into nine parts.
Without describing each of the cantos, let me highlight a few. I must talk about the drama that opens the album, "Canto I: Incident at Charing Cross Road," which introduces us to the new world of the protagonist. . . . After "Canto II: Transcendence," after his death, the young poet enters to a kingdom of bright concentric light. This title offers the listener the sounds of both disturbing and relaxing synths and piano that grow and become more lush. With "Canto III: The Visions of Eternity", the poet's reluctance to face the multitude of paths that present themselves to him is described. This title is divided into two parts, the first, "The Visions of Eternity," is instrumental. It is introduced by whirling keyboards that remind me a bit of Spock's Beard. The second, "The Paths of Infinity," offers in its introduction a heavenly song which in turn brings back the original theme, this time with the guitar in the spotlight. And finally "Canto IX: The Truth of Eternity" ˝ concludes the celestial adventure of the poet and his encounter with the infinite, with flavors to the Dark Side of the Moon, closes a very special adventure. One final point; I wish to state specifically that the album is flawless throughout its concept, and the more you wonder if it's the same person who sings on all parts. Maybe one day we shall discover, who knows?
What can I say except that The Myth of Dying won me over completely. This is not an album that one tames in a single pass, it takes patience and careful listening. Besides, I confess, this column has been quite difficult for me to write. I constantly ask myself what was important to retain or not. The world depicted in this album by its creator's own perception is waiting to be discovered. To enjoy every moment, the disc must often return to the drive. I hope I managed to arouse your curiosity.
4 of 4
Who is behind The Psychedelic Ensemble remains unknown. We at ProgLog Afterglow do not know. Even the guest artist is not named. It does not matter. As with the earlier review of the debut The Art of Madness it became clear that there is high quality even resulting in a Top 10 listing [No. 3] in the year-end albums of 2010. Is the second album of equally high quality?
The Myth of Dying is also a concept album in which the psychological development of the protagonist, an English poet, is explored after his death--you read right. For those who believe in an afterlife, the "further development" of the psyche after death is all the more logical. For me, as a less righteous atheist, but a writer, I can buy this kind of fiction and it is an interesting thought-exercise. The Psychedelic Ensemble has again succeeded in delivering a great album in which the poet's moods and experiences after his death are beautifully and symphonically portrayed. The album has been divided into nine parts, ranging from Canto 1: Incident at Charing Cross Road (the death of the poet) to Canto IX: The Truth of Eternity (the recognition by the protagonist that the beyond is not so nice) and seems in that way a bit like a classical symphony.
There is very tastefully singing and playing within the style, which refers to the Camel sound, and guitar, with Dimeola-like eruptions dominate. The production is warm and full. After first listening to Canto II: Transcendence I thought that technically something was going wrong. But later, after listening more carefully, I realized it was the polyphonic character of the track that leads to a conflict between the vocals, guitar and keyboards. It took me some time to get used to it. My favorite is Canto V: The Devil's Proffer with an atmosphere reminiscent of King Crimson's Lizard and in the solos the jumpiness of Gentle Giant. As an off-shoot is the beautiful, meditative Canto VI: The Devil's Lament, which I suspect the devil is going to find nice too.
The introductory question whether this newborn of The Psychedelic Ensemble bears the same high quality, I can answer with a resounding "yes". A wonderful whole that enables the listener to visualize how things might go in the afterlife. Until Canto IX this is not a wrong vision ....
4 of 5 Stars
Harry de Vries
February 2011, The Netherlands
The follow-up to The Art of Madness has not really required a long wait. And the one-man musical ensemble builds seamlessly on the debut, in which the greater depths explored, connect even more clearly. The harmonic parts are more harmonious, the oblique attacks are even more violent.
While the debut shows significant influence from Pink Floyd - as the title suggests- these references do not continue in The Myth of Dying. Instead, in places, there are clear references to Gentle Giant.
After the short sound collage, Incident at Charing Cross Road, follows the number, Transcendence from the "beautiful sound." In places, slightly esoteric sounds remind me of passages from Daevid Allen's Now is the Happiest Time of Your Life. Beautiful melodies, shimmering synthesizers, pleasant voice - here I quickly feel the breadth of mood. A beautiful song in typical Psychedelic Ensemble style. But those who know "Mr. TPE" know that this climate will not prevail for long.
This points is quickly discovered in the rather complex The Visions of Eternity, where the work turns quickly to fast, bulky keyboard runs, almost a little exaggerated. This too is a typical trademark. It is initially very keyboard-dominate, and it remains a very busy musical journey that is supposed to represent the different phases in the afterlife of a young poet. Consider the case of The Devil's Proffer where the vocal lines and the clavinet keyboard sounds inevitably like Gentle Giant's strongest period. Following then is an oblique blues number. Like I reported regarding the debut, I really do not like this style, but it works strangely to my ears with TPE, and the number ends with a very atypical and great classical violin solo. Although it was originally planned otherwise, the violin is also the only instrument that was not recorded by Mr. TPE. Following is a relaxed number that is defined by acoustic guitar. And I note in passing that the impression that there is a keyboard-dominated album has by now vanished completely, because the strings in this section occupy the center.
In the classically-inspired The Mysterium of the Divine the guest violinist once again appears and interesting piano is added. Here it is clear that the composer of contemporary classical music really is familiar with the style. However, the traditional phase is completed quickly, and suddenly you find yourself in Gentle Giant-influenced waters. Finally there is the over-twelve-minute The Truth of Eternity in which the central part of the TPE voice suddenly sounds like Ian Anderson- albeit briefly - one thinks it would be on a Jethro Tull album. This song again has some fascinating moments, as he drives towards the end playing with his voice a little, as the song strives to meet its finale.
It may well not that I like it every single number super good, but somehow these musicians that I am beginning to become interested also in areas that are unfamiliar to me. The variety of styles offered and their amazingly light, playful implementation fascinate me again and again. Once again, a great album, and I'm sure the in the next album TPE will surprise us yet again and, I know, guarantee high-quality. And this album will not be long in coming.
As a postscript, The Myth of Dying was just nominated by the 2010 ProgAwards Italy for Best Foreign Album and for Best Production.
January 2011, Germany
Following a debut that was favorably received by the followers of the Pink Floyd style arrives the official second album from The Psychedelic Ensemble, the American project of a single man who chooses to remain anonymous and who, to a large extent, maintains the psychedelic acid 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...There is, for example, Beyond the Light, a complicated cut that, among other things, exhibits delicious jazz with flights of analog keyboards. Equally contained in several more subjects, the keyboard solos allow us to enjoy original progressive and a suggestive one, at times framed by sonorous experimentation, and at others by organized noise (The Devil' s Proffer), and in subsequent music by schizophrenic violence (The Devil' s Lament).
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 with its folklore tendencies and formal music, not even with the peculiar The Truth of Eternity and its unexpected reference to Gentle Giant, but I heard them as complete and, on repeated occasions, a pleasing progression.
8 of 10
November 2010, Mexico
The Myth of Dying and the content of this website © The Psychedelic Ensemble 2010