The Complete Works – maudlin of the Well

The Complete Works

maudlin of the Well


Blood Music

The wonderfully wonderful people over at Blood Music have released another exceptionally awesome set of music.  Collecting, for the first time on one label, all four of avant-garde metal outfit Maudlin of The Well’s albums, as well as the secret song mini CD.  They have in the past released a couple of MOTW albums separately on vinyl and remastered CDs, but now we get the whole shabam: four CDs (and one mini CD) all packaged nicely in a little, black cardboard box for your displaying pleasure.  I first discovered MOTW back in high school when I was on the lookout for any music that could be considered “weird”.  It was around the same time I started listening to Mr. Bungle and Naked city.  All these crazy bands fusing Jazz/Metal/Punk and whatever other genres they felt like throwing into the mix were exciting to explore.  MOTW easily stands out as the “prettiest” and most atmospheric of the lot I was digging around in.  When I saw Blood Music was releasing the box set I was instantly excited.  It has been a while since I revisited their music, and I had never gotten a chance to hear their fourth album (Part The Second) which was self released by the band.  So like, lets talk about the CDs ok?

Every single one of them is astral projecting in this picture.

My Fruit Psychobells… A Seed Combustible – 1999

The band, throughout the course of their career, consisted of core members Toby Driver (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, whatever else the fuck he felt like playing), Greg Massi (guitars), and Jason Byron (vocals, keyboards) who is only absent on the fourth album.  Besides these three, there was a constant rotation of guest musicians filling whatever musical needs the band needed at the time.   Their first album, right off the bat, sets up exactly the “sound” of the band — soft yet heavy, slow melodies mixed with death metal passages and smooth jazz.  Calling the band’s debut eclectic is an understatement.  Opening with soft, distorted guitars and a solid bass rhythm “Ferocious Weights” shortly kicks in with horns, drums, and the lovely vocals of Maria-Stella Fountoulakis.  To be honest, the music here, as it is with most of their stuff, is very hard to describe.  This opener contains a heavy, almost Doom style, riff background before throwing in some speed thrashing, and then goes down to an almost crawling, mellow pace.  It is useless to try and get the sound across; it just has to be heard.  The debut is a really good album, though it’s not as good as the two albums that will follow.  My Fruit Psychobells is a little rough around the edges, and the sound the band seems to be going for is not entirely achieved yet.  However, it does not take long for them to hit their mark.

Bath – 2001

Opening with an eight minute instrumental, Bath pulls us even more in the jazzy direction.  Seven minutes of quiet harmonics, guitar strumming, soft horns, and light percussion guide the listener to a swell of emotion.  And before you get a chance to breath, you’re listening to Death Metal.  Double bass, fast riffs, and growled vocals.  The abrasive heaviness of “They Aren’t All Beautiful” eventually gets interrupted by one of the tastiest little grooves at the three and half minute mark.  Bath utilizes all the same techniques that its predecessor did but fine tunes them.  The transitions from harsh to soft are better.  The metal parts are played tighter and stronger, and the soft, jazzy passages have more feeling in them.  We are treated to Maria-Stella Fountoulakis’ lovely vocals again on my personal favorite track “The Ferryman”.  Adding some old horror soundtrack-sounding keys into the mix this times creates an incredible listening experience.  Bath is an excellent follow up to a strong debut.

Leaving Your Body Map – 2001

Leaving Your Body Map is the companion album to Bath.  And like Bath, it’s an auditory overload.  The opening track combines soft horns with slow, heavy guitars and growled vocals to create one of the most wonderfully weird Metal (Jazz?) songs I’ve ever heard.  I see a pattern in my descriptions of their music, but like I said they are a really hard act to describe.  LYBM is a continuation of the last release.  Being that, the music follows suit.  Neither this record or the one before would be complete without the other.  They combine their rings to create one unstoppable force of Progressive music.  My favorite track on this release, which may also be my favorite song by the band, is “The Curve That To An Angle Turn’d”, and that is because I really think they hit that perfect balance between styles on that one.  The shifts in genre just sound so natural.  Shortly after this the band disbanded and members would reform as Kayo Dot.

Part The Second – 2009

Years down the road, Toby and the gang decided to get together again, this time funding the album through fan donations and then releasing the album for free on the internet.  Part The Second is a change for a band that is constantly changing. This is easily their most mellow and experimental release.  There are no growls to be heard.  This time around, they concentrate more on the jazz and experimenting.  That isn’t to say there aren’t portions of the songs that get heavy, but the concentration is different.  PTS consists entirely of just five songs, the majority of them being on the lengthy side.  Every track is all over the place, and that isn’t meant to be a negative either.  At this point, their genre-hopping is as natural as it can be in this kind of musical territory.  While the reunion album isn’t as good as its two predecessors, it is still an excellent release.  It is haunting, strange, and beautiful all at the same time.

Word up.

None of the songs discussed were linked to audio on purpose this time.  The liner notes stress that these albums are meant to be listened to on headphones with no distractions.  It is music that demands your attention, it isn’t background music.  This is a highly recommended set for people looking for something entirely different.  So thanks again to the fine folks over at Blood Music for giving us an awesome release.  Get your copy of the set here before they run out!  I don’t believe they will be printing it again.  Keep an eye out for a review of their forthcoming release of Ihsahn’s first solo album The Adversary!


One Response to “The Complete Works – maudlin of the Well”

  1. […] no secret here that we are big fans of Blood Music  (read reviews for their Lykathea Aflame and maudlin of The Well releases) and what it is they are doing as a small distributor.  Putting out incredible limited […]

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