Mirthrandir - For You The Old Women

Year of Release: 1992
Label: Syn-phonic
Catalog Number: SYNCD-6
Format: CD
Total Time: 38:00:00

Prior to the release of this CD reissue on Syn-Phonic in 1992, Mirthrandir was nothing but a fond memory for fans of symphonic prog who were old enough to remember seeing one of their rare concert appearances in and around the New Jersey area, or lucky enough to own a copy of their original vinyl LP release which came out in a small pressing in 1976.

The music produced by Mirthrandir was exceptional in it's context in 1976. It is even more exceptional now, in an entirely different world. Considering the company of many legendary prog bands who shared that time and space, the members of Mirthrandir did a commendable job of filtering the influences that surrounded them, and bringing their own considerable talents into the fray as well.

This CD reissue contains five songs, from the 4:22 of "Light Of The Candle" to their epic "For Four" at 14:45. Someday, someone well versed in numerology ought to do an analysis of that track title and it's length, but I digress.

The CD's first track will lay out the path for this work. This will be 38 minutes of battle between the expertly played keyboards of Simon Gannett, and the strong, nay, Herculean efforts of the two guitarists, Richard Excellente (now there's an apt moniker) and his counterpart Alexander Romanelli. The group was rounded out by Robert Arace on drums, James Miller on bass and flute, and John Vislocky III as vocalist and, on occasion, trumpet, which I would like to say is used sparingly but to very good effect, and not as an attempt to bring in a non-rock instruments for the sake of matching other better known bands who used such instruments regularly. You know who I mean. We'll discuss them later.

A short track by track analysis is in order, and it will be an effort to keep it short. Each one of these six tracks could generate a 1000 word essay on its own. The title track, "For You The Old Women" starts with a flourish of keyboards that dance around the twin guitarist's melodic harmony line which quickly brings us to the first verse and a dissonant chord progression. This song will shape shift at regular intervals and keep the listener guessing from beginning to end. It will also display the trumpet, and the trumpeting voice of vocalist John Vislocky III, who strikes me as a wonderfully powerful singer, the kind that many neo-prog, or even metal bands, would think themselves lucky to have, but without the annoying tendencies of most of these vocalists, that being the penchant for silly growling or undue expression of the upper vocal register.

The second track "Conversation With Personality Giver" is the immediate attention getter of this overall very strong collection. It brings to the front the two guitarists and their exceptional working arrangements. Their playing brings to mind some of the fathers of progressive guitar style, Fripp, Howe and Hackett. Not to be outdone at any time on this release, both bassist James Miller, and keyboard player Simon Gannett shine on this track.

Third is the shortest track, "Light Of The Candle." This is the closest these guys come to conventional sound and structure. It is never the less presented in their wonderfully twisted way. The opening theme can be looked at as a Dali-esque take on the traditional I-V-VII chord structure that is the basis of so much rock music. Here the guitarists will show their ability with magnificent counterpoint. This song ends much too soon.

Fourth is another short track at 5:04, the beautifully conceived and arranged "Number Six." Beginning with the flute work of their bassist and moving quickly into layers of discordant notes and then, just as quickly leaving that behind for what is alternately a King Crimson-ish noise fest and a Yes like theme with arppregiated keyboard lines, this is music on the move. Never settling down to any one direction, this piece moves through more zip codes than coast-to-coast mail.

Finally ending with the lengthy "For Four" this band displays most of their influences on their sleeve. Keeping my earlier promise, I will call this a Gentle Giant inspired work. The Giant is a repeated reference for this band throughout this great CD. If one might call the Giant a "heavy" band, as I have often heard said, then this track, and Mirthrandir itself must be heavier still. While this track will trot out some common tools, such as unison lines pounded into the listeners skull, and then contrasted immediately with Genesis like, gently picked chord patterns on two guitars, with airy flute on top, this IS a heavy song, eventually moving in to the final section, quoting, but not too directly Genesis's "The Knife." Mirthrandir produces some impressive music, I will say. I listened to this CD a couple of times when I first aquired it, but it took two or three listens in a row this morning for me to fully appreciate what is, I am in no doubt about, one of the ten best symphonic prog releases recorded in the USA in the seventies.

This is a real quality work in every way, with impressive and memorable music, good liner notes including full lyrics and many photos of the band onstage. This is the kind of stuff that will put meat on your bones and, of course, a song in your heart.

For You The Old Woman (8:13) /Conversation With Personality Giver (5:36) / Light Of The Candle (4:22) / Number Six (5:04) / For Four (14:45)

Robert Arace - drums
Richard Excellente - guitar
Simon Gannett - keyboards
James Miller - bass, flute
Alexander Romanelli - guitar
John Vislocky III - vocals, trumpet

For You The Old Women (1976/1992)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: March 7th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website: www.mirthrandir.com
Hits: 1376
Language: english


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