Taylor, L Max - The Cheshire Tree Suite

Year of Release: 1999
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:23:00

The arrangements on this independent release by Lou Maxwell Taylor bridge a variety of styles, all with an acoustic base, despite the presence of keys on some of the tracks. The artist I'm brought to mind of most is Ian Anderson and the acoustic aspects of Jethro Tull. But, that is only true in part. "Lost Lake" has faint echoes of Gordon Lightfoot (and of "Wreck of The Edmond Fitzgerald") and of Celtic music ? but don't get hung up on that first comparison, as it applies only for a few notes and phrasings here and there.

Throughout, the arrangements on The Cheshire Tree Suite are sparse and very open; there is an engaging warmth that draws you in. Taylor has a deep, warm voice - vaguely like a cross between Ian Anderson and Davey Dodds (Red Jasper), this is strongest on the title track. There's an intimate, live, feel to the music as well. The instrumental "The Big Now" opens the album in a very classical like fashion, a mix of light keyboards and cello; yet there are moments where the start to break free, to run amuck, only to be reigned in just as quickly.

"Welcome To The Vice" might be said to be acoustic ELP, but there are also moments where I thought of Fish?this is the thought: unplugged ELP with Lake singing lyrics penned by Fish, who also shares some vocal leads. And yet, as soon as you say that, there's a nuance, a phrasing that is like neither. "What Life Is" is dark, almost dirge like.

The themes explored on this disk are pessimistic for the most part but ends on an optimistic note. It's interesting to note that in "Lost Lake," for the final stanza, Taylor mentions Mark David Chapman (the man who killed Lennon) and Dorian Gray (a fictional character who never seemed to age) as symbols of greed. The Gray reference is an easy guess if you're familiar with the story, but Chapman not so much so. At any rate, the question asked here is what profit is there in greed? Presumably written before the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire phenomenon, it only further underscores Taylor's assertion. "What Life Is" contains two views - where positives now exist (or perceived positives), it is only a dream, and when it is over, "then you're left with carrion?" The other view - where negatives exist, "when the dream is over, then each breath will carry song." It is an argument between the pessimist and the optimist, though it's debatable whether finding "rodents in the road in Rhodesia" is a positive. It is, however, a rather visual bit of alliteration.

Taylor mainly plays keys - a Korg M1 - but also guitar, cymbals, shakers, and harmonium as well. Various musicians guest of most of the tracks, only three of the disc's 13 tracks feature Taylor solo.

Other versions: Myshkazippy Productions, 1999 (00100), QuiXote, 2001 (QXTCD15)

The Big Now (2:36) / Someone Has Stolen My Star (2:41) / Lost Lake (4:09) / What Life Is (4:44) / Cheshire Tree Seque (0:41) / The Cheshire Tree (1:29) / News Of The Flood (3:09) / Welcome To The Vise (3:19) / The Ruins Of Babylon (3:31) / New Music For Morris Dancing (5:31) / The Living And The Dead (3:16) / Cheshire Tree Reprise (4:03) / The Unexpected (4:03)

Lou Maxwell Taylor - Korg M1 synthesizer, Korg T3, voice, guitar, ???cymbals, shakers, harmonium, bell treee, bass drum, ???harmonica, double-tiered chimes, clock chimes, bodhran
Dan Reiter - cello (1, 11, 12)
Frank Lev - clarinet (2)
Chuck Rosene - electric bass (2, 3, 6)
Radim Zenkl - mandolin (2, 11)
Kerry Parker - fiddle (3), voice (3, 6)
Kevin Toney - bodhran (3)
Barry Cleveland - electric guitar (4, 5)
Mike Masley - dombek, talking drum, shakers (4) water-tuned glass panpipes (9)
Alex Artaud - dombek (5), tar kendang (9)
Derek Bianchi - snare drum (6), electric guitar, electric bass (8)
Rob Carr - cymbals, snare drum (9)
Lygia Ferra - voice (11)
Vladimir Kalistov - sinthharmonia button accordian (11)

The Cheshire Tree Suite (1999)

Genre: Progressive Folk

Origin US

Added: April 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: welcome.to/the-cheshire-tree
Hits: 1441
Language: english


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