Aclaración...

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lunes, 29 de junio de 2015

Modest Midget - Crysis (2014)


Artista: Modest Midget
Álbum: Crysis
Año: 2014
Género: Progresivo ecléctico / Crossover prog
Duración: 48:29
Nacionalidad: Holanda / Argentina


Lista de Temas:
1. The Grand Gate Opening
2. A Centurion's Itchy Belly
3. Rocky Valleys of Dawn
4. Praise the Day
5. Now That We're Here
6. Periscope Down
7. (Oh)Pretty Woman
8. Flight of the Cockroach
9. Secret Lies
10. Gone Is
11. Crisis (Awake of the Sheep)
12. Birth

Alineación:
- Lonny Ziblat / vocals, keyboards, piano, guitars, percussion, programming
- Willem Smid / drums
- Maarten Bakker / bass, keyboards
With:
Dimitar Bodurov / accordion
Yael Shachar / violin, viola
Tristan Hupe / keyboards
Jurriaan Berger / keyboards, programming
Eduardo Olloqui / oboe
Emiel de Jong / sax
Sanne Vos / recorders
Anna Zeijlemaker / flutes

Esta no es una resubida, pasamos la siguiente informaciòn directamente del anuncio de la banda: durantes las próximas dos semanas "Crysis" estará disponible a través de BandCamp. Solo debe cliquear "Buy the album" y elegir cualquier precio (por ejemplo: cero). Que lo disfruten!




Podría haber sido otro de nuestros comentarios del reciente año 2015, pero en realidad este disco salió a la luz en los estertores del 2014, así que entra dentro de los discos reseñados en el año pasado. Finalmente los sellos independientes Viajero Inmóvil y Maniac serán los distribuidores en Argentina del estupendo nuevo disco de la banda Modet Midget, trabajo titulado "Crysis"... disco bastante más difícil de digerir que su anterior trabajo, llamado "The Great Prophecy of a Small Man" y que hemos reseñado en su oportunidad, pero no por ello menos interesante.
A propósito, y antes de que me olvide, Lionel Ziblat (líder de la banda y quien nos ha cedido el disco hace un tiempo) nos pidió que mencionara especialmente a la artista Netaly Reshef que tomó las fotos y que ha diseñado el lindo librito interior, y al bajista Maarten Bakker que ha compuesto el tema "Periscope Down".
Ya cumplidas las obligaciones, vamos con la reseña del disco...



El primer disco de esta banda holandesa, The Great Prophecy of a Small Man, fue publicado en 2010 y estuvo en muchas listas de los mejores discos de rock progresivo de aquel año. Sin embargo, poco se sabía de este proyecto liderado por el músico argentino-israelí Lionel Ziblat, y desde entonces no han gozado de mucha más promoción.
Enmarcar Crysis dentro del rock progresivo podría confundir a muchos. Modest Midget está más cerca de Frank Zappa que de King Crimson y en este disco encontramos desde composiciones casi pop hasta fragmentos a lo Django Reindhart y mucho más de clásica de lo que parece en principio. Todo ello bien dosificado, porque si bien en temas como A Centurion’s Itchy Belly o Flight of The Cockroach nos llevan a los momentos más extravagantes y caóticos de Zappa en otros como Praise The Day, Periscope Down o Birth Ziblat es mucho más directo y se queda en terrenos más asequibles. Una locura muy pero que muy bien controlada.
El señor Lionel Ziblat parece ganarse bien la vida como compositor de todo tipo de obras y como arreglista, así que lo que escuchamos en Modest Midget es, sobre todo, a un tipo haciendo lo que da la gana. Sin ningún tipo de filtro ni presión. Y eso no es nada habitual, especialmente cuando hablamos de músicos de tan alto nivel.
J. M. Vilches

Al parecer, la banda pasó por alguna crisis entre sus integrantes y ello brindó tinta para que Ziblat articule su nuevo trabajo en base a sus propios problemas con la banda, ello llevó a un álbum conceptual que habla de las crisis que todos debemos vivir a lo largo de nuestra vida y como ello nos ayuda a crecer como personas y como sociedad, y de ese modo la banda lanzó un disco muy fresco y divertido que, a pesar de su apariencia de desparpajo extravagante y despreocupación pop, tiene una enorme profundidad y material por debajo de lo que se ve a simple vista. Basta prestar atención a sus composiciones para darse cuenta de ello, y seguramente sucede algo parecido con su lírica.



Ya hemos presentado en sociedad a Lonny Ziblat, compositor, arreglador y guitarrista de origenes argentinos-israelíes que vive en la ciudad de Amsterdam, Holanda, desde varios años, Lonny es y es el líder de esta buena banda. Hora presentamos su nuevo larga duración. Su estilo varía entre el desparpajo, la complejidad altamente creativa de Frank Zappa y Gentle Giant, toda una gama de estilos pop y rock fluido con mucho aire a The Beatles, todo el disco es muy variado, pero sobre todo va desde el sofisticado rock progresivo melódico a música que tiene mucha diversión y frescura, en una mixtura peculiar y muy particular, altamente compleja y decididamente excéntrica.
Igualmente, me ha parecido un disco mucho más complejo de dijerir que su anterior trabajo, que si bien tenía sus complejidades era definitivamente de fácil escucha, Si bien el jnuesvo trabajo de esta gente tiene todas caracterisiticas mencionadas en su anterior disco, resulta mucho más áspero para terminar de digerirlo y lo he tenido que escuchar varias veces, aunque cuando al fin he podido engancharle la onda, me ha resultado mucho más disfrutable a través de las distintas escuchas. Esto es un rock progresivo con reminiscencia de otras grandes bandas escandinavas como Zammla Mamas Manna y Beardfish más el sonido que imprime la inclusión de músicos invitados que amplían enormemente el espectro sonoro con el valor agregado que otorgan la flauta, oboe, piano y varios elementos más. Un disco extenso y ecléctico, que incorpora un montón de estilos en su sonido, algunos de los cuales parece estar basado en la música clásica... éste es un álbum de verdaderos aventureros musicales, muy lejos del progresivo "tradicional" (si es que se hay algo que puede llamarse así en este género) a lo, por ejemplo, la sobriedad de Genesis o la pomposidad de ELP, y si bien tiene raptos de mucho enganche también muy lejos de lo que conocemos como "pop"... bienvenidos los que se atreven a explorar nuevos rumbos musicales a nuestro blog, siempre tendremos un lugar para quienes se empecinan a ampliar nuestras fronteras sonoras.

Vamos a algunos otros comentarios para que no se queden solamente con mis palabras:


Quick Review Summary: A crisis is rarely enjoyable. Modest Midget's new album, however, is the rare exception to that rule, It is a "crysis" you will enjoy repeating time and again in the weeks and months that lie ahead!
Full Review: Much of the music on Modest Midget's new album "Crysis" was composed during an apex of global anxiety surrounding the impending 'end' of the much publicized Mayan calendar. As it would turn out, rather than heralding the end of planet earth, the Mayan calendar's 2012 expiration date ended up more closely resembling the much ballyhooed 'Y2k bug', a lot of hand-wringing and frantic build-up to... well, nothing much really. In retrospect, it appears those time conscious Mayans were busy warrior types who probably figured that the year 2012 was so very far off into the unknown future that they could afford to wait and see whether someone might discover an easier way to update their calendar before completing the required update. Or perhaps they KNEW we would all have electronic devices tracking a different calendar by 2012 anyway, so it would have been really pointless for them to have pushed the date out any further! All joking aside, here we are still on planet earth in the year 2014, thankfully enjoying the opportunity to hear a sophomore album from the inventive, catchy, quirky, diversely progressive rock band Modest Midget.
The (Grand Gate) opening track is a short atmospheric piece to set the stage, building anticipation for the album which only really gets started in earnest on track #2 "A Centurion's Itchy Belly", an excellent instrumental which in turn sets the tone musically for the entire album to follow. More than a few moments of this track call to mind Gentle Giant's "Spooky Boogie", although - truth be told - its stylistic reach is broader than that, freely incorporating folksy middle eastern elements along with those of western prog and rock. There is even a "must hear" accordion solo played in a style usually reserved for Hammond B3. Now THAT, my friends, is something you don't hear every day even from a creative prog band!!!
It is followed up by "Rocky Valleys of Dawn', an infectiously catchy up-tempo vocal rock tune worthy of airplay on alternative, progressive and new rock stations everywhere. If you program a rock station, I dare you to give this song a single week of rotation. Watch as the feedback and requests start to flow in! (Your listeners will thank you!)
Just when you think you are getting this formidable and mighty (yet ever so Modest) Midget band figured out, they change the pace with the blissful ballad 'Praise the Day', a song boasting a vocal melody grounded enough to not lose casual listeners yet one also not without more than a few unexpected twists and turns along the way (a compositional accomplishment that is by its very nature much harder than one might think). It's arrangement effectively builds lush layers before leading up to a cleverly sudden ending.
Lyrically, "Rocky Valleys of Dawn" and "Praise the Day" are a couplet of sorts. The former speaks of learning to make a life, even of learning to embrace the inevitable conflicts, challenges and suffering that will accompany the more enjoyable events we will experience along the way. The latter hints that to whatever extent we learn to truly live a day, we must also learn to accept the ending of that day. Looking at the even bigger picture, this entire album posits that what is true for a day, could also in some ways be said for an entire lifetime.
Restless rockers can rest assured that Lonnie Ziblat - the sneaky musical guide that he is - hasn't brought us to this self reflective, relaxed and peaceful point in the album for no good reason. Indeed, he deftly capitalizes on this as an opportunity to draw a sharp line of aural juxtaposition. Following the mellower tones of "Praise the Day", the opening distorted guitar chords of "Now That We're Here" ring all the more 'extra-crunchy'. The bass guitar thunders and the drums crash all the more mightily. Then, lest matters grow too comfortably familiar, a quirky interjection of joyous tomfoolery reminiscent of some of the best work of the classic Swedish prog band Samla Mammas Manna enters the fray. "Now That We're Here" is yet another one of those classic Modest Midget tracks which pack as much high quality musical content into three minutes and forty-two seconds as most classic prog bands manage to muster during an entire LP side-long "epic".
Next, the Maarten Bakker composition "Periscope Down" slows things down long enough to prove that popular vocal jazz can retain a sense of complexity, achieving 'smoothness' through sophisticated arrangement rather than devolved harmony.
Things get really fun (if a bit frivolous) on a cover of the classic rock n' roll tune "Pretty Woman" (originally performed by Roy Orbison and popularized again a couple of decades later by Van Halen). This particular rendition sounds at times as though Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo) could have assisted with the arrangement! There are also moments where Lonny Ziblat's vocal pays genuine homage to the multi-octave ranged tenor of the great Roy Orbison himself.
The happy and care-free mood of 'Pretty Woman' segues nicely into the playfully inventive instrumental named "Flight of the Cockroach". Again, Ziblat tips his hat to none other than the great classic prog band from which his band's namesake most certainly was derived by packing more joyous syncopated content into 2:39 than most bands muster during songs triple or quadruple the length.
Modest Midget then settles in for a trio of tunes which surround the pains, disappointments and let downs that come our way whenever we realize we have expected a little bit too much from others around us (and truth be told sometimes even of ourselves). Yes, life has its joyous moments of flying high (albeit not always with Cockroaches but let's not get bogged down in playful details). A fully lived life also has more than what we might consider to be its 'fair share' of crises (or perhaps of 'cryses'). Fortunately, as the album liner notes, although we usually consider a crisis to be a problem, it can actually provide us an opportune moment for self reflection resulting in positive change, a sentiment that may at first be difficult to accept, yet in the end, will ring peacefully true in the hearts of those brave enough to have embraced it.
The album ends much as it began with the song "Birth". Just as we entered the album "Crysis" through a "Grand Gate Opening", we too entered this world through a grand gate opening. Our arrival was greeted not only by a clapping of familial hands but also by the sharp clap of a doctor's hand upon our backside. We march through pain and joy, experiencing highs and lows on our way to discovering both loneliness and love. Indeed, each and every one of these things go into the making of a full life. The lyric of "Birth" even goes as far as to speak of leaving this world behind and walking the grand opening gate yet again, and although I'm not at all a proponent of the tenets of reincarnation, I can certainly appreciate the idea of leaving this life to move on to a next one. From my perspective, as assuredly as this today leads to a tomorrow, this life too leads to an eternity. Of course, one need not believe one way or another in religious matters in order to enjoy the wonderful music of Modest Midget's "Crysis".
Although I've lived long enough to have have survived, learned from and perhaps even to have grown from a few crisis experiences, I'm hard pressed to think of very many instances in which I have actually enjoyed a crisis... This album, however, is one of those rare instances. Buy Modest Midget's latest album. It is the rare "Crysis" you too will enjoy repeating time and again in the weeks and months that lie ahead.
The CD package even includes a 24 page booklet designed by artist Netaly Reshef featuring thoughts, lyrics and breathtaking photographs. It serves as a wonderful song-by-song visual companion to enhance your overall experience of this excellent concept album.
Mark Stephens


Modest Midget is a quirkily named Dutch progressive rock band fronted by guitarist/vocalist/composer Lonny Ziblat. And, forgive me on this one, there ain’t much metal going on here – but the music from this extremely talented band is just so good and unique that we felt compelled to review their new album, Crysis (self-produced and scheduled to be released on September 28th.) Like a lot of modern prog rock bands, Modest Midget is steeped in musical history but with a very modern and pretty hip edge to their sound. They’ve been around since 2008 and put out their first album, Great Prophecy Of A Small Man in 2010, had some personnel changes and now have brought forth Crysis and it’s one of the most fully realized projects we’ve heard in a long time – the packaging, production quality and the depth and variety of the songs are all top-notch. The band and songs are primarily Ziblat’s vision and their style vacillates between a highly Frank Zappa-esque complexity to a whole range of softer pop and rock styles which makes a lot of sense given Ziblat’s other musical career in film and TV production. The music here is quite varied but mostly vacillates between sophisticated melodic progressive rock and fun, quirky, highly intricate and decidedly wacky prog rock very reminiscent of other great Scandinavian bands like Zammla Mamas Manna and Beardfish. The band is a four piece (guitar, bass, keys and drums) but also greatly expands their music with a large group of guest players on flute, bassoon, oboe, sax, jazz piano, accordion and recorder.
Apparently the band went through a bit of a crisis of their own in 2012 and out of that Ziblat woodshedded and the band came out with this extremely cool and fun album – one that, despite its veneer of quirkiness and light pop sensibilities has a tremendous amount of depth and substance underneath it all. After a short ambient electronic introduction, the album immediately kicks into high gear with A Centurion’s Itchy Belly, a totally fun and wild ride of an instrumental song that begins as a dramatic keyboard-led melodic prog rock song, switches abruptly to a wild quirky off-kilter energetic section complete with a wild accordion solo (!) and feels like it belongs in a demented cartoon chase. Rocky Valleys of Dawn, a song about the rewards of struggle, is an energetic piece that has a modern high-energy progressive sound with some great melodic parts and short but very inventive guitar solos. Praise The Day is a beautiful, rather melancholy acoustic ballad with a very haunting vocal melody. Again, alternating back to crazy prog, Now That We’re Here, has some wild flights of fun prog rock insanity with a really majestic mid-section along with some great vocal harmonies.
One of the greatest aspects of Crysis is how, just when you think you’ve got a handle on Modest Midget’s sound, they really throw you for a loop – especially on the next song, Periscope Down (co-written by bassist Maarten Bakker.) It’s a totally cool, melodic 70’s-esque song with another great vocal melody (the song also has a bit of a 60’s hipster lounge feel which fits so well with the band’s vibe.) Then, to really show off Ziblat’s writing prowess they do one of the coolest prog covers I’ve ever heard, a prog/ska cover of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman! Yeah, you have to hear it to believe it but it totally works and I just can’t stop listening to it! The album then finishes in style with more crazy prog (of course!) on the wildly frenetic Flight Of The Cockroach, a surprisingly effective bluesy-rock ballad Secret Lies, the beautiful, very Steely Dan-esque, softly sophisticated mid-tempo Gone Is before bringing out the wonderful Crisis (Attack Of The Sheep), a marvelously orchestrated song that really shows off Ziblat’s great ability to craft wonderful pop songs while seamlessly adding in tons of sophistication to it (as befits his work in film scoring) and here he lets it all hang out, with pensive pianos and great use of wind instruments (flutes, oboes, sax, recorders) and even a harp! It’s a great song that any prog rock band would be rightly proud of The album finishes with the anthemic Birth, one of the hardest driving songs the band has on the album and it’s anchored by yet another memorable melody from Ziblat, a guy who seemingly has an endless reservoir of them.
Again, I know this band may not be heavy enough for many of our readers, but if you have the slightest interest in extremely well crafted prog rock with great melodies, fantastic song arrangements and a great 60’s-70’s hipster vibe, we think you’ll love what Modest Midget is able to do so well. Crysis is just so damned much fun and excellent throughout that we fervently hope they’ll catch on with a wider fan base beyond the usual (and at times rather stodgy) prog rock crowd. You can check out the official video for Birth below and you can also pre-order the album via the band’s website (the link is also below.)
Jeff Stevens


Modest Midget are a class act, they turn crisis into fortune and all because they took a chance on being absolutely true. An album in which if it doesn’t make you smile, then surely you are far too gone for redemption
Ian D. Hall


It is musicians like Lonny Ziblat who convince me that I am still doing the right thing writing about music... I happily give Crysis the maximum rating
Pascal Thiel

Netherlands band Modest Midget is the project of one Lonny Ziblat, who amongst other things has a Masters in Classical Composition as well as having studied jazz guitar and orchestral conducting. 2010 saw the release of the first Modest Midget album, which was some three years in the making. The Great Prophecy Of The Small Man was essentially a solo project completed with the help of guest players. A group was assembled for live outings but it eventually disbanded due to conflicting calls on the time of the other members, and Lonny retreated to the studio. In 2011 his first solo album proper Songs From The Drawer was the result. With new members Willem Smid and Marten Bakker recruited, the recording of Crysis began in December 2012.
“Modest Midget” – a name not far removed from “Gentle Giant”. There is a similarity in the complexity of both bands’ music, but other than the odd harmonic nod here and there, that’s as far as it goes. The Midgets tick an obligatory prog rock box by making this a concept album on the “full circle” of the “cycle of life”, where “every ending is painful and sometimes dangerous, (presenting) us with a chance to grow and evolve”. This theme is reflected in the ever changing, indeed evolving music on offer, a music that manages to be everything but mired in prog rock cliché. No irony-free slabs of Tony Banks-styled synth sounds will be found in the Modest Midget universe, for sure.
Endowed with a fine sense of humour, the first half of the instrumental A Centurion’s Itchy Belly, the real first track after the short introductory piece The Grand Gate Opening knowingly dwells on a classic sympho-prog swell, a kind of Genesis-Supertramp collision. This reference is fleeting as the tune soon changes to a comic sand-dance on guitar, about as far removed from the prog behemoths as you could wish. The first song on the album is Rocky Valleys Of Dawn, a joyous affirmation of life as it should be lived, romping along at a fair old pace that would not sound out of place on a Cardiacs album.
Things take a turn towards Beatles-esque melancholy with Praise The Day, which forms a short interlude before we return to the full-on prog-punkerama replete with jokey comic capers that is Now That We’re Here. The way the band blend seemingly disparate sections together indicates a way with arrangements that confounds logic, but it works. Although musically entirely dissimilar this is a parallel with Gentle Giant’s arch “Pretentious For The Sake Of It” approach. Epic keyboard sweeps precede more cartoon larking about as the tune goes through many twists and turns, before leading into the laid back lounge-prog of Periscope Down, musically in complete contrast to its frantic lyrical theme bemoaning life’s tribulations – “Running around panic on as the road gets steep”.
With only three tunes over the five minute mark, the album keeps things brief and to the point, an economy of approach that makes a refreshing change in this sometimes over-elaborate corner of the music cupboard.
Roy Orbison’s (Oh) Pretty Woman is an unlikely choice of cover, but by now I have learned not to expect anything obvious from Modest Midget. As a young lad in short trousers I loved this song, and I used to run round the house shouting “Freddy Woman” at the top of my voice in (dis)harmony with the Big O whenever it came on the radio, thereby initiating a lifelong curse of mis-hearing lyrics. The version presented here cleverly reprises the intermittent comedy high speed musical backing that is shot through the album like writing in a stick of rock candy, and overlays it with a straight but speeded up vocal take. I’m not entirely sure what point the band are trying to make, as it seems somewhat out of place with the rest of the album, and quite how it fits the highbrow concept is a mystery to me, unless they are playing a joke. I wouldn’t put it past them!
The first of the three longer tracks at a tad over six minutes is Secret Lies, a dramatic slow burner that comes across like the Sensational Alex Harvey Band playing Cockney Rebel; epic stuff and another string to the musical bow of Modest Midget. Their name is now becoming something of an oxymoron, as they have no need of modesty, and they are huge in ambition, and manage to pull it off, too!
Gone Is is another draw on the sad-Beatles-song cigarette, the smoke curling regretfully but inevitably up, up and away. It also features the best guitar break on the record, courtesy of Lonny Ziblat, who for all intents and purposes is Modest Midget. As well as writing most of the music he mixed the album too. He has surrounded himself with a cast of more than capable supporting musicians who get on with the job in hand in an unfussy and thoroughly professional manner.
Crisis (Awake of the Sheep) is an epic construct, as a title track in all but name should be. A day of reckoning for the hoodwinked, set to a quasi-classical soundtrack, all menace and foreboding. I never saw that one coming, this band continues to be full of surprises.
The fulsome CD booklet deserves a mention, with tasteful photography and artwork by Netaly Reshef forming the background for the detailed instrumental breakdown of each track, along with all the lyrics. This is good to see, as it is becoming rare these days for such care to be taken with the rapidly fading music format that is the humble CD.
The album ends with the new single, Birth, a re-affirmation or re-birth following on from the darkness of the previous track. A perfect choice for a single, it is musically as well as lyrically “up”, as it climbs slowly to the top of hill, where it will “Leave the world behind, walk the gate again, and live!”
This is a great album of adventurous progressive pop music, but as far away from “prog” or “pop” as it is possible to be. I look forward to hearing more from this band in the hopefully not too distant future.
Roger Trenwith

Following the group’s ambitious 2010 debut The Great Prophecy of a Small Man, Dutch group Modest Midget returns with 2014’s Crysis, an album that’s equally as sprawling, eclectic, and generally cheerful as its predecessor. Admittedly, it took me a few listens to really get into what Modest Midget had to offer on their first album, and this second effort is no different. Part of this may be due to the fact that the group tends to label itself as progressive rock, yet clearly is presenting a different variation of that style than I, having listened to many a Yes,King Crimson, or ELP album, might typically expect. To my ear, Modest Midget sounds sort of like 311 had they been more influenced by ‘70s rock: parts of Crysis remind me of Pink Floyd in terms of the instrumentation and grandiose composition that’s heard, but Modest Midget is as likely to delve into a ska punk section as continue with elaborate rock arrangements.
Led by songwriter and composer Lionel “Lonny” Ziblat, Modest Midget incorporates a ton of styles into their sound, some of which seems to be based on the classical music which Ziblat admits having an affinity towards. Though Ziblat clearly has big ideas for his band (witness the many guest musicians – many of whom who add rather strange instrumentation to the mix - who appear on Crysis), there’s a playfulness to the band’s material that makes it very appealing and approachable. Progressive rock has often been accused of being pretentious to the extreme, but Modest Midget appear to have made the effort to reach a broader audience than many groups of this type. It’s true that Crysis may strive to be an expansive album that builds from a mysterious beginning into a cathartic final stretch, but many of the tracks here are relatively brief by the standards of prog and are perfectly digestible when taken on their own.
Ethereal instrumental “The Grand Gate Opening” establishes a pleasant mood right off the bat, focusing on a shimmering melody that rises from a bed of gurgling low tones and builds nicely into second track “A Centurion’s Itchy Belly.” This piece starts off sounding positively ‘70s, with a spacey keyboard line of the type I’d expect from Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman along with a prominent, grooving bass and a dash of ghostly sound effects, but shortly works itself into a frolicking second section built around a plucked guitar melody and a bouncy bass. Incorporating a nagging accompaniment at the end of every main guitar stanza that perfectly reflects the goofiness of the title, the piece’s lurching sense of rhythm and tempo only solidify the energetic song’s off-kilter feel. “Rocky Valleys of Dawn,” the first track here that shows off Ziblat’s confident vocals, has a killer bass that’s played at punk rock tempo and positively moves, while “Praise the Day” is a much slower, peaceful, and serene number with gorgeously restrained singing.
Starting off slow and deliberate, a rhythmically complex interlude heard several times throughout “Now That We’re Here” ties it to the types of start-stop songwriting that many progressive rock bands specialized in. Again, the keyboards sound remarkably similar to those heard in vintage ELP or Yes tracks, and there’s a nice sense of escalation through the piece. The quieter “Periscope Down” seems to be derived from early ‘80s soft rock, with super smooth vocals, a peppy but low-key tempo and the warm ambiance of a throbbing organ droning in the background. On the other hand, a cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman,” played as a honky ska-punk song, seems a bit of a misstep. It’s not that the track is bad in and of itself, but it does comes across as jarring and definitively bizarre when placed smack in the middle of an otherwise fairly consistent album. The comic “Flight of the Cockroach,” an instrumental heavy on syncopated rhythms and fluttering melodies, attempts to pick up the pieces afterward, bridging the almost obnoxious song that preceded it with the much more restrained tracks that make up the remainder of the album.
As Crysis starts to wind down, we get the deliberately-paced “Secret Lies” that’s probably the most earnest song here due to its heartfelt vocal performance, a track in “Gone Is” that plays out like ‘70s folk rock, and a piece of genuine, prog rock pretension in “Crisis (Awake of the Sheep).” This last number is set up more like a classical composition than a typical rock song, with instrumental solos that occasionally sound almost medieval. Album finale “Birth” is probably my favorite track here. With lyrics that seem to discuss and reflect on the very tracks heard before it, this jubilant piece is full of vigor, pushed along by a slick, driving bassline and crisp drum rhythm which Ziblat’s vocals soar on top of: an outstanding final salvo from an album that throws just about everything at a listener.
It sounds terrible but it’s true: I’m not the biggest fan of music that’s overly optimistic or hopeful, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Crysis is not only conceptually impressive and full of ideas, but also extremely likable. The variety of instruments heard (listen closely for accordions, saxophone, flutes, strings, and more) and range of musical styles would probably be enough to ensure that no listener would be bored by the album, but there’s a really nice sense of flow and progression throughout (even with the Orbison cover which to me, just seems off). The final few songs here are arguably the best on the disc, meaning that I walked away from this album feeling very satisfied. Full of great instrumental performances and demonstrative of the level of vision and creativity possessed by composer Lonny Ziblat, Crysis comes recommended.
Andy

"Crysis" is the second album from Modest Midget following their well received 2010 release "The Great Prophecy Of A Small Man". Modest Midget is an astounding collection of talented musicians from the Netherlands fronted by Argentinian born composer and arranger Lonny Ziblat.
Members include: Lonny Ziblat, guitarist, vocalist, and classically trained composer, arranger, and orchestrator who when not performing with his band Modest Midget has arranged orchestral scores for films and TV; Maarten Bakker, bassist with roots in jazz, rock, and fusion; Willem Smid, a drummer with a passion for West-coast fusion; and Tristan Hupe, keyboardist, composer and arranger enmeshed in all forms of music from Debussy to punk, Brazilian, ethnic, and all manner of jazz.
Together with guest musicians: Dimitar Bodurov (piano), Yael Shachar (violin, viola), Jurriaan Berger (piano), Eduardo Olloqui (oboe), Emiel de Jong (saxophone and wind instruments), Sanne Vos (recorder, bassoon), and Anna Zeijlemaker (flute) Modest Midget create some of the most unique and hard to define music on the album "Crysis".
No two songs are alike, running the gambit from balls to the wall rock anthems, melancholy introspective blues ballads, complex avant garde progressive rock arrangements, and some downright quirky cartoonish instrumental interplay more at home in a Warner Brother's Chuck Jones cartoon or Benny Hill comedy sketch.
Bands that immediately comes to mind when listening to "Crysis" include such diverse artists as The Beatles, The Who, Frank Zappa, Yezda Urfa, Gentle Giant, National Health, Caravan, The Police, The Tangent, Yes, and The Enid.
Oftentimes the influence of many different bands come into play during the course of a single song - like "A Centurion's Itchy Belly" - as majestic keyboard fanfares of the German band Triumvirat, the intricacies of Yezda Urfa and Gentle Giant, and the outrageous Frank Zappa assimilate into a slapstick Benny Hill skit.
Another such humorous compositions is the track "Flight Of The Cockroach" in which Modest Midget combine the intricate prog sensibilities of bands like Yezda Urfa, Frank Zappa, Happy The Man, and Gentle Giant with the satirical musical genius of 50s' bandleader Spike Jones And His City Slickers, creating the perfect soundtrack to a Warner Brother's Chuck Jones cartoon featuring the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
And then there is a whacked-out version of Roy Orbison "Pretty Woman" which defies description.
But don't get the impression this is a group of rock and roll jesters with tongue planted firmly in cheek - that's just one facet of the music of Modest Midget. This is a serious-minded group of talented musicians who can rock with the best of them when the occasions calls for it, as on the track "Birth", which is a superb hook-laden rock anthem that should appeal to fans of bands like Marillion.
"Secret Lies" is a straight forward blues ballad ... and my least favorite on the album. Though there are Pink Floydish moments running throughout which kept me from skipping the track altogether.
"Now That We're Here" is reminiscent of the more current Enid albums like "White Goddess", "Journey's End" and "Invicta". Very regal and lush sounding. Nice vocals.
"Rocky Valleys Of Dawn" has echoes of both "Drama"-era YES and The Police. Another great rocker.
And both "Periscope Down" and "Gone Is" should delight aficionados of Canterbury bands like Hatfield And The North, Caravan, National Health, Soft Heap and Family. The vocals bring to mind the great Richard Sinclair.
For the stodgy nose-in-the-air progsnob purist this probably isn't your cup of tea. But for anyone with both a sense of humor and adventure - and a love of great music mixed with mirth - then this is right up your alley. Expect to smile a lot - and be willing to go with the flow. You won't be disappointed.
Joseph Shingler

Modest Midget is the project of Lonny Ziblat, a composer and lyricist of israelian and argentinian descent. In order to put his compositions into form, he surrounded himself with a few skilled musicians from The Netherlands, the country he lives in. Crysis is his second album, released four years after the critically acclaimed The Great Prophecy of a Small Man. Previously regarded as the missing link between The Beatles and Fank Zappa, Modest Midget confirm with the new album this status.
Humour occupies indeed an important place in the band’s music. In fact, while very varied in its atmospheres, including an IQ-like opening section and balkan folk, A centurion’s Itchy Belly retains a strong circus music flavour. The energetic ska-punk of Rocky Valleys of Dawn will put a smile on your face and make you tap your feet. Ska goes back with a highly sidesplitting cover of Roy Orbison‘s Pretty Woman, where humorous keyboards à la Cardiacs meet the unusual high-pitch of Lonny. We continue to laugh with the instrumental Flight of The Cockroach and its completely daffy zappaesques. But our Amsterdam-based chaps don’t want to be regarded as complete wackos, so they threw in some deeper songs. The bipolar Now That We’re Here where hilarious (manic?) instrumental sections alternate with languid (depressive?) rock passages, announce indeed a deeper side of our musicians. This “serious” facet is expressed in a cheerful way first. In this league, let’s cite the pastoral pop-folk balads Praise The Day and Gone Is, but also the jazz-pop instilled serene tune Periscope Down, laden with the spirit of Steely Dan. The soft frail voice of Lonny gives all three songs a haunting vibe though. Besides, the music of the band can also sail on tormented waters. In fact, Crisis (Awake of the Sheep) presents troubled drums and eerie keyboards. The despaired waltz Secret lies, where a crying guitar and a haunting choir shine like a blazing fire, sees Lonny at his most passionate. And finally, Birth is an attempt to reconciliate the light and the dark side of the “serious” songs.
Lonny Ziblat is an artist who doesn’t care about labels in music. He does what he wants, far from any diktat imposed by record companies on the direction to follow. This approach is highly laudable, and our enthusiastic composer is quite good at blending various musical styles. I tend to like the funny stuff more than the “serious” one on Crysis, but mainly because I like when music goes off the beaten paths. Anyway, Lonny is comfortable with both worlds, and his second album with Modest Midget is yet another example that music has no frontiers. Like Dixie Dregs or Waltari before him, he carries the torch of eclecticism and tolerance. Let’s hope that this torch will continue to light for many long years.
Matthew Naughtin

Modest Midget is essentially Lonny Ziblat, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist of the band. Excepting an odd song here and there, Ziblat composed all the music and wrote all the lyrics for this third album Crysis. By the way, he's not a midget.
His music is somewhat eccentric. But it's probably best to drop this into the broad category of melodic rock with some avant garde nuances and pop sensibility. That, and circus music. The Modest Midget didn't endear himself to me with the first two songs, The Grand Gate Opening and A Centurion's Itchy Belly, which sounded like something between circus and carnival music. My mind kept seeing clowns walking awkwardly, monkeys riding bicycles, followed by some dog and pony trick, with more clowns. Creepy. The weirdness returns in Now That We're Here with more quirky segues. And then they turn Roy Orbison's Oh, Pretty Woman into a Ringling Brothers, Barnum, & Bailey show tune. Once more to the well with Flight of the Cockroach, Ziblat's carnival twist on the Flight of the Bumblebee? This is getting old, and fast.
Against these songs, there's some quiet numbers, like Periscope Down and Gone Is, which reminds of something from Southern California floating from your AM radio in the late Sixties. The songs are quaint but largely flat. Ziblat then tries to take the same formula and lengthen it with Crisis (Awake of the Sheep). Excepting some minor briskness and levity in the latter third, this song only makes you want to reach for a shot of your favorite 5-Hour Energy drink. The best part of the album may be the last song because you know the album will soon be over. I'm not saying that Ziblat and Modest Midget make bad music, but that I simply and quickly tired of the album; that is, after the clown with sad face riding on the tiny tricycle went by one too many times in my mind. I won't be listening to this album again any time soon.
Craig Hartranft

This Amsterdam-based band led by Israeli expat Lonny Ziblat has been completely rebuilt following their disintegration after the tour that followed the first album The Great Prophecy of a Small Man in 2010. During the downtime that followed, Ziblat recorded his solo album Songs from the Drawer, which was culled from material he had written that didn’t fit the Modest Midget style, and then got back to the business of putting his band back together, which now includes drummer Willem Smid and bassist Maartin Bakker, and for some of the recordings, keyboardist Tristan Hupe – the only other survivor from the first edition of the band, although Hupe left prior to the recordings being completed. The remaining members completed Crysis as a trio, with other players guesting as needed. Ziblat, for his part wrote all the material, plays acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards, and sings all the lead and harmony vocals. There’s a wide array of influences from Ziblat’s diverse musical background that went into these twelve cuts, which combine elements of rock, pop, punk, progressive, folk, and just about everything else imaginable. The opening symphonic keyboard intro “The Grand Gate Opening” sounds like it could be a piece from a classic movie theme, and then segues directly into “A Centurion’s Itchy Belly,” which is a brilliant instrumental piece that combines proggy elements with a catchy foot-stompin’ klezmer-pop tune. Another wacky keyboard-driven instrumental “Flight of the Cockroach” is presented later in the program.
Vocals are introduced on track three, “Rocky Valleys of Dawn,” an indie-rock styled piece with a direct approach not unlike something Nick Lowe might have done back in the day. But on other tracks throughout, a far more sophisticated combination of lead vocals and harmonies are often used, sometimes approaching the Beach Boys or 10cc, exemplified on tracks like “Now That We’re Here” and “Crisis (Awake of the Sheep)”, the latter which incorporates additional saxes, oboe, recorders, and flute to create one of the album’s most powerful arrangements. “Secret Lies” is another catchy vocal tune steeped in early rock and roll traditions, with an unforgettable guitar driven arrangement, superb soloing and great vocal harmonies. Their ska cover version of the late Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” is a fun diversion that pushes all the right buttons, while an electric piano driven jazzy-pop style is employed on “Periscope Down,” co-written with Bakker, resulting in what is probably the disc’s most accessible tune. “Praise the Day” is a simple vocal and acoustic guitar piece with piano accompaniment, with some added strings near the end, almost like something that could have been on one of McCartney’s early solo records. All taken, Crysis is a mighty impressive second outing for Modest Midget.
Peter Thelen


Un disco totalmente divertido, pero con abruptos cambios a veces dramáticos y otras nostálgico, pero siempre para volver con el ánimo renovado a tramos luminosos y alegres. Secciones energéticas, grandes armonías, algunos tramos majestuosos y amplios pasajes instrumentales completan un sonido modernamente progresivo, en un disco muy inventivo y hermoso a pesar de su locura. Hay alegría en el disco, cosa que lo hace muy atractivo y accesible, más tomando en cuenta que el rock progresivo a menudo ha sido acusado de ser pretencioso al extremo, pero ello no parece que suceda con esta banda, o deben hacer un extremo esfuerzo para que al menos no se note, y con su estilo satírico llegar a un público más amplio que muchos grupos de este tipo. Hasta tienen su propya versión del clásico de Roy Orbison: "Pretty Woman", que no les adelanto nada para no que se lleven una sorpresa...
Si bien tiene puntos en común con su anterior trabajo, y como aquel resulta un disco fascinante y gratificante, hay que decir que por otro lado es bastante diferente y eso es lo que los hará escuchar el disco una y otra vez.
Los músicos no nos autorizan a compartir el álbum, pero ahora pueden comprar el disco trqanquilamente ya que también se distribuye en Argentina. Si les interesa comprarlo pueden hacerlo por Bandcamp, pero si quieren tener el disco físico, bueno, me pueden preguntar y yo les digo cómo tienen que hacer para comprarlo. Mientras tanto, lo pueden ir escuchando en su espacio de Bandcamp.
 
El disco sepuede comprar a traves de:
Amazon
The Netherlands: Bol.com , Plato-Mania
Germany: JustForKicks
 France: Musea Records
Sweden: Record Heaven
Argentina: Viajero Inmovil , Maniac Records
Digital: Bandcamp , iTunes
Otro disco recomendado del blog cabezón!









1 comentario:

  1. Si lo quieren escuchar: http://modestmidget.bandcamp.com/

    Si quieren más, por favor lean el post que para algo lo escribí...

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