MAUDLIN OF THE WELL
Avant-garde Metal / Metal Related • United States

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Maudlin Of The Well is an avant-garde progressive metal band from Boston, who formed in 1996 and released 3 studio albums before disbanding in 2003. motW's music combines jazz, metal, avant-garde, post-rock and eastern influences into a unique and other worldly combination. After a five year break, the band reformed to record several unreleased musical ideas and compositions, which materialized into 2009's 'Part The Second'. These recordings were made possible by donations from fans of the band's earlier work. The band can be considered a musicians collective, all albums rotating around the 3 constant constant members, Toby Driver, Jason Byron and Greg Massi. All of the band's albums feature vocals and string work from Mia Matsumiya, who would later appear in Driver's next project with much more prominent input, Kayo Dot. (For more information on the band's ever changing lineup, see the individual album entries)

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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Discography

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.49 | 15 ratings
My Fruit Psychobells... A Seed Combustible
Avant-garde Metal 1999
.. Album Cover 4.02 | 46 ratings
Bath
Avant-garde Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 4.14 | 43 ratings
Leaving Your Body Map
Avant-garde Metal 2001
.. Album Cover 3.86 | 11 ratings
Part The Second
Metal Related 2009

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL EPs & splits

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL live albums

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL boxset & compilations

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL singles (1)

.. Album Cover
3.77 | 9 ratings
Secret Song
Avant-garde Metal 2001

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MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Reviews

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Part The Second

Album · 2009 · Metal Related
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bartosso
Maudlin farewell

As it is my 100th review on MMA, I shall celebrate by writing a really long, lousy review, freed of my usual hasty formula or any stylistic restraints. You will be bored, moved and bored again. Your time will be wasted with the only consolation being that I wasted even more of it myself. Let's do this thing!... as this paragraph is not long enough yet (that wouldn't look good on the main page, would it.) instead of ending it, let me talk succinctly about the final installment in maudlin of the Well discography. That's what we gathered here for after all. Part The Second was fan funded and it's an entirely independent work with artwork conceived by Toby Driver himself. For those who don't know, he's the mastermind behind all motW and Kayo Dot albums, as well as co-creator/co-founder of Tartar Lamb, Vaura and several other projects. He's a genius, what can I say. Along with Mories of Gnaw Their Tongues, he's my favourite avant rock composer. Speaking of avant rock, I've just realized my 100th review on a metal site is actually of a non-metal album!

Anyway, let's talk maths here. Part the second... but how? In half? Only two parts? Five? Or maybe, judging by the artwork, time is relative, and there's no substantial difference between one second and one day. These are just fragments of the same substance which is apparently infinite. If not for us and our limited perception, there wouldn't be any fragments at all as you can't see contours of seconds, minutes, hours ticking on the clock or years, decades, centuries gradually turning your body into atomic dust. Time's abstract. Yet still we managed to part it, rationalize it. Even though this album looks like it was conceived rationally and divided into 5 tracks, it's not. It's art and art hates rational thinking. Art is based on intuition and driven by feelings. Sounds pretentious? Well, we could certainly have a healthy discussion about what is art, what isn't or if it even is a real thing at all. I'm divided. It seems not to be a real thing but when I start to think it is, I consider art to be something that escapes rationalization. For now. Everything can be explained scientifically and surely will, yet for now there still are some gray areas when it comes to psychology and neurology. I'm glad there are. You have to live in a bubble in order to keep your sanity. However small the bubble is, you can't let it pop or you'll fall into a trap of trying to look at yourself from the outside of your own reasoning, which is obviously self-contradictory.

Okay, without going too far into metaphysics, that's what I believe music is for. Not that music, or art in general, has any other purpose than to satisfy the one who makes it. For someone who listens to music, however, it has potential to be a gate into a world where you can understand and feel yourself without falling back on verbal reasoning. Whether music excites you, makes you happy and euphoric or moves you and makes you depressed, that doesn't matter. What matters is that for this brief moment you're free of restraints of your consciousness. I think that's why people often use drugs to "open their third eye", although lucky are those for whom music works like one. As far as I am concerned, some music does. Part the Second does. All that I've written until now was inspired by the album. If your first thought while going through this review was "This guy's high as fuck", then Part the Second really works. I'm sure some of you would gladly see more substantial commentary on the album, though. Here you go. Part the Second, as any abstract work of art, is a grower. I didn't fall in love with it instantly but my subconscious had already known I would have listened to it again. We tend to call it "getting hooked", intrigued by something for vague reasons. That's because you're not yet aware of something your brain already knows.

In terms of influences, it's the most seamless album by maudlin of the Well and Toby Driver in general. Maybe it's just me, but I can't name more than one influence without hesitation. The album surely is inspired by chamber music. Its structure could just as well be described as progressive/postmodern in a broad sense, but chamber music seems more precise to me due to a prominent role of violin passages. On the other hand, it plays with pacing and repetition in a similar way post-rock does. Luckily, you won't experience any straightforward, full-on build-ups that plague post-rock music nowadays. Part the Second is more sophisticated than that and for that reason it may appear as less accessible to some people. Still, to those accustomed to avant-garde complexity, this will be a refreshing experience. Part the Second doesn't do anything superfluous. It's just as complex as it has to be and never gets heavier than it should. What I say may seem quite vague, but this record really sounds as if it were aware of itself. Every sound, every word is there for a reason and for no reason at all. "This guy's higher than I thought". Well, hear me out, please! I believe that the more brilliant the work you create is, the more difficult it is to explain the choices you made. It's called talent. And talent is an unpredictable asshole.

Oh man, I'm fed up with this review so much right now. Nobody's going to read something that long anyway, so why bother? Most certainly because I felt like 100th review was a good occasion to do something different. Part the Second is one of those albums I couldn't review in a decent way, anyway. It's an album that gets to you on a very personal level, almost as if it were addressed directly to you. As if you were the only one to ever listen to it. The world is abstract after all, so maybe you are the only one listening to it? Maybe all is just an illusion? Or not even that. Maybe the bubble you're trying to preserve is all you actually have? Whatever the case, the final effort by maudlin of the Well is a reminder that music... is a drug! Haha, good one, ain't it?! You didn't see that coming, huh? Please, if you enjoy experimental music of any sorts, listen to Part the Second and get high from the experience. But secretly! Seriously people! Music's gonna be banned if someone from Da Guverment reads this review. I have to go, spec ops are at the door already!... [beep beep beep]

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Part The Second

Album · 2009 · Metal Related
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
A much more interesting release for me than the previous albums. MAUDLIN OF THE WELL dropped the death metal they utilized on their double releases of 2001 and simply stuck to what I think they do the best, namely the post-rock aspects of their music and develop their ideas in that context. The result is a more cohesive and even-keeled flow of the tracks. There are still some elements of metal here and there but they are more suited to the overall feel of the album.

Despite this being a huge improvement in my opinion from the last two albums, I still don't feel that this deserves the masterpiece status that many seem to shower upon it. To me it is simply a very good representation of the type of experimental post rock that they are delivering. Of course music is subjective and this seems to move others more than it does me.

In my opinion, Toby Driver and his posse did a lot of refining of this particular sound in the KAY DOT projects which I actually prefer to MotW but i find that this particular album definitely has a more mature sound for MotW creating an atmosphere that I can get behind this time around and in many ways blurring the distinction between the MotW and KAYO DOT projects.

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Bath

Album · 2001 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
What a difference listening to music on a good pair of headphones makes. I have only heard this album a handful of times and it never really grabbed me. In fact it was hard to even focus on it because the dynamics are either too soft or too loud and I guess I was also distracted by multi-tasking. Well, the thing about headphones is that all these sounds I didn't even notice before that are in the tapestry of this album are now plain as day and apparently critical to the enjoyment level of this album. So in effect this album has transmogrified itself in my mind from a complete dud to one that I find somewhat interesting.

Having said that, I am in the camp that this isn't as developed as the KAYO DOT albums that follow which I prefer to MAUDLIN OF THE WELL. This album does showcase some interesting diversity with all the instruments and adopted genres in the mix. I guess the parts I like the best are the jazzy, post rock extensions that are a melodic and dissonant playground while the times they take a stab at death metal I find a little disingenuous simply because I am too familiar with death metal and this just doesn't cut it for me. Those parts I do find interesting with the metal are the bits when the post rock and metal overlap somewhat.

I really want to like this more but for me this boils down to being simply an interesting prelude to the more interesting KAYO DOT projects that develop the avant-garde and everything is properly mangled together to my liking where the timings, the timbres and the atmospheres feel genuinely more bizarre and alien. I think the two Interludes are possibly my favorite tracks on here.

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Leaving Your Body Map

Album · 2001 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
For a band who claims that the ideas for the twin releases of BATH and LEAVING YOUR BODY MAP came from astral projection, I would think that there would be a more dreamy feel to them. In fact nothing on these albums makes me think of a strange dimension where a spirit rides the ethers throughout the universe. It simply sounds like experimental metal in its nascent form. For me the thing about dreamscapes is that everything would seem more surreal and bizarre. Oh well, guess my ideas are different than most since these albums seem to be extremely popular.

This album starts off immediately with the death metal thing and I commend the band for adding flutes and whistles and all kinds of new sounds to the mix but something about these albums just doesn't click with me where the KAYO DOT ones do. As with BATH the gentler jazzier post rock parts work best for me while the growly metal parts seem to lack any legitimate luster. Not a bad album but doesn't live up to the subject matter projected and fails to transgress into the astral planes the way I imagine such music sounding like. Basically I think they tackle too lofty of a goal and fail to deliver the goods.

MAUDLIN OF THE WELL Bath

Album · 2001 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Wilytank
(Originally posted to Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives; http://www.metal-archives.com/)

Following Mauldin of the Well's discography after the rather obscure album about a psycho's fruit flavored bells and combustible seeds, the next albums in line are Bath and Leaving Your Body Map which were released simultaneously with switched artwork for some smug-ass reason; but let's focus on Bath right now. The basic idea on My Fruit Psychobells... is repeated here on Bath: make an experimental metal album, which basically means Toby Driver and his merry men wrote a bunch of songs of different genres and compiled them together on one album. This is not weird or quirky or experimental as the die hard fans claim. Individually, all the songs here make perfect sense and the album as a whole is just unfocused. And like I said in my previous review for this band, being unfocused isn't inherently a bad thing as long as the music can stay good; because on the other hand, the only original ideas here is putting completely different styles of music together on a single album, which isn't that special or worthy of praise on its own. The individual styles here have already been done by the likes of Porcupine Tree, Voivod, Mr. Bungle, and various others.

Otherwise though, this album can keep up with musically from that album about fruity bells as far as the shining style on that album was: the proggy, kinda sludgy post metal/rock, which has a major presence with songs like "The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth" and "Heaven and Weak" near the beginning of the album, the latter also containing some mid-era Voivod influenced thrash metal mixed in. Later, it gets even better with "Girl With a Watering Can"'s calm post metal passages and female vocals which eventually give way to slightly more aggressive riffing. Following that is "Birth Pains of Astral Projection" which follows the same style, but throws in keyboards instead of the female vocals. These two tracks are easily the highlight of the album.

But when Maudlin tries to sound heavier, this album begins to just fall flat. In my review for that album about a combustible seed, I called these sections third-rate death metal. Now, however, I think half-assed hardcore is a little more appropriate because that's what these influences really sound like now. They're not really death metal. They're also certainly not black metal despite that being what the band themselves label it as on the album's Bandcamp page. Only one song is played like this though: "They Aren't All Beautiful". The riffs are all over the place and aren't very enjoyable at all; the song as a whole is really the most out of place song on the album. Besides that, though, the only real complaint about their heavier attempts are the harsh vocals on "The Ferryman" which just sound forced and clash with most of the rest of the song.

But even that's not the worst part of Bath. Ironically, this album becomes the most unbearable when Maudlin tries to be too soft. The lyrics on this album are pretty flowery the whole way through, but "Marid's Gift of Art" and "Geography" are just monumental piles of cheese. Here's "Marid's Gift of Art":

"When you were a baby, I told you that beauty came from the sea. Now, when you touch me between the eyes, I say, “Why?” I never lie, but you won’t believe I could make everyone so happy, I could make everything beautiful, like you. Clean, forever, just like you."

This combined with Jason Byron's clean vocals create a literal lullaby designed for preschoolers during nap time. It's sappy and it's as boring as the music that they go with which is soft rock. And again, the post rock they play on "The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth", but on "Marid's Gift of Art" and "Geography it just sounds like an unwanted field trip to sippy cup mountain.

The goods may slightly outweigh the bads on Bath, but not enough to warrant a recommendation for the whole album. Listen to "A Girl with a Watering Can", "The Blue Ghost/Shedding Qliphoth", "Heaven and Weak", and "Birth Pains of Astral Projection". Ignore everything else. That's the bad thing that usually comes with an unfocused album: inconsistent quality. Maudlin of the Well would do a lot better if they picked one good and stayed with it instead of jumping around everywhere like an inexperienced multitasker.

(69/100)

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