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Mad Puppet - Masque  CD (album) cover

MASQUE

Mad Puppet

 

Neo-Prog

3.18 | 19 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The organ was a popular instrument in the rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly in progressive rock, but, after a fallow period, it owes most of its resurgence, such as it is, to the prog movement. MAD PUPPET was one of the rare groups that carried the torch for melodramatic songs backed by ample organs in the synth-pop heydays of the 1980s. I wonder if groups like MEN OF LAKE would even had existed were it not for Mad Puppet. In fact, the opener to this album sounds exactly like Men of Lake circa their debut album which appeared 9 years after this.

The group takes cues from THE DOORS, JETHRO TULL, and possibly some German acts of the 70s. In "Look Out", a rich plate of influences, none fully copied, contribute to the bluesy and rock and roll palate. Manfred Kaufmann's electric piano is also a highlight. "Masque of the Red Death" is a Gothic tour de force, utilizing the organ as a wind instrument (perhaps it's a "pipe" organ) and the harpsichord to set the atmosphere for one of Edgar Allan Poe's more macabre tales. The lyrics are sung, spoken and shouted. It's certainly not a flawless interpretation, but interesting enough to merit longest cut.

The highlight of the proceedings, however, is "Icarus Part 1", starting with a sprightly yet reflective combination of acoustic guitar and, again, what sounds like flute but is probably a versatile organ or synthesizer. The guitars strum as they lead into the vocal segment, where a masterful melody unfolds reminiscent of JETHRO TULL at their best (but I prefer Manfred Schweigkofler's voice to Ian Anderson). The middle break MUST contain flute even if not in the credits - I can hear the breathing! While "Icarus Part 2" is a bit too close to a jam of 1970s RPI instrumentally, and to "You Keep me Hanging on" in main song thrusts, the musical prowess of the group remains intact throughout. The "Wheel of Time" injects a folk rock bias again, and the baritone lead guitar parts remind me of the mid 1970s STEELEYE SPAN, but otherwise rehashes devices already exploited in prior cuts.

This is a fairly diverse yet cohesive album that displays the potential of Mad Puppet., even though they were working in an environment in which record company execs were pulling the strings.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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