Review Summary: With the excellence of Bath and Leaving Your Body Map, this album could easily be overlooked. Great musicianship and originality is shown throughout, only slightly dragged down by sub-par production.
As unbelievably backwards and confusing it may be, much of the musical innovation that has taken place has been vastly overlooked. Whether this neglect is the result of a minuscule popularity or the fact that much of the time innovative music is almost impossible for the casual listeners to grasp, these genre defying musicians usually find bits and pieces of their ideas influencing other's music. maudlin of the Well is an exception to this rule. What motW has sculpted with their debut album My Fruit Psychobells... A Seed Combustible
is a sound like no other. Fluently weaving in and out of the depths of death metal, progressive passages, hypnotic ambient sections, and smooth toned jazz, My Fruit Psychobells... A Seed Combustible
is a filling feast for the ears. Derived out of the genius of Toby Driver the guitar player and vocalist(who is currently is another excellent band, Kayo Dot), motW's music is constantly being associated with the term avant-garde, which I believe is an understatement of sorts. All of Driver's compositions are extremely unconventional (further shown on Kayo Dot and solo albums) and should not be disregarded after only a few listens which is a mistake that I fear many music connoisseurs will make.
Musically, this album is pure bliss. The haunting opener of 'Ferocious Weights' showcases the bands talent for creating a dynamic atmosphere. A crescendo of an intimidating guitar riff and a pulse-like bass line finally detonates with the sounding of trumpets(?). Some of the fear is relieved when the soothing female vocals join, but they are quickly shot down by another unnerving guitar section. Almost like a battle, the female vocals and the instruments trade off repeatedly. The demented instruments claim their victory with the unleashing of dual shredding guitar solos, every now and then harmonizing, but for the most part they are completely separate. The arrangement of the solos is fantastic because even though they are completely different, they are coherent and don't sound like an unintelligent mess. 'A Conception Pathetic' being the highlight of the album begins with the most bloodcurdling scream I have heard and is fully emersed in death metal. A quick solo along with some growling, begins this masterpiece. The growling gives in to fantastic clean vocals, almost slithering in their delivery, "They'll sing to me/ stars in their brightness/ and young singing in golden cages/ rough-hewn by some dead race" adding the element of mystery, certainly making the music much more intriguing than it already is.The vocals continue this way while a simple chord progression and a jazzy bass line is being played together. A sharp pick-slide breaks the calm and a galloping metal progression starts. This abruptly ends when an piano inconceivable mixes circus and "old western" music (tumbleweed please). 'Blight of River Systems' is the least shocking song for anyone who is not well versed in metal. Most of 'Blight...' is a harmless, but very intricate jazz song. Vocally, most of the song is almost rickety sounding, but not in a bad way(it is actually very catchy). The bass is only keeping a rhythm in this song which is okay because it works well and for most of the album the bass is very technical. A very pleasing progressive rock-esque solo ends the song on a extremely good note.
The truly fascinating interplay between the harmonics produced by the guitars and the middle-eastern tinged bass solo at the start of 'Undine and Underwater Flowers' shows the tight and highly advanced musicianship that maudlin of the Well possesses. This musicianship is the reason that the band is able to blend what seems like every genre into their music. Many times idiosyncratic aspects of metal are played with a virtually opposite sound. For example, in 'Pondering a Wall' heavily distorted guitars tremolo picking at blistering speed and chugging progressions are played simultaneously with a very soft, melodic acoustic guitar plucking away and soaring vocals to complement the melody. Furthermore, 'Catharsis of Sea-Sleep and Dreaming Shrines' features ascending, staccato guitar work alongside freighting growling vocals. While the percussion doesn't exactly stand out, the drummer does an excellent of playing not complex but fitting rhythms throughout the album.
The moment maudlin of the Well released Bath
and Leaving Your Body Map
(not a double album, but they were meant to be listened to together) a problem occurred, both of the previously mentioned albums are more developed and more masterfully crafted. My Fruit Psychobells... A Seed Combustible
is an incredible, original album although it doesn't have the greatest production, which may contribute to the underdeveloped sound feeling flimsy at times. Looking past the production and the albums superior successors (both of which I would recommend before this album), My Fruit Psychobells...
is an exciting and delightful experience.