maudlin of the Well
Bath


5.0
classic

Review

by Jared W. Dillon USER (118 Reviews)
July 4th, 2006 | 2005 replies | 87,195 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


I've been trying to organize my feelings on maudlin of the Well's 'Bath' for nearly a year. While this may seem bizarre too most of you, I think if you tried to review what you thought was the best record ever made, you'd want to make sure it was worth it. So, these are my thoughts on the album I have tied with 'Surfer Rosa' as the most influential, emotionally connected, and flawless album in my vast collection. While other albums such as Cursive's 'Domestica' and Brian Eno's 'Another Green World' are records I count as my favorites, only two albums have ever been able to effect me in the way both 'Bath' and 'Surfer Rosa' have. When I was in 6th grade my cousin was looking through my CDs and was very taken aback when he saw a burned copy of 'Surfer Rosa’ laying next too BNL's 'Stunt’ and Blink 182's 'Cheshire Cat‘. He told me that the Pixies were 'one of the coolest bands in history' and I should really try to get into them, as it would open up a whole other layer of music too me. I took to his advice, and listened to the album more intently then I had on first listen (I came upon the CD when I found an abandoned CD case in my father's classroom which had apparently been there for many months.) 'Surfer Rosa' changed my scope of what music could do, while Blink 182 and bands similar too them were catchy and kind of relatable, 'Surfer Rosa' was emotionally charged and deeply engraining itself into my psyche every time I spun it. When I first discovered the CD I must have listened to it nearly a hundred times that first month. Every word, every guitar line, everything just added up perfectly to what I expected music to do. 'Surfer Rosa' opened my eyes, and they only other time they've been that open was the first time I heard 'Bath'.

Most of you will probably know motW's current incarnation Kayo Dot due to their soaring popularity as one of the most innovative and unique bands of modern music. maudlin of the Well grew out of guitarist/composer Toby Driver's want to better his idols music. Driver was mainly inspired to form the band out of his love of Tiamat's classic metal album 'Wildhoney', and the fact that despite his affection towards the album, he felt it could be vastly improved on. And what an improvement maudlin of the Well is on Tiamat's sound. motW's aggressive back drop of death metal touched with acoustic and new agey passages is often compared to the band Opeth who also finds satisfaction in the heavy/pretty method. While I do not see any correlation between the two bands, as I absolutely adore motW and absolutely loathe Opeth, this is a common comparison so I figured I should address it. Where I think motW succeeds, where Opeth fails, is that Driver's compositions are far more difficult to place into a specific genre, while Aukerfeldt's are almost always clearly metal/metal influenced. This is where I believe motW's main strength comes from, their ability to be so progressive that they transcend genres just as Kayo Dot has continued too do. To describe this as strictly a 'metal' album would discredit nearly four whole tracks, not to mention various passages that draw nothing from the metal genre. In a sense, motW isn't concerned about the accessibility or the familiarity of their music, they are just concerned on the message they wish to deliver through it.

An important concept to note when listening too and judging Driver's music is that during the maudlin of the Well period of his life he was heavily engaged in the acts of astral projection and lucid dreaming. Driver claims that some of the tracks and parts on both 'Bath' and 'Leaving Your Body Map' were partially if not completely composed in dreams (mainly 'Interlude 4' found on 'Bath's' other 'half ''Leaving Your Body Map'.) Toby also generally regarded the album as not actually being composed, but instead drawn from some infinite abyss of art. Basically, Driver had his fair share of pretentious thought during the making of this album, and whether true or false, his theories behind its composing are integral too it's actually delivery as most of the songs' subjects actually deal with these theories and ideas.

Like I said before 'Bath' is technically disc one in a double album set consisting of itself and 'Leaving Your Body Map', while 'Bath' is often referred to as the better album due to it's less generic sound (to call 'Leaving Your Body Map' generic is a joke in itself) and also it's more cohesive nature, 'Leaving Your Body Map' is like Driver's theories an integral part of understanding the album 'Bath'. 'Bath' when compared to its harsher and more aggressive brother, comes off as a very dreamlike and fluid sounding album. Its subject matter of lucid dreaming is clearly evident in its very 'dreamlike' instrumental power, and it's almost ethereal sound. It is easy to say, that 'Bath' is the softer more beautiful listen in comparison to 'Leaving Your Body Map' as is evident even in it's heaviest and 'darkest' moments ('Birth Pains of Astral Projection') which suddenly turn into crescendo's of hope and joy aided by Driver's unique falsetto. 'Bath' is in my opinion far more concerned with beauty than the heavier and more dissonant oriented 'Leaving Your Body Map'.

maudlin of the Well's line up is an odd collection consisting of strings, woodwinds, guitars, percussion, keyboards, bass, female/male vocals, and death metals growls. The band makes use of all of these instruments admirably and excellently, whether it be in an elegant way (opener 'The Blue Ghost / Shedding Qliphoth') or aggressive (the epic 'Girl with a Watering Can'). The tones, when meant to be beautiful are beautiful, when meant to be heavy are heavy. The production does not suffer the curse most 'metal' production suffers; everything is mixed enough to sound real, yet refined. The album certainly isn't in the DIY production vein, but it's got a roughness to it that distances itself from the typical metal production. Basically instrumentally and vocally the album is perfectly mixed and sounding in my honest opinion. Were I too produce my own album; 'Bath' would certainly be one of the CDs I would try to imitate.

Describing the sounds of 'Bath' is nearly impossible, due to its constantly evolving and progressive nature. The instrumental opener blends into a standard death metal song that is flavored with horn interludes, and that song gives way too a very acoustic/folky ballad that includes a very ''80ish' guitar solo and so on. The band is kind of like Mr. Bungle in that they are constantly running through various genres, but while Mr. Bungle's technique is rough and almost humorous, maudlin of the Well's is very natural and very serious. That is another thing that should be noted when describing motW's music; it is very very serious and at times very very bleak. While the band certainly isn't like My Dying Bride in their seriousness, they do have that typical 'metal' attitude of 'our art is art, and there will be no flamboyance surrounding it'.

Lyrically the album is ridiculously strong. While the lyrics are unique, they show a heavy influence from the 'romantic' era of literature. The topics range from everything from Driver's theories on astral projection, too the literal representation of one's feelings on a painting. The lyrics are doused in metaphor and pure naked emotion, which helps them easily connect to the listener. 'Geography' the closer to the album, is one of the most emotionally charged songs both musically and lyrically I've ever heard and it's line of 'Speak, or stop, or kiss me' resonates on so many levels, it just leaves me speechless listen after listen.

I don't know if I've gotten across what needs to be gotten across about this album in my review. It's an essential album for anyone that considers themselves a 'music lover' in my opinion; it combines beauty, and aggressiveness in a way I have yet to see any other band do as effortlessly as any of Driver's concoctions. 'Bath' is a flawless album, and really it achieves its goal of transcending all preconceived notions of what music is. Like I said in my review of Kayo Dot's 'Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue', this is beyond music, this is pure emotional outlet.



Recent reviews by this author
Pygmy Lush Old FriendsPharoahe Monch W.A.R.
My Disco Little JoyBlack Milk Album Of The Year
Sun Kil Moon Admiral Fell PromisesFlying Lotus Cosmogramma
user ratings (889)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
br3ad_man
Emeritus
July 4th 2006



2125 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've been looking forward to this, good review. Bath is certainly one of the greatest albums I own. I still need to pick up the reissue of Leaving Your Body Map, and since I read somewhere they only printed 1000 copies, I should do that soon.

"Birth Pains of Astral Projection" would definitely rank in my all time top 5 songs.

asheroth
July 4th 2006



130 Comments


Smells like fanboy.

I mean, yeah, you described the album well and all, but it's hard to read when I run into statements like 'really it achieves its goal of transcending all preconceived notions of what music is' all the time. I don't feel like you've given me a idea of what the album is like, just a huge list of reasons of why you like it so much.

Also, please please please please please fix up your 'to/too' problem.

pixiesfanyo
July 4th 2006



1222 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I am fan boy.

And like I said it's very difficult to explain how it sounds because of how progressive it is.

superpeer
July 6th 2006



257 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album, this is. I'm happy to own it in the original release version. /shows off :cool:

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 29th 2006



16081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Surpassed expectations. "Heaven and Weak" is my favorite off of this and one of the best songs I've ever heard.

Neoteric
January 2nd 2007



3243 Comments


Geography is my favourite off this

Neoteric
January 16th 2007



3243 Comments


On second thought, this is an absolute five.

It's truly beautiful music. I love every moment from it.

Cravinov13
January 27th 2007



3854 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. I wasn't expecting to see this band on Sputnik. It is truely a great piece of work this album.This Message Edited On 01.27.07

Doppelganger
February 16th 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This is probably one of my top three favorite albums of all time. I love how The Blue Ghost is so dream-like in sound, and how all the others sound so... well, perfect is the only word to describe the rest.

Though I have one small complaint. Does anybody else think that the death vocals on The Ferryman are so much better than those on They Aren't All Beautiful?

La Revolucion
February 16th 2007



1060 Comments


So are these guys basically Kayo Dot?

TheMisterBungle
February 16th 2007



861 Comments


With a few different members.

dyeva
February 16th 2007



59 Comments


I'm pretty sure the only person that's still in Kayo Dot from motW is Toby.

Doppelganger
February 16th 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The lineup changes by the hour.

deusEX
February 20th 2007



5 Comments


Where the hell can I buy this (and MoTW's other cds)?

dyeva
February 20th 2007



59 Comments


www.amazon.com

deusEX
February 21st 2007



5 Comments


They only have Leaving Your Body Map, and it's used.

iarescientists
February 21st 2007



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Froogle it.

steveosk8s
March 26th 2007



135 Comments


its funny, in some areas, bath is described as being the best, and in other areas, leaving your body map is described as the best.

imo, it basically comes down to your tastes. bath is the slower, less metal-ish, more avant garde jazz album. and as such is a slow melodic ride through bliss. leaving your body map is the faster, heavier, equally as melodic, more metal-ish, avant garde astral metal side of things.

each of the albums goes together. imo though, i prefer leaving your body map.

Doppelganger
May 15th 2007



3124 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

So liek, I puke blood whenever I see a rating under a 4.5 for this album.

Intransit
May 15th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, this is one of the greatest albums ever.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy