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Arabs in Aspic: Madness and Magic

Though they've been around for 15 years and have started to amass quite the catalog, Norwegian heavy prog-rockers Arabs in Aspic are hardly a household name as of yet, unlike perhaps their fellow countrymen Wobbler, but that might all change with the release of their latest platter for Karisma Records, Madness and Magic. Containing just six tracks, Madness and Magic has an epic feel right from the outset, the band displaying all their classic prog influences from such bands as Eloy, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, and Caravan, starting off with the swirling Hammond organ and biting guitar riffs of "I Wow to Thee, My Screen" which kicks off the album in fine fashion. "Lullaby For Modern Kids, Part 1" is angry, aggressive prog-rock, images of Peter Hammill & Co. popping up thanks to the snarling vocals and wealth of roaring Hammond organ, while on Part 2 the Mellotron and flute come out for a fascinating change of pace. The more playful and jazzy "High-Tech Parent" recalls the greats of the Canterbury scene, snappy rhythms, multi-part vocal harmonies, engaging synths, and an overall quirky vibe taking the listener on a completely different journey, while the title track brings out acoustic guitars, moody organ, and stabbing synths to go along with some alluring vocal melodies for another winner of a track.

Of course, gotta have a big, lengthy monster of an epic to close out the show, and that comes in the form of "Heaven in Your Eye", clocking in at just under 17-minutes, complete with simmering Hammond, fluttering Moog, Fender Rhodes, and the occasional doom laden Black Sabbath styled heavy riff, blending bits of spacey Hawkwind and maddening Van Der Graaf Generator. It's a haunting track that takes the listener through many styles and changes of mood, with the final piano driven section going back once again to Canterbury styled jazz-rock.

All told, Madness and Magic is a fun & engaging listen, at times bright and shiny, at others dark, foreboding, and quite spacey. For those of you not familiar with this band, this will be a welcome surprise and surely prompt you to explore their deep back catalog.

Track Listing
1. I Wow To Thee, My Screen 08:22
2. Lullaby For Modern Kids, Part 1 08:19
3. Lullaby For Modern Kids, Part 2 02:06
4. High-Tech Parent 04:34
5. Madness And Magic 06:47
6. Heaven In Your Eye 16:45

Added: July 5th 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1340
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Arabs in Aspic: Madness and Magic
Posted by on 2020-07-07 08:59:39
My Score:

I just discovered this band! I love them. I thought they were from the early 70s, until some more modern guitar tones were suddenly used in one tune. Before reading your review, I placed them right next to Van der Graaf Generator for my next Prog/Psych show Radio Broog (Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7pm MST, It is community radio, I do it for fun. I record them at home then ship it off to the station.)

A note on a different band, if you would indulge me: I am a huge Kinks fan, and your favorite record is Low Budget?! We all have our tastes! Haha.

One thing on The Kinks that you seemed not to know (might be wrong), is that they were banned from playing in the U.S. in the late 60s, so did not get to ride that second wave of Brits and the whole late 60s thing, when they did come back they had to rebuild. It was due to legal issues with unions in the U.S., and Ray punching someone at a party. (The latter story is open to debate, sometimes Ray mentions that sometimes he doesn't.)

Anyway, love your Youtube show and website! My brother's name was Pete, and you two would have gotten along. I grew up in New Jersey. Peace and stay safe. --John Paul Marchand, Tucson AZ

P.S. I was in a pretty well known band in regard to the psych underground from 2001-2009 called Black Sun Ensemble. The band was arounf from 85-2013. Members of the Beatles dug us! (Bragging rights.) Cheers.

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