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Maestoso: Grim

'Męstoso' is Italian for 'majestic'. 'Męstoso' is also an Italian musical term used as a directive to play a passage of music in a stately, dignified, fashion. 'Męstoso'is also the band formed by ex Barclay James Harvest maestro Wooly Wolstenholme, so expect references to his alma mater.

This record is a tongue in cheek 'musical' describing life and events in a depressed little English industrial town called Grimroyd. As Wolstenholme describes it, You will not find Grimroyd on any list of 'must see' tourist destinations, but once you've been here - you'll never come back. No two songs on Grim are similar, and that is a rare observation in today's music world. For example "Harp & Carp" starts in the style of a classic English folk song and builds into a more dramatic piece with church organs and orchestral arrangements, "Through A Storm" is classic 1970s progressive fare, "Love Is..." is a soft ballad and the album's intro hints at some of the musical themes you can expect and has a dramatic narrative introduction that sounds like a parody of Christopher Lee in the recent Rhapsody albums. The melodies are strong and catchy, and there are some refreshingly imaginative ideas here.  Many passages feature pleasing guitar work with slow solos and soft but rich acoustic tones, and the long emotional guitar line on "Abendrot" could have been played by Steve Hackett. Among other songs "Harp & Carp", "Overture: Marsch Burleske" and "A Lark" have strongly classically influenced sections, and it is here that you'll find strong Barclay James Harvest influences.

The standout track is probably the majestic Abendrot" (the German word for a type of sunset), although "Through A Storm" is probably the most interesting piece. It starts with a thunder clap and a dramatic orchestral arrangement. A pleasing guitar solo enters the mix, then enter the soft vocals - and here you're in no doubt of Wolstenholmes's 1970s background. Then there's a huge crescendo that could have been lifted from The Strawbs's Grave New World and the music is now a big wall of sound, part electric and part orchestral, with classical structures. The final section has a huge orchestral arrangement over a strong rhythm section with vocals that are strangely lost in the mix - and you'll swear this half of the track is "Mocking Bird" part 2. All very 'Męstoso', in the Italian sense of the word.

Another pleasant element is the lyrics. Not only are they intelligent, leaving little doubt about the message they convey, but there's a good attempt at rhyme and the prose has its own rhythm. These seem to have become are forgotten arts.

The overall style is very 1970s - which isn't necessarily a bad thing given the innovative nature rock in that era, yet you might feel that many elements are dated musical clichés. The production also sounds like it comes from the '70s, and while the singing is good, there are pitch control issues in some areas.

Putting aside any strengths or weaknesses of this record, remember that Grim 'the musical' is at once a poignant observation of life in small-town northern England, and an amusing fun piece described with gentle, cynical English wit. Take it seriously, or take it at face value. Either way - get it and take it home.

Track Listing:

  1. Coming Soon To A Cinema Near You
  2. Through A Storm
  3. Love Is...
  4. A Lark
  5. That's The Price You Pay
  6. The Iceman Cometh
  7. Hebden Bridge
  8. Loot
  9. Harp + Carp
  10. Birds
  11. Location, Location, Location
  12. Abendrot
  13. Overture: Marsch Burleske
  14. Pas de Deux
  15. Scene From A London Flat

Added: November 21st 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Wooly's Section Of The BJH Site
Hits: 3054
Language: english

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