Nathan Mahl — The Clever Use of Shadows
(Mahl Productions NMA004, 1998, CD)
by Mike McLatchey, Published 1999-04-01
From what we’re led to believe, Parallel Eccentricities was only a small part of the Nathan Mahl story, one that spans 20 years and includes two parts of a trilogy that this new CD was originally the final volume of. The first two were never released. Nathan Mahl is a Quebec-based symphonic progressive whose last album (reissue reviewed #14) was originally released over 15 years ago. While many groups would have changed considerably over such a long-time span, Guy LeBlanc’s group, regardless of line-up changes, is still a smoking symphonic progressive rock group, and there is over an hour’s worth of music on this new CD to attest to it. Nathan Mahl represent a more complex variation on the more well-known progressive rock groups of the 70s; Yes (Wakeman period), Kansas, Dixie Dregs, and UK are all in the general vicinity. Likewise, Nathan Mahl will occasionally evince slight mainstream influences, but in all these are largely drowned by the waves of complex meter changes, keyboard runs, and lavish arrangements that this tight band belts out. LeBlanc’s board of choice is trusty Hammond, and he puts in a virtuoso performance, literally jamming all over the place. The entire band is great, bassist Claude Prince and drummer Alain Bergeron (not the flute / sax player from Maneige) are very tight, and Jose Bergeron plays a mean guitar while taking a fraction of the writing duties. The odd track out is “The Rubber Cage,” which switches from Wakeman-esque classical rock to Zappa-esque lyrical parody. With Parallel tie-in “Orgasmik Outburst II,” “Greensleeves” variation “Machiavelique,” and the definitive “Something Like That” (indeed!), Nathan Mahl can easily be filed next to some of the more impressive comebacks in recent history (like Mona Lisa or Zao). Let’s hope its not another 15 years until their next one.
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more