MOTHER TURTLE are a great Greek prog rock band that debuted in 2013. In their second release, the band have decided to venture into the deep and dire waters of prog eclecticism. I can't wait to see how well they have done!
For a start, there are three shorter songs and three prog epics, between 14 and 20 minutes. I find that the 2-3 minute introductions and interludes do not add anything of value to the album. 'The Tower' is a narrative of a witness during 9/11 and may have some interesting keyboard moments, but serves no purpose to the listener, so will probably be skipped after repetitive listens. 'Ennui' doesn't go anywhere musically, and as for 'Overture', well, the band made an effort to do a polyphonic voice tune, GENTLE GIANT style, but unfortunately it fails to impress (as do similar polyphonic vocal parts in the rest of the album). As it is, it isn't a very good start for the album.
With 'Harvest Moon' though, everything immediately takes a turn to outstanding music quality. The first instrumental part has heavy guitars, Babis Prodromidis on the saxophone has been allowed to freak out and go all the way and the violin adds a great touch. Throughout the track, we discover that MOTHER TURTLE's take on modern prog is similar to the way STEVEN WILSON has recently been influenced by the old KING CRIMSON records, especially since ‘GRACE FOR DROWNING’. Add to this some quirky tunes and melodic parts, in other words a healthy dose of CANTERBURY prog rock and you have the new direction of the band.
Now, let's come to the twenty minute 'Walpurgi Flame': one of the best prog suites I have heard lately. It starts off with a menacing atmosphere, a feeling that something is lurking in the background, watching you. 'What is this that comes before me?' I ask myself, as the bell tolls and the violin plays a melancholic tune. The female vocal parts are a welcome addition to the sound of the band. A more rhythmic part follows, and we reach the long awaited absolution through a tremendous crescendo. What a masterpiece!
Last track, 'The Art of Ending a Revolution' has the most profound lyrics on the album, and some interesting solo work. Towards the end, the polyphonic motif returns, only to lead to the dynamic epilogue to the album. The album gets the appropriate ending it deserves.
My suggestions: polyphonic vocal parts needed more work on them. I believe that they detract from the total quality of the album. Also, there could be space for one or two direct rockers or ballads like 'Bridge' from the first album. Remember, albums like 'A Farewell to Kings' had their 'Xanadu' and 'Cygnus X – 1 ' but there were also shorter commercial tracks such as 'Closer to the Edge' to attract the attention of the fans, before they could stomach the more difficult epics.
So let's come to the conclusion. Album 'I' was more direct and heavy URIAH HEEP oriented. With the second one the band have done a lot of work developing their sound. The new lineup includes Violin and Saxophone, so I am certain that the healthy experimentation is going to continue. I had the chance to see the band live in the beginning of 2015, and they performed really well. I can't wait to see how the new epics are going to sound on stage.
All in all, bands that are brave enough to progress and enter new territories have our total support at JustIn Case Radio. MOTHER TURTLE have deliberately raised the bar for themselves with their new release, 'II', and the result is definitely very good. If you are a progressive rock listener that enjoys passionately played music and adventurous epic compositions, you “should” give it a try!