1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“MANDALABAND III is the third reincarnation of an extraordinary progressive rock band with a long history. In fact, it has been thirty years since their last album (this must be a world record!) and expectations are pretty high for the two albums currently in production”
“The first and original album 'MANDALABAND' was released by Chrysalis in October 1975 and created quite a stir with its bombastic 'Om Mani Padme Hum' – a four-movement work for rock band and choir, the lyrics of which form the basis of the Tibetan national anthem. These Tibetan lyrics were 'performed' by lead singer Dave Durant and the London Chorale, whilst the other members of the band were Vic Emerson (keyboards), Ashley Mulford (guitars), Tony Cresswell (drums) and John Stimpson (bass), with David Rohl as founder, writer and studio engineer for the band. Emerson, Mulford, Cresswell and Stimpson later went on to form Sade Cafe along with lead singer, Paul Young, and rhythm guitarist, Ian Wilson”
Mandalaband‘s MySpace page - 2009
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
After thirty years this is a great question. But they found an incredible topic, the early history of the world, and wanted to try to capture the sounds of those dynamic and powerful moments of early history.
My interest in reviewing the album came from a friend, Ed Unitsky, the illustrator of the album cover. He suggested it was a very good disc and he was correct!
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. Ancestors – Very cool dark opening to this one and then the keys kick in with all sorts of sound effects. Really sets the mood well. Chanting in the background and then the electric guitar makes its entry to set the pace as drums pick up the rhythm. Keyboards, guitar and orchestration to help build the feeling for this epic journey. A very good instrumental opening complete with piano and effects towards the end. Let the journey begin!
2. Eden – Lush keyboard and synth effects developing the backdrop for the most beautiful place on Earth ever. The music does make you feel like you are there. Wonderful effects of drum and acoustic guitar before we hear our first vocals. “We make our home beyond the sacred tree.” “The bitter waters flowing down into a salty sea.” “Oh Eden, how are the mighty fallen!” The whistles are wonderful adding the calming effect to this grand re-opening.
3. Nimrod – The majestic opening of this song really forecasts the power which will be felt throughout. Wooly’s vocals reminded me so much of Gary Brooker of Procol Harum. In fact, the sound of the song, once his vocals kick in, make this song sound so much like a PH song. Wonderful. The drum and the sound of the guitars are very Grand Hotel era PH. In fact, this song would have fit very well on Grand Hotel. The influence is amazing and wonderful as a PH fan. The orchestration really adds to the effect and helps make this sound even more majestic during the closing.
4. Shemsu – Har – A dark voice reciting some ancient words, most likely a warning. Tribal guitars, tubular bells, an ancient Middle – Eastern opening along with a tribal choir in the background. Only three minutes, so it passes quickly, but lush in the amount of sounds you hear.
5. Karum Kanesh – Uillieann pipes and low whistles highlight the beginning of this spectacular song. The guitar and fretless bass parts also add so much variety and presence to the piece. Drums kick in and you are rocking hard as you must be climbing the mountain pictured in the CD booklet. The choir kicks in and you really are taken away to a land of wonder. The effects throughout this album are a wonderful escape from everyday life. The piano and keys are also wonderful and drifting, allowing the listener to dream of a time when we had more available hours to appreciate the Earth and its bounties.
6. Beautiful Babylon – The action and rhythm continue on as we move to Babylon. “In Hammurabi’s Law…with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” The foundation of codified law.. Guitars, drums and effects everywhere to help set the mood.
7. The Sons of Anak – One of the better songs on the album. Fast moving after the first six songs. The guitar is solid along with the drums. David Rohl’s vocals are different sounding and make this song one of the highlights on the album.
8.. Aten – Drums and choir supported by orchestra and then David Rohl’s best vocals on the album. Very majestic sound and the effect is almost other worldly. Synths and keyboards which reminded me of Vangelis. David’s vocals really add power to the song, especially when the choir supports him.
9. Ozymandias – Rocking synths, drums and guitar get this one off to a fast start. Rohl’s vocals are solid on this one. Lots of lyrics to get through and he does it well and with allot of fun in some parts. The guitar solos are great.
10. Solomon the Wise – Nice rocking drums and keys. Marc’s vocals on this one are very good. Nice change in tempo and sound. Back to the majestic slow driving beat. A salute to Solomon. The orchestration and drums are very good here.
11. Akhiyawa – Very nice morning breaking, opening to this one, as the sea seems to stretch out before you. The voice of David speaking in ancient tongues, before the drums and keys break open the rhythm. David, almost speaking the lyrics with drums and lead guitar support. Then the synths, harpsichord take over and fill in the song.
12. The Wine – Dark Sea – This one is a wonderful showcase for Troy, who plays multiple instruments. David’s vocals blend perfectly with the wonderful music being played. Very relaxing.
13. Elissa – Beautiful opening to this one with David and Barbara singing a duet with guitars and drums supporting. The drumming and rhythm reminds me a little of Gazpacho’s Tick Tock, but the soprano whistle adds originality to the sound.
14. Roots – Rain and wind, and the spoken ancient language, with thunder in the background. This is the epic on the album at almost 7 minutes. The orchestration, Uilleann pipes and whistles add so much effect to this song. Great songs with lots of mood effects.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
A lush wander through ancient history with brief stops at most of the famous places and events of ancient times. The only criticism would be that with this much talent, why not jam and build at least one or two massive epics around similar topic areas?
Instead few of the songs are less than 4 minutes, but usually less than six minutes in length. The opening and closing songs could have lasted for over ten minutes for me. Both were full of wonderful instrumentation.
However, by shortening it, you now have singles which can be listened to separately and you don’t overburden the listener under today’s time constraints. So there is a benefit to keeping each of them short.
Wonderful orchestration throughout this album. Well worth your time and the music and orchestration really enhance your listening pleasure.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely. Now I want to go back and get the first two albums!
The shorter songs provide enough of the effects of the age and sounds of the time in over an hour of wonderful music. However, I wanted so badly for it to last even longer.
Reviewed by Prof on December 19th, 2009