Can you imagine anyone willing to take on the Pink Floyd omnipresent ‘Dark Side of the Moon’? Well this unique contralto vocalist from the now defunct band October Project decided to do just that. And when you listen you will have a brand new experience of this classic album, so much so, that you might just have to listen several times to really absorb it. In my world, I call it a normal rule I have when reviewing any recording, and this one really stood firm all three times and counting. This CD was actually recorded in 2006 for V2 Records but the company had financial problems and the result was this recording getting put on hold until now. It’s produced and arranged by Mark Doyle and David Werner, with Doyle having a huge part in this.
For those who aren’t familiar with her, Mary Fahl was the richer deeper vocalist for the sadly missed October Project (check out their two releases self titled; original-1993 and ‘Falling Farther In’ original -1995) that gave Clannad a run for their money and made it to so many soundtracks with their haunting Celtic infused progressive folk rock gems. The band was an American monument of musical skill. You can hear a tune from them on the movie ‘Blown Away’ (1994- with Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges). After the demise of this much acclaimed band, most of the members set out solo, and Mary Fahl jumped in with both wings. She has some absolute great solos out which include an EP called "Lenses of Contact" (Roughmix Records, 2001), her first full length CD "The Other Side of Time"(2003), then came what Mary calls “a different take for a different world” with her “From the Dark Side of the Moon”. No one should think this was meant to be a replication or actual cover album, as it is stated more than once that this CD is an interpretation of the Pink Floyd iconic title.
When we come to this project. I can think of no other artist other than some throne sitting giants like Peter Gabriel or Kate Bush, (I quickly ran out of possibilities) to even have a chance to make this monumental published music keep it’s power, prestige, complexity, charm, utopia, uniqueness, flow, glow, and pure mold breaking quality. Let me just say, Mary simply seemed to float on a cloud with this supreme classic. She and a one accompaniment named Mark Doyle on all guitars, keyboards, bass, and programming, created quite a grand stroke of new brush on a canvas here. The instrumental part of this partaking is a bit unusual at times but also wondrous on much of the music. Doyle isn’t trying to reinvent the piece either, he is simply doing an interpretation same as Mary. This is not to say that the music is ever too far away that you don’t know exactly the song, the stanza and the moment that they are at. On occasion I felt this was so fantastic that I just couldn’t believe it. For instance ‘Us and Them’ really had an unreal arrangement. In fact, there was some songs that really made me have flashbacks to the original 70's when I was listening to the vinyl on quad stereo systems and with headphones in a dream. This release is best listened to with a wide open mind, in a big comfortable chair, giving total focus, and uninterrupted attention from start to end. Anything other than that, will be less than a complete transcendental experience, since we all know ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ was a concept piece.
For the purists, some might be stubborn about this, but for the true progressive music lovers, you will thank your lucky stars you ever got a chance to hear this diamond in the near lost ruff. The CD-R is now available at Amazon and the CD is also at all Mary Fahl’s live concerts. Otherwise, you can download it in many places. I do not suggest you download this, as it is just too great to listen in a cheap and less than full spectrum MP3 format. Clarity means a lot in this case, and the better the sound, the better the eargasms.
You might be wondering about the sky busting female vocal part in the original ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ that Clare Torry (a British female vocalist from the classic pop and folk days) did. Mary chose to let that pristine piece stay in time, verses redoing the stretch of unreal vocal on ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, which sent most people off into wonderland, but she does do her take on it which is all out euphoric and stunningly beautiful. This writer was wishing that she went all out because I know she could, and boy that would have been the crowning glory, but that is a selfish wish. I’m still shockingly awed with the entire project and can’t say enough about the brave Mary Fahl for not only doing this, but keeping behind it to allow her fans to finally listen to it loud and clear. The ending is particularly breathtaking as you land from the stellar trip you just took. Be prepared to be amazed and gleeful. FULLY LUNATICALLY RECOMMENDED WITH A CHORUS FROM THE MOON!!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on March 30th, 2012