"Crysis" is the second album from Modest Midget following their well received 2010 release "The Great Prophecy Of A Small Man".
Modest Midget is an astounding collection of talented musicians from the Netherlands fronted by Argentinian born composer and arranger Lonny Ziblat.
Members include: Lonny Ziblat, guitarist, vocalist, and classically trained composer, arranger, and orchestrator who when not performing with his band Modest Midget has arranged orchestral scores for films and TV; Maarten Bakker, bassist with roots in jazz, rock, and fusion; Willem Smid, a drummer with a passion for West-coast fusion; and Tristan Hupe, keyboardist, composer and arranger enmeshed in all forms of music from Debussy to punk, Brazilian, ethnic, and all manner of jazz.
Together with guest musicians: Dimitar Bodurov (piano), Yael Shachar (violin, viola), Jurriaan Berger (piano), Eduardo Olloqui (oboe), Emiel de Jong (saxophone and wind instruments), Sanne Vos (recorder, bassoon), and Anna Zeijlemaker (flute) Modest Midget create some of the most unique and hard to define music on the album "Crysis".
No two songs are alike, running the gambit from balls to the wall rock anthems, melancholy introspective blues ballads, complex avant garde progressive rock arrangements, and some downright quirky cartoonish instrumental interplay more at home in a Warner Brother's Chuck Jones cartoon or Benny Hill comedy sketch.
Bands that immediately comes to mind when listening to "Crysis" include such diverse artists as The Beatles, The Who, Frank Zappa, Yezda Urfa, Gentle Giant, National Health, Caravan, The Police, The Tangent, Yes, and The Enid.
Oftentimes the influence of many different bands come into play during the course of a single song - like "A Centurion's Itchy Belly" - as majestic keyboard fanfares of the German band Triumvirat, the intricacies of Yezda Urfa and Gentle Giant, and the outrageous Frank Zappa assimilate into a slapstick Benny Hill skit.
Another such humorous compositions is the track "Flight Of The Cockroach" in which Modest Midget combine the intricate prog sensibilities of bands like Yezda Urfa, Frank Zappa, Happy The Man, and Gentle Giant with the satirical musical genius of 50s' bandleader Spike Jones And His City Slickers, creating the perfect soundtrack to a Warner Brother's Chuck Jones cartoon featuring the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
And then there is a whacked-out version of Roy Orbison "Pretty Woman" which defies description.
But don't get the impression this is a group of rock and roll jesters with tongue planted firmly in cheek - that's just one facet of the music of Modest Midget. This is a serious-minded group of talented musicians who can rock with the best of them when the occasions calls for it, as on the track "Birth", which is a superb hook-laden rock anthem that should appeal to fans of bands like Marillion.
"Secret Lies" is a straight forward blues ballad ... and my least favorite on the album. Though there are Pink Floydish moments running throughout which kept me from skipping the track altogether.
"Now That We're Here" is reminiscent of the more current Enid albums like "White Goddess", "Journey's End" and "Invicta". Very regal and lush sounding. Nice vocals.
"Rocky Valleys Of Dawn" has echoes of both "Drama"-era YES and The Police. Another great rocker.
And both "Periscope Down" and "Gone Is" should delight aficionados of Canterbury bands like Hatfield And The North, Caravan, National Health, Soft Heap and Family. The vocals bring to mind the great Richard Sinclair.
For the stodgy nose-in-the-air progsnob purist this probably isn't your cup of tea. But for anyone with both a sense of humor and adventure - and a love of great music mixed with mirth - then this is right up your alley. Expect to smile a lot - and be willing to go with the flow. You won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on November 16th, 2014