MAUDLIN OF THE WELL – Part The Second (2009)

maudlin of the Well - Part The Second Perhaps the most obscure avantgarde metal ensemble (a niche that is itself enormously obscure by definition), maudlin of the Well seemed almost destined to be forgotten by all but a select few, so thoroughly unusual were their compositional theories and the music that came of them (ringleader Toby Driver once stated that maudlin of the Well sought to conjure music from different astral planes by way of astral projection, instead of just writing it. Yeah. Freaky).

After the dual-album onslaught of Bath/Leaving Your Body Map in 2001, the band disbanded, only to semi-reform as Kayo Dot in 2003. Despite sharing many of the same members, Kayo Dot’s music was distinctly different from maudlin of the Well’s; this is due to the fact that Kayo Dot compose their music normally (although don’t let that fool you into thinking that their music is any less harrowing or atypical). Now, as strange as all this might sound, listening to maudlin of the Well, it really does sound as though the music was culled from some other plane of existence. And that’s why, as much as I love Kayo Dot (Choirs of the Eye is one of my favorite albums of all time, and their latest release is growing on me with each listen), I kind of missed maudlin of the Well. Enter Part The Second.

This album (the band’s first in eight years, recorded with money that was donated by fans, who are credited as producers) consists of five previously-existing songs that have been reworked and re-recorded. It’s a stretch to call this a metal release of any sort (despite some languishing heaviness, off-kilter screaming and primal guitar wailing), but then again, you can’t really pin it to any one singular genre anyways, save for progressive anything. So why not metal? Bah, I digress. Anyways, the music on Part The Second seems to fall somewhere between the ensemble as it was circa 2001 and current Kayo Dot; the music has that undefinable, free-form beauty to it, but it’s more tranquil than Bath/Leaving Your Body Map. There’s little fury to be had here, like the kind that graced songs like Bizarre Flower/A Violent Mist or They Aren’t All Beautiful, but it should be noted that fury isn’t a deal-breaker, and what Part The Second does provide is a supernaturally woven, ever-shifting tapestry of musical wonderment, a solid reminder of what made this band so special to begin with.

I hope this isn’t the last we hear from maudlin of the Well. I’m sure that, as a musical entity, it could co-exist alongside Kayo Dot (so different are the approaches to their music), and Part The Second isn’t a one-off release; Driver has stated the band has actually reformed, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for there to be new motW releases somewhere down the line. I hope there are. I can’t astral project for shit.

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