Sunday, 16 September 2012

THE MASK IN THE GARDEN OF THE ROSES


Mad Puppet began life in Bolzano in 1980 with a line up featuring Mauro Rossi (drums), Michael Seberich (bass), Manfred Kaufmann (keyboards), Manfred Schweigkofler (vocals), Christoph Senoner (guitar) and Arthur Frei (guitar). In 1982 they released “Masque”, a self-produced album that sounds very different from the mainstream albums of that period. In the early eighties progressive rock was completely out of fashion but the young musicians involved in this project went against the tide and managed to shape a nice mix of seventies influences with a personal touch. Of course the album is not flawless nor particularly original but it's really worth listening to.

Mad Puppet 2010

The opener “Wild Rushing Waters” begins softly. It deals with a religious theme and draws from... Genesis! The following “Look Out” recalls The Doors and evokes the shadow of Jim Morrison passing by, sailing across the grey night. “The Masque Of The Red Death” is a long, complex track introduced by a charming medieval atmosphere and inspired by a short story by Edgar Allan Poe about a masquerade ball and a dangerous, uninvited guest. “Icarus” is another long, complex track, a suite in two parts with lyrics inspired by the ancient myth of the Greek hero. Here the music flows away with gentle giants smiling in the background and “steppen-wolves” running wild all around. The bitter-sweet, nervous “Wheels Of Time” concludes this good work with a pungent reflection about the changes that time provokes on our lives and our sense of freedom and security. The album was re-released on CD in 1992 on the independent label WMMS Music and now you can listen to it on the official website of the band. Click HERE


After the promising debut album released in 1982 Mad Puppet went through some line up changes and many problems. Their sophomore album, “Not Only Mad”, wasn't released until 1991 with a line up featuring the veterans Manfred Kaufmann (keyboards), Manfred Schweigkofler (vocals), Christoph Senoner (guitar) along with the new members Günter Falser (drums, percussion) and Thomas Pichler (bass, clarinet). During the recording sessions the band was helped by two guest musicians as well, Hans Tutzer (sax) and Ray S. Rasp (vocals). This time Mas Puppet tried to shape a more conventional, mainstream sound and prog lovers could find highly disappointing their stylistic choice. On the album you can find some good ideas and some tracks, such as “Suicide Of Waterfall”, “Gonzalo” or “You”, are pleasant but sometimes the overall sound really seems closer to a kind of dark, synthetic pop than to progressive rock. Well, listening to this album you will set off on musical trip that will take you closer to Roxy Music's Avalon than to the court of the crimson king. All in all this work rarely strikes the right chords and it is “neither hot nor cold”... but maybe my criticism is too harsh! You can listen to the complete album and legally download it for free from the official website of the band and judge by yourselves. Click HERE


In 1994 Mad Puppet released what can be considered their best album so far, “King Laurin And His Rosegarden”. This work features a slightly renewed line up with Manfred Kaufmann (keyboards), Manfred Schweigkofler (vocals), Christoph Senoner (guitars, vocals), Thomas Pichler (bass) and Georg Lang (drums, percussion). During the recording sessions they were helped by many guest musicians who contributed to enrich the sound adding many musical colours. The result of all this hard work is a complex concept album inspired by local folklore with an amazing synthesis of modern and vintage sounds.  

The Rosengarten

All the the tracks are linked together in a long suite that tells the lore of King Laurin and of his mythical garden of roses. In fact, the Rosengarten or Catinaccio is the name of a spectacular spot in the Dolomites and Laurin was the king of the dwarfs who lived up there. The music is less derivative than on the debut album and the song-writing here in my opinion is rather good. Some passages could recall Pink Floyd or Genesis or Marillion, but this influences are just reference points. There are some narrative parts that help to follow the development of the story but, in my opinion, it's a pity that the band chose to sing in English rather than in Italian, German or Ladin since this choice put some limits in the lyrical expression. Anyway, listen to the album and judge by yourselves! You can listen to the complete work and read the lyrics on the official website of the band. Don't miss it! Click HERE
 
Mad Puppet in concert

After the release of the excellent “King Laurin And His Rosegarden” Mad Puppet had good live activity and in 1997 released a live album, Live at Carambolage. Some line up problems followed and in 2000 with a renewed line up featuring Manfred Kaufmann (keyboards), Christoph Senoner (guitars), Thomas Pichler (bass), Michael “Gadget” Gadner (vocals), Bernd Andergassen (drums) and Annalisa Pasqualotto (vocals) Mad Puppet released what is their last album so far, the disappointing “Cube”. Six years after their previous album the band decided another change in their musical direction veering to pop-rock again. I don't know the reasons for this decision, but as a prog lover I find that this album is nothing but a collection of songs with influences ranging from U2 to Duran Duran. Of course, the musicianship is good and there are even some good melodies but here there's almost no trace of progressive rock! The bonus track features even dance influences and recalls Blondie! Anyway, if you are in the mood of listening to some good pop-rock songs you can listen to the complete album for free on their official website. Click HERE


By the way, the band is still active and luckily their last concerts have been more focused on the excellent album released in 1994.

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