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21 Jun 2017

Mad Puppet "Masque" 1982 Italy Prog Rock

Mad Puppet  "Masque" 1982 Italy Prog Rock


MAD PUPPET are an Italian band coming from Tyrol (Alto Adige), a place where many people have Austrian-German roots. They were formed, originally a group of six musicians and while still students, in 1980, and in the turn of a few months conquest the public rock resident of their native region.
In 1982, they released their first LP "Masque", with 6 songs. The disc sold well since never before any rock band from Adige succeeded that way - this was followed by numerous gigs and live shows. MAD PUPPET since the beginning relied on their compositions, with the repertoire being continuously widened. During mid 80s, they experimented with songs in the German language, especially with the local dialect.
In early 90s, after various substitutions inside the group - to the bassist and the drummer changed in fact - the band released another album, this time a CD, "No Only Mad ". The following tour with mimes, jugglers and dancers provoked interest and admiration. Soon their first album was reprinted on CD.
Their third album, released in 1994, "King Laurin & His Rosegarden" contained reworks and literary drafts from the king's legends. In the concert King Laurin Open Air, in 1995, made inside a castle, MAD PUPPET surprised the public with one show full of odd performances. Also as one of the most known and representative rock bands from Tyrol, they played in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. In 1996 they collaborate with the production of the Rocky Horror Show that took place in Bolzano. MAD PUPPET released "Live At Carambolage", their live album, in 1997, celebrating 15 years of musical activity.
In 1999, singer Manfred Schweigkofler, a front man and entertainer that has remarkably influenced the style of the group for 18 years left the band together with drummer Georg Lang and they were replaced by Michael Gadner and Bernd Andergassen. Then in the course of various jam sessions, the band got sufficient musical material for a new CD and they started to work with Annalisa Pasqualotto, which still contributed with ideas and voice to the compositions in phase of completion of what become their last CD up to now, "Cube", produced in 2000 and released in 2001.
MAD PUPPET's music reveals a unique blend of progressive rock genres but mainly oriented to the neo-prog segment, featuring vocals in English..........

According to my information this is an Italian band, the album is a re-release from their album made in 1982. The first impression on their opener "Wild rushing waters" is positive: a swinging rhythm with propulsive bass work and fiery electric guitar. The keyboards sound tasteful delivering pleasant organ waves, fluent synthesizer flights and strong electric piano play. The final part contains a biting electric guitar solo. The song "Look out" has echoes from the bluesrock in the vein of Peter Green, the Fender Rhodes electric piano work reminds me of "Riders on the storm" from The Doors (addition please!). Next two long compositions that showcases the talents from this band: "The masque of the red death" (derived from the E.A. Poe story) contains a folky climate, lots of flute and beautiful acoustic guitar. Then an accellaration featuring great work on guitar and keyboards. Halfway we can feel the E.A. Poe horror due to an ominous atmosphere (keyboards, vocals and scary sounds). The song "Icarus" has two parts: first many shifting moods with lots of flute and acoustic guitar along some fiery electric guitar. The second part has swinging keyboards, a propulsive bass and powerful electric guitar. The vocals are strong. The final composition is very swinging, almost an invitation to dance, this is too much for this non-rhythmic reviewer! Nonetheless, this is a fine progrock erik neuteboom ................

Formed in Tyrol in 1980,MAD PUPPET were a progressive rock band inclunding musicians both from Austria and Italy,mainly students.The band was inspired lyrically from literature and mythology and they tried to create an epic atmosphere in their albums.The first of their works,called ''Masque'' was recorded in 1982 and it contained 6 original compositions,much influenced by CAMEL and in a lesser extent URIAH HEEP.Their musicianship is dominated by the Latimer-like guitar work (from the interesting solos to the mellow passages and the bluesy riffs) and the great alternating synths/organ parts in the vein of Peter Bardens.Vocals are sung in English and have a slight foreign accent.When the music takes a little bit off,then you'll get some fast rockin' rhythmic parts and solos in the vein of URIAH HEEP,but there are also some decent smooth flutes added for good measure.A very interesting release back in early 80's,which I personally enjoy very much.Strongly recommended! apps79 .....

 Mad Puppet must have been one of the very first neo progressive bands for with their first official release, this Masque album, they were around before Marillion and IQ albeit that Marillion was there in the same year with their MSH EP. That leaves probably just Twelfth Night as the one that was around sooner. Anyway, Mad Puppet is from Italy and that's a whole different area than Great Britain, the cradle of neo. So the least we can do is check out what this first album was like. I had to get used a bit at first but in the end it proved to be a very interesting debut.
1. Wild Rushing Waters is a nice sounding melodic song with dominant keyboards though a pretty fierce guitar tries to be very present as well. I like very much what Manfred Kaufmann is showing in this opening track. A few impressing guitar performances as well by the way. 3,75*.

2. Look out has actually a very interesting opening riff that reminds me of Spooky by Atlanta Rhythm Section that was a hit over here around the same time. Could be coincidence or just an influence. Rest of the song sounds quite different anyway. Again a nice one but less impressive than previous. 3,25*.

3. The Masque of the Red Death (title track ?) starts with nice flute and keys accompanied by laid back acoustic guitar. Lovely opening section of this almost epical track. After these first three minutes the usual sound emerges again with the organ-like keys and the typical recognizable vocals of Manfred Schweigkofler. The names of these Italians sound German and that is because they are from northern Italy where more people have those kind of names. A theatrecal middle part breaks the song in two parts, it reminds a bit of Fish's acts on Marillion's debut. Harpsichord sounds and flute make the song go on giving it a medieval touch. 3,75*.

4+5 Icarus Part I and II is in a way the other epic on this album clocking 13:30 in total. Mad Puppet are already showing on this debut that they are good composers. The longer songs have a structured build up, it all sounds pretty mature. Part I is a vocal part, Part II starts with fast keys and drumming later on guitar joins in completing a very compelling instrumental section. Vocals arrive in next section making the diversity complete. Guitar sounds like Eloy I suddenly realize. The song gets better and better. This must be the absolute highlight. 4*.

6. Wheels of Time has a bit of a Camel feel in the beginning, rest of the song is the Mad Puppet I've really grown used to. This is not the very best song of them all but still very respectable. 3,25*.

At first I was sure this was going to be a three star effort but after this individual reviewing of each song I have to admit 3 stars is selling them short. And mainly looking at the year of issue I think this whole performance deserves 4 stars after all, though rounded up (3,6) progrules ...............

 The organ was a popular instrument in the rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly in progressive rock, but, after a fallow period, it owes most of its resurgence, such as it is, to the prog movement. MAD PUPPET was one of the rare groups that carried the torch for melodramatic songs backed by ample organs in the synth-pop heydays of the 1980s. I wonder if groups like MEN OF LAKE would even had existed were it not for Mad Puppet. In fact, the opener to this album sounds exactly like Men of Lake circa their debut album which appeared 9 years after this.
The group takes cues from THE DOORS, JETHRO TULL, and possibly some German acts of the 70s. In "Look Out", a rich plate of influences, none fully copied, contribute to the bluesy and rock and roll palate. Manfred Kaufmann's electric piano is also a highlight. "Masque of the Red Death" is a Gothic tour de force, utilizing the organ as a wind instrument (perhaps it's a "pipe" organ) and the harpsichord to set the atmosphere for one of Edgar Allan Poe's more macabre tales. The lyrics are sung, spoken and shouted. It's certainly not a flawless interpretation, but interesting enough to merit longest cut.

The highlight of the proceedings, however, is "Icarus Part 1", starting with a sprightly yet reflective combination of acoustic guitar and, again, what sounds like flute but is probably a versatile organ or synthesizer. The guitars strum as they lead into the vocal segment, where a masterful melody unfolds reminiscent of JETHRO TULL at their best (but I prefer Manfred Schweigkofler's voice to Ian Anderson). The middle break MUST contain flute even if not in the credits - I can hear the breathing! While "Icarus Part 2" is a bit too close to a jam of 1970s RPI instrumentally, and to "You Keep me Hanging on" in main song thrusts, the musical prowess of the group remains intact throughout. The "Wheel of Time" injects a folk rock bias again, and the baritone lead guitar parts remind me of the mid 1970s STEELEYE SPAN, but otherwise rehashes devices already exploited in prior cuts.

This is a fairly diverse yet cohesive album that displays the potential of Mad Puppet., even though they were working in an environment in which record company execs were pulling the kenethlevine .........

Though most of the neo-prog movement during the early eighties' took place in England, Mad Puppet actually hails from Tyrol, Italy. Formed in 1980, these lads are certainly among the first groups to take part in the neo-progressive rock movement, although their credentials as a 'neo-prog' band can be a bit disputed. I tend to think of Masque as a 'proto-neo prog' album (I'll elaborate later), but I do certainly recognize that a case can be made for its classification as a pure neo-prog album. Either way, this 1982 debut is a solid collection of early eighties' progressive rock tunes that helped keep the spirit of the genre alive as its pioneers began to lose steam. Masque is a flawed release in many regards, but it's certainly worth hearing if you're a collector of early neo-prog recordings.
A strong influence from Genesis is definitely present in Mad Puppet's music, but many of the pop/rock influences and synthesizer-based aesthetics that characterized other neo-prog groups are nowhere in sight - although some ties can certainly be made to pioneers like Twelfth Night, Marillion, and IQ, Mad Puppet sounds quite different from many of their contemporaries. The choice of keyboard tones is particularly unique for the time period, as the array of warm electric piano tones and Hammond organs sound about as far away from the synthetic-dominated eighties' as possible. A late sixties' psychedelic feel is present throughout much of the album, and this matched with some medieval touches and pure symphonic prog makes Masque actually a rather unique album, especially in the dying prog climate of the early eighties'.

Masque's rather original musical approach, unfortunately, isn't enough to save it from a few other nagging flaws. The production is a particularly large shortcoming; while everything is audible, it doesn't sound nearly as crisp as the music demands. Mad Puppet's compositional techniques also aren't quite up to par at this point, and most of the album strikes me as 'average' rather than extraordinary. I wouldn't call Masque a particularly great or essential album, but it is worth hunting down if you're into early eighties' progressive J-Man ..........

 Mad Puppet is an Italian band that 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.
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 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 released on CD in 1992 on the independent label WMMS andrea ...............

'Funny', this is the first thing I'm told at the end of listening to "Masque". Really so much fuchsia in the disco of these Tyrolean guys. The Mad Puppet are a quintet that delights to play a theatrical Prog, romantic, jazz and cheerful, what do you want most?

While in 1982 people like Marillion, Pendragon and IQ are ready for the invasion of the New Prog, these guys are already leaving with a really mature and pregnant job of strong personality, which in recent years comes to Missing 99% of the complexes. It's hard to associate the Mad Puppet with some precise current, at some moments can be approached by Moody Blues or Jethro Tull, but they are just a slip. Neuschwanstein also peeps here and there, but the Canterbury School with this product has little to do. The sound unfortunately does not bear the wear of time, it feels that it is dated, classic 80's, but this is not entirely the fault of the Mad Puppet.

The album begins with "Wild Rushing Waters", Manfred Kaufmann's organ is based on Manfred Schweigkofler's voice, all to progress in the instrumental ensemble of the whole group. Great works by Christoph Senoner and his guitar. The piece is very catchy, easy to memorize, thanks mainly to the rhythm supported by keyboards. Definitely a pleasant surprise this first song, but it's nothing compared to what's waiting for us. The next "Look Out" has a scent of the 70s, nothing transcendental, but really refined and delicious. Once again, I must point out the keyboards and the nice chorus that remains more sympathetic than the previous one. But when I start to ears to these good commercial motives, here are the Mad Puppets that you do not expect.

The third part of 9 minutes and a half is a theatrical show! He opens a harpsichord, he follows a delightedly striking guitar arpeggio, Manfred plays the piece, does not sing, and when the band really starts, it comes the goose skin. Always highlights the rhythm section of Michael Seberich's bass and Mauro Rossi on drums. Instrumental joints in the middle part of the track and then return to the stage theatrical initial this time improved by a flute. The piece ends as it started. The urge to come back again, but I do not make time to move that a sweet guitar arpeggio with flute stops me from listening to the fourth track titled "Icarus Part1". The game begins to get really tough, and this time the Moody Blues and the Procol Harum are out of the way. I do not know why, but I notice in so much sound, so much heart, what I'm looking for in every album, does not seem true to me. I wonder at this point who these Mad Puppets are and what they have done, but not even an internet ride can satisfy my curiosity. Maybe it's better so, I also like the mystery .... Who knows I can get into their new real estate tomorrow, it might be a good surprise.

More Rock is the second part of the title "Icarus Part 2", but also in her arpeggios and keyboard carpets are not lacking. The singer also proposes a falsetto performance and the running of the voices recalls the Gentle Giant. Concludes this beautiful disc "Wheels Of Time" and this time the voice interpretation is at Fish. Strange because the Marillions come out with their debut masterpiece only a year later and the vocalist is not yet nobody.

What else to say? I think nothing, maybe this "Masque" will not be remembered in history, maybe it will not even be easy to find it, but one thing is certain, I will try all of them! When I hear my heart ... who's stopping me? MS......................

Line-up / Musicians
- Mauro Rossi / drums
- Michael Seberich / bass
- Manfred Kaufmann / keyboards
- Manfred Schweigkofler / vocals
- Christoph Senoner / guitar
- Arthur Frei / guitar

A1 Wild Rushing Waters 6:22
A2 Look Out 5:14
A3 The Masque Of The Red Death 9:24
B1 Icarus Part 1 4:42
B2 Icarus Part 2 8:42
B3 Wheels Of Time 5:00 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





Cassete Deck

Cassete Deck