Mandrake Memorial

Puzzle

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While Mandrake Memorial's second LP (Medium) had moved them in a more self-consciously progressive hard rock direction, their third and final album went somewhat off the deep end in that regard. There was little left of the song-driven psychedelia of their first and best album, and what had replaced it came close to drowning in an inchoate blend of late psychedelia and early progressive rock. There's much apparent ambition on this record but little coherence, alternating semi-improvised-sounding noodly instrumental passages with not-so-great songs and positively weird swells of operatic doomsday voices and cinematic electronic rock. It sounds like a concept album without a concept, complete with brief interludes and preludes. Parts of the ten-minute "Bucket of Air" make it clear that they probably did their share of listening to Pink Floyd's A Saucerful of Secrets, but the Floyd seemed positively economic next to this squawky aimlessness. Occasional gasps of their original song-oriented brand of wistful psychedelia can be heard, but it's overwhelmed by the messy crossfire of half-formed fusions of hard rock, classical, and other miscellany. The 1996 reissue on Collectables adds both sides of the non-LP single "Something in the Air"/"Musical Man," the A-side of which was a cover of the Thunderclap Newman hit.

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