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Modest Midget - Crysis

Modest Midget
by Dorin Mandelbaum at 03 June 2014, 11:20 AM

MODEST MIDGET. Already by its name you notice the play on words: as a band influenced heavily by Gentle Giant, it only make sense that the giant becomes a midget, and his gentleness becomes modesty. I giggled on that moment of clarity when getting their name’s meaning.

This is MODEST MIDGET’s second album, The band is from The Netherlands, though it is a more of a ‘one man band’ really cause almost 100% of the songs are written and composed by Lionel (Lonny) Ziblat, and he is originally Israeli-Argentinian, that’s why in the production you see that the album was recorded in the Netherlands and Israel and a few of the musicians on the album are both Dutch and Israeli. The album is called “Crysis”, the “Y” instead of an “I” is deliberate, though in this case I’m not sure why, my hunch is it has nothing to do with the famous first person shooter game from 2007. In their booklet they wrote that John F Kennedy mentioned once that the word for crisis in Chinese - “Wei-Chi” means “opportunity” as well, and that he suggested that when encountered with a crisis it can be seen also as an opportunity for growth and change. The album was written at the end of 2012 when talks of change and an end of an era were the main zeitgeist, the album deals with these subjects.

The first two tracks are instrumentals: “The Grand Gate Opening” and “A Centurion‘s Itchy Belly”, The first is really just atmospheric and the second already gives a peek into the overall sound of this band: Very Prog influenced, mostly gleeful and even a bit folky. I felt a bit of a GOGOL BORDELLO vibe on that second track. As an ex-Israeli myself, I felt the influence of old 70’s Israeli music too and more specifically the mythological KAVERET sound (it’s mythological mostly to Israelis…) in short - a gypsy-prog-polka instrumental.

The 4th track - “Praise The day” is the first laid back track of the album, it caught my extra attention due to it’s unique and unexpected shifting melody, I think I won’t be exaggerating saying THE BEATLES could have written that song. Yes, I just said this song is that good, it’s “Beatles good”, take a moment to digest that…

The 5th track “Now that We're Here” is an unbelievable combination of SPOCK’S BEARD, TRANSATLANTIC, GENTLE GIANT and FRANK ZAPPA fused together in one track. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds. Pure bliss.

The 7th track is a silly cover to Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”, the song was not taken seriously. I like the original quite a lot, so though this is a mostly harmless cover, I did not like it.

Another genius GENTLE GIANT meets FRANK ZAPPA instrumental is the awesome 8th track “Flight of the Cockroach”. Humoristic and playful.

The ending tracks of the album, are mellower, ending the album on a softer side, starting with a heavy blues feel on “Secret Lies”, I even noticed a resemblance to the Dutch prog rock band ALQUIN on the 10th track “Gone Is”.
The highlight of the album is the self-titled track “Crysis (Awake of the Sheep)”, that production-wise is so impressive, moog pianos, recorders, flutes, oboes, harps, saxophones and what not, a wonderful dark VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR moody track worth of endless praise. I’m definitely going to try catching them live after hearing that track.
The album ends symbolically with the start of life’s cycle with “Birth”, yet again in a bit of a Beatles like sophisticated rock sound.

Awesome album, the Prog fans would love it, and the rock fans would too.

4 Star Rating

1. The Grand Gate Opening
2. A Centurion‘s Itchy Belly
3. Rocky Valleys of Dawn
4 Praise The day
5, Now That We're Here
6. Periscope Down
7. Pretty Woman
8. Flight of the Cockroach
9. Secret lies
10. Gone Is
11. Crysis (Awake of the Sheep)
12. Birth
Lionel (Lonny) Ziblat - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Maarten Bakker - Bass
Willem Smid - Drums
Tristan Hupe - Keyboards
Record Label: Independent


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