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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mahogany Frog

Faust

Review by Gary Hill

I have previously reviewed two albums from Mahogany Frog. Neither prepared me for this. An instrumental album, this is often dark. It has a wide range of sounds, but feels stranger and more soundtrack like than the others. Of course, that's because this is intended as a soundtrack to the 1926 German silent film that bears the same title. I would say that even taken away from that film, this is purely sublime. Unusual as this is, I think it's my favorite of the three. It's also likely to make my "best of 2022" list.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Introduction
A dissonant and vaguely creepy sound rather like a tolling bell makes up this introductory piece. It is somewhat unsettling.
Faust I (Including Alchemy)
Loud metallic guitar chaos comes in as this gets started. We get some dramatic metal plodding that's rather Sabbath-like as this continues. That gives way to weird space music. From there they take it into a metal meets prog jam that is extremely tasty.
Plague I
Weird music that has a bit of a carnival vibe is on the menu here. This gets into some energized, but still tastefully weird, instrumental prog zones as it continues. Mellower electronic takes it for its final movement. That segues into the next piece.
Dirge I
Creepy electronics are the order of business here. This feels like the music to an old Gothic horror movie. Other elements emerge as it continues, adding to the general tone and concept. Then around the half-way mark it starts to rise up to a slow rock movement. The creepiness remains to some degree, but overall this becomes more of a pure prog rock arrangement. There is a cool buildup later that gives way to a cool Uriah Heep-like jam. 
Crossroads
A low-pitch intermittent drone starts this. The cut gradually builds upward from there into a strange sounding electronic tapestry. Strangeness peaks for a false ending. Then it seems to come back to the opening modes of the song. This rime around the piece turns somewhat symphonic for a time, but weird space takes over from there.
Stoned I
The space elements that ended the last track continue as this gets underway. Some metallic textures join later to move it forward. This gets into some killer stoner rock meets prog and psychedelic zones before it's over.
Flying Carpet I
Trippy space sounds are on the menu as this gets underway. The track seems to move toward some psychedelia as it continues. Then a driving jam rises up as the song evolves. It eventually works out into one of the most decidedly prog rock based things here. There is still trippy space in the mix, though. Space takes command near the end.
Faust II
The space from the previous cut begins this one. The track works out into some stoner rock jamming from there.
Introduction II - Smokey Reflection
This is more of a melodic keyboard piece.
The Mando Glass
Spacey music, world sounds and much more merge on this rather creepy number.
Muhme Marthe
More of a bouncy sort of electronic sound is at the heart of this number. It's still tastefully odd.
We Encircle Within This Ring
Some backwards tracked strangeness brings this number into being. Electronic textures take over, but it works to more rocking textures as it continues.
A Decision Of The Flower
The organ sound that opens this has some of the most mainstream vibes of the whole album. This gets into some classy almost symphonic electronic zones as it marches onward.
Flying Carpet II - Sword Fight
Pounding percussion and some rocking musical elements combine on this thing as it gets going. This builds outward into some killer driving prog rock jamming from there. The percussion again takes a healthy part of the spotlight as the jam intensifies further along the journey. This thing gets fairly rocking as it develops further.
Dirge II
I love the classic space rock textures of this number. It's slow moving, but also one of the most positive sounding pieces here. There are some soaring elements and some classical melody lines. This might be my favorite piece of the whole disc.
Plague II - Insanity
There is a driving electronic groove to this number. It's a classy piece with some intriguing musical elements at play. There are some definite space rock tendencies here.
Stoned II - Funeral Pyre
Noisy stoner rock is on the menu as this comes out of the gate. It turns proggier as it continues driving onward. A noisy jam ends this.
Faust III - Ascension
This feels a bit like an extension of the previous piece as it gets underway. It's another powerhouse with metal and prog elements at play.
 
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