Thee Maldoror Kollective - _Pilot (Man With the Meat Machine)_
(Code666, 2007)
by: Pedro Azevedo (6.5 out of 10)
Unimpressed as I was with the way the multitude of ideas flying around TMK's previous album _A Clockwork Highway_ were put together, the fact that all the promo material for _Pilot (Man With the Meat Machine)_ seemed to indicate an even more convoluted experience did not bode well for this new effort of theirs. Still, with _Pilot_ being their sixth album, Thee Maldoror Kollective (or Textbook of Modern Karate these days, whichever you prefer) should at least be given the chance to prove that they can do better at winning my interest without necessarily having to sacrifice their musical vision.

Starting with the admittedly Enio Morricone inspired instrumental opening track, TMK deliver a collection of songs full of cinematic links -- without necessarily resorting to the old trick of using movie samples all the time (they still use them, but not as often as you would expect). As the second half of the opening track descends into a well done heavier section, its near eight minute duration becomes excusable and you tend to stop thinking about it as an intro rather than a proper track. "Microphones & Flies" is next, and it's one of those complete mash-ups of ideas, both instrumental and sampled, that can work for ten seconds at a time only to become a mess for the next minute -- and it goes on with enough of those to make me want to skip it altogether. "Zombie Children" is all groovy, but becomes repetitive; and when the initial theme is abandoned, it loses interest (save for the rather curious ending).

"Welcome to the Golden Dove Society" carries more of an epic / thriller type of feel initially, then becomes either tranquil guitar with percussion or rather deranged electronic beats in succession for a while. When this ends, possibly the best section of the album begins: a female voice recites a text to great effect, with excellent electronic atmospheric punctuation on the background and an emphasis on "the whore of god". This is followed up nicely by "The Night Mr Clenchman Died", which brings an eerie vibe and reminds me strongly of Nick Cave. The track suffers from the same problem as several others however, as it descends into a much less interesting second half -- clearly there is a pattern where songs descend into darker territory as they proceed, but the results are disappointing more often than not.

The title track then takes over, split in three parts. The first takes you into a sort of obscure bar some decades ago, with the sound of a female singer and accompanying band seemingly filtered by time itself. Part two drops the female vocals and becomes more upbeat, with frankly much less gripping results. Part three throws electronic beats into the mix in place of the piano and saxophone (or similar instrument) from the previous parts, but again the result is indifferent. "A Gasoline Hero" closes the album on a relatively safe note, with a discernible groove throughout and various samples punctuating it.

While the latest TMK album is still a hit and mix affair -- halfway between a 5 and an 8 out of 10 for the most part, as far as I am concerned -- the overall result is still vastly superior to its predecessor. There are some really good passages on this album, but they are offset by a number of tedious or annoying sequences; still an interesting album nonetheless, and one that might well appeal to plenty of people out there for various reasons.


(article published 5/4/2007)

11/29/2004 P Azevedo 4 Thee Maldoror Kollective - A Clockwork Highway
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