Clive Mitten - Suite Cryptique - 2021
“Recomposing Twelfth Night 1978-1983”
(more info at twelfthnight.info)
introThis is maybe the ultimate lockdown project of a multi-instrumentalist. In these difficult times, especially for musicians, Clive Mitten (Twelfth Night) used his time to develop a project he wanted to do for some forty years. He wanted to revisit the early years of Twelfth Night and do strange and wonderful things with the music. He planned this as a cinematic orchestral album, a style that he had been developing for the last five years. Musical influences? Reich, Glass, Adams, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler. Sounds interesting, don't you think? Like myself, I know that many progressive rock lovers will eventually (re)visit the cradle of our beloved music. Especially the open-minded music lovers. But be aware that this is not a covers album. In Clive's own words, Re-composed means taking fragments or larger pieces of tunes and rethinking their purpose from the most basic notes. Some tunes are more or less aligned to their original structures, some confuse the structures. Things move around
This two hours long double album, with a cover painting of the late Twelfth Night vocalist Geoff Mann that was made in 1982 while Twelfth Night was recording the "Fact & Fiction" album, is concentrated around the first three Twelfth Night albums, "Live at the Target", "Live (and Let Live)", "Fact & Fiction", and two of their epic songs, "The Collector" and "Creepshow". The album was written, arranged, recorded, and produced by Clive Mitten, with some help from violinist Jane Mann (strings consultant) and Twelfth Night guitarist Andy Revell (unraveling guitar parts and general feedback). This remarkable album is entitled, "Suite Cryptique: Recomposing Twelfth Night 1978-1983"
The album was written, arranged, recorded, and produced by Clive Mitten
Jane Mann (strings consultant)
Andy Revell (unraveling guitar parts and general feedback)
Clive Mitten's music performed by:
Deggi Mirch Symphony Orchestra
The Turmeric Chamber Orchestra
Tabasco String Quartet
Coriander Wind Ensemble
Naga Percussion Ensemble
The Hammmered Brass Ensemble
The Flatulent Wind Ensemble
(Spitfire Audio and Native Instruments)
This long suite is divided into five parts. Disc One has "Part One: Live and the Target" [25:30], "Part Two: Live (and Let Live)" [22:58], and "Part Three: The Collector" [20:13]. Disc Two has "Part Four: Fact and Fiction" [32:32], and "Part Five: Creepshow" [17:38]. So you see, you are in for a big listen.
Twelfth Night fans will try to spot the melodies of the know songs. But it is not necessary to know the music of Twelfth Night to enjoy this fine and remarkable album full of cinematic and orchestral music. You can enjoy "Fur Helene" without knowing the style of Wagner's "Das Reingold". Not only because it follows the original structure. But a song like "Sequences" does not follow the original structure. To me, this makes it even more interesting. Sometimes it is like you hear slightly familiar music without directly knowing from which Twelfth Night song it is from. You will hear the DNA of the Twelfth Night music. This counts for the whole album. As your reviewer, I listened to and enjoyed the album simply by inhaling this Twelfth Night DNA and enjoying the wonderful (keyboards) orchestrations. The programming of the immense string sections must have been a hell of a job. But it is done with passion and love for the Twelfth Night music. And it is not only the strings and orchestral sounds but also the wind instruments, brass, and percussion parts. When the music builds up the tension and flows into a big church organ part, you imagine yourself in heaven. I enjoyed all the orchestral sounds very much, especially the wonderful strings and delicate violin sections. This shows the beauty that is hidden in the music. The only downside and only thing that bothered me a little bit are some of the percussion (drum) parts. Of course, they are also digital, but some of them also sound really digital. Two of the live favorites have their own part in this two-hour suite. On disc one this is "Part Three: The Collector" and on disc two "Part Five: Creepshow". For me, these are together with "Part four: Fact and Fiction" the highlights of the album. "The Collector" with its diversity and true classical moments. The arrangements are top-notch. The opening of "Creepshow" with its beautiful minimalist structure, the epic keyboard, and guitar solo's played by the violin. Yes, it gets weird in this part. But those violin melodies are just breathtaking. For Clive "Creepshow" is an exploration of mental health issues. In his own words "Creepshow becomes We Are Sane and Fact and Fiction is a cycle in itself. "Part five: Creepshow" is surprising and has the most beautiful melodies.In "Part four: Fact and Fiction" I had several times the feeling that singer Geoff Mann would return to sing some couplets. And suddenly for the first time after listening to this remarkable album several times, during writing this review I have the urge to play some Twelfth Night albums.