Midnight - M2: Descending into Madness

Midnight M2: Descending Into Madness cover
Midnight
M2: Descending into Madness
Conquest Music Inc/Attic Inc Productions
2014
Average: 6.5 (12 votes)
This posthumous release almost gets most of Midnight’s unreleased “material”, published, leaving some covers and a few videos to see the light of day if this “release” proves successful.
 
Spearheaded by Monstrosity’s (among others) founding member Lee Harrison on a multitude of instruments, this collection also features the late Matt La Porte on guitars and also pretty much everything else he had to perform... there’s Midnight’s buddy Phil Anderson on Hammered Dulcimer, lending that certain vibe to a lot of stuff, that only “it” can produce as well as keyboardists, John Zahner and Zane Black doing various parts as necessary and of course the man, himself on acoustics and tortured artistry…
 
Certainly Harrison’s involvement made sure this is the most “involved” and best produced of Midnight’s attempts along with “Sakada”, but it has got to be taken into consideration that in his twilight years midnight was still battling heavy alcoholism, that finally claimed him, so even getting these performances and getting him to sound, quite decent, must have been quite a task.
 
Let’s however look into what this 3 hour compendium of Midnight, has to offer...
 
On the First CD:
 
“Seven Angels” sees a reprisal here, as an electro-acoustic ballad, with a constant wailing lead coming and going into fore. It is still a quite stiring song, but considering how much more effective the acoustic original is, I’d say it's not better. Just different and the last psychedelic part sort of just seems to veer a little aimlessly.
 
“Doc and Kate” is a drunken and slightly outta-tune and out of mind, desert sort of tune, on acoustic, that revisits some of “Mid’s” loony characters… can’t say that I fell in love with it really as it goes on like that for a couple of minutes only to then, reprise itself with a stronger vocal and a full electric treatment of the melody… pretty messed up.
 
“Descending into Madness” the "title track", is a rather bleak six minute song, that’s quite sad, but has a certain majesty in its elegy. It’s almost desperate…and completely bonkers. (well wait until the couple of closing lines come about and you 'll find out, what I am talking about. :P)
 
“Cold Caves” is interesting… it has some nice saxophones and a smoother, jazzy, relaxed atmosphere, with even Midnight’s voice sounding soothing and pacifying… it all sounds like a bizarre, dreamy soundtrack to a drug addled dream… it’s very purple and purr-fect.
 
“The Field” is a lot more experimental, with some almost folk rhythms going on, but, it feels quite plain and doesn’t quite seem to be able to get a proper reaction… it seems like either bat-shit craziness or genius, depends on how you’re gonna look at it, I mean if this was the apparent effort to do a sort of “sound-track” for “Alice in Acid-land” it sort of fell sort… but it could have also succeeded.
 
“The End” is Midnight singing over an Acronym, full of bitterness and resentment… it’s sad and it’s heart wrenching… it’s not “note perfect” if you seek vocal perfection, but, on the other hand, it’s one of Midnight’s most soul stirring performances... his modern "Lost Reflection" if you will.
 
“Tea For Two” (T42) is a lot happier and slightly Zeppelinesque, in contrast with the gravely bleak “The End” that proceeds it and a new arrangement of...
 
“Black Sheep” from the original “M” is decidedly trippy and up-tempo… Although I love the desperate original, I found this “new” version – quite “funny” and adorable...
 
“Windows” finds Midnight, almost, trying to sing well, possibly done on one of his "better" days, but some of the places were his voice cracks are still apparent... overall it’s commendably well done and one of Midnight’s most personal and heartbreaking lyrics ever...
 
“Little Aquafina” is yet another one of Mid’s whacked up stories and this one he really sings quite all over the place… and no matter what effects are trying to hide the fact, it’s quite a mess...
 
“Angel with an Axe” is “Monkey Song”, but here, it’s a done with an acoustic that’s mixed very upfront, sounding almost like a bloody ukelele, or something. Had Midnight’s voice not been as resonant, it would have probably buried him as well all drowned in reverb.
 
“The Last Forever” is an effort to do a bit of a spook, a horror story… it comes across as badly done King Diamong, with Midnight singing without his constant CG falsettos… Lasting almost nine minutes I think it just fails a bit... while it has a nice premise to begin with... let’s do bits of King Diamond with a bit of “Lost Reflection”…
 
On the Second CD:
 
There’s a semi electric version of “Pain” that’s interesting… the guitars are fuzzy, something that I never liked… or understood, Mid, sounds, as tortured as he pretty much did on most of some of those versions that could be found floating on the internet,  but not as much as on the original “acoustic” which still remains the superior one.
 
“Sparrow 1” is a very haunting acoustic number that’s incredibly sorrowful and minimalist... really beautiful.
 
“No One Ever Came” is another slow and resigned song that totally shows… the depths of depression... the man must have been facing...
 
“Carnival 1” is a moment of sudden brilliance, a beautiful melody… a beautiful lyric “I want to be the light – I want to be music”, it’s another moment of Mid’s musical mad genius, shining through...
 
And if you are having a song called “The Field” why not have a piece called “The Plow”... this one’s a short and soft slightly spacey piece, where Mid is mumbling some inanities that I could hardly make out, not that I was really paying much attention too...
 
“Love Song” is a beautiful, piano ballad, (with a few too obvious “tuned” moments that however don’t spoil how brilliant it is otherwise...) that should bring tears to your eyes.
 
“Egyptian Lullaby” is a rather meandering slow and crazy number that is just too weird to describe...
 
“Plastic Jesus” you might have experienced before, in the original “M” as “TV Queens”... this is one of the few cases, where the mildly more instrumented version, that’s still quite spartan, is actually an improvement, as Midnight, actually, sounds a little better… than what he did on the original...
 
“Boxes” is yet another reprise from the original “M” and things here are similar, with the slightly more involved instrumental, which remains, very simple, working well. The nice solo – it's pretty good too. The only thing that sounds annoying is the drum machine that sounds way too predictable, and could have been more randomized.
 
“Mermaids” is yet another – cuckoo acoustic number, but this time – it’s more shoe gazing… and the lyrics on this one are also very “whatever”...
 
“The Deep” is almost eight minutes long and monotonous as hell, so I could hardly understand it’s “significance”... Midnight goes, a little crazy towards the end for a moment, but quickly stops and goes back to happily plucking away… so I dunno wtf, to say...other than it got me a little bored.
 
And what do you follow a long and rather boring song with ? Well an even longer one of course... “Arabian Nightmare” clocks a little north of twelve minutes, but the singing doesn’t begin until about half way with most of it being incidental music, effects and tambourines playing various eastern themes that intertwine… into a thick, sick interlocking piece... with Midnight, moaning and crying out for a good three or four, creating a rather interesting and mystical effect.
 
Onto the Third and final CD:
 
“Pomegranate Wine” is a sad but ultimately beautiful song with a nice harmony…?!
 
“Carnival 2” features alternative, dulcimer heavy instrumentation, but is no better than the “original”... it is however an interesting softer take...
 
“Garden of Stone” is weird, as it probably speaks about a graveyard… spooky and it’s allegory is ironic “now”… it’s slightly psychedelic and poppy and not too bad actually, slightly Beatlesque, I’d even say...
 
“What I Did Last Night” is barely “there”... it sounds more like the ravings of a lunatic, to be honest... which is sad... and the funniest thing is the final line… “doesn’t matter, anyway...” That was the problem...
 
“I Will Be There” is actually , a sweet, sweet song. Very plain, pop, but, it’s a nice ditto.
 
“Green Eggs Gilligan” is a bizarre song about culinary preferences and some other weird crap that I didn’t quite get... I guess late Mid's wierd sense of humor !
 
“Silver Balloon” is sad and heavy hearted… almost making your heart sink with its desire of escapism… pulling it upwards… crazy...
 
“Seventeen” is a soft acoustic number that works nicely as a bit of an interlude as it’s not too long...
 
“Sparrow 2” is obviously a reprisal of “Sparrow” with slightly different lyrics… so I guess a bit of a sequel…
 
“Love Song (acoustic)” is obviously an effort to do the song on acoustics, but while it remains a nice song, it doesn’t quite work as well as the “piano” version...
 
In “Motorcycles” it’s weird as there are dulcimers and “Mid” doing “airy” falsettos over them, not all that badly and then he just goes on and on and on… and it’s pretty boring.. and then he just goes on doing the same “falsetto” thing. It’s weird.

Lastly “Tales From the Cavern” is 8 minutes of Midnight, over some music, telling various CG stories... and it’s nothing you’ll probably want to listen twice…
 
Overall, interesting collection and a way to bring closure to Midnight’s fans all over. It has some nice pieces of music that seems to either fall under acoustic balladry that is quite basic and some times is quite sad and Robert Plant like experimental stuff, with slightly ethnic overtones, but not quite. Generally it’s a weak and fragmented collection of well-polished demos, from a guy that could hardly sing well anymore, no-matter how talented he used to be in the past.
 
There is almost enough material here to make up “one” really good album. But there isn’t a selection here… you either pick the first CD or all three CDs of this collection which are after all, apparently CDRs and not silver pressed CDs (editor’s note : THIS HAS BEEN ADDRESSED, all orders are now SILVER PRESSED CDs.) 

Anyhow… Musically, things like “Love Song”, “Sparrow”, “The Carnival”, “Cold Caves”, “The End”, “Garden of Stone” and “Windows” add themselves beside some of the revisited “M” compositions and give us a last glimpse into the mans “lost reflection” of genius... Shine on you crazy, drunken diamond... since it’s probably some of the “very last” times  we’ll be hearing stuff from “him”... sad as it may be, it’s worth, lending an ear, to the guy that stirred our souls... as he says ... “I’m not the best you can do, BUT I trully love you...”

Note: You must aproach this album as highly produced demos/almost completed material that is psychedelic acoustic - bizarre rock tracks. If you expect metal or Crimson Glory - it’s not it... This has been intentionally left UNRATED - but it would have been rated with ~ 7/10. Some of the moments in here are trully amazing and there’s just so much to get into. Obviously the material, following the deaths of Midnight and La Porte, didn’t get some finishing touches it could have, so you need to look at it with some a less critical view too, because of that ...

You can order it here: http://conquestmusic.com/

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