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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Music Reviews »

Permalink The Madeira - Carpe Noctem

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Yesterday I received The Madeira's latest release, Carpe Noctum from Double Crown Records. I had heard some samples previous to receiving the disc and was really impressed, but listening to the entire album absolutely blew me away!!

This is not your dad's surf disc. The tunes on this album are complex, rich, and simply inspiring! So, let's get into it:

The disc opens with the title track, a slow, brooding piece that is very Eastern European/Gypsy to my ears. I love this as an intro as opposed to a full tilt burner because it sets the stage. This album should be listened to in its entirety from cradle to grave (like all classics). This segues into Wreak Havoc!, an uptempo double picking scorcher which shares the first tracks theme/scaling. Very nice one-two punch.

The 3rd track, Undercurrents is my favorite of the disc. In fact, I'd venture to say it is one of the most beautiful instrumental melodies that I've heard in a long time. This tune has a melodic sophistication that is very rare IMO. This sort of reminds me a bit of Jewel of Duende by The Space Cossacks. It is simply a gorgeous melody line.

Rolling Thunder reminds me of the best of The Space Cossacks. Great great feel here. Sort of reminiscent of Laika & The Cosmonaut's Surf-Ro-Mania , but more sophisticated.

Other stand outs include El Flaco, which I believe is a cover. The only reference to it that I could find was a Reidar & the Quintones performance on a comp. titled Guitar & Beat Vol 1. Maybe Ivan can give some more details on this one. Its a really great spanish flavored tune and the Baritone guitar is a very nice touch.

Hamsa is an all acoustic Gypsy masterpiece! Such incredible playing on this one. Ivan's nylon work is stunning here.

Saracen is one that some of you are probably already familiar with and might be the signature tune of the album (If there can be one?) The melodic movement on this one is mind-bending. The band is absolutely brilliant on this one.

SOS (Stomp on Stomp) is a really well done cover of a more obscure Atlantics tune. This is an extremely well executed cover of the original.

Surf Fidelis satisfies the need for drip! The drum beat is very reminiscent of Surf Party, which is not the easiest beat for drummers to get, but Dane's got it down cold. Scary. The melody on this one is very progressive. Very powerful and full of emotion.

Sahar is a stellar eastern european meets middle-eastern-esque tune with a pretty complex arrangement. The classical nylon solo is breathtaking to say the least. Ivan is absolutely cooking here!!

End of the Cicle is the perfect coda to the album. The opening melody is very reminiscent of Chopin's Funeral March. This tune also reminds me of Duende a bit. Another gorgeous melody on top a brilliant composition.

Well I didn't mention every track, but there are too many great ones not too mention here. Carpe Noctum is an absolute knockout! The songwriting is complex and very sophisticated. As far as the playing goes, Ivan proves here that he is the top dog in the instrumental world. His playing is ridiculously precise, highly emotional, innovative, and simply awe inspiring.

Equally as impressive is the playing from the rest of the band. Namely, Patrick's rhythm work really shines on this album. I was really impressed by what are sometimes pretty complex rhythms. Patrick really lays down a nice foundation for Ivan to soar. The rest of the rhythm section is just incredible. The arrangements would be a challenge to the most seasoned "session cat", but Dane and Todd hold their own here and really allow Ivan's voice to come out. I can't fathom that these guys don't play/rehearse all that often due to geographic limitations. I have not heard a tighter band.

Also noteworthy is the artwork. Ferenc did an outstanding job on this one. Great work!

Ivan, Patrick, Dane, and Todd have produced a phenomenal piece of work here. I can't recommend this highly enough. This one even passes the elusive "wife" test, when my wife walks into a room and says, "Wow, who is this? This is so pretty" Wink

Incredible Job Guys!!
Overall Rating: (five worships) Worship Worship Worship Worship Worship

Ryan
The Secret Samurai Website
The Secret Samurai on Facebook

Wow!!! Thank you VERY MUCH, Ryan! I'm really blown away! You were able to get all that out of the CD after only having it for one day??? Holy crap! I'm speechless. For once. Well, not really....

As far as El Flaco, your reference is correct. It's by a Swedish band from the early eighties by the name of Reidar & the Quintones. They had a serious Jet Harris obsession and only released one EP (plus a few comp appearances of the songs from that EP). I loved the track El Flaco ever since I heard it some 10-15 years ago on that Guitar & Beat, Vol. 1 comp, and since I wanted to do some Bass VI type stuff on this album, I suggested we cover it. I think it turned out really well. You can see a bit more about the band here, though I don't think much is known about them at all. I was able to track down the EP, and every song on it is seriously great. What's with those Swedes?? And, I guess, Finns? And the Norwegians do pretty well, I guess (the Beat Tornadoes come to mind).... Alright, let's just say all the Scandinavians!

Again, thank you so very much for such a thorough and complimentary review. We really, really appreciate it.

Ivan

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

I just got my copy today! Monkey

Sahar is my current favorite! Such an evil sounding guitar with a really cool middle break. It has been my current "earworm".

Site dude - S3 Agent #202
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"It starts... when it begins" -- Ralf Kilauea

IvanP
What's with those Swedes?? And, I guess, Finns? And the Norwegians do pretty well, I guess (the Beat Tornadoes come to mind).... Alright, let's just say all the Scandinavians!

Totally agree! That region of the world has produced some of the finest instro music ever IMHO. I just recently came across an incredible Finnish instro comp. that includes bands I was previously unfamiliar with such as The Avengers, The Sounds, The Adventurers, The Savages, The Esquires, The Steelers, The Strangers, The Blazers, The Destroyers, and The Strings. Incredible stuff!

Ryan
The Secret Samurai Website
The Secret Samurai on Facebook

I pulled my copy of Carpe Noctem out of the mailbox yesterday evening, and I've already listened through this album... seven times. Shocked Wow, wow, wow this is one amazing acheivement.

Ivan said this album would be different from the Madeira's earlier stuff, and he's right. The album as a whole has an airier feel to it than Sandstorm, with cleaner and crisper sounds.
There's a lot of pretty new territory melodically--the covers more overtly provide a style that the first two releases hadn't touched on quite so much yet. There are the jazzy meanderings of "Infidel," the major-key feel of "Tangaroa" (I don't know if it's actually in a major key, it's just kinda got this different feel to it), and the foreboding mystery of "Rolling Thunder." I'm not very familiar with the Shadows' stuff, but that song has a particularly "Shadowy" feel to my amateur ears. The song usually remains pretty tense (not to be confused with restrained), whereas most of the band's previous stuff would just bust right open.
I do have to admit that these songs I just mentioned did require some warming up for me. They're not in the same Madeira style I've grown accustomed to and been comfortable with. I've been wrapping my head around the new feel, and enjoying the adventure of it. A big kudos to the guys for doing their own thing and pushing the sound in a new direction. Thumbs Up

That being said, the remainder of the album was instant gratification for me. The first and title track is fantastic. The opening lines are so lush and mysterious, softly leading up to the song's primary theme and then opening up the doors for the whole rest of the song. Listening to it the first time I thought "_that's_ how you open up an album." Dark and mysterious and way too cool, it leads up into "Wreak Havoc," a balls-to-the-wall blazer from the Madeira we all know and love. The mysterious break (mystery is a definite theme throughout this album) and frantic double picking make this a winner.

The next song, "Undercurrents," is a really phenomenal piece. I can't really put my finger on it, but something about the composition and sound of this one seems so unique, I can't dig up a parallel that I've heard in the surf genre. It's almost entirely focused in the higher registers of the guitar which provides a real light and airy feel, but the music is dense enough to not make the song feel too playful, or "plinkety," for use of an official term.

One of the major highlights of the whole album is the pairing of "Hamsa"--the album's most overt foray into exoticism--and "The Saracen." The first twenty seconds of "Hamsa" are some of the most dramatic, mysterious and evocative I've heard in surf, and on an acoustic no less! That leads into what's actually a pretty simple, but totally beautiful acoustic melody, with plenty of Pongracic wizardry thrown in between verses. Remember that first solo, because it's coming back with a vengeance right quick. A few measures of backwards psychedelia close out the song when BAM! "The Saracen" breaks open and pummels you. (Uh oh, was that racist? Paranoid I mean the song, metaphorically speaking. Embarassed ) I've trumpeted the virtues of this song since I first heard it live almost two years ago, even doing so when I couldn't remember the melody. This song simply kills! The rhythm never slows, the energy never subsides, the playing is never less than stunning--this monster is absolutely relentless. Amazing. An instant favorite of mine.

"Surf Fidelis" is the most strictly surfy number on the album, and boy does it please. It's a great--reeally catchy--number with awesome rhythmic changes that just builds into a huge driving piece. Great solo and a nice big finish. Awesome.

"Sahar" is the epic masterpiece of the album, plain and simple. I love... love this song already. The whole rhythm section, especially the guitar and drums, are just biting and really propel the song forward until the greeat slow breaks. The acoustic solo is fantastic--oozes atmosphere, eventually taken back over by the electric for more general ass-kickery. The whole thing builds to a huge triumphant climax which is perfectly recovered by more slow mystery, a perfect lead in to the final number. This song is so brilliantly arranged, not enough good can be said about it.

"End of the Circle" fittingly closes things out, coming back around to somewhat similar territory as the opening "Carpe Noctem." It's less dark than the first track, and finishes with that great acoustic rhythm underlying a drowsy closing theme, providing a pretty restful and entirely effective finish to the whole album. Really well done.

So does it sound like I like this album enough? Laughing The Madeira have admittedly fit perfectly into my pre-established tastes since their first release, so I'm pretty biased. But somewhat more objectively, I think that Carpe Noctem further establishes this band among the best of those making serious, and seriously good, surf music. Really, this is a phenomenal and inspiring album. I'm gonna have to struggle to not blatantly plagiarize this stuff. Wink

WOW
what amazing 'reviews' of this phenomenal CD;
IVAN, I have it playing over and over in my rental car down here in the South, and I, too, am just blown away by it;
The CD covers so many types of surf, and man, can you and the lads play!!
Crisp recording, rippin' surf my friend;
You should be proud of this album, as it really sets the bar quite high
UNSTEADY FREDDIE

http://www.facebook.com/unsteady.freddie

Wow, thank you so very much, Ben. We REALLY appreciate your extremely kind words! We are very happy with the CD, but it's always a bit nerve-racking when something new is released, just waiting to see whether people will like it. These reviews have surpassed my wildest hopes! Thanks so much guys (including Freddie - thank you!), you've really made my day!

Ivan

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

I've had it a couple days now. I'm just waiting for the right opportunity to listen to it. Hopefully that will present itself this weekend.

I've given this a couple listens now and—no surprise—it's as good as I expected it would be. Great playing, great recording and great songs. Ivan, your tone and phrasing are impeccable. Wow. Sandstorm is really good and this is better.
It strikes me that you guys have carved out your own niche via the songwrting. The band has an identity. To me, that's important.
Just wanted to throw my compliments on the well deserved heap that's already there.
Great job, guys! Thumbs Up

The Volcanos

Hey Rick! Thanks so much for both buying the CD and writing such nice things about it!! I really appreciate it. There have been several people point out that the CD sounds like us. I agree that this is very important, and I am thrilled that people think we have that. And I especially appreciate it coming as it is from such a great musician as yourself. Thanks again! I hope to see you again soon, and hoping that the Volcanos will be playing out again soon.

Ivan

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

i just got this today and am on my second listen. damn is it good!

can't wait to see you guys in sunny southern cal.

carol

www.surfintheeye.com

I have listened to it once on Sun. whle lounging here at Rio's plac in Toronto.
wow, spcacular.
just an amazing piece of work.
I need to give it a few more spins to fully soak in.

but do your self a big favor and get this and all the other Maderia cds.
before they sell out and your ciking yourself for not getting them, like you did with the Space Cossacks cds when they sold out.
Wink

Jeff(bigtikidude)

Thanks so much, Carol and Jeff!! I really appreciate the kind compliments, and I am thrilled that you like the CD!! Carol, I'm really looking forward to meeting you in person in August! And Jeff, I hope your flight today goes well. Good luck with tying up all the loose ends for the SG101 Convention, too! I'm very excited about it!

Ivan

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

This post has been removed by the author.

Last edited: Sep 27, 2009 23:03:08

Hey Zak!

zak
Ivan, so far after a few listens I have to say that there are a few songs on the CD that are just freakin amazing.

Alright, I'll bite - which ones? Name names! Wink

But...I can see why your bandmates weren't into starting the thing with the title track. I can see some people dig it and think it's a good choice....and it is a subjective matter anyway...but I would have put that one elsewhere. Great track, though, and far from "boring" - au contraire - it's a cool song.

It was a controversial choice, and I suspect that it will be a love/hate thing for a lot of people. But you know, in fact I think you know very well, it's fun to just take some risks in music, do something that to other people may seem pretty freakin' crazy! It's not like anybody will die if you get it wrong. Smile And anyway, today most people simply import selected tracks from a CD into their iPods and change their order all around. I still think it was the right thing to do - it totally works for me. Maybe it'll grow on you, too, with time....

Ruhar's post is a pretty good summary. If I can find one thing to complain about...and you KNOW I must hahaha...

Of course! I understand - it's payback for calling you a pussycat. Laughing

it's nothing to do with the recording: I think you guys are worthy of better cover artwork and packaging...and I thought the same thing about the other CDs. The images are, once again, a matter of aesthetics, but the layout and graphic design could use a different approach, I think.

You're the first person that complained about the design - we've had nothing but compliments on it so far (though maybe people were just being polite!). Ferenc suggested doing something different and getting away from the typical surf music packaging, and we were all completely on board. It's intended to confound the expectations a bit and maybe even get a few people that would usually dismiss surf music to give it a chance because they're expecting something different from the packaging. We'll see if it turns out to be a bad choice. Again, just trying to do something different, push the boundaries a bit. I personally think it looks cool as hell, but it definitely does not even remotely look like anything trad surf...

So hey, if all I can bitch about is the packaging...must mean that what's on the disc is pretty impressive haha! Thanks again for bringing it to Toronto.

Fair enough!! Thanks for the nice words as well as the thoughtful criticisms (always good to get those!), and I was happy to share it with you. Now, you owe me one - so hurry up and record your next one! Wink

Ivan

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

I'm late, mine is on the way, along with Los Twang Marvels new one. I'm not just being polite here, but I really think the cover is brilliant. It is very mysterious and surreal , as I mentioned before, very Hipgnosis. It will probably have a much broader appeal than typical surf band art, it is certainly refreshing to see an alternate approach.

This post has been removed by the author.

Last edited: Sep 27, 2009 23:03:12

Personally it made me think of something like Alan parsons Project haha

I see what you mean, Hipgnosis did the Alan Parsons covers too. I don't think this one suffers from it, but I'm with you on the 3D lettering in common use today thanks to Photoshop.
It is like making a CD where every song sounds just like Misirlou. Enough already!
Man, I can't wait to hear the whole thing.

This post has been removed by the author.

Last edited: Sep 27, 2009 23:03:20

zak
I think one of Ivan's big successes is that he's managed to come up with an original sound that will appeal to a much wider range of people than your average surf band, and manages to do so without being wimpy or diluted.

Totally agree with this. What really differentiates this album, and The Madeira in general, is the songwriting. The melodic lines are much more sophisticated than what one generally gets with instro-surf type music. But at the same time, it doesn't come off as "proggy" or "mathematical", which is a huge challenge when trying to write complex, but interesting stuff.

Ryan
The Secret Samurai Website
The Secret Samurai on Facebook

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