Marco Minnemann – ‘Celebration’ [Review]

Marco Minnemann

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Considering Marco Minnemann’s EEPS was TMMP’s second-favourite album of 2014, expecting its successor to top it might seem somewhat unreasonable on paper. Still, with Celebration Marco has done just that. For this 18-track (very) long player, the lighthearted quirky-playful approach which permeated EEPS has been largely set aside in favour of grim, determined seriousness.

Opening tune Miami sets the tone with thrashy guitar, ominous brass, the occasional spy movie chord, and some cheeky synths to remind us that behind it all, Marco Minnemann’s sense of the tongue-in-cheek is still present, if markedly restrained. Next, title track Celebration brings in Nine Inch Nails-esque distorted vocals and shades of Devin Townsend while contrasting melodic lethargy with hard-rocking energy – and It Always Seems brims with glamour-free post-grunge grit, punchy power chords, and shades of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan in the vocal. A far cry from last year’s OC/DC and Douche, indeed.

Following stately and downbeat interlude March Of The Living Dead, we dive into How Can I Help You (twangy guitar, very Steve Vai chords with brief similarities to the guitar maestro’s The Moon And I); What Have You Done (heartbroken lyrics, filthy guitars, and stormy instrumental sections); Greatest Gift In Life (a huge contrast against the previous track with uplifting vibes and a beautiful guitar solo); personal highlight Print Club (an 11-minute epic taking in seductive grooves, an exotic recurring theme, rhythmically complex Zappa-esque melodic runs, and moments of uncertain serenity); and the hauntingly out of tune mindfuckery of Ugly Sunrise.

Okay – that’s the first half of the album. There’s no doubting Marco Minnemann’s restless creativity, generosity, and general prolificacy – and while Celebration is tough but not impossible to digest in a single sitting, there’s also no doubt that you’ll find something fresh to appreciate every time you go back to it. Moving on, then…

Everyone Loves A Rainbow is given a very cool twist, its dramatic-piano-and-elegant-spoken-word form coming in two linguistic flavours (first Spanish, and later English), the latter also given a musical twist with an extended intro and added subtle groove. Have A Great 3015 sees upbeat funkiness and joyful lead lines offset by unsettling effects, spicy dissonance, and darkly fusion-flavoured chords; 4000 combines spy chords, ominosity, and intense piano; Thoughts Take Shape flirts with smooth fusion complete with chorused guitar, fizzy synths, sparkling chords, and barbed-wire riffs; Eclipse sees Marco channel his distinct idiosyncrasies through more Nine Inch Nails-influenced harshness; Amina’s Birthday overflows with rarified chirpy warmth; and Better Place casts said warmth to wintry winds as it becomes grimly heavy and explosively cathartic. And at that point, it’s all over bar the short, downtempo Satriani-influenced The Darkness Within You – all glassy harmonics, slow and soulful leads, and precisely-picked harmony parts.

As I mentioned before, this is a real beast of an album, 18 tracks crammed with juicy goodness and gritted-teeth intensity. Fans of Satch and Vai’s darker sides, Nine Inch Nails, and Devin Townsend are likely to get sucked in quickly – as are those who follow Marco and the Aristocrats, of course. If you’ve come this far, you know you’ll dig it, and now is the time to check out the links below…


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Posted on 04 June 2015

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