'M. Rexen' - 'United Kingdoms Part II - Animals of the Frozen Clouds' (album)
If 'M. Rexen's' album 'United Kingdoms Part II - Animals of the Frozen Clouds' sounds to you like a musical curiosity that could take you months to fully comprehend and get to grips with, well you'd be absolutely right. So I won't try, instead offering a few short humble paragraphs to try and explain more about the artist and album, before letting you explore for yourself. I make no guarantee to you will like it, but to me there are some really beautiful moments in amongst an album which maybe perplexing at times, but is always interesting and innovative.
So behind M. Rexen is Michael Rexen, born of Danish parents but in The United Arab Emirates. And this upbringing and national identity status (as a 'third culture child', to use his own words) is clearly a key to his musical thought processes, because as he says himself - ”I have never met a musician, that looked at the colour of my skin or asked about my religion before we could play together''. The range of world musical influences is clearly apparent in music too, because within 'United Kingdoms Part II - Animals of the Frozen Clouds' there are an array of different textures, melodies and well... noises, which could come from anywhere on the planet - or above it, or indeed inside it.
Anyway I'm not attempting a detailed review. But there are some gorgeous glimpses of melodies and sumptuously arranged instrumentation (wind, strings) which bring me out in goosebumps. 'Red Hot Fire' starts conventionally enough, acoustic driven with a soulful anthemic chorus, and 'Autumn Home' has a gentle Sufjan Stevens vibe to it, and I like the way it builds with brass, with one of those beautiful 'moments' 2 minutes in, whilst the musicality of the phrasing just before the end of the track appeals to me too. But then it goes slightly offbeat, with the curious 'I'm Not Whole', which swells like a rumbling volcano and the spoken lyrics leave me cold, whilst 'Moondog' takes the curious element in the direction of 'mildly baffling'. However 'Mija (this is the end)' is simply gorgeous, melancholy, heartfelt and mesmerizing, and whilst I'm still not sure about the lyrics and vocals in 'My Red Leopard (Pipe Gold)', I really like the rhythms and string effects that are so unusual. And it finishes with another of those moments, with a beautiful piano part that accompanies 'The Weight is Lifted' - it's a euphoric and dramatic conclusion.
I always admire musicians / composers who do things differently, and don't conform to the norm, this music blog is scattered with examples of the unusual and we make no apologies for it. I guess I couldn't honestly say I love this album, it's got too many oddities, too many contradictions and conflicting sounds. But amongst it there are some gorgeous melodies and musical arrangements, and the string and wind instrumentation has been so carefully written. Martin Rexen's musical visions may not be appreciated by everyone, but who am I to judge what everyone might like, and there is no doubt that 'United Kingdoms Part II - Animals of the Frozen Clouds' is a fairly extraordinary release.