MARILLION – This Strange Engine (1997)

Review by: Dina Levina
Album assigned by: Charly Saenz

The man who gave birth to this album declared himself a Man of a Thousand Faces in the opening song, and I expected an adventure, varicolored and bizarre. However, the faces he presents here are all samely and somewhat Bon Jovi-ish. Pleasant but a tad pretentious lyrics-wise, the first song is more or less okay.

Then comes One Fine Day, a retro little thing about rain and hope, and I’m hoping for something to happen. Still, all I get is some preachy obscure message and melancholy music I try hard to enjoy, up until the second when the nice dramatic effect given by piano and strings is violently murdered by the olden guitar, and all hope goes to hell.
I’m waiting for something strange and fascinating, but as the lyrics say, “beginning to wonder if we’ll wait in vain”.

After One Fine Day, we have 80 Days, all of them equally fine. ‘Tis an uplifting song in which the singer is gently trying to get sexual consent from someone while riding in a car. There is certain harmony in it, since this song is perfect for car rides, plain and optimistic. In the middle, someone from the horn section gets loose for a few seconds, but an invisible hand silences them quickly.

After the car ride we spend almost eight minutes in a meditative state in Estonia, being cosmic and monotonous. The xylophone is giving it a mysterious touch, the lyrics carry the same obscure wisdom the author is so desperate to preach. “I wonder if my rope’s still hanging from the tree”, he wonders, and I feel eternal gloom grabbing me by the throat, attempting to drown me in string-ridden despair.

The jolly Bon Jovi vibes are back in An Accidental Man, the rope around my neck loosens, but my will to live and listen further is shaken. “It’s not that I’m complaining, It’s all the same to me”, sings the man, and I nod mournfully. It feels like being in a particularly claustrophobic Stephen King story – we’re still riding in that car, but the scenery doesn’t seem to change.

Preachy again, the song suddenly breaks out into something African in the line of The Lion King, which is nice and refreshing. Also, nice flute. The author declares repeatedly that he’s carrying a message of hope, and I still want to believe him – we have the last, thirty-minute long song ahead of us.

I regret to say that it fails me.

P.S: Phrases like “the womb of time” in poetry and lyrics must be punishable by death.

MARILLION – Anoraknophobia (2001)

Review by: Alex Alex
Album assigned by: Charly Saenz

A long time ago, I remember, my boss bought himself a Rolex watch, made in China. He was immensely delighted in the purchase as the Chinese model was fifty times cheaper than the “original” one and no one of his friends was able to tell the difference. At that time, I remember, I thought my boss lacked the nobility or aristocracy which would have prevented him from having done such a vulgar and tasteless thing. It is only now that I realize how wrong I was.

A second story is that of my friend owning one of those early Android-powered tablets and feeling shame because he could not afford himself an Apple one. To cheer him up I used to tell him that in his cheap noname tablet everything works absolutely the same way as in the expensive IPad. See, I was saying: “Everything works the same as the Apple works”. I was not using the power of reasoning to the fullest – I could not see through the commercial haze. With the Apple market steadily losing its position, we are now able to see that there was and is something else, the design which both the Chinese super-cheap piece of shit and the Apple super-hipster piece of shit both, quite unknowingly, reflect.

Marillion is a group which deserves a real high praise.

Imagine a tribe of Neanderthal people meeting a tribe of some more advanced Neanderthal people. The more advanced tribe sits beside the fire playing some board game of their own invention. Now the less advanced tribe immediately recognizes the fun and the overall positive aspect of the game and wants to play, too. What options do they have?

1) Make up the board, the dices, all the other equipment and start messing up with it, as if playing, hoping the rules will come to them, somehow, during the play

2) Ask their local magician to invent the rules and wait until he does so, though he never ever saw the game

3) Learn the rules and the equipment from the more advanced tribe. In this process the tribes become equal, the tournaments will follow and the rules will soon become even better. (The imminent disadvantage of this, observable only in the computer era is not discussed here).

Marillion is a group which deserves a real high praise.

With my boss at a local bazaar here we are selling ‘the legendary cucumbers’. As you are not going to visit our bazaar any time soon the secret, as you already know, is that they are the same as the ‘ordinary cucumbers’. If you think my people are idiots it is your people who are them. One thing, however, can be measured in quantity: we do not bother to write ‘ordinary’, we just write ‘cucumbers’. But we always write ‘The Legendary Cucumbers’. And my girlfriend tells the legend in three languages.

Marillion is a group which deserves a real high praise.

One day we almost ran out of the legendary cucumbers and we asked the people to bring us some ordinary ones. Then we added them to the (almost exhausted) pile of the Legendary ones so everyone could buy to the fullest. That day no one was even buying the ordinary cucumbers! Everyone took a great pride in the fact that he (or his female) compensated with his own labor for the lack of the legendary fruit. That day the legendary cucumbers cost thrice their usual price! My boss was even able to buy himself an Ipad!

Marillion is a group which deserves a real high praise.