Mau, Melanie & Schella, Martin - The Rainbow Tree

Kev Rowland

I have long been a fan of Melanie and Martin, who not only work together in multiple progressive rock bands but have also been producing wonderful albums where they take well-known songs and turn them into something quite different indeed. I have never been a fan of bands attempting to reproduce note for note, especially in a studio, a song which has been already been a hit. One of my very favourite covers is “Hotel California” by Alabama 3 who took the classic and made it something far darker and twisted – it is the taking of something and making it their own which makes the art of doing so totally worthwhile, and that is always the case with Melanie and Martin.

When the CD arrived, I was immediately taken by the bright artwork and opened up the digipak to discover a business card and a QR code which I immediately scanned and was delighted to find that as well as the original 14 songs there were another 11 alternate versions which could be downloaded free of charge, one of which was a song not included on the main release. The core band for this album is Martin Schnella (vocals, acoustic guitars, additional percussion), Melanie Mau (vocals), Mathias Ruck (vocals), Lars Lehmann (bass, fretless bass) and Simon Schröder (percussion) plus they have assorted guests (including none other than Dave Meros). What makes this such an insanely enjoyable album is that they have put their own stamp onto it so much that if one did not know any of the songs then one would think this was an album of originals as they all fit seamlessly into the same pattern. This is prog folk, mostly acoustic with an electric bass and built around wonderful vocals, which sometimes are singular, and others are wonderful three-part harmonies. Given the background of those involved it will be no surprise to find covers of the likes of Gentle Giant, Neal Morse, Peter Gabriel, but they move all over the place musically so Massive Attack sits happily alongside Porcupine Tree and Nightwish, but Iron Maiden? I have been a fan of Maiden since 1980 and was fortunate enough to see them on the ‘Beast on the Road’ tour in 1982, which is where I first heard “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, but it never sounded like this, and it has been paired with “For The Greater Good of God” from 2006’s ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, which works very well indeed. This is aggressive acoustic music which takes the original and drives new beauty into a subject which has always been emotional, taking it to new levels.

Starting with Gentle Giant and ending with a traditional number which has been performed by the likes of Clannad, this album is a thing of beauty and joy. That we then get to hear different versions of many of the songs again before ending now with Damn Yankees really is the icing on the cake. Whatever you may think of cover versions, take it from me this is no Guns ‘n’ Roses doing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" but instead is taking songs we know and turning them into something which now belongs to Melanie Mau and Martin Schnella – truly superb, and totally essential.

MLWZ album na 15-lecie Tangerine Dream w Polsce: dodatkowy koncert w Szczecinie The Watch plays Genesis na koncertach w Polsce już... za rok Airbag w Polsce na trzech koncertach w październiku Gong na czterech koncertach w Polsce Dwudniowy Ino-Rock Festival 2024 odbędzie się 23 i 24 sierpnia