Track By Track: Modest Midget - Crysis
By John A. Wilcox
Hailing from the Netherlands, classical art rockers Modest Midget are the brainchild of guitarist / composer Lionel "Lonny" Ziblat. Housed in a striking cover by Netaly Reshef, their latest is Crysis. Ziblat says: "The new Modest Midget album Crysis presents an illustration of life, portrayed as a cycle consisting of
different inner cycles. Each time that one such cycle ends, another one starts, and these movements
are often frightening, painful and traumatic, but they also offer a chance for change and for growth.
The tracks on the album represent different states of mind and different chapters in one’s life. Here
follows the track list with a short description, something on what it represents, and something about
the production." Let's all take the journey track-by-track...
Track 1: The Grand Gate Opening
LZ:You are here, a fully grown, mature man, and you are ready. Both physically and emotionally.
You are about to take the next big step in life. Love brought you here and the world is opening new
doors before you. At this moment the door is a beautiful woman´s heart. You enter with one majestic
step and are about share a tremendous experience.
Track 2: A Centurion's Itchy Belly
Remember Asterix and Obelix? Their depiction of the Roman army wasn’t particularly favorable. The
local army chiefs were all fat and clumsy. They also lacked any charm you’d expect from a
stereotypical ‘officer & a gentleman’. It seems that as they were sitting in the camp, waiting for their
service time to drift by, they would just eat and eat. Or maybe they were just pregnant?
One of the biggest posts of the Roman army was placed in the North-Eastern frontier. The great
presence of the Roman army there has transcended through time and their descendants are what we
refer to as the people of modern day Romania. Hence the ‘Progressive’ Romanian mood.
The accordion solo here was performed by Jazz pianist Dimitar Bodurov who was willing to stretch out
of his typical comfort zone and give an outstanding performance. He also lent us his recording studio
(Opto-Music), a magic little place that was constructed originally by the band Focus and which later on
became The Rolling Stone’s home-base studio in Amsterdam.
Track 3: Rocky Valleys Of Dawn
LZ:While his sweetheart is swelling up towards the moment of delivery, a young dad-to-be is mentally
preparing himself for the big day, imagining how he will welcome his first born child into the world. He
is looking forward to show him around and present him with all the goodness that this world has to
After Tristan (keyboards) departed from the band, Lonny, Maarten & Willem were facing a challenging
period of rehearsing and recording as a trio. Lonny was inspired to go for that sound of a straight-
forward Rock trio consisting mainly of drums, bass & guitars.
Track 4: Praise The Day
LZ:A good lullaby sounds every time as if it’s a first. Just like every new day should feel. While tucking
him in bed, dad prepares his son to sleep, inspiring him to look forward to the next day.
Although seemingly the simplest song on the album, this track was one of the most challenging to
record. Catching the right sound and feel was pretty tricky. The recording was completed in July 2013
with the invaluable string parts (two violins and viola) played by Yael Shachar, with great support
during the sessions offered by her partner, composer Amit Poznansky.
Track 5: Now That We're Here
LZ:The kid is not a young child anymore. He slowly discovers more and more of the things that this world
has to offer. At this age it’s those things we deem unserious and unimportant, but they are sometimes
nothing less than the essence of life; those small, seemingly insignificant occasions. Yes! It’s time to
get wild and “Par-Tee”!
Technically one of the more complex compositions on the album, this one was recorded still with the
full foursome line-up, the basic backing track having been recorded in just one take!
Track 6: Periscope Down
LZ:It’s one of those moods, and for some, an attitude for life. You seem to realize that the world is going
mad, and so many hassles and headaches are taking place which are not positive or conducive to a
healthy life. You may prefer being a recluse for a while and wait until the heat is finally gone. Others
(“Spinoza-like” people) choose to let go of the community and its narrow-minded conventions,
preferring a life of dedication to the creation of new ideas and philosophies. These might eventually be
accepted as valuable. Usually in the far future, long after they’re dead and buried.
This is the first compositional contribution of bassist Maarten Bakker to Modest Midget. The group
wanted the music to groove naturally and smoothly. You can also imagine a guy who’s young, yet
mature at heart, chilling out and walking on the docks while slowly and soberly thinking about his own
life, the world around him and his place in it.
Track 7: (Oh) Pretty Woman
LZ:How could someone’s life just go by without a few good moments of sheer lust? One of the joys of life
is discovering members of the other camp (well, at least in most cases). Once again; it’s time to “Par-
Tee!” while learning about our biological drives.
It’s one of those ideas that just Popped into Lonny’s head (yes, Popped). It seemed like it would be
fun to play, and it became one of those particular moments during the band’s show in which the
audience could actually get up and dance.
Track 8: Flight Of The Cockroach
LZ:Life is not all perfect and beautiful. There are some awkward moments and even a few awkward
creatures. And the funny thing is; if you just learn to look at them in a slightly different way than you’re
used to, they may surprise you by revealing their own special charm. A lot depends on the eye of the
beholder. And it’s up to us to keep an open mind.
The Amstel river, the river from which the name Amsterdam was derived, goes through the city and
leaves it around the southern part of town. A small park that marks this exit, is a popular barbecue
place in summer, and a large doggy poop-yard in winter. Lonny wrote this piece while sitting on one of
the benches there, facing the river. The title came up when the piece was completed, paying tribute to
the very much respected Rimsky-Korsakov, his music, and the remarkable support he offered his
Vodka loving talented friend, Modest (Mussorgsky).
Track 9: Secret Lies
LZ:A dear friend is in trouble. It is obvious to you that he’s making a big mistake, maybe because he’s
bound by his own thoughts and beliefs. When you decide that it is your duty to take action and
intervene, he stubbornly refuses your help.
This was also one of the tracks that proved to be more challenging than expected. The right feel and
the right tempo were very ‘slippery’. As the case was for Pretty Woman, this track was recorded twice
before the band was confident that the right mood was captured. It was the last track to be completed,
finalized in August 2013.
Track 10: Gone Is
LZ:We met love, and we met lust. We also have heartbreaks. These are very common trauma’s that most
of us end up carrying for the rest of our lives. Moments in which we take a difficult step, and we decide
to close one chapter and start another.
Track 11: Crisis (Awake Of The Sheep)
LZ:People often feel they need a good leader and a sense of direction. When the right leader is lacking,
sometimes the wrong leader takes action. And we follow him. Occasionally, if we’re lucky, smart and
strong, we break the deal.
This is a special track that obviously took the largest amount of work to complete. Among the group of
very fine musicians that participated was Saxophone player Emiel de Jong, Lonny’s friend from the
days of The Great Prophecy album, Eduardo Olloqui (Oboe), Sanne Vos (Baroque Recorders) & Anna
Zeijlemaker (Flutes). The full arsenal of instruments includes: The Oboe, Soprano, Alto & Tenor
Saxophones, Flutes & Alto Flute, Sopranino, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass & Counter-bass recorders.
Track 12: Birth
LZ:The young boy is now a man. He has already experienced different things in life and he is ready to
team up with Someone special in order to bring new life into this world. A young life with whom he
could share his knowledge and wisdom. Today he stands in front of a gate into a new chapter, a
similar one to the one his dad confronted. This is the moment in which you take life into your own
hands. You know that if you do it right, you will be free.
This was the last song recorded by the complete foursome line-up. The backing track was laid down
by the whole group in one take and zero corrections, thereby catching a very essential live feel of the
performance in the studio.
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