Principal Edwards Magic Theatre – “Soundtrack” CD (Cherry Red)

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The third release on John Peel’s Dandelion imprint was this ambitious art-rock outing from a collective of one-time Exeter University students whose classical instrumentation, archaic literary themes and erratic time signatures rendered them too weird for mainstream notice, despite light shows and pretty stage dancers. Their debut heavily features Vivienne McAuliffe’s precise operatic vocals enveloped by staccato Indian-tinged arrangements. The hard rock Shakespeare adaptation is an amusing, if overwrought, novelty, with some lovely medieval vocal passages, but like the rest of the disk, gears shift before one can get comfortable. Live, with the visual treats of twirling girls, swirling oils and psychedelic costumes, these elaborate set pieces might have held the audience’s interest, but on record, something’s missing.

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