Madensuyu – Stabat Mater

November 12, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve

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It was a serious and hard discussion. Bottles were thrown, blood was shed and the irons were crossed. Issue; What are the borders of the Netherlands? The outcome : we of Luifabriek do not accept the treaty of London, 1839. A pity for the Belgium claim for independence, but…it does give me the opportunity to tell you about Stabat Mater, the third album by Madensuyu.

Honest, the two previous records by this duo from Ghent have slipped my attention. If they were anything close to this record…it’s a shame.

Stabat Mater is based on the religious poem written in the high Middle Ages in devotion of Mary. The mother, her loss, the greatest sacrifice possible for a mother in order for mankind to be saved and yet the tears she wept at the cross, as her son – our saviour – slowly had to let go of the ghost. It soon became a centrepiece in the liturgy around the sorrows of the mother.

Madensuyu are not the first to put this medieval hymn to music, but most likely this version lies the furthest from the intentions of the Franciscan monk that wrote these words in the early 13th century. He’d probably deem it as demonic, since dissonance does not really fit the Gregorian tone scale used in the Middle Ages. Hell, it was actually forbidden by church law.

But the music does emphasize the frustration and sadness Mary must have felt as she was crying at the cross of her dying son. Fierce and aggressive no wave with a swinging rhythm machine. Sometimes supported by a steaming organ, often completed with a choirboy that brings in the needed Gregorian reference with his soprano voice. But most of the drama is brought upon us by the noise rock of the duo. Dragging and painful in ‘On The Long Run’, pulsing as a steam train at full speed in ‘Ready I’ and catchy as hell in the short-but-raging ‘Give’. Yet all the while filled with a distant cry of frustration. The instrumental ‘Dolorosa’ offers a sensation of hope in the otherwise gloomy story. But it’s a restless hope, still filled with an imprint of desperation. Madensuyu might give a totally new swing to the Stabat Mater, they do so with devotion and passion needed to tell such a sorrowful story.

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