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Xaal - Xaal CD (album) cover





3.07 | 6 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars For a very long time I thought Xaal have released only two albums, the 1991 "En Chemin" and the 1995 Seconde Ere. But a few years ago when I talked about them with a friend of mine who was working for a few years in a small record store, he said he wasn't that impressed by them. Well...being a stubborn douchebag I asked what's not to like about them?? So he said it is difficult for him to get passed that first 10 minutes song. Hmmm....But they don't have a 10 minute song as an opener I answered. He bet me 5$ and pulled out a CD with a cheap cover art. At first I thought "Yay Xaal have released a new album!" but when he played it to me I understood it is a demo tape or an EP, not only because of the sound quality but also because of the material itself. So apparently this is one of Xaal's first recordings ever and it was released only on cassette. After paying him that 5$ he gave me that bootleg CD for free.

This EP contains 5 songs. 2 songs that were already released in different versions, each in every album they have, and 3 unreleased songs. The whole thing is clocking at 37 minutes which is a priceless addition for anyone who already likes this band. The sound quality is not so good but it's definitely listenable and shouldn't turn off anyone who's interested in this.

Their style here is a little incoherent but it resembles their first album. There's just a little bit of everything here, Zehul, Fusion, wicked Crimson outbursts and other experimental jamming The album opens up with "Exordex", a 10 minute song that is worth having this EP alone. This track takes all those influences and efficiently mix them together. Although It starts as a harmful eclectic fusion jamming it doesn't hold any solos just yet. The band is moving from one idea to the next very smoothly, it has a good flow and it is well constructed. Little by little you're having a feeling that the band is not showing all their cards, the music is getting more and more sinister and they are getting out of the fusion sound into a wicked Zehul territory. Slowly it gets more intense and fast it's like the band is in a trance, each one of them is notable for his playing, this is simply superb and turned out to be in my top 3 songs by the band. "Piege" would resurface 5 years from now and appear on their second album. This is a primal version of it but it's not so far from the later version, the song is already complete at this stage, the difference is in the execution, the band had 5 years to practice and it shows, I prefer the later version on Seconde Ere. "Byblos" would appear in the following year on their debut. Once again this is a primal version and it is just slightly different, the ideas are there but it is executed a little differently. Although it has some very good ideas it was never a favorite of mine, for an 11 minute song it is not so coherent. The first half is good but later it just doesn't hold up. "Crepuscule " is something entirely different, something we are not used to hearing from the band. It's a 2.5 minute song done with only acoustic guitars and some tablas, something I would expect from Amon Duul II, only here it is nothing special. The closing track "Xenophee" is a slow paced tune, I wouldn't call it mellow but it's definitely tranquil, evolving on one melody which they are investigating. Unfortunately it doesn't reach any heights and it is closer to their mediocare light fusion attempts on their debut.

So here are the first steps of a very talented band with a very unique sound and a good mixture of styles, and although it's far from perfect they show a lot of character, something that not every talented band has. This would mainly appeal to fans of the band looking for some rare recordings. As I said this is worth having for the first track alone, the rest is of course overall good too. After investigating a little further, there's suppose to be other rare recordings as well but they would be almost impossible to track down. 3 stars.

Sagichim | 3/5 |


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