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Xaal - En Chemin CD (album) cover





3.68 | 27 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars XAAL were an all instrumental band from France who put out two great records in the nineties. There is a mixture of Rio, Zeuhl and Jazz in this their debut, and more than once I was reminded of both CAMEL and KING CRIMSON.This seems to be some sort of a concept album as there is a little written blurb with each song to read, but the concept is vague to say the least. The music though is crystal clear. Cool to see the Guillard brothers here on horns, they've both played in MAGMA and WEIDORJE.

"L'Enfant" has such beautiful sounding guitar melodies (Latimer-like) with light drums. As bass comes in 4 1/2 minutes in the song changes with uptempo, passionate passages coming and going. The drumming is fantastic ! "Ballade" is a good uptempo song with the focus on the guitar and drums with sax and trumpet adding some flavour. "Le Jardin" opens with the birds singing as an intricate guitar melody with bass comes in. Drums follow as the guitar gets more aggressive. I'm reminded of CAMEL a minute in. "En Chemin" is quite a ride as it opens with piano, bass, drums and guitar. The tempo changes often and the song gets intense 3 minutes in before changing completely 4 minutes in to a jazzy little number. Synth-guitar and light drums as the song builds after 5 minutes.

"Talisman" opens with some beautiful sounding guitar as bass and light drums come for the ride. The guitar is more raw after 4 minutes. "Le Vieux Chasseur De Papillons" opens with lots of atmosphere that lasts for 2 minutes before some tasteful guitar comes in. Great sound 5 minutes in. "Ascension" has a dark and heavy intro with Fripp-like guitar that slowly grinds out angular melodies. The song stops completely 2 minutes in and restarts with a different guitar melody as the song continues to unfold. The wind is blowing to end it. "Byblos" is dominated by guitar and drums before a blistering guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. We get an atmospheric section 2 minutes later with some synth-guitar before a climate change 8 1/2 minutes in of horns and drums. The final track "Final" is less then a minute long. It sounds like someone breathing hard and then yelling as drums pound to a dramatic ending.

Just an excellent release with amazing instrumental work that should satisfy Zeuhl, Rio and Jazz lovers alike.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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