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François Thollot - Ceux D'en Face CD (album) cover


François Thollot



3.10 | 16 ratings

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3 stars Francois Thollot's debut album is an entirely solo effort on which the man himself plays guitar, bass, piano and drums. The sound is similar to some of the jazzier Magma spin offs and acolytes of the 1970s such as Potemkine and Zao, with a touch of more recent zeuhl like NeBeLNeST. Although he's clearly a highly gifted musician and composer, there's often a feeling that the music would have benefited from the input of other players.

The drawbacks of his solo recording become apparent almost immediately. His guitar work is extremely fluid, and the tone is reminiscent of Robert Fripp and Richard Pinhas, while his piano work is solid and he mostly plays chunky chords to underpin the main melody. He manages the bubbling, high end bass that Bernard Paganotti and (to a lesser extent) Jannick Top contributed to Magma in their prime, but doesn't quite pull off the growling low end sound and rhythmic undertow that both players also excelled at. The real shortcoming, however, is in his drumming; while he's never less than competent the drumming never swings as it should, and although his concentration on the upper part of the kit is probably wise the cymbal work is often overdone. Having said all that, the compositions themselves are of a generally high standard and there are some inspired passages here and there, such as the brief vibes-driven coda to Enilek. The stand out is probably Marilyn-Antoinette, where the guitar dominates and there is a definite hint of King Crimson circa Fracture/FraKctured .

Ceux d'en Face promises rather more than it actually delivers, particularly when subjected to detailed listening, but it also hints at possible greatness to come. With the right band the music could sound brilliant, but this album sounds more like a series of high quality demos than a fully realised piece of work. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for Marilyn Antoinette.

Syzygy | 3/5 |


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