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Carpe Diem - Circonvolutions CD (album) cover

CIRCONVOLUTIONS

Carpe Diem

 

Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 22 ratings

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Replayer
4 stars I was taken aback when I noticed on the PA homepage that Carpe Diem released its third album after nearly a forty-year hiatus. I remember a conversation from a few years ago with the friend who introduced me to this excellent band and I recall lamenting how Carpe Diem released only two albums. The album's Escher-like black and white cover brought to mind that of the band's debut album. I purchased it immediately, of course.

Five past members of the band are featured: keyboardist and singer Christian Truchi, drummer Alain Faraut, guitarist Gilbert Abbenanti, bassist/vocalist George Ferrero and guitarist/violinist Gérald Macia. The last two joined the band in 1977 and worked on a yet-unreleased album. Saxophonist and flautist Claude-Marius David was a key contributor to the band's sound and he unfortunately passed away in the early 80s. To fill in his role, the band brought it two guest saxophonists/flautists: David Amar and Manu Dicostanzo. Melodie Rose is another guest musician, contributing drumming and background vocals.

The two longest tracks were originally recorded live in 1978 and feature Claude-Marius David.

The first track, Along the Great Wall, had me worried with its introductory 80s style electro-beat, but fortunately it is soon doused in the band's characteristic jazzy prog.

Conte de saxs is a saxophone duet. It reminds me of Alan Parsons Project in style. The band makes effective use of its two saxophonists on the album, having them play together.

The instrumental title track starts with a sequencer pattern (it reminds me of organ's repeat function as used by the Who on Baba O'Riley), unusually for the band. The pattern is then played on saxophone, drums, guitar, synths and organ at different points in the track. It's a pleasant enough composition (I especially like the electric guitar duet), but it sounds more like minute-long snippets spliced together and tied by the recurring pattern. With all the instrumentation changes, I feel it doesn't have a chance to develop organically as the band's previous longer compositions. The ending saxophone duet is a satisfying conclusion, though.

L'imagerie fantastique is one of the two tracks recorded live in 1978, and clocking at 11 minutes, is the album's longest track. It starts in an ambient manner. This track features Truchi's familiar keyboard he used so often on the band's previous albums. After a couple of minutes, drums join in and theme reminds me of Jeux du siécle. The second half is characterized by an interesting saxophone/wordless chanting duet.

Namire is a beautiful solo acoustic guitar piece in a Renaissance style, performed by Gérald Macia. It reminds me of Steve Howe's Mood for a Day.

Wedding Day is a pleasant laid-back jazzy shuffle with interesting saxophone/flute/violin interplay, but I don't really like the scat singing in the refrain.

Jardin de verre ("Glass garden") is the other live track from 1978 and only slightly shorter than L'imagerie fantastique. It stars off in an almost classical manner with violin, flute and string synth, then evolves into a standard Carpe Diem workout.

Overall, I found Circonvolutions to be an enjoyable album. It is not very demanding listening, but the album is impeccably played and produced and I genuinely like listening to it, despite my aversion to jazz. I applaud the band for this offering that has one foot planted in the band's classic 70s sound and the other exploring new musical horizons.

Replayer | 4/5 |

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