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Émeraude - Geoffroy CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.12 | 37 ratings

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4 stars Another magical lost gem.

The coolest thing about our Archives here is its ability to surprise us and delight us with jewels that are so far below the radar you would never have unearthed them otherwise. Emeraude's "Geoffroy" is just such a gem, something I expected very little from, that has turned out to be just magical. This is like walking through the gates of your local Renaissance Festival, music that will take you into the art that you see on the excellent cover. The story of Emeraude is not one of rags to riches, rock stars, or hipsters. Rather, at an unlikely moment in the Prog timeline you have a group of friends and relatives who came together to make an artistic document for their own pleasure. These were not worldly musicians in a band but regular people working on their hobby in their spare free time after work. What they came up with is an album I'll always treasure. This is simple, pleasurable music for you enjoyment: it is not groundbreaking, and there are no Fripp/Bruford moments of complex wizardry. Simple, rather mellow, dreamy, medieval-flavored fantasy folk-rock is how I would describe Emeraude. I would recommend this album to fans of other quality below-the-radar gems like Pentacle (hi John!), Rousseau, Willowglass, Era di Acquario, Faveravola and Pererin, not because they sound like these groups necessarily but in relation to the spirit and quality. I think it would also appeal to fans of Floyd, Novalis, and Reale Acadamia.

Our delightful journey begins with "Boule de Plume's" solo piano playing a wistful melody leading to acoustic guitar and bass. The music is simple but indescribably beautiful here. Soon, a child's voice begins a narration over the music in French (vocals are in both English and French.) Then we get our first shot of the lead guitar, which is weepy, drenched in a Floydian haziness, with casually played notes bent just right to hit the pleasure centers, and no speed or shred in sight. It falls away leaving the piano and synth surrounding you like fog. "Pluie" is a short acoustic guitar solo that is very nice. Next comes the first long track, "Viking" which is 12 minutes long. It begins with male narration in English. The gent has a fairly heavy French accent that will distract those of you who can't handle any non-perfect-English vocal challenges. No problem to me. The track then picks up to a folk rock pace with synths, guitars, bass, and drumming that is reasonably good. Piano comes back and joins the bass/drums, and the track drifts along at a medium pace with occasional narration. After the halfway point things get more rocking with some electric guitar and as the piece progresses there is nice interplay, and then wind sounds at the end getting louder and louder. Next comes the album's centerpiece at 16 ˝ minutes long. "Geoffroy" is the highlight for me as the vocalist switches to French where he is obviously more comfortable. He is accompanied in these early verses by acoustic strumming, wonderfully effective at evoking the fantasy imagery. Synths, drums, and bass join. At 3 minutes the electric leads drop, very slow and Floydish again. An acoustic bridge. At this point the composition deliberately changes to passages that are seemingly directionless, blowing in the wind if you will. What I love here is that you begin to relax and go with it, accepting that this journey is one of patience and mystery, as a journey should be. You sort of get hypnotized by the acoustic and slow drum/bass pace until that lead guitar pops in and out providing very measured drama. Nothing extraordinary happens nor should it-it is the scenery on the journey rather than the destination that is the whole point. Another short acoustic solo piece concludes the journey as you arrive at that castle on the cover. Yup. I loved it.

Buyer beware! This music is not for adrenalin junkies and fireworks hounds. It is not for those seeking sonic perfection or groundbreaking progressive music. This is for people who enjoy reading Tolkien and admiring the long, thoughtful way he describes the surroundings of Middle Earth. How he takes a page to describe the black smoke drifting across a meadow in the distance. This music if for people who like second tier bands, who appreciate hobby musicians toiling in the basement on their own personal magnum opus, with all the love and sweat involved in such a pursuit. You are going to hear some mistakes, some amateur moments, and songs they assumed would most likely be heard by their family, friends, and some French audiences. This is a very intimate record that never attempts to wow you or shake simply arrives at your door a shy stranger and exudes beautiful sounds for 35 minutes before it vanishes again into the night. An excellent album that goes straight to my special shelf of "magic" music.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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