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Lazuli - En avant doute... CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 118 ratings

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4 stars en avant doute (going forward despite everything)

Lazuli is a French band formed in 1998 who with "en avant doute" released a work that made many "best of 2007" lists. I can certainly understand why. Their myspace site describes the band as "somewhere between progressive rock & electro-world, poetry & travel.visiting new territories with a rather unusual instrumentation: Warr guitar, Chapman stick, marimba, vibraphone, percussions, guitars, vocals..& especially a unique instrument created by Claude Leonetti : the LEODE." (the Leode is an instrument created by Leonetti who lost the use of one arm in an accident, so that he could play guitar with one hand.and it sounds amazing.) They note that "songs are canvas on which they mix colors to paint their own world." High-minded sentiments to be sure but quite accurate. This album possesses an exciting sound all its own in an age where it's not all that easy to break through the din anymore. The release is also great value because they throw in a bonus DVD with performance and documentary stuff.

The title track is first and this is a song about losing a loved one. The title is described as a nonsensical phrase meaning to "go forward despite everything." Vocals are usually present and very good. The track starts with electronica-like sounds gurgling behind the vocal with a Bjorkish feel until the band kicks in a bit later. The album really engages on "Laisse Courir" which is a song about the rat race in life that we all put ourselves through. The beautiful LEODE really comes through here and gives the album such a unique sound. It sounds a bit like a combination of slide guitar and keyboard, and Leonetti sounds to me influenced by Robert Fripp. What is so amazing about the LEODE is the total freedom and agility of sound Claude is able to extract, it's just wild to hear and worth the price of admission by itself. You won't believe the notes he finds, he pulls them to Earth from distant planets and ocean bottoms. Incredible. But I don't recommend Lazuli on the strength of their guitarists alone, they are all accomplished musicians with some very good songs. "Le Repas de l' Ogre" in a not-so-veiled shot at our own President Bush with quiet vocal sections contrasted with loud rocking parts. Next up is an Ange cover song (a shortened version) called "Capitaine Coeur de Miel" from their "Guet-Apens" album. Their love of Ange is obvious in the passionate playing and singing. "La Valse a Cent Ans" is a love song where Dominique Leonetti does a great job in a higher range of notes and there is an immaculate balance between this expressive vocal and the Leode accenting. He also accompanies himself on acoustic with interesting instruments and percussion behind him. If I'm vague about the instruments I'm hearing it's because I can't figure out what the hell is making half the sounds I'm hearing! It's that kind of album, but such is the fun! "Film d'aurore" has a bit of a creepy vibe with a quick-paced tight drumming and industrial grating behind a heavy bass line. The track gets heavier and heavier with a definite Crimson-like cacophony, though this album is not like KC overall. Much of it is quieter and more folk-influenced, but with a modern sound. "Quest Terne" is a break-up song described as the "sun setting on the life of a couple." A softer track with a nice vocal. "L'Arbre" (the tree) is a tribute to nature and how our perceived evolution has actually been the opposite. We have set up a system that cannot sustain itself and refuse to take our heads out of the sand, lest we upset someone's profit potential. It's my favorite song here and not because just because of the subject: this is simply jubilant playing with nice hooks and Peter Gabriel style rhythms. "Cassiopee" is another treat with great escalation of the music until the frenzied latter part, while remaining grounded with the acoustic guitar and strong vocal melody.

The DVD is a fun bonus to have. You get a live performance (although I don't see the crowd.empty venue?) and a documentary. This is more like a road journal that shows us that while these guys play sophisticated music, they're still having fun like kids on the road. We see them partying in one city and getting back to their hotel rooms a little crazy pushing one another down the hallway on the luggage rack. There is also an informative history of the Leode instrument and how it came to be, very cool. And a promo video for "le repas de l'ogre" which proves the band has a way to go in the production of compelling rock video. The booklet contains complete lyrics in French with brief English descriptions about the subject matter, a very nice touch for those of us who understand English-only. And what a fantastic album cover!! It says a whole lot in that one photo if you really stop to think about it for a spell.

This is a band with much promise who I expect to only get better. I would like to hear maybe one or two instrumental tracks on their next album, here I believe all or most were quite vocal and I'd like to hear what they can do without that structure. But as they continue to master their unique sound and even expand it, my hope is that they maintain a strong emphasis on melody, on keeping it tethered to Earth in a sense. I think it's that combination of eclectic sound and folkish warmth that make this band so appealing to so many this year. 3 stars.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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