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Taal - Mister Green CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.90 | 103 ratings

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4 stars I finally get to comment on one of the very few truly progressive modern outfits anywhere, incorporating various ingredients that boggle and stun. I have listened to this heavily before reviewing because some may think I only like the gentler side of progressive music. Just like any self respecting prog pervert, I like the rough kinky stuff too, on occasion! First, let's get the mechanics out of the way by boldly claiming that the musicians are both creative and technically highly proficient. Guitarist Anthony Gabard has the fueled rage of a Fripp pretty much down pat with brilliant metallic interventions that scream: wow! Loïc Bernardeau is one of those supremely original "percussionaires", while bassist David Stuart Dosnon puts down some beefy lines that evoke the rumblings of prime John Wetton and Sébastien Constant wields a vast array of assorted dense keyboards. Taal also throws in some Zappaesque influences with the inclusion of various saxes, clarinet, violin, cello, trombone and flute. Their debut "Mister Green" sets the luxuriant table of a shrewd and innovative musical banquet where only the unexpected is served, as each of the 9 courses on this menu continuously astonish. After a brief a-propos sound byte, the acridly titled opener "Barbituricus" proposes an initial searing numbness with various atmospherics that incorporate a weaving Canterbury style choral work, some gurgling bass, Frippian buzzsaw rhythm guitar slashes, galloping percussion and some more febrile lead fretwork. There is a hint of Mahavishnu Orchestra in the arrangements, displaying a careening virtuosity that is continents removed from Neo or Symph prog, brash twists and lush turns, hard and soft contrasts galore, with Gabard letting sparks fiercely fly. All the ingredients are thrown in at the most opportune time, a trombone surging from nowhere, elevating the passion to climactic heights. It takes balls to kick off one's career with such a 15 minute extravaganza! The nearly 9 minute "Coornibus" is at first piloted by a gentle flute/guitar duet, pastoral yet with an ominous undertone, when as expected a fierce guitar exploration sets fire to the entire context, emitting a quasi Magmaesque controlled fury mixed in with some heavy medieval musings and string/choir orchestrations adding to the lava! A romantic jazz piano interlude calms the storm but only briefly as Gabard's dirty guitar hungrily flings the piece again into darker realms. Nothing drags on too long with this "équipe", constantly in search of new musical destinations. "Flat Spectre" is another epic multi- flavored stew that has Spanish guitar musings, a keyboard driven slightly Middle Eastern feel, a bluesy mid section that grooves gently and veers into a crescendo of Felliniesque blistering guitar leads. There is a circus like detail which is a trusted coloring from this band, relying on it to keep the listener on the "Halt, who goes there?", relaying to a furious finale that screams, howls and agonizes. "Ragtime" is, as the title implies, a brief whimsical romp with the clarinet taking its natural place, until it too decides to go somewhat ballistic, aided and abetted with some very chunky chords. Bizarre! "No Way!" proffers some vaudeville sillyness with nausea and gurgling, before Daevid Allen era Gong vocal hysterics with trombones a boomin' usher in the title track, a dizzying piece that has absolute no pomp or circumstance. Hmm, Gong did spend a lot of time in rural France, for legal reasons. This may prove that Taal were the children playing in their hippie commune! "Mister Grey" is a return to their sulfuric style, guitars ablaze and kick ass drumming propelling the mood ever forward. Yeah, it's intricate, at times disjointed and simply complex (as opposed to Math), with unending wit, charm and balls. The outstanding "Aspartamus" provides more of the same with tingling keys, roaming bass and more effusive Gabardian blasts that verge on the pyrotechnical. I am preferential towards more melodious fretmen (Latimer, Peeters, Gilmour, Holmes, Hillage, Hackett, Howe etc.), yet Robert Fripp is still my capo but Anthony Gabard, you must remember this name. This man is bloody ridiculous. Last track best track syndrome, as "Super Flat Moon" ends this extravagant debut with sheer gusto and destructive flair, clearly nailing down a five star rating, with an even more overt Larks Tongues/Starless & Bible Black/Red feel, mainly due to the heavy violin presence, the utter Frippoid guitar devastation, the steamroller rhythm section plowing ahead unrestrained, with a contemplative middle section loaded with various atmospherics just to keep the record straight (pun intended). As the sudden bar room jazzy piano shuffles effortlessly, I am standing and I am applauding. To quote David Byrne "this ain't no party, this ain't no disco", just some fine experimental prog of the finest caliber. 4 étaals.
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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