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VISIONS

Clearlight

 

Symphonic Prog

2.94 | 32 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Enchanting, yet not fulfilling

Cyrille Verdeaux, born in 1949, is an acclaimed French musician and composer. His albums are often described as new agey keyboard-lead prog but have influences in the classical, jazz, rock, and psychedelic avenues. My 1992 French CD version (Legend Records LM 9001) of this album has a different track order than the one noted here but contains almost the same tracks overall. I was not smitten with this album for the most part but will attempt a fair and positive breakdown of the songs.

"Spirale d'amour" begins with waves coming to shore followed by a very beautiful section of piano, flute, and birds chirping away. Certainly a promising beginning to any album! The band then comes in and is joined by violin, sax, and synths as the track get pretty wild. It's almost as if the lead instruments are dueling, trading off lick and lick of flash. "Guitare elevation" starts with lovely piano with just a bit of keys behind it, then slowly they work in a bit more until the band comes in with drums and bass supporting fine melody. Soon comes a nice soaring electric lead taking the piece to the next level, very majestic, sunsets over oceans kind of vibe. Probably the best moment. More birds to begin the next piece "Crystal City" which then gets a bit funky, sort of new age combined with raga. Interesting percussions and synth play create an exotic atmosphere. "Messe Caline" opens with the howling of wind and then more birds! Cyrille likes birds! The balance features piano, stings, and synth used effectively without the band. Without the drum beats the piece is free for seven minutes to explore both peaceful and turbulent waters and does so simultaneously sometimes, quite a feat. More birds and animal sounds to ring in "Shanti Lotus" which then offers the modified raga beat again with jazzy piano over the top. Synths and sound samples begin to layer on top of this. The bass is pretty thick giving a density that again keeps things from getting too relaxing. Towards the end the beats and bass cease leaving space for a calming breather. "Heymae" is another highpoint where the rhythm section is left on the shelf. Another seven minutes for the tranquil and turbulent atmospheres to slowly envelope. The keyboards are joined by active flute dances and later some programmed rhythms. "Vision Nocturne" begins with piano and riding cymbals with the ever present waves of Cyrille's synthesizers. The cymbals finally stop to allow the piano space for a nice moment. Not a great track though. "Songe de Cristal" is a nice piece of solo piano with the occasional splash of cymbals. "Raganesh" is a long piece highly representative of the artist with spacious atmosphere, percussions, and even sitars. Half way through the drums will emerge with a much more driving force and the violins will begin to buzz. After this builds to a climactic drum solo there is an end respite of sitar and calm.

While I certainly respect Verdeaux and his many fans and enjoy some of his occasionally beautiful moments, I am not a fan of "Visions" by a long shot. With the many avenues attempted here they are watered down sufficiently to never grab me in any one rewarding way. Melodious moments never develop enough, contemplative moments will be interrupted by contrived flashiness before enveloping you, too many ideas will be stifled by his preoccupation with cheesy pseudo-spiritual imagery. Frankly I find the album highly frustrating, it doesn't even satisfy in an experimental sense, which I assume it was meant to somewhat, because again the pieces feel quite contrived to me. Greg Northrup from Progweed is more forgiving than I with this album but does note some of my feelings too, writing "some of the tracks get bogged down in overly New-Agey crumminess, while Crystal City actually incorporates the all-to-prominent generic techno beat. On the whole, Visions is a pretty solid album, though it can be a little much if one is not in the mood [for] the kind of pretty, lightweight, and ultimately cheesy Eastern mysticism vibe of the whole thing." [Greg Northrup]

I acknowledge the album will appeal to many and is renowned on the French scene but I personally cannot get behind it. It's pleasant moments do not add up to a rewarding overall listen for me, especially since I'm basking in the afterglow of reviewing Carpe Diem's second album just last night, my idea of great French prog. Clearlight and Aphelandra fall into an area of talented wizards who have lots of tricks to display and yet they fail to equate to memorable music for this fan. Their albums are curiosities that can be interesting for noting their talents more so than something I long to play to feed the soul. Above 2 stars but not quite 3.

Finnforest | 2/5 |

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