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Ange - Par les Fils de Mandrin CD (album) cover

PAR LES FILS DE MANDRIN

Ange

 

Symphonic Prog

3.37 | 100 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars After failing to live up to Au-Delà du Delire with Emile Jacotey, Ange fail again, this time in their effort to recover from the failure that was the preceding album. By failure I don't mean a poorly made and unremarkable album, just one that, while good, was miles away from the sublime which the band had previously delivered. The band seemed astray from their eerie soundscapes and theatrics reminiscent of Ancien Régime plays, towards a more musically regular, hard-rocking approach. And so we have Par Les Fils de Mandrin, an album altogether as unremarkable as the previous one, with even less highlights than Emile Jacotey.

The title track opener, Par les Fils de Mandrin, is a catchy rocker with a pretty standart rock song formula. A slow organ crescendo (and nothing else) opens it before the theme guitar riff is introduced at 1:20 into the song. The vocals by Christian Decamps are as usual, never disappointing, but also not as vigorous. A soft section before a good guitar solo, and then we resume the initial riff. It is followed by Au Café du Colibri, another rocker, but this time with a more clear Ange sound - the organ is much more noticeable on this one, despite the clearly defined presence of the guitar. It is also a less formulaic song, with a carnival sounding rhythm. It features some interesting passages, musically unrelated to the rest of the song, with pretty comic sounds and vocals. A glass smashing sound followed by the noise of water make the transition towards the next track, Ainsi s'en ira la pluie. The organ then takes the stage, playing gently in the background to Decamps delicate vocals. Here and there, the faint sound of guitar chord. A small instrumental interlude, and the return of the same gentle melody and vocals. Christian dialoguing with himself, and then, nearing at 4 and a half minutes into the track, a sound burst, an electric guitar solo, a sudden quicken in pace conveyed by the introduction of the drumming and finally Christian reaching for his pipes, before an organ solo takes the song to its end. The sound of a fire quite logically opens Autour du Feu, a very flamenco- sounding track dominated by the acoustic guitar, gently accompanied by the harmonic, whose ending really reminds you of a party on a gypsy camp. Gypsies and the circus really seem to be the main theme of the album, from what my poor French can understand. Saltimbanques confirms this. This track presents Decamps as a grand master of ceremonies to a great show, a feeling conveyed both by his vocals and by the music, again a very circus sounding piece, dominated by the keyboards whose sound ranges from flutes to harpsichords. The music finished suddenly, giving way to a short declamation by Christian. Des yeux Couleur d'Enfants follows in typical Ange grandeur, opened by their trademark organ and guitar interplay, interluded by an eerie all-organ passage. Again a delicate passage, this time with vocals, more emotional than theatrical. The track remains quite spacey, with only a slight presence of percussion (mostly cymbals) and a very faint guitar work. Like many other Ange tracks, it all bursts into a faster paced ending, with another great guitar solo and organ interplay, all the way through the rest of the song. Atlantis les géants de la 3e Lune is a very spacey track, mostly keyboard dominated with occasional sounds of waterdrops, and presenting in the vocals. Robert Wyatt?? Actually, no, but Christian sure delivers some Wyattesque vocals on this one, a feeling only interrupted by the adoption of his usual tone. Then. guess what! After nearly ¾ of an eerie atmosphere and delicate singing, a guitar solo. Again. This one is however slower than the previous and a lot more Foydian. In fact, this is much a track you'd be likely to hear from Eloy than from Ange. It is a short solo, as it quickly fades away as the song ends. The final track, Hymne à la Vie, is supposed to be the epic of the album. Despite its length, I do believe it fails in dong so. The beginning, with the trademark emotional vocals accompanied by acoustic guitars, soon joined in by the unavoidable organ, and a couple of good arrangements, despite sounding lovely its not compelling or memorable at all when compared to other ballads in the same genre. This is true for the entire first section of the song, entitled Cantique which ends at the 4:15 mark. It is quickly followed (as it should be on what intends to be a single long piece) by the second section, Procession,

opened by acoustic guitar and a trumpeting organ melody. Christian Decamps begins to sing in a delicate tone, but soon decides to take it up a few notches, with lovely overdubbed vocals, making this a beautiful crescendo only slightly interrupted by a another good Brezovar guitar solo. It is clearly the high point (and most memorable bit) of the song. The final section, Hymne, follows instantly with the successful Ange formula of guitar solo/organ interplay and great vocals. A good ending.

I found this album the most unrewarding of the three I currently own (actually, the most unrewarding of the 5 early Ange albums I've heard). The few highlighs of the album are so more for being catchy than for being very good. The title track is a good example of this. The good bits of this album take place whenever the old Ange formula (at this points one begins to wonder whether the word cliché is beginning to sound appropriate) of bursting guitar solos, eerie organ an emotional vocals is displayed - however, the band pulled that off better in other albums, making the efforts on this one look pale in comparison. But like I said, it is mostly bits of songs that make the album interesting, as opposed to full songs. Overall, this is a small, easy album to listen, but ultimately unconvincing for those who pick it up expecting to be amazed. A pity, since we already know that Ange were quite capable of producing such moments. This is a good band, well worthy to be discovered and listened to, and despite sometimes putting out unremarkable albums, like this one, I can't really say any of the ones I heard is not good.

Kotro | 3/5 |

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