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Chrysalide - Triptyque CD (album) cover

TRIPTYQUE

Chrysalide

 

Prog Folk

2.20 | 3 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Chrysalide have finally finished their trilogy (began more than a decade ago) with this latest Self-released title 'Triptyque'. Like their other recordings, the album is available for download from their website.

I also reviewed the other two albums in this series, and while the overdone presence of long, sometimes unfocused acoustic guitar strumming caused me to tire of them by the time 'La Chute' rolled around, I have to say that this latest offering shows some noticeable attempts at expanding the range of their music. This is still largely ambient, acoustic folk with decidedly French instrumental sensibilities that may not appeal to everyone; indeed, they don't always appeal to me. But there are improvements that make these songs more accessible than the first two records, and when listened to in its entirety the trilogy does have a sense of continuity that is appropriate considering the band's original intent.

The biggest difference on 'Triptyque' is the introduction of a piano on many of the tracks. My biggest complaint about Chrysalide's music in the past (aside from the fact that I don't speak French so I can't follow the vocals) is that there was way too much focus on Jacques Malinvaud's acoustic guitar. This led to a couple of fairly one-dimensional records, and along with the sometimes excessive length of some of the songs can cause listeners to tire of the music too soon. The piano passages expand the group's sound into more aurally appealing variations, and help to break up the guitar passages (which I still think are too long for the most part).

The other improvement is the expanded use of cello throughout. I jotted down a few notes after listening to their first couple of albums earlier this year, and there were three things I felt they needed to do to improve; use more strings, introduce some additional instrumental variety to offset the guitar, and either offer some English vocals or at least provide translated lyric sheets with their liner notes since less than ten percent of the world understands French. With 'Triptyque' they have accomplished two of these at least. In addition to the piano and increased use of cello, Vincens also employs a bouzouki, which isn't a lot different than an acoustic guitar really, but does achieve some additional variation in the overall sound. He also plays a cümbüs occasionally, but this is not prominent and could also improve their appeal if emphasized more during the many extended guitar passages.

The three albums combine to tell (I assume) the story of the life of Christ. Again, unless you have a grasp of French the theme may be lost, except that the song titles make this point a fairly obvious one, as does the artwork for this and the other albums. But even this is a bit abstract since there isn't a whole lot of singing, so the details are mostly left to the imagination or a separate reading of the source material (which you can find on the bedside table of most hotels).

Geoffrey offered me an advance copy of this album a few months ago to preview, and I burned it along with the other two albums and played them straight through a few times during a long sixteen-hour road trip I drove across the southern part of the U.S. this summer. I wouldn't recommend playing all three albums in one setting by the way, as the hours of persistent acoustic guitar will wear you down after a while.

But I do want to acknowledge that Chrysalide has evolved over the years, and that is quite noticeable on this release. I actually feel kind of bad that I never wrote back to Geoffrey to share this with him sooner, but hopefully he will read this and know I did not ignore his thoughtful gesture.

This music is not for everyone, and I have to admit I don't see myself playing this or even the other two albums very often. But I am interesting in evolution of this group as manifested in their three albums of music spread over the past decade, and if they were to release another recording in the future I'm sure I will be one of the people who adds it to my collection. This is a decent album that I would recommend to fans of placid acoustic folk, with the one caveat that you may want (as I have) find yourself wanting to tell these guys to keep looking to instruments other than just acoustic guitar to spread their message. Three stars for the best work from the band yet.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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