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Orion - Le Survivant CD (album) cover

LE SURVIVANT

Orion

 

Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 68 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars French prog toilers Orion are progressing even further than their brilliant predecessor album ' La Face Visible' , a glorious release back in 2015 that found my attention , followed by my loving review, moved by the music and its important theme of The Iron Curtain. This new masterpiece also delves into the 'not so science fiction' of our ultimate demise, what with the current ding-dongs running the planet. This concept album deals with our contemporary ills: pollution, climate change, corporate dominance and political upheaval. While the subject matter may be perceived as bleak with a title like 'Le Survivant' (The survivor), the music remains sleek, silky and intense, drenched in gorgeous melodies but sublimed by a breezy guitar style that adds a lot of sunshine, hopefully not from radio activity but rather the solar protection we have enjoyed in our history. As an amateur historian, I can assure you that we are not quite civilized yet! More hypocritical world is what we live through now. Thank god there is love and art left to keep us smiling! It's this genial spirit that permeates all the tracks, taking its sweet time, to get the buzz going and it goes'..very far. As with all the classic French prog bands, the vocals are theatrical in nature and they enhance the stunning instrumental play by emoting on a fierce and impassioned level, supremely addictive, with an overall sound that thrills, throwing in some jazzier elements that infuse the tracks with maturity. The main core of Janusz Tokarz on keyboards and vocals, Patrick Wyrembski on acoustic guitar and vocals, guitarist Alain Pierre and keysman Michel Taran provide the soundtrack, aided by a slew of invited guests on guitar, bass and piano and drums. The package comes with a tremendous booklet, lush with Chagallian styled paintings by artist Michel Philippon

The album kicks off with the appropriately titled 'Big Bang', a rather ominous intro with jangling guitars, a spectral keyboard howl and some coarse guitar riffing, 8 minutes of typical French classic prog loaded with haunting vocals that provide a recap of human evolution. The pace is at times relaxed and expansive, then moody and abrasive, crowned by a jazzy guitar solo that is more Steely Dan in tone , with an added synth gust that morphs brilliantly into the instrumental 'Cumulostratus' which further reinforces the jazzier tendency, propelled by drummer Cedric Affre's cool cat shuffle. The spotlight then shines on guest pianist Paul Cribaillet who just keeps the gusto going, duelling nicely with Pierre-Jean Horville on lead guitar. Scintillating and smooth as velvet. After the Big Bang, we have atmosphere, oxygen and life.

With 'Peur du Vide', the band really set the controls to the heart of Orion with a stellar piece of music that evoke the unending human failures we strive to amass, often imperfect beings laden with self-doubt and lack of courage. The sprawling music is both luxuriant and incisive, with snarling guitars, sweeping and grandiose keyboards and beautifully poignant vocals. The sound of distant church bells from 'Crimsonville' (nod and wink) , a choir of acid rain and divine luminosity. Just brilliant!

The swooning lilt of 'Les Ravageurs' comes across as a fine tribute to the sound of Pulsar, another slick French prog band with whom Orion can share similarities, but the main melody is simply ravishing even though the lyrics spell out gloom and doom, a world of wasteful mutants, polluting parasites and ingrate exploiters, the 'ravagers' plead ignorance, imposters denying the evidence, raiders looking for another great deal to stuff their greedy pockets! Another total winner!

Sorrow permeates 'Mere Nature', as it rightfully should, seeing Mother Nature crying her deepest gasps, distressed narration and overwrought lead vocals amid the suicidal synthesized whistlings and floating guitar arrays, pulsed by some intricate drumming and rolling bass undertow. There is a jazzier Floydian touch here that elicits another serious thumbs up.

'La Planete des Fous' gets a tad angrier, armed by slowly burning guitar strains shoving the melancholia-dripping theme along, until an alarming barrage of wild synths disturb the mood, the repetitive lilt only highlighting the puerile insanity of our constant futility. The overall impression up to now is that these musicians have crafted a personal opus that has just the perfect amount of intelligent thought, restrained but expressive instrumental grace, little pretense or artifice. This imprint is maintained with the final two pieces that close the album.

'Le Dernier Arbre' (the last tree) is a mournful musical agony that shines desperate light on the despair of the modern world's continued disregard for our planet. The sullen vocals and deep harmonies play a major role here, buoyed by a nervous piano tirade, corkscrew guitar structures and a windswept synth barrage. The melody is both complex on a multi-level platform, like an armoire with each drawer creating its own feeling of intensity. It's still very accessible but grief-stricken as the piece goes forth boldly by revisiting the main gorgeous melody. Seductive and exquisite.

The title track spares no regret or remorse, 'Le Survivant' (the Survivor) maintains a Floydian feel, with a lyrical anticipation of an unknown future, another Adam and Eve or perhaps another Ark, who knows? The pace is rather pulsating, lamenting a devastated planet lost in a mutilated universe, asking, no rather begging, for at least one survivor'

Possibly one of the finest contemporary French prog recordings ever, perhaps even shoving the Ange, Atoll, Mona Lisa, Pentacle, Pulsar and so many more classics '..aside. Orion has a bright future, as this is compelling, original and seductive prog. The playing is truly spectacular, very tight and controlled, with the right amount of magic from all involved. A great package, a fab album, a masterful band'.Orion

5 French fighters

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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