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John Greaves - Verlaine Gisant CD (album) cover


John Greaves


Canterbury Scene

4.00 | 3 ratings

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4 stars The best of Greaves' Verlaine trilogy.

I am surprised that no one yet has reviewed this or the previous entry in the Verlaine trilogy. Verlaine Gisant is the third entry in John Greaves' trilogy of albums dedicated to poet Paul Verlaine, the tortured and romantic French 'fin de siecle' poet who died in 1896. While the first two albums involved poems by Verlaine set to music, this album is different. The lyrics here are written by lyricist Emmanuel Tugny, inspired by the book written by Gustave Le Rouge called "Les Derniers Jours de Paul Verlaine" (Last Days of Paul Verlaine). There are bits of Verlaine's poetry here, interspersed with new phrases, statements and lyrics from Tugny that speak to Verlaine's life and emotions. Musically, this is my favourite of Greave's Verlaine trilogy, although each of them are worth getting. The music on this one is simply excellent, and also somewhat unique - a combination of hypnotic chamber music for strings, pensive French 'chanson'-style composition, and Crimson-like electric-guitar dissonance, often on the same track. Definitely progressive-minded, although not really fitting in any of the categories here on PA. These are all vocally-based tunes with mostly sparse instrumentation, although there are often many strings being played at once. The tunes are 'normal' length, but often with two or three different sections. Greaves is often joined on vocals by Elise Caron (who sung on the wonderful album 'Chansons') and Jean Added, as well as Thomas De Pourquery. While Greaves' singing is better here than on many other albums (all the singing is in tune!), nonetheless the female vocals upstage on every song here, really great singing. The lyrics, which are all in French, can be quite jarring even when they are sung beautifully. To wit, one of the more beautiful songs on the album (with some excellent vocal harmonies) is simply called "Merde" (!). The most beautiful track here, reminding me a bit of the North Sea Radio Orchestra, is "La Poetesse" - a simply stunningly gorgeous piece of music. Other tracks I really like include "Autoportrait", "Air de la Lune", "Un Ange", and the opener "Air de la Derniere Demeure", but really there are no poor quality tracks on this album, they are all strong and fit together well. The album flows and creates its own distinct melancholy mood. Not only is it an excellent tribute to Verlaine, but a great piece of music. This would be a good place to start in one wanted to get into Greaves more recent mature albums. I often find myself drawn to put this on. I give this 8.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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