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Taal - Skymind CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.08 | 138 ratings

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4 stars Taal is an extended family that holds prog ideals up and hangs on tightly, and this little orchestra's 2003 release is a testament to that. Willing and able to do just about anything, the 10-piece are high-flying acrobats who bounce with ease in and out of twisted folk, ominous black symph, cabaret, doom metal, ritualism, and psychedelic polka. Reminiscent of Floyd's The Wall but far denser and with little social commentary, Skymind is a rich and brilliant tapestry by players with a keen sense of drama and enough musicianship for three bands. Their sound may appeal to fans of Unexpect or even SGM, but Taal achieves a more diverse if less avant-garde effect and gives real meaning to the term "symphonic" with deep pools of strings, ethnic diversity and subtle transitions.

A patchwork of radio tunings begin the ten-minute title, Mehdi Rossignot's cello lingers until the group comes in one by one, the foam of Anthony Gabard's electric guitar, Sebastian Constant's light-filled piano, and seamless drumming pair Loic Bernardeau & Igot Polisset. The piece is not unlike what vintage art rockers High Tide would be doing if they existed today, and 'Yellow Garden' is a logical second movement capering with Eastern European dance but soon has more to say, more darkness, more magma to spew and ends with a fiddle and a folk dance. This leads to 'Blind Child' tributing Edith Piaf's difficult life and takes us to a smoke-filled cafe in France with war just outside the door, weaving cabaret with Bela Bartok. Wonderful, and features Helene Sonnet's flute and Gabard's spot-on nylon string acoustic. 'The Purple Queen's Lips' jumps ugly with deadly spies in every corner waiting to cut your throat, only to relax halfway through with a Floydian refrain. Big and pompous is 'The Egg Shaped Moon' jutting between layers of heavy guitar and eddies of chamber music, and a tar pit of dying creatures opens 13-minute 'Stratus' in an epic battle between a hard rock band and several alien spacecraft in an Egyptian desert, and at some point these realms meet with unexpectedly pleasing results (not to mention a haunting by Jim Morrison). Quite fine stuff, and a potentially great gateway drug to the more outrageous modern prog bands.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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