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Atoll - Musiciens - Magiciens CD (album) cover

MUSICIENS - MAGICIENS

Atoll

 

Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 99 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars A not insignifacant part of enjoying music and records are the fantastic covers so often on display in progressive rock. Often enough they are so imaginative and thought evoking. When listening I often find myself immersed in the universe of the cover. Thusly this first album by Atoll blows my mind. The cover is spectacular and amazing in its Roger Dean-esque motif. If nothing else the band managed to make an album with an amazing cover. But that's not all they did.

Somehow you can't really escape from the shadow of Ange when you discuss Atoll. They are not entirely overshadowed by this band but there are some similarities. One can only imagine the massive influence Ange held over many a french prog band. I do think, however, that they succeded in making an album of enormous worth, filled to the brim with mellotrons (and other keyboards), great vocal harmonies and dreamy musical landscapes that shift to harder passages. Mostly the album is a dreamy journey, in line with the cover, but there are enough shifts in direction that offers an experience throughout, never getting dull or flat. Some reviewers talk about the production and while I do agree on its rather rough sounding qualities I would not pay too much attention to that. It is the music that matters and in the case of Atoll it comes shining through the fog of a somewhat poor production.

The opening, "L'Hymne medieval", is a good example of what to expect on the album. Mellotron drenched progressive infused with folk, Rickenbacker bass and beautiful vocals. And really, this song is simply 3 minutes of heaven. If you don't like that for an opening I guess there's a good chance you won't enjoy the rest of the album either. There are two longer epics that are outstanding, "Le baladin du temps" and "Je suis d'ailleurs" with their 11 and 8 minutes in length. I love them both but i do favor "Je suis d'ailleurs" just a tad more. I think it's due to the opening keyboards and drums which sets the tone and lures me into the cave of the beast that will be unleashed.

The album is very varied. From the symphonic, folk-infused opening to the lengthy epics mentioned previously, to the hard rocking groove of the title track (and no it's not disco we're talking about), straight into the lovely and utterly brilliant "Le berger". The latter is "merely" 4 minutes in length but is, sort of, the ballad of the album, with a medieval touch to the harmonies. I really adore this track. If everything else on the album was rubbish this would have been the jewel at the bottom of the cesspit. I hear echoes of early King Crimson balladry or the sound of Camel.

Sorry to say it seems that Atoll is largely unknown in the prog community, seeing this album has only 93 ratings. I wish that more people will discover this pearl of the progressive ocean and dive headlong into it. It is such a treat and from where I'm sitting almost flawless.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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