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Atoll - L'Araignée-Mal CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.11 | 170 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars After the departure of guitarist (and more importantly, backing-vocalist) Luc Serra, lead vocalist Andre Balzer developed a more out-front theatrical approach over the dream-like harmonies that saturated their first album. While retaining his own style, you can hear a clear Christian Deschamps/Ange influence... especially on the brilliant first song 'Le Photographe Exorciste'.

That opening song is an amazing masterpiece of deranged histrionics... and my favorite Atoll song. It starts off quietly, sounding almost like a continuation of 'Je suis D'ailleurs' (the last song from their previous album). I love this atmospheric portion of the song; it reminds me of one of my other favorite bands (English Goth Rockers 'And Also the Trees'). The song soon becomes surreal and nightmarish; schizophrenic screams and synthesizer squeals spinning around your head... while the end of the song turns into a near-Zeuhl concoction: full of heavy percussive madness, evil rhythmic vocals, and chaotic guitar soloing. This is an absolutely genius song.

The aggressive Fusion-styled instrumental 'Cazotte No.1' is a bit of a misstep, and is the one song keeping this album from being a 5-star masterpiece for me. It is filled with overblown guitar, violin, and synth solos which on the surface sound a lot like Mahavishnu Orchestra or some drawn-out Frank Zappa Jazz exploration. While Atoll deliver a very tight and convincing performance, I think this song breaks up the flow of the album too much and I prefer the vocal-centric songs that surround it. If it were 2 minutes shorter i'd like it a lot more... it's just too much, and gets boring unless you're heavily into Fusion.

'Le Voleur d'Extase' starts off very delicately; like a soft hazy dew-scented morning. It enters heavier terrain later on with more Magma-like chanted vocals and excellent synth and violin solos. The last third of this song sees a return to the Fusion style of 'Cazotte', but it comes in a much smaller dose and is thus more effective.

The four-part 'L'Araignée-Mal' suite covers a lot of disparate sonic climates. Ranging from near-Avant Garde spoken-word sound collages in 'Imaginez le Temps', to the very rocking synth-laden movements of 'Les robots Débiles' which remind me of a mixture of Atoll's fellow countrymen 'Arachnoid' mixed with Genesis and Yes' heavier moments.

The title track (the second part of the suite) is my favorite section of the entire album. It has a very free, liberating feeling... emotional vocals, which sound as though they were shouted from a mountain-top, are backed by captivating soaring Moog synth lines.

This is one of the very best French albums of the 70's, and probably the best this band ever recorded. I would highly recommend this as a starting point to anyone interested in the French Symphonic scene, and also to Jazz Fusion fans.

AdamHearst | 4/5 |


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