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Atoll - Tertio CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.69 | 99 ratings

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5 stars I think this is Atoll's best and most consistent work. There were better individual songs on the previous two albums, but neither album was as good on the whole as this one.

Tertio is the album where Atoll found their own unique sound. It is almost totally free of the Jazz Fusion influence of the previous album, which i think is a major plus and is the main reason i prefer this to L'Araignée-Mal.

The sound is more melodic and 'Symphonic Prog' in nature this time, and feels more quintessentially French than their first two albums... there is no theatrical 'Ange' influence this time, however. The songs are slightly more streamlined than before, and seem less 'noodly', while remaining just as 'proggy'.

A couple of the tracks have a hard edge and the vocals get gritty and raspy at times... like a French version of Peter Gabriel when he would let loose a rough wail on some of the harder early Genesis tracks (just listen to the middle section of 'Gae Lowe' to hear what i mean).

André Balzer is one of my very favorite Prog vocalists of all time... and he shows a wider range on this album than any other. The first half of 'Gae Lowe' even has a falsetto Bee-Gees vibe... while the music itself feels like a bizarre form of 'Disco Prog'. Atoll always seemed to have a body-moving Funk influence in their sound, but it's more pronounced on this album with the absence of the Fusion vibe.

'Paris c'est Fini' has more of that funky feeling... this is an amazing song with very expressive and memorable vocal melodies that stick in your head even if you don't speak French. This song has some excellent Jazz-like chord progressions and great atmospheric guitar solos... but it goes on about a minute too long and introduces some annoying 'city sounds' (like fire truck sirens and police radios) but this is the only misstep on the entire album.

The highlight for me is the beautiful and melancholic 'Les Dieux Meme'. Gorgeous operatic vocals from guests Lisa Deluxe & Stella Vander introduce spacy synthesizers and tranquil delayed guitar arpreggios, which play on and on for the first two minutes... two of the most perfect and emotional minutes of music ever recorded...

...the song goes through many unexpected changes from there, and maintains a very high quality with every new section. There is even an awesome Tony Banks-ish Moog solo during an uptempo middle section, while the end section features a trancy David Gilmour-ish guitar solo. In my mind, Les Dieux Meme is one of the greatest songs in Prog history!

'Le cerf Volant' is a similarly emotional ballad with some astonishingly hypnotic vocal melodies. This song is full of serene Moog lines and has a very immersive rainy atmosphere.

This is Atoll's masterpiece as far as i'm concerned... but it may disapoint fans of their Fusion-heavy 'L'Araignée-Mal' style. I highly recommend Tertio to all Symphonic Prog lovers, and especially anyone who likes the French strain of the genre.

AdamHearst | 5/5 |


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