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Minimum Vital - Sarabandes  CD (album) cover

SARABANDES

Minimum Vital

 

Eclectic Prog

3.64 | 52 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Progressive Rock fell on hard times in the 1980s, but one of the brighter spots in an otherwise drab musical era was the French band MINIMUM VITAL, who released their incandescent debut CD at the tail end of the decade. It wasn't the group's first studio effort (two earlier sets of lightweight fusion noodling were belatedly re-mastered onto compact disc several years later), but the dramatically revamped, harder-rocking sound of this recording makes it a better introduction to the band.

The album borrows a similar Medieval Rock aesthetic from GENTLE GIANT, even including (in "Hymne et Danse") an ersatz, multi-tracked madrigal. And like GENTLE GIANT the band was formed by musician brothers: Thierry and Jean Luc Payssan, playing keyboards and guitars, respectively. But there's a distinctly Gallic flavor to their music compared to the more traditional Elizabethan Rock of GG, and a bigger, bolder sound as well, updating the often primitive production values of the previous decade to the high-gloss studio sheen of the late 1980s.

Purists might sneer at the brash attack of all those midi-drums and digital keyboards, but the songwriting (more or less exclusively instrumental, by the way) is always strong and confident, with a sometimes startling contrast between quiet acoustic and much louder electric elements. Don't be lulled, for example, by the playful accordion and mock-lute duet on the album opener "Le Chant du Monde"; in a moment the entire quartet will slam into a rock solid Neo Prog gavotte (or something not unlike it), featuring a savage guitar solo from frère Jean Luc.

Likewise the twin title tracks: all tricky polyrhythms and playful, overlapped synths, the first part preceded by a solo classical guitar piece straight from the court of Charlemagne. The only real dud on the album is "Danza Vital" (the title suggests a signature tune of sorts): a somewhat forced and too self-consciously upbeat toe-tapper, with all the unappealing bombast of then-current GENESIS (circa "Invisible Touch"), synthetic horns and all.

Otherwise it's a winner from start to finish, and perhaps the easiest 4-star recommendation I've ever had the pleasure to make.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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