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Saens - Les Regrets d'Isidore D. CD (album) cover





3.95 | 28 ratings

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5 stars This is one of those rather rare hidden jewels of prog, (one paltry review) of which there are thankfully so many, that goes way below the radar, like some musical cruise missile evading all kinds of defensive radars. These 4 clever Frenchmen slap together a mighty dense wall of sound on "Marthe a la Nuit", starting out deeply atmospheric in drenched synthetic chords, stately almost ornate phrasings that evaporate slowly, coming in with a massive choir mellotron theme that has all the pain of the universe painted on its brushes. The slippery guitar slices through the haze, until the binary bass nudges this one into a groove pattern, increasingly bewitching as the axe scowls. When bassman Pascal Bouquillard grabs the mike, he transforms himself into the frontman storyteller (in the finest Ange/Christian Decamps tradition) , gilded with melodramatics that breathe , leaving huge chasms for the instrumentalists to shine. With 2 guitarists weaving their magic, as both Vincent Leff and Benoit Campedel exchanges tapestries of sonic bliss. A female voice suddenly takes this into a softer vein, only then giving Pascal the spotlight to howl his heart out. The tectonic 24 minute epic beast "La Bête du Gévaudan" remains one of the finest French prog epics ever, a whirlwind extravaganza that retains a dark, paranoid, gloomy upbeat tempo, a rather unique style to say the least, replacing mood with an almost frenetic passion (a common French intellectual attribute, BTW!). Both very classy and intense, the arrangements are a mass of continuing contrasts, mood swings and a touch of insanity as well that permeates the entire disc and future ones . Drummer Stephane Geille really shines throughout, conjuring up intricate polyrhythms while keeping it fast and ferocious. The vocal heights are slightly schizoid but pleasantly so, alternating soft whispers, trembling tirades and power howling of the hardest caliber. The eruption into frenzy is astonishing, a screeching bluesy guitar flirts its way into the soul, careening, urging and pleading. And we are only half way through the track! Gentle carillons of teaming bells add a childlike respite of purity and naïveté, enough to forage towards another plane, where acoustic guitars rule the theme, a seductive wisp of self-control explodes into an electric solo that shines. This is tremendous music of the highest caliber, both intelligent and gut felt, as expressed by the wondrous and pastoral oboe-synth solo, a magnificent touch of class and creativity. When the sobbingly drab vocal returns, it's only to infuse more awe and profound admiration for their courage, metamorphosing unannounced into the darkest, eeriest hard passage of gloom-prog, chock-full of thunderclaps and wind swirls in the undertow, forcefully relentless and armed with masterful vocals, expertly delivered by Bouquillard. Again, I must repeat succinctly =this is one hell of a fire cracker. Needs to be heard, it's so good that this track would be reprised later by the Saens offshoot on "Prophet of a Statistical World". "Le Livre" is pleasant but the predecessor was just too stunning to judge fairly but it does swerve towards a more conventional heavy ballad style that is served by an inventive and urgent fret solo. The bass takes a few bright bows, looping along vividly, paving the way towards a fanfare-symphonic finale loaded with lush orchestrations. The title cut relies anew on an acoustic guitar intro, the ideal backdrop for another convincing vocal eructation of deep internal pain, guilt and regret, just like the story demands. The transformation into a heavy groove romp is spellbinding, propelled by Gaille's secure drumming and dissonant keyboard colorations, whilst the raging guitars fulfill the sordid mandate. "D'un Coup D'Aile" is a tongue in cheek tirade on suicide (check out the cover art) as "I toss myself into space" ridicule overtakes the mood, playfully intelligent and ultimately quite clever. The outro is delicious and the playing spectacular. "Jeu de Patience" has a groveling 12 minute pulse , Bouquillard screaming convincingly while the lads sculpt another prog monolith, a dark rocker that has an incredible chorus and ebbs with matching flows , a whistling Moog solo shepherds this one along. There is a lot of attention-to-detail complexity here even though its labeled "neo" and that you can't really justify pigeon-holing anyway. Not an easy listen, constantly boiling due to the unremitting dramatics, this does require an open mind and fresh ears, not always the case for many audiophiles, prog or otherwise. The brief "La Sagesse" ends this slice of prog nirvana on a theme influenced by Paul Verlaine, the great French poet. WOW! Though there are some slight faults, the sheer technical audacity and the overt passion displayed here is breathtaking. That so few have heard this is testament to the difficulty for many non-French speakers to fully appreciate the majestic poetry of Moliere's language. Having spoken to both sides, the level of awe is clearly in favor of those who understand. 5 etoiles sans regret.
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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