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Malicorne - Almanach CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.88 | 41 ratings

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5 stars Malicorne is my favourite folk collective and Almanach is their best album. It is a concept album from 1976 where each of the 12 songs represents a month of the year. Hence 'Almanach' which means calendar in English. Track 13 was not on the original album. (However we have something called a 13th month here in Belgium. It's an extra month of pay you get at the end of the year without having to work for it! No joke, we're lucky bastards :)

Anyway, on Almanach, Malicorne's French folk is at its most intense and melancholic. The Lebanese/French singer Gabriel Yacoub is the focal point. His slightly nasal plaintive voice, rich guitar chords, together with the harmonies delivered by the entire band, are Malicorne's main point of attraction. The wonderful arrangements of the mostly traditional songs hasn't aged a bit in the 33 years since this album was released.

A few favorite months to wet your appetite:

After a short 'a capella' welcome to the new year, they start off with the excellent Quand J'étais Chez Mon Père. A song that will sure entice prog folk lovers because of it's strange time signature.

Les Tristes Noces is the second highpoint, a song about a wedding (Noces) that, how shall I put it, doesn't end all that well. Hence sad (Triste). I'm not sure I understand the lyrics entirely correct. They're in a very old and weird type of French. (Probably Canadian ;). So what happens is that the beautiful bride drops dead during the opening dance of the wedding and the groom grabs a knife and stabs himself to death. Quite a scene!

Even amidst all the superb tracks that surround it, Voici La Saint Jean stands out as the most intensive track on the entire album. Its stark rhythm with complex time signature should win you over in no time. If you have enjoyed The Hazards of Love from the Decemberists you simply must seek this out. Or I'll be very angry if you don't :-)

Malicorne don't use a classic rock drum kit so don't expect the Fairport Convention approach. Malicorne sounds entirely different: mainly acoustic, melancholic and French of course. Quand Je Menai Mes Chevaux Boire is a good example. It's a ballad soaked in sweeping melancoly.

Ecolier Assassin (Murderer Apprentice) is Malicorne's best song ever and the first song you should check out next to Voici La Saint Jean. It's a thrilling story about a young man who is asked by his mother to murder his girlfriend, but after he did so and shows mom the heart, she doesn't even believe him and says it's just the heart of a sheep. Nice song material. "Ils sont fous ces Bretons!"

Given the popularity of The Decemberist these days, it might be a good time to explore this influential band that revitalised folk music in the 70's and made it compelling for rock audiences. This is widely referred to as their best studio album and I couldn't agree more.

Bonnek | 5/5 |


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