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Sandrose - Sandrose CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 110 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Of all the early French prog records, this one is probably the highest rated, but I think it doesn't sit better than Ergo Sum, Ame Son, Martin Circus (and its spin-offs Expérience and Triangle) and Cruciferus, Sandrose actually ranges further back since they had recorded a previous album under the name of Eden Rose in 70. Their guitarist JP Alarcen had actually started in the mid-60's with Système Crapoutchik, before joining the group and by the time of their name change had become the main composer. Their style is symphonic with jazzy touches that can make you think of Kent-like influences.

Those liking a rather early form of symphonic prog should really get a kick out of this album, especially if they can appreciate their female singer's voice, given that there is mellotron and organ plastered all over, often giving a response to Alarcen's competent guitar. From the first side, clearly the 11 mins Underground Session is their main achievement, letting loose their talents in a jazzy Canterbury-esque manner that Caravan would not disown, but the opening Vision has plenty of power and while the second track Never Good sounds like rearranged Motown cover, it is loaded with trons of melo, that makes you forget the sugary-sweet vocals.

On the flipside, Old Dom starts a bit like Never Good did (both tracks having outside writers, as there is a link between the band and singer Claude "Chorea" Putterflam), but the 7 mins Take Him Away is another highlight with Rose's best vocals on the album, the track sails smoothly on the serene waters of a lazy afternoon. Taken from one of my fave folk theme classically rearranged ans vastly slowed down (a bit like Vanilla Fudge would do) "Colchique Dans Les Prés", Summer Is Yonder is very dramatic, Rose's vocals being fit for this kind of track, as we are not far from Focus' slower works either on Moving Waves. The Garella-penned Metakara is contrasting vastly with its frenetic drumming, its almost funky bass line and frantic Alarcen guitars.

Indeed, considered the era where all major rock concert events were still forbidden (as a result of the student uprising from 68), groups like Sandrose had much merits developing such adventurous music, not getting much airplay. While minding the full historical scope of prog, Sandrose's sole album might not be that essential, it certainly is enough for those checking out the French scene, and Alarcen's presence in this group enhances it even more.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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