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Shylock - Île de Fièvre CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 104 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Like many a band that came too late to the prog party to find any financial incentives to stick around beyond an album or two, the French SHYLOCK was like hundreds of similarly minded bands who were inspired by the explosive progressive rock scene of the early 1970s only to find that by the time they joined the club the doors were closing. SHYLOCK emerged from the Nice area of France and on its debut which came out in 1977 conjured up a unique mix of classically infused symphonic prog with the darker and more dissonant guitar antics of Robert Fripp in King Crimson. The album may not have lit the world on fire but provided a fascination with those in the underground and the album would eventually provide the primary influence for bands like Anglagard and similarly minded band in the 90s revival of prog.

SHYLOCK followed up its debut the following year in 1978. ÎLE DE FIÈVRE or "Fever Island" sounded like a totally different band in many ways. On "Gialorgues" the darkened hypnotic grooves in the context of symphonic prog were fortified with avant-prog experimentalism but for this sophomore offering, SHYLOCK traded in the Rock In Opposition sensibilities for jazz-fusion. The trio of André Fisichella (drums, percussion), Frédéric l'Épée (guitars, bass) and Didier Lustig (keyboards) had expanded to include a fourth member, bassist Serge Summa and unlike the debut album which featured two lengthy tracks and a shorter intermission sandwiched in between, ÎLE DE FIÈVRE featured six shorter tracks that eschewed the ethereal trippiness of the debut and instead engaged in technical guitar and bass led jazz-fusion attacks. Two track still raced past the 10-minute mark.

In all honesty SHYLOCK was a band of serious substance that had the chops to tackle various styles of technically demanding music and had they hit the scene about seven years earlier very well could be one of the bigwigs of early prog given the talent and ingenuity of the compositions that are displayed on the band's sole two album run. This album still finds plenty of Crimsonian inspiration strewn throughout its run however the fast tempos of the symphonic prog demeanor have been completely fortified with a style of feisty fast tempo jazz-fusion in the vein of Mahavishnu Orchestra or bands that feature John Abercrombie as guitarist. The jazz aspects are by far the most dominant sounds heard on ÎLE DE FIÈVRE and although this may have proven to be too much of a musical departure that sealed the fate for SHYLOCK during its run, from a modern point of view this album is equally as enthralling as the debut even if not as experimental in nature.

What makes SHYLOCK stand out amongst the crowded golden years of 1970s prog is that not only were these musicians technically adept but they had the songwriting prowess to connect on a deeper emotional level which is the winning combo effect reserved for only the big boys of the early prog scene. For the most part ÎLE DE FIÈVRE sticks to the same formula, that being guitar and bass led jazz-fusion but the keyboards have not been tamped down at all. They just adapt to the new stylistic approach and offer the proper contrapuntal moments of contrast. The ostinato bass grooves from the debut are retained which provides the only commonality between the two albums. This one like the debut is 100% instrumental and although complaints of bad production have been made, personally i find the music too compelling to care. The sound is not that bad!

The stand out of the album meaning the track that is most easily distinguishable from the rest is the short "Choral" which features a synthesized choral affect along with beautiful harmonic vocals. The remainder of the album takes a journey through the vast world of guitar and bass jazz-fusion reminding me a bit of the more energetic bands of the 1970s Quebec scene. On a personal level i much prefer the dark and experimental approach presented on the debut album "Gialorgues" but as a jazz-fusion freak i cannot deny how beautifully constructed this sophomore release is! New releases feature the bonus track "Le Dernier" which fits in perfectly with the band's overall thematic approach. Another excellent album from SHYLOCK. It's really too bad this band didn't make it for more than five years when they disbanded in 1979. Frédéric L'Épée would continue with band like Yang and Philharmonie.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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