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Present - Le Poison Qui Rend Fou CD (album) cover





4.20 | 112 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Review edited in 2014 in the light of the then-recent reissues Present's second album is a bit more of the same than its debut: dark, sombre, macabre, and sinister and one can say gothic in a way (although I have never seen Goth-heads present at their concerts ;-). The group comes back with a slightly changed line-up: Ferdinand Philippot is now handling the bass duties, but the change is minor. The artwork is plainly sinister but with a touch of romantic inspiration and fits the music quite well.

Starting of with an epic 15 min+ first part of the title track, featuring an operatic-voiced guest vocalist, Present plunges again on a metronomic groove with the two pianos helping out a great deal and a lengthy trip is undertaken through the insane meanders of Trigaux's mind. A shorter Ersatz is reminiscent of Belew era-Crimson, and definitely more upbeat and almost joyful compared to the habitual stuff. The almost 10 min second part of the title track (on the second side of the vinyl), is the logical follow-up to its debut, but is totally instrumental. The closing 9 min Samana (Rochette-penned) is not much different but not quite as dense and might be a little clumsy in its middle section, but it remains in the mould.

If Triska's bonus live tracks could fit on the back of the album, Poison's bonus tracks (presented on a second disc) are from an entire set part of a concert given in France in early 82 with Genet still in the group. For the occasion, the band was augmented with a female singer Marie-Anne Polaris. The set proposes a slightly extended version the two epics from their debut album, but also two tracks from the still-upcoming album, which are still work in progress ? even if Ersatz is double the length of the studio album. The real bonus/gift is the yet-unreleased Chaos Hermétique, which AFAIK was never released on a studio album. It is a slow piece that feels more like an improvisation than a composition, even if the ideas were probably laid down beforehand.

Another bonus is two short filmed B&W footage of the band in concert, but you'll have to install QuickTime on your computer to view them. Interesting viewing really, even if the band is rather static. The expanded booklet shows a bunch of photos (most likely all from the same shoot) where they goof around with WW1 gas masks inside industrial wastelands galleries and in the adjoining nature. Also, you'll get to read Aymeric Leroy's second part of the band's first-era history and the remastering was handled by the great Udi Kooran.

Not any easier than the debut album, and just as difficult to recommend, these first two albums are uncanny oeuvres that must be heard by every proghead, but most likely, if they do not like adventurous and partially un-melodic prog, repulsion or rejection will be an understandable reaction. But if the proghead should persevere with present, soon the full merits of the music will come rewardingly. Both albums came on a 2 on 1 Cd, which was probably the safest bet you could make, as acquiring both albums separately would not have brought much more, until of course the recent reissues with plenty of bonus came around in '13 ? was it a coincidence?? This would be the last album from them for over 12 years, when Trigaux will start playing with his son then reform Present.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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