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Maneige - Maneige CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.11 | 145 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars The great ProgQuebec label has finally come through in acquiring the rights from the Harvest/EMI label to re-issue for the first time ever in the CD format Maneige's first two astounding albums. Although the great new label had already released two albums' worth of early live recordings, fact was that the public really wanted to see these album proper get their due paid respect. Not only does the album restore the original window artwork, but it also some awesome artwork to depict pictorially some of the tracks featured here, most notably the Amerindian and the raft for Le Rafiot, and another I gather for the bonus track Tetdet(etc..) with the mushroom/horn artwork in an effort to marry both. So I will keep my own first review, but will write underneath the re-actualised review.

Early review: Maneige 's debut is an incredible one and the fact that they were not in studio for recording before this album makes it even more awesome. Before recording it , they had played together for some time before and recently has been released a live recording of previous stuff called Live 74-75 with the cover depicting the studio tape case. Three very impressive numbers (and one of 29 min) but full of improv sometimes directionless but impeccably played but slightly longish soloing.

Just four mostly instrumental tracks (there is some singing into one track and it sounds good also), of which Jean-Jacques is really the highlight but all of them shine hard and brilliant, solid and fluid. The style is very much, as its successor Les Porches, a sort of fusion but it really holds a great content of classical music, but nothing stolen from the historical composers. If it were not for the sheer power of this music, I could be talking of chamber prog, but this would be hard to see this played in a salon of the haute-bourgeoisie as the intensity of the music would blow away the glass windows even with triple glass. The only slight remark, I can say is that some solos tends to drag on a tad too long in here, something that will disappear with the next album.

Updated review: Although the lengthy Le Rafiot (the raft) takes up the whole first side, I wouldn't call this epic flawless as there are some repetitive moments, but overall it builds impressively from an improvised free-jazz intro into the Rafiot piano motif that will pursue Jérome Langlois' career for so long. The resulting almost classical music Chamber Rock is not only incredibly impressive, but quite entertaining as well even if there are some dissonant improvs and incredible contrast and dynamic movements (the screaming sax, just before the sweetest of flutes) which makes it easy to understand why they repeatedly blew Ekseption off stage at the time. Clearly throughout this disc, Gentle Giant, classic Tull, early Soft Machine and Zappa are at the heart of Maneige's inspirations.

The flipside is made of three shorter tracks, of which Une Année Sans Fin (Never-ending Year) starts of from dissonant onto such a sweet flute/vibe duo underlined by the three man rhythm section (Leonard on bass and Schetagne/Vincent Langlois on percussions). Excellent stuff. The shorter Jean Jacques is again picking up on a piano theme, but soon evolving to a sweeping piano-led full out classical-fusion-jazz. Another beauty!! Galerie III features Jérome's brother Vincent on piano, but to allow his brother more freedom. The track ends pretty much the same way the album had opened with Le Rafiot. According to Langlois, the group hazd some difficulties with studio works as they had to dissect their music in individual parts, so they could get a studio to record the separate musicians. They had been playing so much together these pieces

Coming with this reissue are two bonus tracks, both with Paul Picard (he had a full-time job in the Hamilton philharmonic orch) on percussion (and Vincent not present), the second of which presenting a fairly different version of Jean Jacques (and not worse than the album version), but more interesting is the Langlois piece Tetdetdetet, which is an absolutely perfect addition to the album and will be yet another highlight of the album. Actually the addition of these two bonus tracks will push this debut further out up the rating scale to rise up to Les Porches. AWESOME!!! Stephen and Sean and the rest of the team, un énorme merci, pour ces instants de bonheur!!!!

Sean Trane | 5/5 |


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