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Arrakeen - Mosa´que CD (album) cover

MOSA¤QUE

Arrakeen

 

Neo-Prog

3.28 | 24 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Mildly Interesting Heavy Pop-Prog

Arrakeen was an early 90's French neo-prog band that boasted a very strong singer and some guitar hero flourishes. I was attracted by the strong reviews to their second album Mosaique on this site, and my initial reaction was that the band's sound was good but that the songwriting was not too memorable. After returning to the album that impression remains. Female lead singer Maiko mixes some Enya into the usual female-fronted heavy metal sound (admittedly before that sound was so common). Guitarist Cyril Archard has all the usual shredder moves including sweeps, legato runs, and some tasty clean chops. His leads are quite good, but his distorted rhythm tone is terrible. (The fuzzy timbre sounds like a cheap amp and distracts me throughout the entire disc. The keys are typical of late 80's / early 90's pomp, and really date the work as well. (They aren't frankly unpleasant, however.)

The issue for me is that the compositions are glorified pop rather than prog, and while pleasant, don't really challenge my ear in any way. The song "Sizygie" has some proggy rhythms and some keyboard flourishes, but most of the songs are much more straightforward. "Celebration" is a guitar showpiece which begins with a nice jazzy clean composition that ends with a hammer-on cadenza a la Joe Satriani's "Midnight." A distorted whammy-fest then comes in over a vocal-synth pad, but it's quickly over with little sense of risk. "White Moon Dreamer" is sung competently in English for a changeup.

I must admit I'm not a big fan of neo-prog, but I've certainly heard examples that held my attention. Mosaique is a little too typical, its production a bit too dated, and despite very talented players, fail to make a strong musical statement. I compare this to Magenta, which plays music in very much the same territory, and the difference is immediately obvious. Both the singer and guitarist in Arrakeen probably have better chops, but Magenta has something musical to say.

Pleasant enough, but with so much great music out there, this is really just for neo-prog collectors.

Negoba | 2/5 |

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