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Artcane - Odyssee CD (album) cover

ODYSSEE

Artcane

 

Eclectic Prog

3.67 | 40 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Artcane: Odyssee [1977]

Rating: 6/10

Odyssee is the sole album from the virtually unknown French quartet known as Artcane. I don't know a thing about the history of this band, so I'll cut right to the music. This album features strongly Frippian guitar combined with slightly more traditional synth work. Artcane's bio on PA states that "some have described this album as the French Larks Tongues in Aspic", but I disagree with this statement. Granted, the music here is almost stylistically identical to Larks-era Crimson. However, while this is a good album, it doesn't stack up to Fripp on a compositional level.

The title track opens the album with a catchy main riff and bluesy guitar soloing. "Le Chant d'Orphee" is a dark, slightly folky track with vocals (this album is mostly instrumental). The synths are excellent, but the vocal sections are nothing special. The album really gets rolling with the nine-minute "Novembre." The main riff may be a bit derivative of Fripp, but it sounds great, so who cares? The rhythm section is also excellent, particularly in the quieter sections. "25th Anniversaire" continues in a similar fashion, with solid guitar work. I like this track, but parts of it border on outright plagiarism of Larks Tongues, going beyond mere stylistic similarity. The sixteen-minute "Artcane I" is the crux of this album, and is the definite highlight. The quiet synth sections of this track are fantastic, and there isn't a moment that I dislike. The different sections fail to flow together cohesively, however. This is only a slight problem, though; this is good stuff. The final two-and-a-half minutes here may be the strongest on the whole album. The concluding piece "Nostalgie" brings back the vocals and ends things nicely in a Harmonium-esque fashion.

While Artcane's sole effort is quite a solid one, it lacks in one thing: passion. The compositions are impressive, albeit not masterful, and the playing is crisp and fairly creative. Regardless, I don't find myself being particularly engaged by the majority of this album. I'm impressed with the music, but it doesn't connect with me enough for me to consider it to be truly excellent. This is a good album - "Artcane I" alone makes it worth digging up this lost relic - but it's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. If you're planning on doing an excavation of the vast treasure trove of obscure 70s prog, save this until you've unearthed all the true gold.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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