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Patrick Broguiere - Mont Saint-Michel CD (album) cover

MONT SAINT-MICHEL

Patrick Broguiere

 

Crossover Prog

4.74 | 19 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars There are few hidden gems more deserving of salivating praise than this insanely scrumptious album from unknown French composer and multi-instrumentalist maestro Patrick Broguiere. I have been waiting for this inclusion into the PA community, a deserved arrival that needs some serious attention, as this album is on my top 50 all-time list. His previous works, the highly medieval Broceliandre and the museum visit Icones were more than pleasant listens but Mont St-Michel simply out distances his past work as well as many others that claim progressive brilliance. Everything is utterly splendid, the artwork, cover and booklet (the paintings by Herve Thibon are gorgeous) are probably the finest this reviewer has ever seen (er... I've seen a lot!), the instrumentation is top notch with whirling keyboards, piercing guitar, real drums, stunning strings and lush arrangements especially on the vocal side. Jerome Wolff adds saxophone liberally and does it well. What makes this such a winner is the overt musical celebration displayed, never murky, bland or wispy, au contraire, the delivery is always focused and exalted. Patrick expertly handles all guitars, bass and keyboards in a style that will recall hints of Mike Oldfield. For those who do not know, Mont St-Michel is a famous tidal rock island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name. Victor Hugo of Les Miserables fame was imprisoned here by his nemesis Napoleon III. It remains today a Unesco World Heritage site and a massive tourist attraction.

Gregorian chants introduces the three part "The Archangel's Finger", sandwiched between the title track and wastes little time in setting a glowing melody that is both serenely bewitching and haunting, with that Oldfieldian flair, a musical gallop into the gothic/medieval past that is highlighted by some lovely piano and vocal work. Percussion adds even more dynamics to the mix. The second and third segments are string driven things that infuse a sense of history and gloomy past, violins, violas and cellos evoking heady times of power and glory. When the brilliant sax kicks in, the bliss becomes highly effusive (that Wolff man can blow!) and the gentle piano outro is delicious. After a brief string quartet interlude ("The Thirty Candles quartet"), we are transported into a bluesier world, where the extended guitar picking vies with the plaintive violin in a gentle duel. The piano driven finale is achingly pretty. The 2 part "A Night in the Abbey" is perhaps one of the finest medieval ?prog compositions ever recorded, featuring an orgasmic soprano aria from Patricia Samuel that would rival Floyd's anthemic "The Great Gig in the Sky", I mean WOW! Haunting Gregorian choirs starts this mother off, the powerful bass forging ahead convincingly, rumbling church organ blasting away with religious zeal, laying down the tonal carpet on which Mademoiselle Samuel wails away (this is spine tingling stuff). The manner in which it is slowly building up to a paroxysm is to be duly noted, on par with "Sailor's Tale" by KC and of course, the classic PF track mentioned earlier. I am a sucker of operatic wailing anytime of the day and it does not get better than this I assure you, especially when she hits those impossible high notes! My goodness?? worth getting for this moment alone. Talk about sonic orgasm."Theme of the Pigrim" brings us back to a sense of reality, sliding from ambient to quirky to playful, in an almost Gentle Giant way, extremely musical and developed . The track builds a head of steam when the resounding lead guitar enters the fray, giving direction to the dissonance and reappears repeatedly with more vigor. Very slick?.."Gothic Gargoyles and Lace" continues on the path, interjecting gruesome gargoyle voices, cubic synths and solemn strings (viola is such a fabulous instrument) while the drums pound mercilessly. The modern and the ancient clash with energetic gusto. The sensual sax makes another sexy appearance. The wispy "Quicksands" prefers more orchestrations and a classical outlook as if acting as a prelude for the majestic" A Feast in the Guest Hall" , another corker that visualizes a raucous medieval banquet, with prancing troubadours and blazing torches, laughing, dancing and general cavorting (belches not withstanding) and hence Patrick reprises the main theme of the title track, violins ablaze. An orgy of colliding themes both classical and rock teem without restraint, gentle plucking acoustic guitars, vibes, flutes and then, boom, ripping guitars smashing through the festivities. The serene acoustic guitar on "In the Crypt" serves to prepare for the grand finale "Immensi Tremor Oceani" referring to the constant threat of engulfment by tidal waves of this little rock in the middle of the English Channel. Musical prayers beckoned by chanting monks, church organ, acoustic guitar, bass and marshalling drums all collaborate in the euphoria.

Understandably, not all fans will like this formula but I have always enjoyed going to wider boundaries than the usual staple of rock n roll, so this is just another elevation in the process. Open ears create open minds. I love baroque, renaissance and medieval-folk as well , so if I can infuse that with some finesse prog, who am I to complain? Obviously fans of The Morrigan, Iona, Colin Masson, Minimum Vital (and its offshoot Vital Duo) and classic Oldfield should flock hysterically towards purchasing this masterpiece; it has EVERYTHING you could want in prog.

5 magic monasteries

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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