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Julian Julien - Strange CD (album) cover


Julian Julien


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 19 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars "Leh" is how Ladakh is spelled in Tibetan, and the oriental inspiration is more than evident in this track that's a fusion between a string quartet and raga music. Tablas and violin create a special situation: the first by playing a melting and sad melody while the other strings give the rhythm, while the indian instruments work as accompaniment, even the rhythmic ones, adding the oriental touch to the track. Probably it's only my impression, but I hear a sort of regret for the current situation on Tibet, even if Ladakh is currently part of India.

The second track "Cirque" is even more contaminated. It starts with a harp sound, likely a keyboard then after a short pause it suddenly becomes grotesque. This vision of the Circus is very close to that of the movie director Fellini. If anybody has seen "8 and a half" or some of his paintings will surely understand what I mean. The track has a sad melody that the circus distorted sounds enrich of weirdness.

"Charlotte" has an unusual Reggae rhythm but the sounds used don't have any Calypso influence. There are strings. Bells and percussions add a touch of far east. This is a melodic track, with a very simple sequence of chords and an intriguing arrangement plus a short mention of "Pagliacci", the opera written by Leoncavallo that I don't think is casual also thinking to the track's title. I also think to "Charlot", as Charlie Chaplin was nicknamed in France and in Italy.

"What's Democracie?" starts funky with tribal percussions and vocals whose world mood goes from America to India. The title is possibly referring to the 3rd world countries whose peoples have probably never heard of democracy. The question is repeated by a male voice several times. The track has a strong "world music" flavor. Very interesting. A gong closes it.

"Tinananan" is apparently a patchwork. Started by techno percussion on which an indian female voice sings, soon acquires a rub-a-dub tempo on which the sitar makes his appearance. A very original track contaminated by world and techno.

"Le Caquou" is one of the most ethnic tracks which seems to cross the whole Asian Southeast since India to Indonesia passing through China. A very imaginative track to be enjoyed on headphones.

"Sophie" has a chill-out mood. The tempo marked by an electronic drum kit and the synthetic flute playing on major chords make it very relaxing. I'm quite sure to have heard an electric guitar. Also this track ends with a gong.

"Cosmos" is a bit darker than the previous one. This track is lead by the piano and it's the one with more evident jazz influences but with more than a touch of Canterbury with the violin taking an important role. The second half of the track fades out in a psychedelic environment.

Now the gong opens a track instead of closing it. "Plančte" is another electronic-chill-out track made of different parts tied together, but all very relaxing and sometimes hypnotic. A good track to relax with closed eyes.

The gong opens also the title track, but this is so ethnic and so Indian that if it wasn't for the clean piano, could be confused with some of the ethnic Senmuth's tracks, also because it is one of the darkest of the album and features Indian female vocals. I have to say that it has something vaguely Floydian, too. The jazzy piano and the fretless bass in the last two minutes are supported by tablas and by an ethnic string instrument (I'm not expert in this matter).

"Nocturne Indien" proceeds with the contamination of a string chamber rock ensemble with the indian ethnic, but this time the symphonic element is more relevant than the ethnic one. The track ends with some electronic noises incredibly close to the ambient side of Senmuth. I say incredibly because they are two very different artists coming from opposite genres. The indian element is the link.

The closer "No Name" is closer to Zeuhl. The indian element disappears to leave room to a church organ which closes the album.

This is a good starting point to explore Julien, not too challenging but never trivial.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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