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Troisième Rive - Banlieues CD (album) cover


Troisième Rive


Prog Folk

4.29 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Spring soundtrack

Talk about an album that complements the seasonal change. Somehow it's all right here in this little French obscurity: blooming blossoms, the explosion of green, birdsong every morning before you open your eyes. Everything about spring is conveyed beautifully throughout this record´s lifespan of 37 minutes.

Troisième Rive's Banlieues is a mellow affair. It takes the sweetest and most melodic facets of folk rock and glue them together to form this acoustic balladry singer-song writer album with buckets of emotion, frailty and soul. The emphasis is mostly on acoustic guitars, but boy do these sound magnificent. Just on the opening cut, you get a taste of just how effortlessly they flow and sound - seemingly without any real prog aspirations, but that is the thing about this album. I think it is because of these highly skilled musicians, that what maybe sounds like your everyday psychedelically tinged folk rock, is in fact much more complicated and profound in scope than what meets the ear. These guys are brilliant at what they do, and just hearing those sprinkling guitars laying down the melody - it becomes a thing of beauty in itself. On top of that, the way they are recorded adds another dimension to them as well - making them soar, tingle and whistle all on their own without any need of sonic doping. The whole feel and melody laden atmosphere often reminds me of Basque folk rockers Itoiz. There is indeed a similar vibe going on here.

Then you've got the soft almost feminine French vocals on top if this. Unlike what you may think from such a description, it never gets saccharine. The natural timbre of these vocals sound like male siren singing. The singer here delivers gentle French ballads uttered in a whispering delicate fashion that again makes me think of Itoiz. Regardless of what language you speak or understand, my guess is that you'll find the vocals heart wrenchingly beautiful. So gentle and expressive that you'd have no problem in luring Bambi in with this on your stereo.

The fiery spices of this album are the electric guitars. Sometimes singular - other times they launch together as a unit for then to split up - generating this astonishing polyphonic effect that feels like a clean folk-rocking incorporation of what made the end of Freebird legendary. I love these scattered guitar segments, and they truly work like small islands of joy throughout this album.

Final thing making Banlieues stand out is its usage of the accordion. Yes it coats the music in a somewhat French accent, but the rather fascinating thing about it is, that it's played like a synthesizer - meaning that it gets thrown into the mix like a bewildered primate - expected to work like the aforementioned electric instrument - creating yearning drawn out musical surfaces, - and surprise surprise - it actually sounds terrific! Lurking in between the different layers of the melodies, you often get the plaintive emanations of the accordion - crying its heart out gently gently to the beat. Together with the rest of the band, I feel a certain wholeness - or togetherness is achieved. I'm not sure how else to describe it, but somehow all of these individual puzzle pieces put together aspire to an elegant and smooth ride on the gentle sweeps of French melody laden folk rock.

4.5 stars for a record that should please fans of Itoiz, Eden, Carol of Harvest, Harmonium and people who need an appropriate soundtrack for the changing colours of spring. This one is truly a thing of beauty.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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