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La Tulipe Noire - Shattered Image  CD (album) cover


La Tulipe Noire



3.54 | 62 ratings

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3 stars 3.5 stars.

La Tulipe Noire's Shattered Image is one of the few albums directly derivative of 80s era Marillion. I'm sure more reviewers think otherwise, but I tend to see most lesser- known Neo bands that I've discovered give just a passing reference to Marillion. On Shattered Image, La Tulipe Noire take it a bit too far. Luckily, these influences are toned down and distilled a lot of the time, and you can often get so caught up in the music that the influences don't make much of a difference at all.

But sometimes, if you have a really good ear and memory, you can spot the moments where, either on purpose or by coincidence, the band almost lifts the music directly off of a Marillion album. Early on in the album ("Shattered Ego") is almost a direct rip- off of "Script for a Jester's Tear." They include a soft intro, which I admit is nothing like "Script" music-wise, but it gets worse. There is the louder instrumental component midway through the song which sounds NEARLY EXACTLY like the "So here I am once more..." section in rhythm and similar in vocal melody. Then, just to put the cherry on top of the sundae, the song ends with a slower tempo conclusion with the same setup as "Script": A distorted guitar hammers out whole notes in what I believe is the exact same chord progression, another guitar solos at times, a vocal melody carries the song away as it fades out. This is probably the biggest rip- off I've ever heard in prog music. I liked this song a lot initially, but that was only because I've heard it so many times before on Marillion's debut.

I just have one more incredibly annoying bit of plagiarism to display in this review. I guess the band decided not to spread thin their tribute to the Neo Progressive godfathers amongst Shattered Image, because in the very next song ("In the Gardens of Eden") they lift the music and beat from the third or so verse of "Jigsaw," complete with tambourine flourish. It may not be exactly the same, but it was close enough for me to notice it and become angry. This is slightly less annoying that the previous instance if only because it doesn't last for nearly as long. These were the only direct lifts that I can see at the moment, but I think I've made my point: this music is NOT very original, regardless of whether or not it is lifted from another band.

There are some good points to Shattered Image, however. It becomes apparent within the first few minutes that the real draw on the album is the absolutely beautiful vocals. One of the few bands, Neo or not, to utilize female vocals, La Tulipe Noir add an entire new dimension to the music. The production of Shattered Image does not do the vocal work justice, but they rival the fantastic female vocals on Glass Hammer's new album all the same.

If I were to rate Shattered Image on the music alone, disregarding my opinion that the music sounds little more than plagiarism at times, I'd offer it 3 stars. But seeing that this is not truly my belief, I feel it necessary to take it down a notch. I also wonder whether or not Shattered Image is supposed to be a direct homage to Marillion, for the band's logo is in the exact same font as that of the Marillion albums up until Season's End. Nevertheless, this side of the band does not impress me at all.Be sure that this is not a shining moment in Neo Progressive rock, but if you're a fan of Fish-era Marillion, Shattered Image and La Tulip Noire could be a wise investment. Just be warned: you may be hearing the same songs over again.

Edit August 13, 2006: I believe my overall demeanor regarding this album has softened considerably during this half year. I'm not nearly as bothered by the Marillion influences on Shattered Image now, but they can still be heard if you wish to concentrate on such things. I now appreciate the music for what it is: not superb, but definitely enjoyable and rather atmospheric but with a strong focus on songwriting. And indeed, the album holds to some degree a sentimental value for inexplicable reasons, so I gladly raise it the equivalent of a star to 3.5/5.

stonebeard | 3/5 |


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