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Clearlight - Visions CD (album) cover

VISIONS

Clearlight

 

Symphonic Prog

2.94 | 30 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars If Clearlight's first two albums (released by the Virgin label) were outstanding and rather well focused, the next few albums will broaden the spectrum, to the point that this album seems to be going in every possible direction with a new-age twist. Still gorgeous-sounding, Verdeaux's fourth album ranges from symphonic to raga, some gothic ambiances (Au Royaume Des Mutants) to new age, from Krautrock to electronics galore. But with his problems regarding his previous album, Verdeaux will produce this album himself. Again Didier Malherbe (from Gong) and Didier Lockwood (yet another French jazz violinist after Grapelli and Ponty) are present on two and four tracks respectively tracks (little surprise they are the best ones on this Cd). However, one must agree that this album (any of the two versions) has one major improvement: it is mostly instrumental. What was already clear on the Bubbles album became even more evident on the Singe Fou album; Verdeaux is not cut out for "songs" as those vocals are usually catastrophic.

Right from the opening track Spirale, we are taken into this ever-so-easy (but never overly-simple) symphonic music, sometimes dangerously close muzak (in the Jean Michel Jarre sense), but so beautiful that a proghead cannot help but loving it. After a relatively weak (and new agey) Guitare Elevation (a bonus track not present on the original album), Crystal City veers towards Tangerine Dream (the late 70's version) and its sequencers and JM Jarre's Oxygene. Messe Caline is an aerial track with Cyrille's piano being showcased. Tabla drums starts out Shanti Lotus, which you will guess is a raga but with a new age twist.

Haymae is downright new age with a Japanese twist with Dallas Smith's flute (he is the main sax and flute man on this album) but once sequencers come in, TD is again in the neighbourhood. The next few tracks are a bit boring and even if the beauty is there, they are awfully cheesy. A reworking of Symphony II's debut (Rage/Espoir) does break this monotony with its lenghty Gong-like trance but this is short lasting. Full Moon Raga has been completely reworked and Lockwood pulls a great lenghty solo but plagued with a live drum solo :-(.

Just when you think you've had enough of the record comes in the best track (and the only sung one) Au Royaume Des Mutants with its haunting beats and half macabre vocals somehow not far from Ange or Atoll. The two Didiers pull off a major stunt here, Malherbe is fantastic and Lockwood is an ace in understatement. The album closes on a Sitar track.

Again I have a slight problem with those solo artistes revisiting their previous oeuvre in order to give us new versions (Oldfield and Jarre do this "financial recuperation" also) and the Cd at my disposal is full of sometimes heavily remixed tracks (this is the booklet saying so) rendering this record somewhat of a rip-off like Tubular Bells part 456. Like the other two I compare him with (M O and JM J) plus Vangelis, these guys always had a propency to delve into heavily ambient music and in the 80's will become completely immersed in the new age movement, however vacuous this style might be. My advice is finding the original album rather than a pale re-working, however quiet and beautiful this last version may be.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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