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Ange - Le Cimetière Des Arlequins CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 188 ratings

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3 stars Ange is a cult band for prog in France. In fact, there are many things which can explain it: Christian Décamps's strong personality as a charismatic leader and singer, very good musicianship with a special mention to Brezovar bluesy guitar and Francis Décamps (Christian's brother) special Mellotron like soundscapes and a definitely original songwriting.

There is something very special to Ange's music: as Magma was mixing Coltrane and Orff influences with a rock instruments, Ange was mixing folk, prog and what we call in France "chanson", a kind of poetry which is in the vein of George Brassens, Léo Ferrer or Jacques Brel.

Indeed, the opening track, "Ces Gens Là " is a cover of Jacques Brel famous tune. But, here, the song is totally into the spirit of prog. The aforementionned "Mellotron" orchestration is incredible and shows the influence of King Crimson. The lyrics of this classic song are about greed and captures the ridiculous and awful aspects of "these people" 's attitude. The final verse which was the most emotional in the original version, is replaced by a magnificent guitar solo by Brezovar. Brel himself was impressed by this cover.

"Aujourd'hui c'est la f�ªte chez l'apprenti sorcier" is an interesting song and despite its short length displays dynamic contrasts in a theatrical vein.

"Bivouac" is another example of this style, and offers some place to let Brezovar and Francis Décamps shine.

"L'Espionne Lesbienne" is a folky song dominated by accoustic guitar and Brezovar's flute. It contains very humourous and well written lyrics by Christian Décamps. The atmosphere is not that far from what was called "freak folk" in UK, while the theme is a lot lighter to say the least.

"Bivouac (Final)" ends "Bivouac" where it ended and contains a duel between Francis Décamps on organ and his self built "Mellotron" and Brezovar on guitar..

"De temps en temps" is beautiful ballad made of very present organ and superb vocals by Christian Décamps who signs poetic and sensitive lyrics which shows another aspect of his talent. .

"La Route aux Cypres" is another folky tune which sounds very delicate. The work on accoustic guitar is beautiful and the flute gives a pastoral side to the song. The vocals by Christian are unusually soft.

The title track is an epic one. Of course describing it in details as I already did is unuseful to use an euphemism, but let's say all the elements I mentionned are used in order to build the climax which reachs its peak towards the end.

In fact, this is exactly the quality that Ange (and other great prog rock artists at the time) have. While, some musicians aren't virtuoso, they manage to help the music and use it for their own interest. In this perspective, drummer Gerard Jolsch's contribution is exemplary and was critically acclaimed at the time. So why only three stars for a music I love? Because, first the album is not as coherent as the following ones, especially "Au Delà  du Délire", even if the songs are excellent. Then, even if the songs are excellent, there aren't among Ange's best ones except for "Ces Gens Là" and the title track. By the way, these were the only ones which were played live by the band even in the 2000s. Last but not least, the sound production is awful. Maybe this was the early seventies, but Pink Floyd was recording the same year "Dark Side of the Moon" which still sounds very modern today, without talking about Yes or Genesis. Brezovar explaied the sound engineer was very frightened by the sound level used by the group and he asked them to play in a lower tone. The sound mix is not very good too: the guitar is hardly heard as the vocals, when the rythm section is very proeminent... Maybe it needs a remix. I know that Steven Wilson is a huge Ange's fan. Jokes beside, who knows if it can happen?

But, in my opinion, it stays a very good prog album, that I like to listen. I recommend it for those who already know Ange, but if you want to discover their style, start with "Au Delà du Délire" or "Emile Jacotey".

Note: This review was edited in order to avoid some "fanboy" stereotypes.

Usandthem | 3/5 |


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