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Conventum - Le Bureau Central des Utopies CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.94 | 32 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Down to a quartet, Conventum attacked this second album is the same verve as they had, their first and the results are as flamboyant as on their debut. As their previous album had gathered a confidential success, conventum persevered in the direction they had chosen, but they avoided making a carbon copy of the debut. Gone are Bouchard and vocalist Painchaud, but the overall sound remains unchanged, almost completely acoustic. This record was recorded just a month before the first Independence referendum regarding the Quebec separatism, and one can feel that "utopist" issue dominates this album (at least partly).

Lead off track is halfway between a jig and a Ritournelle and outlines the definite Folk flavour that will characterize this album from its predecessor. Atelier is a delightful piece very reminiscent of the medieval ambiances heard in the previous album, somehow fairly close to Anthony Phillips's late 70's works on arpeggios. Fondation is a rather arduous (and lengthy) piece with an uneasy construction (reminding you of the nervous live bonus tracks of the debut), and not my favorite track even if the progression is impressive. Next up is the cornerstone Choregraphie Lunaire, which starts very slowly, hauntingly and creepily grows to a solemn atmosphere that maybe only Harmonium in the Histoire Sans Paroles could approach crossed with a Frippian electric guitar and a Hackett acoustic guitar >> awesome and spine-chilling! Ending on a short jig-like trad folk, this first side offers moments of pure delights, but it is uneven.

Fanfare (opening side 2 ) has a deceiving name , but is well in the line of the album as well as Trois Petit Pas (more reflective and somber). The music sometime comes to early Univers Zero's chamber music, or more likely Julverne. Tic and Tacs actually wake you up from a certain torpor, that you had settle you, but the tracks quickly turns into the least interesting and folkiest track of the album. But soon comes the title track that is certainly the centerpiece of the album. A rather gloomy landscape unfolds in front of yours ears, with a haunting cello, a few vocals (another change compared to the debut album: the vocals are much less present) and a splendid atmosphere. Once again the album has some bonus tracks which are valuable (they come from Conventum's 82 reunion, recorded live) and as interesting they might be, could've been coupled with the previous album's bonus tracks to make a full album. I believe this is important to mention, because the worthy bonus tracks are however breaking away from both album's spirit. If PaysDu Bryuit isvery much a theatrical thing much the same way the other bonus track of the debut album Commerce Nostalgique is a superb track meddling medieval guitars , a jazzy bass and a solemn cello. Overall, this album is slightly less superb than its predecessor (less accessible also), but still very much worth your investment. Both albums have been recently re-issued by ProgQuebec, which all progheads will agree is very much worthyof supporting. Run for it!

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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