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Emmanuelle Parrenin - Maison Rose CD (album) cover

MAISON ROSE

Emmanuelle Parrenin

 

Prog Folk

3.61 | 10 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Although Maison Rose wasn't Parrenin's first album (she'd made a few under various names), it definitely the one she's remembered for by the semi-mainstream folk public. Originally released in 77 on the Ballon Noir label (like the other French prog-folk marvel Ripaille), Emmanuelle wrote and played almost alone the hug majority on this album. If there are some guests (including Gong's Malherbe) and co-writing credits, the only other fairly constant person is drummer and effects man Bruno Menny. The rather naive artwork is a good indication of what to expect from the calm brand of folk, where singer-songwriter songs alternate with more experimental instrumental folk track, the latter being obviously the more interesting for the proghead. All of the medieval instruments (among which spinet, hurdy and dulcimer) are played by Emmanuelle, and her crystal-clear voice illuminates Gasser or Vagh's guitar-based songs.

Around half of the tracks on Maison Rose are fairly straightforward (ala Vashti, Sill, Denny or Shelagh), like Ce Matin, Plume Blanche, Thibault or later on with the more traditional Belle Virginie or the title track (with multi-tracked vocals) or the buns Voyage Migrateur. Of course, once the needle or beam hit other tracks like the superb Liturgie or the medieval Ritournelle (a sort of jig), the string-laden Echarpe or the awesome dronal and ambient Apr's L'Ond'e (segueing in the album-closing R've), then the proghead can soar into the stratosphere. The real masterpiece is the almost 7-mins Topaze, where Menny's hypnotizing drum beat and his strange noises and freaky arrangements allow Parrenin to pull wails and screams from her instruments. Just that track alone is almost worth the price of admission. The Neptune piece bears a slight Indian influence, due to a tambura- sounding dulcimer.

The CD reissue comes with a bonus track that was recorded in the same session, but intended for another soundtrack project, but it fits in perfectly with the album's general direction, but might have been better placed earlier on the album, rather than tagged-on at its end. Of course, we can thank the Musea team for unearthing this little gem, which has become on of their best seller, and not least, provided Parrenin enough light to return in the last two years to her musical career after having raised her family. Definitely an enjoyable gem that's worthy of your investigation, but I wouldn't call essential listening for a prog folkheads novice.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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