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Robert Beriau - Selfishness: Source of War & Violence CD (album) cover

SELFISHNESS: SOURCE OF WAR & VIOLENCE

Robert Beriau

 

Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 14 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars First, let me present my excuses to Robert who took the trouble to send me the actual CD instead of the virtual album when I won it through PA's contest. And the real shame is that I almost immediately lost it, without hearing a single note: I thought it had fallen out of the car from the passenger seat and it was irremediably lost, but when doing a recent full vacuuming of the then-brand new car (there had been intermediary cleaning, but not this thorough), I found out that the album had indeed slipped out of the seat, but on the inside and sat hidden away from view. Soooooo, I'm now trying to catch up time, and still "waste" some by saying once again: sorry!

I'm generally not fond of these solo projects, where the sole composer/musician does everything himself, including recording/mixing and artwork (here, an amateur computer photo-montage) to go along. And when I first re-set my eyes on the present, I was thinking of the Ere G Québecois fellow, whose sole album was quite disappointing, despite many glowing reviews. It turns out that many of the flaws found in these solo projects are still present here, but it's less apparent that they are flaws. Indeed, when doing an album from A to Z (except for D and V which are occasional drumming and backing vocals), one single person cannot get much input or corrections from the other participants, since there aren't any. But Beriau gets away from this danger with much talent and a solid dose of talent, because outside his obvious influences and an over-ambitious concept (partly about violence against women to which he contributes), by the third track, I'm sucked into his world, which is fairly rare with these prog concept albums of the last two decades. One of my main concerns is the lyrics, translated (sometimes approximately) from French, but sung fairly convincingly in English.

You're not immediately snatched away from your seat after push the play button. Indeed, it does take the first track, which happens to be the harder rocking piece of the album, and the intro is actually somewhat of a mild repellent with the gothic ambiances and vocals, followed by almost metallic crunchy chords, but by the end of Agoraphobia, your first fears should've disappeared. With the second Terrorism track, the slow slide comes with the Hammill-ian vocals and slow melodies, and by the time the almost 10-mins Blind Heart starts, you're under the spell, despite some weak symphonic synth sounds, but as soon as Beriau's slow but sensual lead guitar soaring over his acoustic guitar arpeggios hits your eardrums, you're hooked. Once the mellotrons enters, you're pulled in an early Genesis or Harmonium spell and all hopes of escaping are useless. With the amazing 6-mins+ Last Call For A change, Robert's Dionne-Brégent influences (debut album mostly) are just tearing your sanity apart, first with the use of keys, ten strings and with an outstanding flute. The Graaf/Hammill-ian soundscapes and dramatics return with The Sinking Ship, and the spell cast is now turning into an addiction. Next is what Beriau call the B-side, which opens on the instrumental Selfcontempt (sic) with heavy-phased-echoing synth then a haunting piano that veers to the "Dantesque" until a church organ (not sure it's the real thing) brings a Froesian guitar solo, before a Graaf- esque ending wraps it up. A heavy bass is announcing a Time Fracture, and you'd swear that PH is at the helm and behind the console. That very same bass (this time, a bit Floydian ala Sheep) comes back for the instrumental Thoughts Are Not Enough, which is another superb instrumental piece. Another slow piece, where Robert's vocals gets a feminine intro and outro, courtesy of a certain Catherine, but Homeless ends in near- suicidal ambiance. The crunchy guitars come back for the closing Next Generation, where the Dionne-Brégent keyboards come back, but the almost 11-mins track recaps most ogf the album's important musical passages.

A big surprise really, given that I wasn't expecting much when I had first opened the cardboard envelope fallen in my postal mailbox. Of course, I'm generally not very appreciative of works that show way too openly their influences on their sleeves, but for some reasons, Beriau's album makes the exception that confirms the rule. It's now been three months since this album has been spinning regularly, and this is about three times the time-lapse that I devote to most post-70's works, so this in itself is already quite an achievement. No doubt I'll investigate his other (previous) works, once given the chance.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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