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Malicorne - Le Bestiaire CD (album) cover

LE BESTIAIRE

Malicorne

 

Prog Folk

3.23 | 10 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars There is something about the music on Malicorne's album `Le Bestiaire' (roughly translated to `The Animals') that transports me to another space and time. Something of an other-wordly quality that I'm even sometimes reminded of fellow French band Magma, who, lets face it, are pretty much a jazzy alien cult disguised as a progressive band! In the photograph that accompanies the LP sleeve, the Malicorne band members are all dressed in matching white outfits, and this just reinforces the sect like nature of this project to me. Like Magma, their music is frequently hypnotic and repetitive, with a chanting like tone to their repeated French vocals and lyrics. There is a wonderfully throaty and droning quality to the combined male and female voices on this record that I find highly intoxicating. The music takes me away from reality.

Malicorne's music on this album has the combined sounds of medieval chamber music, folk, choral, progressive rock, classical and even very slight disco elements merged together. It creates a very disorientating sound, which will surely make it a difficult listen for some, whereas I prefer to think of it as challenging. This is why we listen to progressive music, to hear musicians attempt something new, experimental and different, mixing musical styles to create something fresh and wholly unique.

Although all the music on the album is very much folk based, the first track on side A, `Les Sept...', also has repetitive mix of a deep funky bass and drum-beats, harmonica and almost monotonous male/female vocals. This changes into a dirty lead guitar break and harsh electronics during the instrumental second half that sounds a little like 70's fellow French band Ange, and there's a similar unsettling drama to it all. `La Mule' is a stunning acapella group harmony piece, with the band singing an intense and complicated choral arrangement with that wondrous throaty drone. `Le Branle...' is a beautiful instrumental medieval jig with lots of energy and passion, changing rhythms and beautiful flute throughout. After a brief choral intro, `Les Transformation' falls away in to a delicate but slightly threatening acoustic passage, with mournful male/female vocals and eerie synths. Wilting violin, recorder, bagpipes and and an atmospheric lead guitar solo blur together throughout this dreamy piece, before the finale turns the whole thing into a medieval raga. Lot of open space and ambience throughout this track, and it's one of the albums highlights.

Side B `La Chasse...' begins with a very dark and unpleasant ambient piece with strange electronic sound effects. It then becomes a lamenting ballad, with Gabriel Yacoub's warm storytelling vocals and acoustic guitar, before some very prominent slapping bass and forceful percussion. This repetitive track has a very catchy but moody melody, while some spacey effects and a gong brings it to a close. `Le Ballet...' is a short medieval based fanfare played on violin, recorder and flute. It serves almost as an introduction to `Alexandre...', a dreamy piece with a somber and reflective female lead vocal and acoustic guitar. A choral driven middle not unlike Magma then diverts into a stomping violin driven raga. The darkly classical `Jean Des Loups' reprises some themes and melodies from throughout the album, with tense violin, bashing drums and grumbling bass snaps backed to an infrequent disco-like beat! The melody in the middle section has an almost uplifting quality, then it reprises back to the earlier darker themes with dramatic strings and a murky violin solo and electric guitar solo to the fadeout. With so many conflicting elements in the final track, there's even subtle traces of bands such as Gentle Giant and Gryphon throughout this one too.

Only initially familiar with the band Malicorne by their name alone, knowing that they were somehow progressive related, I came across this album in a second hand record shop, where it was marked $6 - very cheap for a rarer release. However I feel the album must have been from an ex radio host/DJ's collection, as scrawled across the front cover in thick black marker pen was the label `File under French section'. Thankfully the LP itself was in superb condition, so the quality of the album was a step up from the disappointment of the LP sleeve cover being mostly ruined!

With Malicorne, I know to expect something fascinating and unique, from a talented band of musicians who present a truly personal and creative musical persona. I've since come across more of their albums and find that they are a band well worth looking in to, and to more patient and open- minded listeners, a truly challenging and rewarding experience.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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