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Rousseau - Square the Circle CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.00 | 27 ratings

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3 stars After a promising and fairly successful debut album, ROUSSEAU decided to add vocals on about half the tracks on "Retreat", perhaps sensing that the 1980s would be a nadir of sorts for delicate chamber prog, never a booming genre to be sure. The result was an artistic peak, with the elegant melodies on flutes, strings, and guitars woven with Herbert G Ruppik's gruffly romantic pipes. The light Latin flavor of these songs complemented the cool precision of the classically inspired meanderings like a hearth fire on a snowy eave.

Four years later, the band returned with a similar collection. The full-on influence of the decade does affect the staying power of the tinny synthesizers, but the CAMEL influence reigns, and is perceptible from the opening cut, especially when Uwe Schilling's lead guitars break out. The closest cameline reference would be "Missing" from the marvelous "Stationary Traveller". Vocally, the most notable contributions are the lively "Fade Away", and the more romantic "Isle of Light" and "As If Painted".

Instrumentally, while this is relatively simple for prog, plenty of allowance is made for shifts in mood and theme, even as the transition might be more like that between sleep and early awakening, or lying in bed and sitting up. The lengthiest, "Winter's Tale", would be the go to cut for these aspects, and the mesmerizing fade out might well have influenced early works by the Swiss neo prog group CLEPSYDRA.

ROUSSEAU might be an easy band to pick on. The generally magnanimous All Music Guide had a few choice words for their unctuousness, yet they never pretend to be anything else, even as they more than occasionally offer succinct demonstrations of aptitude in all aspects of their work. This understatement fundamentally embodies ROUSSEAU's inner spark. "Square the Circle" can't match "Retreat" for uniformity and impact, but, in terms of geometric astral allusions, it sounds like 3 stars.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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