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Didier Lockwood - Surya CD (album) cover

SURYA

Didier Lockwood

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars After coming to national attention with his Brother Francis (piano & kb) with The Visitors than passing through the main Zeuhl legends of Magma and Zao, Didier Lockwood embarked on a solo career with his aptly titles Jazz-Rock album in 76. He would record two more a little later on in the decade, but in between working for others (Rahmann, for ex). In the meantime, the Lockwoods had also formed their own group called Surya with Zao's drummer Truong and two lesser-known but very-capable musicians. Originally recorded in August 77, this album didn't have much luck and was released only in 80 on the very small label Cornelia, but by this time the momentum had changed for that kind of music.

Lockwood is well within the French jazz violinist after Grapelli and more closely Ponty, but he never enjoyed the high profile of those two. It is of course a little sad, because he's a very solid virtuoso, as his older brother Francis is as well. Actually, the whole group is a typical example of a JR/F band of the late 70's and they soundscape are well in line with the monsters groups of the era, especially Mahavishnu (the bros played with McL) and JL Ponty, violin's presence obliging. Despite having a double KB attack and Didier's violin (but the Lockwood bros are the youngest by far in the group), it appears that the group was rather collegial as all five had their words in the composition dept.

Their brand of mainly instrumental fusion is typically what you'd expect from the era, but some tracks have a funkier feel, notably on Madagascar-born bassist Sylvain Marc's two compositions, the rapid-fire Stakau and the choppy Do Anything, which happens to have vocals, though they're somewhat buried in the mix (more than you'd expect). Opening on the other keyboardist Plouton's Agartha composition, one can only think of the MO Mk1 albums like Birds Of Fire, but with the notable absence of a blistering guitar. The following Truong composition Aspiring Answer is a much calmer affair, but gradually picks in intensity without losing its subtlety. Didier's Automatic Man and Francis' two tracks are more "progressive" in the genre, with long intros and intimate climates, especially Aura.

But as fine as the album is worthy of discovering, you won't miss much if you don't either, because Surya doesn't reinvent the genre or add anything significant to it. Don't get me wrong, this is genre-consolidating work that can only find a legitimate space in your shelves, but so can a few other dozens of albums. If you want something from the Lockwood bros, this and Didier's debut album are about as fine as you'll find.

NB: the few Cd reissues I have seen mostly show the album under DL's name with Surya as the album's title, but originally, this was a indeed a full-group effort.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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