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Versailles - Don Giovanni  CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 31 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Don Giovanni" is Versailles' sophomore album, a musical work that reveals a more matured and bolder band than the one that recorded the debut album, which was only interesting. Now, with the more adventurous "Don Giovanni", the foursome manage to become real studious pupils of the 'Mona Lisa prog school'. This band is really into recovering the pure heritage of French passionate symphonic prog, a trend that was initiated by Ange and then perfected by Mona Lisa, while Atoll and Arachnoid gave it their own touch in their respective heydays. With the aforementioned acts we have described the main influences that Versailles gets the inspiration from: even the use of keyboards by Alain de Lille rescues the vintage magic of Hammond organ, Mini-Moog and the Solina string ensemble for good effect and in a featured manner. But it is guitarist/vocalist/flautist Guillaume de la Pilière, who takes center stage perpetually with both his technical instrumental skills and his typically French-styled singing. You can hear him get romantic, whine, recite, ironize, feel afraid, even emulate the castrato timber. in a heavily pronounced Dechamps-meets-Le Guennec way, only with a higher timber. The 11 minute opener 'Hybridite' is an exciting tour-de-force of successive melodies and motifs fluidly intertwined to provide effective ambiences and moods (some stronger, others softer) for the lyrics' storyline. The final "homme / homme / animal ou homme" litany delivered in a bombastic spirit is simply awesome, right until the closing explosion. 'Erre au Fil des Ères' kicks off in a gentler mood, albeit bearing a subtle somber underline. The solemn verses and choruses are quite catchy, and the brief piano-flute interlude is beautiful, albeit too short; the ethereal synthesizer solo in the middle is too short, too. Right after this solo a build-up gets in, taking to another flute moment, this time more playful and longer, which now gives the listener the chance for a proper enjoyment. The track doesn't feel as cohesive as the previous one, despite the good promise shown by the initial sung section and the conviction used by the musicians at performing the varied finale. Things get more majestic and consistent with the 15 ½ minute long title track, another tour-de-force that equals the grandeur of the title track. 'Don Giovanni' puts more emphasis on extroverted dynamics and also enhances the contrasts between the energetic sections and the soft ones. Arguably, here and in 'Memoirs d'Hecatombes' are the best performances by the rhythm section. Also, special mentions go to the tense guitar leads and the well-constructed piano interlude, sober yet revealing a clear sense of romanticism. 'Subtiles Delicatesses' is a half-Baroque half-punk interlude, a funny brief diversion between the title track and yet another long song, 'Memoires d'Hecatombes'. This one kicks off with a very robust vibe, which will remain consistent throughout the varied motifs. 'Memoires' pretty much follows in the footsteps of the title track, although I don't feel the cohesion working as well, but it's very good all the same. The album is closed down by the evocative exercise in synth orchestrations 'Drama', providing a farewell of mysterious turmoil for the album (somewhat similar to Pulsar's "Halloween"). "Don Giovanni" is the perfect item for those who wish that the good old sound of Ange, Atoll and Mona Lisa would have never died.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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