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Sensitive To Light - Almost Human CD (album) cover


Sensitive To Light

Symphonic Prog

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erik neuteboom
4 stars WOW, after Maldoror and Nemo here is Sensitive To Light, another French progrock sensation! The musical brainchild is the versatile musician Vynce Leff who is known as a member of neo-prog band Saens. He also worked out the lyrics, based on the story of Pinocchio (who's nose grew when he lied, I wish that politicians could suffer from that ..!). It deals about the dilemma that the grewing Pinocchio realizes he is mortal and about the confrontation with eternal questions like where he comes from, why he was born and why we have to die?

1. Pinocchio : I. Dreams Are Coming True Tonight (1:53) : This short opener contains soaring strings and thin vocals with a Gaelic undertone, simply wonderful!

2. Pinocchio : Ii. Birth (11:59) : A biting electric guitar joins, followed by a pleasant mid-tempo rhythm. The music becomes very dynamic and is very tastefully coloured: fat guitar riffs, flamenco-like acoustic guitar runs, majestic violin-Mellotron waves and warm but also powerful vocals. The climates alternates from dreamy with beautiful synthesizer - and saxophone play to sumptuous eruptions featuring a long, fiery electric guitar solo and church bells. The final part is very compelling with howling guitar and inspired vocals.

3. Someting Happened In The Garden Of Eden (10:20) : First a slow rhythm with a moving violin-Mellotron sound and a bit ominous vocals, then heavy, quite raw guitar work. The climate turns into compelling bombastic with metal guitar riffs and a flashy synthesizer solo. Then a dreamy part delivering warm vocals and soaring Mellotron. In the end the sound becomes more and more lush with orchestral keyboards, propulsive drum beats and even the sound of bag pipes, very original!

4. Carpe Diem (6:04) : A bit folky climate with Gaelic inspired vocals, tasteful keyboards and a compelling rhtyhm-section, beautiful.

5. Kyrie (Gepetto's Death) (5:18) : The story of this composition has been translated perfectly into the music with a Gothic-like atmosphere: first ominous organ and piano play and in the end very bombastic as a kind of progrock opera. In between we hear lots of great musical ideas and the exciting blend of metal riffs and sparkling church organ, what a melodramatic sound!

6. Snow (6:11) : This track features a captivating combination of twanging guitars and propulsive metal riffs, you can feel the tension. The music becomes more and more lush with moving work on saxophone and guitar and very passionate vocals, what a voice!

7. Travels (3:28) : A compelling and exciting song with huge tension between the acoustic, Eastern sounding instruments and the heavy guitar riffs, flashy synthesizer and jazzy piano solo. A very interesting musical journey.

8. Father (the Truth) (8:15) : It starts with a dreamy climate featuring sensitive, a bit bluesy guitar play and melancholic vocals. Then a sparkling piano solo and the music turns into more and more bombastic with moving, great build-up electric guitar work. The next part sounds very mellow with thin vocals and soaring keyboards. The second part of this dynamic and alternating composition contains again lots of captivating musical ideas, I enjoyed the fusion (jazz/flamenco) guitar work that reminds me of John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola. The final part delivers duo-vocals and fiery soli on saxophone and guitar, a very compelling atmosphere.

9. Memories (2:13) : A wonderful piece with Hackett-like twanging classic guitar and fine acoustic guitar runs (great overdubs), blended with warm vocals.

10. Why ? (bonus track) (7:49) : In the final track Sensitive To Light showcases again their huge potential: first dreamy with thin vocals and soaring Mellotron, then the sound becomes more and more lush and bombastic featuring passionate vocals and fine acoustic guitar runs. The final part contains sensitive classical guitar and wonderful vocals.


Report this review (#78956)
Posted Sunday, May 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I cannot confirm the positive impression of my fellow reviewer at all (sorry, Eric!). I used to like Vynce Leff's previous band SAENS (at least considering only the music, not that much the vocal parts). Although his new project is listed here under Symphonic Prog I've to say this record is revealing for me even more a typical NeoProg sound than the ones by Saens. First I still have big problems to support Leff's vocals, which fortunately occur now only occasionally anymore but the addition of female lead singer Jenny Lewis does not really help me to overcome this. They're sounding in a way painful to my ears, just too kitschy.What we get offered here is another one of this GLASS HAMMER-MAGENTA type of mainstream prog stuff that I'm not able to listen to anymore at all. The concept of the album is highly elaborate I've to admit and big efforts have been done to create a pseudo-classical and opera kind of atmosphere. But on the other hand it appears much too overblown to me. From the point of musicianship there isn't anything I could blame, it's absolutely flawless. Considering the comparison to MALDOROR and NEMO (both bands I happen to like very much) there isn't any similarity to those. Thus all these rather negative aspects are raising for me two questions. First whether this sub-genre of prog (which used to be one of my favorite ones) is mainly represented by such type of (Retro-Prog) bands in future. If this is the case I doubt that Symphonic Prog will still be something I'm highly interested in. Second quite acute question is: How can I rate such a work done in a music style I usually like if I'm not able to enjoy it at all? To provide a quick answer to the last one: I cannot give more than 2 stars.

I just can advice anyone having a similar taste to mine to listen to this one carefully before wasting any money!

Edited 5/29/2006

Report this review (#79611)
Posted Sunday, May 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars I should say I wasn't too thrilled about this band when I heard about it, because it was a side project by Vynce Leff, from Saens. And since I really don't like Saens at all I was doubting this one would be fo any interest for me. But I decided to give it a shot and I was quite surprised how good it was. The concept of a fairy tale story like Pinocchio as a guideline for a prog album seems odd, but somehow it works here.

First of all I found the music of Almost Human to be much more melodic, coherent and focused than anything I ever heard from Saens. Ok, the general sound is still reminiscent of that band but in a much better way. The main influences are still King Crimson and Yes, with some jazz and Avant Guard here and there, but instead of the very chaotic and often pointless hermetic sounds Of Saens, the melodies here are great and the hooks work. Jenny Lewis has an excellent voice for this style of music and blends very well with Vince's when he sings some parts. All musicians are skillful and the arrangements are quite well done, without much overdoing (again unlike Leff's other band).

The production is very good also. The music is Symphonic rock for sure, and quite unique in its way. Maybe not for everyone's taste, but still interesting, bold and well done. If you're looking for something different but not too far out, I recommend this CD. Another good surprise from France. My rating: 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#172826)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am not sure what this band tries to do. Did they try to cure insomnia ?

This band comes from France and is a side project of another band again. That's all I know. The album is pretty symphonic with female vocals. The vocals first comes across as Magenta before they crawl into the background again and acts almost like a regular instrument among the tonnes of keyboards and guitars this album is filled to the brim with. The music then almost comes across as new-age with some Kate Bush and Sinead O Connor vocals. The vocals are still pushed into the background on this album which does not have the best of sound.

Quality wise, the music is repetetive and does not move. There is some grandious use of guitars and keyboards now and then. But the music sounds the same throughout. This album never moves into gear. There are some good ideas on this album now and then. The opening track Pinocchio is good. The rest of the album is pretty dull. Maybe it would had worked with a better production ? Maybe. But this is how it is and it is not good.

2 stars

Report this review (#245641)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars SENSITIVE TO LIGHT is the project of multi-instrumentalist Vynce Leff (SAENS). They've employed Jenny Lewis from the UK to do the vocals.This is a concept album based on the Carlo Collodi novel called "Adventures Of Pinocchio". In the liner notes it says: "Almost human...or the story of a grown up Pinocchio, realizing how mortal he is, facing the eternal questions...Where do I come from ? Why was I born ? Why do we have to die ?". Ok I am laughing right now but i'll try to hold it together. I guess I feel the same way about this album as I do the GLASS HAMMER records i've heard. Just not a big fan of the female vocals or the concept.

"Pinocchio- Dreams Are Coming True Tonight" is a short intro track with synths and female vocals. Male vocals after a minute. Not a good start. "Pinocchio-Birth" opens with the guitar soloing that sounds a lot like Mike Oldfield's guitar tone and style. It kicks in after a minute with vocals. The bass is prominant. It settles after 5 minutes with vocals. Sax before 7 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in with guitar. The sax is back after 9 minutes. Some nice guitar and bass late. "Something Happened In The Garden Of Eden" kicks in hard after 1 1/2 minutes. Lots of synths follow. It settles with vocals after 3 minutes. Male vocals a minute later. Contrasts between the calm and full sections continue. Sax before 7 1/2 minutes. She sings with passion then bagpipes end it.

"Carpe Diem" has a mellow intro but it does get fuller. "Kyrie (Gepetto's Death)" is my favourite track. It gets intense after 2 minutes and pretty heavy later on with guitar, organ and bass standing out. "Snow" eventually gets fairly heavy but it's restrained. Sax comes and goes. "Travels" builds and I like the drumming here. It settles later with sax then piano. "Father (The Truth)" opens with guitar and chunky bass before male vocals arrive. Female vocals after a minute. It brightens 3 minutes in with guitar and drums.The mood then changes as reserved female vocals come in. Sax follows as it builds. It brightens again after 5 1/2 minutes with dual vocals. The guitar after 7 1/2 minutes sounds like Oldfield again. "Memories" features gentle guitar and female vocal melodies. Nice way to end it.

I do think it's worth 3 stars but nothing more for my tastes.

Report this review (#256126)
Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 | Review Permalink

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