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François Thollot - Ceux D'en Face CD (album) cover


François Thollot


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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Francois Thollot's debut album is an entirely solo effort on which the man himself plays guitar, bass, piano and drums. The sound is similar to some of the jazzier Magma spin offs and acolytes of the 1970s such as Potemkine and Zao, with a touch of more recent zeuhl like NeBeLNeST. Although he's clearly a highly gifted musician and composer, there's often a feeling that the music would have benefited from the input of other players.

The drawbacks of his solo recording become apparent almost immediately. His guitar work is extremely fluid, and the tone is reminiscent of Robert Fripp and Richard Pinhas, while his piano work is solid and he mostly plays chunky chords to underpin the main melody. He manages the bubbling, high end bass that Bernard Paganotti and (to a lesser extent) Jannick Top contributed to Magma in their prime, but doesn't quite pull off the growling low end sound and rhythmic undertow that both players also excelled at. The real shortcoming, however, is in his drumming; while he's never less than competent the drumming never swings as it should, and although his concentration on the upper part of the kit is probably wise the cymbal work is often overdone. Having said all that, the compositions themselves are of a generally high standard and there are some inspired passages here and there, such as the brief vibes-driven coda to Enilek. The stand out is probably Marilyn-Antoinette, where the guitar dominates and there is a definite hint of King Crimson circa Fracture/FraKctured .

Ceux d'en Face promises rather more than it actually delivers, particularly when subjected to detailed listening, but it also hints at possible greatness to come. With the right band the music could sound brilliant, but this album sounds more like a series of high quality demos than a fully realised piece of work. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for Marilyn Antoinette.

Report this review (#141225)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Francois Thollot's debut album certainly doesn't measure up to his follow up record "Contact", but it's cool to see all the elements here that made his second album so great. I agree with Syzygy that this record would have been much better served with the input of some other musicians. Francois plays every instrument on this album including piano, guitar, bass and drums. Actually, I guess the next album "Contact" proved that with a couple of great Zeuhl musicians added to the mix the sky was the limit.

"Ceux D'en Face" has those dark, angular guitar melodies I love but it's the piano and drums that stand out initially. "Enilek" is kind of unusual as it seems to be made up of different building blocks, but there is nothing being built. The "block" I like the best is 2 1/2 minutes in where the guitar comes in as the piano plays the same melody over and over. "Invasion" features piano and drums that are both pounded. Hey it's an invasion. The guitar is angry 4 minutes in. "Experimentations Sentimentales" opens with a nice guitar melody as drums join in and then some angular guitar. "Marilyn-Antoinette" has some acoustic guitar to open as bass, piano and drums create a mellow soundscape.That is until the drums get heavier and the guitar becomes angular while the piano notes gets louder. The end of the song is like a reprise of the beginning of the song.

"Vingt Trois" has a good rhythm of drums and cymbals before the bass and guitar come in. They come and go throughout. This is good. The guitar makes some noise 3 1/2 minutes in and later to end it. "Voyage Au Bout De La Nuit" is the final and longest track at over 12 minutes. The first 5 minutes features a contrast of two different soundscapes. Then we get cymbals clashing,drums pounding and bass throbbing. No real melody actually but lots of atmosphere. 7 minutes in the drums and piano are both pounded as synths come in. Another change 10 minutes in as cymbals,guitar and piano arrive.

I like this release, but i'm spoiled from hearing the much better "Contact" album. 3 stars.

Report this review (#142327)
Posted Friday, October 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A talented French multi-instrumentalist from Lyon,Francois Thollot is strongly influenced by Classic 70's Prog as well as legendary figures of Zeuhl and Fusion music like Christian Vander (Magma) and Daniel Denis (Univers Zero, Arkham, Present, Art Zoyd).With his unique talent and music knowledge as his only weapons Thollot proceeded to the recordings of a solo album between January and September of 2000,which were picked up and treated by Alain Lebon,the mastermind behind the specialized French Zeuhl label Soleil Zeuhl.The debut of Thollot ''Ceux d'en face'' was finally released in 2002.

Handling all guitars, bass, piano and drums on the album,Thollot suggests a good mix of Zeuhl, Jazz-Fusion and dark KING CRIMSON-esque Progressive Rock in his first work.With the help of Lebon's very good work on production,the album offers seven pieces of haunting and dreamy Fusion filled with complex passages, disharmonies and light breaks, swirling around Thollot's complicated bass lines and his GOBLIN-styled work on piano.His guitar work, being quite jazzy in nature, has a strong FRIPP-ian influence and his drumming remains strong and confident along the way.All compositions do not escape from this general rule and are very tight and well-performed, especially considering that there is just one man performing them.However Thollot's ideas have not something new to offer, his influence from the Zeuhl masters aforementioned is more than evident, but his talent allows him to deliver eventually some fine musicianship in the style.

Good mid-tempo Zeuhl-Fusion and an album strongly recommended to lovers of the style but also a good proposal to anyone willing to taste or being intoduced the lighter side of Zeuhl.

Report this review (#599948)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2011 | Review Permalink

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