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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 2004, master guitarist Frederic L'Epee was back in top form... and with a vengeance. After dissolving the great French rock fusion band Philharmonie in 1998, L'Epee broke away from the clean and seamless sophistry of his past project and formed a looser, harder and more versatile union of great players; bassist Stephane Bertrand, drummer Volodia Brice, and his student Julien Vecchie on second guitar. With precise polyrhythms in one hand and urgent rebellion in the other, these guys rip apart eight tracks of some rough-edged rock with a jazzman's sensibility, hopping between manic, Hendrix- tainted guitar stank and quirkey white man's jazz.

The harmonic abrasions of 'Les Deux Mondes' start us off and lead into the smart and powerful riffing that is the trademark of this ensemble before quieting down and rising again to finish the job. Demanding, melodic, marvelous. 'Souterrain' continues in this mode, and 'Seducteur Innocent' percolates with chunky chords, jazz breaks and nice twin-guitar harmonies. 'Compassion' calms things down a bit and meanders soothingly, showing hints of Frippism, 'Manchild' reflects the arithmetic progressions of Don Caballero and the math scene, while 'Impatience' bops with a nod to the melancholy electric jazz of Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery topped-off by some heavy mud. 'Le Masque Rouge' finishes this very pleasing CD.

Intricate without being arrogant, rockin' without being low-brow, Frederic L'Epee's Yang comes most highly recommended, especially if you're in the mood for a change.

Report this review (#125210)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars YANG is the brainchild of Frederic L'Epee the former guitarist for PHILHARMONIE and SHYLOCK. It's recordings like this that make me so glad i'm into progressive music. This band combines dual lead guitarists who can be intricate or angular, while the bass is very prominant along with the drums, offering a lot of bottom end or at times jazzy melodies. Lots of variety on this one. In the liner notes they mention that it took three days to record this album as it was important for them to try to preserve the intensity of a spontaneous performance. And yes, "A Complex Nature" is an appropriate title.

"The Two Worlds" is probably my favourite track because of how dark and heavy it is. There is this heavy undercurrent early and the guitar leads are outstanding ! Lots of chunky bass as the guitar starts to solo a minute in. It does calm right down to a very cool soundscape with intricate guitar. A minute later the heaviness returns with angular guitar this time. I can't get over how heavy the bass is. This is pure bliss for me. Haha. It settles down again as the contrast continues. "Subterranean" is complex and intricate,think "Discipline" by KING CRIMSON. I love the angular guitar 1 1/2 minutes in. A nice heavy sound before 3 minutes. "Innocent Seducer" is a mid-paced, guitar led tune with fat bass lines. It's quite catchy at times. Check out the guitar melodies 4 1/2 minutes in.

"Compassion" opens with gently played guitar, before the other guitar comes in beautifully with drums. As the title suggests this song is warm and giving. Nice bass 2 1/2 minutes in. I really like the guitar 3 1/2 minutes in as it gets a little more passionate. "Manchild" features different shades of sound for the first 2 1/2 minutes, then intricate guitar melodies dominate until it ends like it began. "Impatience" is kind of a groovy track baby. Relaxed and fun until the final 30 seconds when we get another "Discipline"-like moment. "The Red Mask" is a melodic and catchy guitar led tune. I like the sound 2 1/2 minutes in when it calms down. Back to original melody a minute later but with heavier bass. "Pride" opens with drums and a heavier sound. The guitar starts to take the lead 2 1/2 minutes in with lots of bottom end to support it. Check out the bass 4 1/2 minutes in.

This is an excellent instrumental album that is worthy of 4 stars.

Report this review (#166251)
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Following the disbandment of Philharmonie, Frédéric L'Épée had a small accident that allowed him to rest for a period before hitting the road again on some solo concerts.However he soon returned to the recording projects, forming Yang along with Philharmonie's last drummer and original member o the Prog Metal act Lord of Mushrooms Volodia Brice.The crew was completed with another guitarist, Julian Vecchie, and bassist Stephane Bertrand.They recorded their debut ''A complex nature'' at Studio 26 in Antibes, which was released on Cuneiform Records, a label that has been supporting L'Epee since his early Philharmonie days.

Yang continue from where the music of Philharmonie stopped, playing an emphatic and powerful instrumental Heavy Prog, obviously guitar-oriented, with a jamming attitude, even more supported by the fact this work was captured in just three days at the studio.First and last reference point of the group seem to be KING CRIMSON and their post-73' complicated works with L'Epee and bandmate Julian Vecchie offering dual, technical guitar exercises, split in tapping grooves, jazzy solos, low-tempo melodies and frenetic leads.The album is far from boring, despite its limited instrumental diversity, as the duo delivers plenty of varied textures, flirting with Fusion and Post Rock quite frequently, while the solid rhythm section provides the appropriate background.Soundwise there are also a couple of more atmospheric tracks included, which lean towards the more laid-back and psychedelic instrumental Rock side with hypnotic guitar scratches in evidence.Some of the virtuosic passages of the album are simply excellent with somekind of furious jazzy plays and complicated structures, blending rhythmic lines with sudden, atonal breaks.

Another work, where L'Epee's composing talent can be praised, as he is the main contrubutor on Yang's debut.Really succesful title as well, this work walks dangerously on the thin line between dissonant complexity and atmospheric virtuosity.Recommended.

Report this review (#1057650)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Precise and creative performance of a Heavy/ Post Rock/Math Rock mixture, tainted with Jazzistic ala Django Reinhardt flavors and brushes with some Rock in Opposition's colors here and there. Meaning for Heavy Prog followers that "heaviness" is more than once or thrice undertoned or even subdued totally in favor of discovering refreshing ways of musical expression.

YANG's first, 2004, release "A Complex Nature", is complex in its clockwork performances not that much in its music composition, which for a first release serves as a promising statement of brighter things to come which if, by luck or work, could explode beyond its own first steps borders in the future.

As for now, the mechanics of team work are quiet well based and oiled, which in turn deliver more than once highly inventive solutions to otherwise quiet well travelled roads. The kind of release that is worth listening to yet ,(unconsciously maybe), makes me wonder how far matters could be taken in the future of YANG's musical idiom. I hope really far because the talent to do so is already there.

***3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1589540)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2016 | Review Permalink

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