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1 stars As with the previous two albums, Triptyque is free for download at Chrysalides website. This got me interested. It's obvious, that as a solid part of a trilogy, this album provides no change to the style they formed earlier.

Chrysalide has in fact developed a new and personal sound, with all acoustic instruments, mostly guitar and bass, accompanied with percussion. However, with this album, they've developed it further. It's apparent, that the players are both better composers and better skilled.

The songs are not quite hollow as they were on the other two albums, and the first track, Ego, is actually quite refreshing. It's not really music one would recommmend to anyone who enjoys grand melodies and/or a rythmic beat. However, the song drives on with the rythm beating guitar and good lyrics. The solo in the end is surprising in the sense, that the band seems to be lacking the vast range of off tune notes and accidental tempo changes that were present earlier.

Of course, the folk is still there, and it seems these guys are actually really doing it by themselves from the beginning. Litanies starts with a really strange guitar and proceeds to even more strange chords. The use of percussion is apparent here too, and it really bring depth to the songs. However, the electric guitar solo in between is really off in a sense. They use their own scales, and people, who are used to mainstream/conventional theory will most probably grimace, as it will most probably sound off tune. With those, who like to experience music in all ways and are very open minded, the experience that is Triptyque is most welcome.

There's not much to say about the songs themselves. Chrysalide has a clear plan of keeping the music similar throughout the whole trilogy, and listening to their music is bound to get repetitive. It is, as if they were still singing the same song. Basically Le Temple doesn't really differ from the rest. It's got a couple of nice chord progressions and singing applied to that, but aside from the technical aspect, the music remains more or less insipid.

The cello playing of Charlotte Martin is most welcome in this case. Every now and then the listener is given a peek to what the music on this album could be at its best. The ending to Le Temple is really good. That, and the beginning fo the next song, Kali Yuga are among the best parts of the album. The 4th track seems to strike out a bit harder, and the listener gets excited; perhaps something will happen... Well something does happen. The 9 minute song goes on, and suddenly changes as if a second track had just changed. Looking at the player, it was just a pause edited in between. Listening closely to the song again, on will notice that it is still the same song.

Triptyque carries the same name as the album, and is on first listen the best song along side with the opener. There's a melodic part that begins in the middle of the song and carries on really nicely. The thing about this song is that it's still a bit too long for its own good.

What can one really say. If the album can be judged by the first song, and the rest sound exactly the same, what's there to listen to? For people, who wish to listen to the story in the lyrics this might be intriguing, but it's hard to imagine anyone listening to the album through a second time, especially when just one song does that just as well and saves a lot of time.

The next song seems a bit better, but in the end it's just because it's only 6+ minutes long. But looking at the track listing, one can get really desparate. Why must we be punished with an almost 20 minute track when all you want is to get through with what you already have?

Nearly falling asleep after Immacule the listener is woken up again by a piano intro for Absinthe. Soon, the cello joins, and the song sounds utterly refreshing. though after a while one begins to wonder: is this really the same band? There's no sign of guitar nor the acoustic bass. No singing whatsoever. It seems as this song has been ordered to bring the album up one level. At that, it's also the shortest song on the album, an instrumental, and easily the best too. A whole album of beautiful music like this would probably not be such a bad idea after all.

Debut sounds very nice and welcome, though mostly because it is the last song. The biggest problems with this folk-prog band are obvious: The music is extremely boring. It's really hollow, lacks nuances, lacks variation and lacks coherency. A lot of instrumental passages sound like they were played off tune or just badly. The issue of ever changing tempo is solved on this album, but after a long while of struggling somewhere between sleep and wake, perhaps a change of tempo at some point would have been good. The whole album is in the first song, and the rest are just something composed to make it sound longer. I wouldn't spot a difference if they'd release it as just one long song. Seriously.

The album is not good, not even close. In fact, it's only worth getting if you're a completionist, mostly because it's free. But I wouldn't recommend listening to it, because that'd sound like I liked it. One song can be worth it, but that can be picked from any of the three records. This one, I agree, is the best of the three, and for that reason would deserve better scores than the others. However... I can't give more than two stars. In fact, I can't even give that. I'm sorry, but this album, free or not is not going to stay on my playlist any longer.

Report this review (#178083)
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Chrysalide have finally finished their trilogy (began more than a decade ago) with this latest Self-released title 'Triptyque'. Like their other recordings, the album is available for download from their website.

I also reviewed the other two albums in this series, and while the overdone presence of long, sometimes unfocused acoustic guitar strumming caused me to tire of them by the time 'La Chute' rolled around, I have to say that this latest offering shows some noticeable attempts at expanding the range of their music. This is still largely ambient, acoustic folk with decidedly French instrumental sensibilities that may not appeal to everyone; indeed, they don't always appeal to me. But there are improvements that make these songs more accessible than the first two records, and when listened to in its entirety the trilogy does have a sense of continuity that is appropriate considering the band's original intent.

The biggest difference on 'Triptyque' is the introduction of a piano on many of the tracks. My biggest complaint about Chrysalide's music in the past (aside from the fact that I don't speak French so I can't follow the vocals) is that there was way too much focus on Jacques Malinvaud's acoustic guitar. This led to a couple of fairly one-dimensional records, and along with the sometimes excessive length of some of the songs can cause listeners to tire of the music too soon. The piano passages expand the group's sound into more aurally appealing variations, and help to break up the guitar passages (which I still think are too long for the most part).

The other improvement is the expanded use of cello throughout. I jotted down a few notes after listening to their first couple of albums earlier this year, and there were three things I felt they needed to do to improve; use more strings, introduce some additional instrumental variety to offset the guitar, and either offer some English vocals or at least provide translated lyric sheets with their liner notes since less than ten percent of the world understands French. With 'Triptyque' they have accomplished two of these at least. In addition to the piano and increased use of cello, Vincens also employs a bouzouki, which isn't a lot different than an acoustic guitar really, but does achieve some additional variation in the overall sound. He also plays a cümbüs occasionally, but this is not prominent and could also improve their appeal if emphasized more during the many extended guitar passages.

The three albums combine to tell (I assume) the story of the life of Christ. Again, unless you have a grasp of French the theme may be lost, except that the song titles make this point a fairly obvious one, as does the artwork for this and the other albums. But even this is a bit abstract since there isn't a whole lot of singing, so the details are mostly left to the imagination or a separate reading of the source material (which you can find on the bedside table of most hotels).

Geoffrey offered me an advance copy of this album a few months ago to preview, and I burned it along with the other two albums and played them straight through a few times during a long sixteen-hour road trip I drove across the southern part of the U.S. this summer. I wouldn't recommend playing all three albums in one setting by the way, as the hours of persistent acoustic guitar will wear you down after a while.

But I do want to acknowledge that Chrysalide has evolved over the years, and that is quite noticeable on this release. I actually feel kind of bad that I never wrote back to Geoffrey to share this with him sooner, but hopefully he will read this and know I did not ignore his thoughtful gesture.

This music is not for everyone, and I have to admit I don't see myself playing this or even the other two albums very often. But I am interesting in evolution of this group as manifested in their three albums of music spread over the past decade, and if they were to release another recording in the future I'm sure I will be one of the people who adds it to my collection. This is a decent album that I would recommend to fans of placid acoustic folk, with the one caveat that you may want (as I have) find yourself wanting to tell these guys to keep looking to instruments other than just acoustic guitar to spread their message. Three stars for the best work from the band yet.


Report this review (#178096)
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This enigmatic duo recorded an austere trilogy of albums over a four-year period, each of them self-released (through free downloads from their web site), and all three close to identical in technique and presentation. So it only makes sense to follow their good example by likewise providing a trilogy of near-identical reviews: read any one at random, and you'll get the gist of all three albums.

The hermetic style of each release is an acquired taste, to say the least, even to listeners drawn by habit toward challenging music. On paper they don't look so difficult: the instrumentation is disarmingly basic (acoustic guitar, modest bass lines, the occasional cello and/or tambourine, some monophonic vocals). And the compositions are even simpler, at times resembling the liturgical plainsong heard in some cloistered medieval abbey.

But these guys approach the art of making music like penitent monks wearing hairshirts, with every limited chord change punishable by self-excoriation. Heard individually, every song has its own spellbinding charm and mystery. But listening to one entire album, or harder still all three together, can be (borrowing a metaphor from the music itself) a heavy cross to bear.

I have to admire the band's uncompromising aesthetics. Another, astute Prog Collaborator here compared their style to Post Rock, which makes a lot of sense: the music is almost radical in its minimalism. This particular album, the last to be recorded but actually the second in the narrative trilogy, is probably the most accomplished and varied, but these are relative distinctions at best.

The concept too is equally obscure. There's some attractive, monochromatic Christian symbolism in the artwork and song titles, but the overall mood is more spiritual than overtly religious, and thankfully muted by the language barrier (a stray thought: if only NEIL MORSE would show equal restraint in his sledgehammer Prog Rock evangelism). Nevertheless, there's no reason why, with a little editing, the entire trilogy couldn't have been presented on a single CD (or addressed in a single review, like here).

To date the music of Chrysalide has attracted only a handful of intrepid Prog Archive reviewers (mine is the first contribution in well over a year). The free downloads are a welcome act of Christian charity, but the duo probably didn't have much choice: these albums would be a hard sell in any marketplace, cyber or otherwise.

Report this review (#291699)
Posted Friday, July 23, 2010 | Review Permalink

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