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VISIONS

Clearlight

Symphonic Prog


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3 stars I have borrowed cd version of Vision from a good friend of mine, and I must say that this LP tracks are great, but the bonus tracks are just awful. Some of them sound like trance music and very primitive sound music. I don't know when they were composed, but if they were composed in 1978, then those tracks are very progressed compared to the stuff that were in those days. However, if those bonus tracks have been composed recently, they are truly awful! I believe that the LP tracks are good progressive rock songs like those on Symphony by Clearlight. I have chosen to rate this album as "Good, but non essential" since the bonus tracks are just awfully boring, but the LP tracks should be checked if you are in favour of Symphony by Clearlight.

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Send comments to Dan Yaron (BETA) | Report this review (#1488)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
3 stars If Clearlight's first two albums (released by the Virgin label) were outstanding and rather well focused, the next few albums will broaden the spectrum, to the point that this album seems to be going in every possible direction with a new-age twist. Still gorgeous-sounding, Verdeaux's fourth album ranges from symphonic to raga, some gothic ambiances (Au Royaume Des Mutants) to new age, from Krautrock to electronics galore. But with his problems regarding his previous album, Verdeaux will produce this album himself. Again Didier Malherbe (from Gong) and Didier Lockwood (yet another French jazz violinist after Grapelli and Ponty) are present on two and four tracks respectively tracks (little surprise they are the best ones on this Cd). However, one must agree that this album (any of the two versions) has one major improvement: it is mostly instrumental. What was already clear on the Bubbles album became even more evident on the Singe Fou album; Verdeaux is not cut out for "songs" as those vocals are usually catastrophic.

Right from the opening track Spirale, we are taken into this ever-so-easy (but never overly-simple) symphonic music, sometimes dangerously close muzak (in the Jean Michel Jarre sense), but so beautiful that a proghead cannot help but loving it. After a relatively weak (and new agey) Guitare Elevation (a bonus track not present on the original album), Crystal City veers towards Tangerine Dream (the late 70's version) and its sequencers and JM Jarre's Oxygene. Messe Caline is an aerial track with Cyrille's piano being showcased. Tabla drums starts out Shanti Lotus, which you will guess is a raga but with a new age twist.

Haymae is downright new age with a Japanese twist with Dallas Smith's flute (he is the main sax and flute man on this album) but once sequencers come in, TD is again in the neighbourhood. The next few tracks are a bit boring and even if the beauty is there, they are awfully cheesy. A reworking of Symphony II's debut (Rage/Espoir) does break this monotony with its lenghty Gong-like trance but this is short lasting. Full Moon Raga has been completely reworked and Lockwood pulls a great lenghty solo but plagued with a live drum solo :-(.

Just when you think you've had enough of the record comes in the best track (and the only sung one) Au Royaume Des Mutants with its haunting beats and half macabre vocals somehow not far from Ange or Atoll. The two Didiers pull off a major stunt here, Malherbe is fantastic and Lockwood is an ace in understatement. The album closes on a Sitar track.

Again I have a slight problem with those solo artistes revisiting their previous oeuvre in order to give us new versions (Oldfield and Jarre do this "financial recuperation" also) and the Cd at my disposal is full of sometimes heavily remixed tracks (this is the booklet saying so) rendering this record somewhat of a rip-off like Tubular Bells part 456. Like the other two I compare him with (M O and JM J) plus Vangelis, these guys always had a propency to delve into heavily ambient music and in the 80's will become completely immersed in the new age movement, however vacuous this style might be. My advice is finding the original album rather than a pale re-working, however quiet and beautiful this last version may be.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#74689)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
oliverstoned
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Clearlight fourth and last album, released in 1978, one year after the disappointing "Les contes du singe fou" shows a more new age direction, as the beautiful cover shows. Like the previous album, it's a half success, actually an unequal album. The opener "Spirale d'amour" features Verdeaux pastoral piano work, nice melody but really too gentle. It may evoke children cartoon music! You can virtually imagine a gentle pink rabbit appearing.We're very far from "Symphony" or "Forever blowing bubbles" acid cosmic spacerock. "Full moon raga" is the long ambitious piece which actually saves the album. It's a very good jazzrock tune which may evoke Mahavisnu at times. Only the drum lakes fineness, but we're already in 1978, so this explains that. "Au royaume des mutants" is an uncertain piece with a mainstream side due to the poor (french) vocals which are at least funny with lyrics such as, (translated): "The Mars hare smokes a joint, Alice is at the end of the path". No more English vocals anymore, like on previous album. "Paix profonde" is a nice meditative tune in a new age's vein featuring sitar, unfortunately too short.

To sum up, this last Clearlight effort is average, suffering from both its shortness and its inequality and eventually, only the more than 10 minutes "Fullmoon raga" piece makes the album worth. There's a cruel lack of cosmic guitar in the compositions, despite Christian Boulé presence. A certain indulgence can be taken in account considering that we're in 1978, not the most glorious era for progressive music! The nascent new age orientation prefigures Cyrille Verdeaux future solo works.

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Send comments to oliverstoned (BETA) | Report this review (#88102)
Posted Thursday, August 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Enchanting, yet not fulfilling

Cyrille Verdeaux, born in 1949, is an acclaimed French musician and composer. His albums are often described as new agey keyboard-lead prog but have influences in the classical, jazz, rock, and psychedelic avenues. My 1992 French CD version (Legend Records LM 9001) of this album has a different track order than the one noted here but contains almost the same tracks overall. I was not smitten with this album for the most part but will attempt a fair and positive breakdown of the songs.

"Spirale d'amour" begins with waves coming to shore followed by a very beautiful section of piano, flute, and birds chirping away. Certainly a promising beginning to any album! The band then comes in and is joined by violin, sax, and synths as the track get pretty wild. It's almost as if the lead instruments are dueling, trading off lick and lick of flash. "Guitare elevation" starts with lovely piano with just a bit of keys behind it, then slowly they work in a bit more until the band comes in with drums and bass supporting fine melody. Soon comes a nice soaring electric lead taking the piece to the next level, very majestic, sunsets over oceans kind of vibe. Probably the best moment. More birds to begin the next piece "Crystal City" which then gets a bit funky, sort of new age combined with raga. Interesting percussions and synth play create an exotic atmosphere. "Messe Caline" opens with the howling of wind and then more birds! Cyrille likes birds! The balance features piano, stings, and synth used effectively without the band. Without the drum beats the piece is free for seven minutes to explore both peaceful and turbulent waters and does so simultaneously sometimes, quite a feat. More birds and animal sounds to ring in "Shanti Lotus" which then offers the modified raga beat again with jazzy piano over the top. Synths and sound samples begin to layer on top of this. The bass is pretty thick giving a density that again keeps things from getting too relaxing. Towards the end the beats and bass cease leaving space for a calming breather. "Heymae" is another highpoint where the rhythm section is left on the shelf. Another seven minutes for the tranquil and turbulent atmospheres to slowly envelope. The keyboards are joined by active flute dances and later some programmed rhythms. "Vision Nocturne" begins with piano and riding cymbals with the ever present waves of Cyrille's synthesizers. The cymbals finally stop to allow the piano space for a nice moment. Not a great track though. "Songe de Cristal" is a nice piece of solo piano with the occasional splash of cymbals. "Raganesh" is a long piece highly representative of the artist with spacious atmosphere, percussions, and even sitars. Half way through the drums will emerge with a much more driving force and the violins will begin to buzz. After this builds to a climactic drum solo there is an end respite of sitar and calm.

While I certainly respect Verdeaux and his many fans and enjoy some of his occasionally beautiful moments, I am not a fan of "Visions" by a long shot. With the many avenues attempted here they are watered down sufficiently to never grab me in any one rewarding way. Melodious moments never develop enough, contemplative moments will be interrupted by contrived flashiness before enveloping you, too many ideas will be stifled by his preoccupation with cheesy pseudo-spiritual imagery. Frankly I find the album highly frustrating, it doesn't even satisfy in an experimental sense, which I assume it was meant to somewhat, because again the pieces feel quite contrived to me. Greg Northrup from Progweed is more forgiving than I with this album but does note some of my feelings too, writing "some of the tracks get bogged down in overly New-Agey crumminess, while Crystal City actually incorporates the all-to-prominent generic techno beat. On the whole, Visions is a pretty solid album, though it can be a little much if one is not in the mood [for] the kind of pretty, lightweight, and ultimately cheesy Eastern mysticism vibe of the whole thing." [Greg Northrup]

I acknowledge the album will appeal to many and is renowned on the French scene but I personally cannot get behind it. It's pleasant moments do not add up to a rewarding overall listen for me, especially since I'm basking in the afterglow of reviewing Carpe Diem's second album just last night, my idea of great French prog. Clearlight and Aphelandra fall into an area of talented wizards who have lots of tricks to display and yet they fail to equate to memorable music for this fan. Their albums are curiosities that can be interesting for noting their talents more so than something I long to play to feed the soul. Above 2 stars but not quite 3.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#162764)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | Review Permalink

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