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Daniel Gauthier - Above the Storm CD (album) cover


Daniel Gauthier


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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Born as he was in the province of Quebec in 1959, Daniel Gauthier was weaned on the British progressive rock of the 1970s, and on a much broader smorgasbord than elsewhere in North America. La Belle Province was where most of the big names of the genre broke first, but also where many of the also-rans were superstars of sorts. This may explain why his work on "Above the Storm" is much more than a distillation of a few voices, among them Jon Anderson/Frank Bornemann with a thick French Canadian accent. Luckily, Gauthier more than compensates through his instrumental skill and a gift for catchy and well rounded tunes.

"Above the Storm" is a much less bombastic album than most neo prog, with few heavy elements, and avoiding overflowing arrangements in favour of texture and melody. It is a wise move, since Gauthier plays most instruments and might otherwise overwhelm us if he was to be cloned a few too many times. His arsenal is particularly well equipped on bass, which almost singlehandedly conjures one of the highlights of the disk, "Evening of a New Romance", one part reflective rocker and one part spacey instrumental in which lead guitarist Gaston Gagnon provides a perfect foil for the bass. "Silent Years" sports a similar construction without repeating itself, and in fact the last minute and a half are reminiscent of some of ELOY's classic work. "Cross the Bridge" is the 17 minute closer that confirms Gauthier's adventurousness while lying within spitting distance of a sparer ALAN PARSONS.

The weaker pieces are only so assessed in comparison with the highlights, and tend to be those that are more vocal oriented, like the title cut and "Real Love", in which the preciousness of the phonetic approach and admittedly simplistic lyrical themes stand starkly in need of a PENDRAGON-like washout. But more often than not "Above the Storm" hits the mark because of its refreshingly understated approach with no attempt to sound more polished than it is, or to jar the listener with arresting tempo changes. Gauthier seems to be above all that, hence merits an extra half star.

Report this review (#240798)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've owned this special album for years, so I was quite pleased to see that Raff had added Daniel to our site. This is Gauthier's second album and I was touched reading Raff's bio that explained how he had to quit his job as a janitor in order make "Above The Storm". What impresses me most about this recording are the lyrics, vocals and chunky bass lines. Daniel is a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass and keyboards on this album.

"Above The Storm" opens with heavy rains and thunder as synths come in.The storm stops as acoustic guitar, bass and other sounds arrive. Vocals before 2 1/2 minutes. Electric guitar and chunky bass 4 1/2 minutes in. Nice. He then brings us back to that earlier sound with vocals to end it. "Empty Space" has such a rich sound to open. Vocals join in quickly. "Evening Of A New Romance" is uptempo and i'm reminded of CAMEL when the guitar arrives. It settles some when the vocals come in. These contrasts continue. Piano, bass and drums stand out 3 minutes in. The guitar before 4 1/2 minutes is tasteful. "Quartet Solo" opens with synths before we get this nice heavy sound with the guitar lighting it up. It settles with deep bass lines and a beat. "Soft Souvinirs Of 184" is a 2 minute epic sounding track. "Real Love" features acoustic guitar melodies as vocals join in. I love how this sounds. The reserved vocals and bass are excellent. Prominant guitar 3 1/2 minutes in before we get some beautiful acoustic guitar. Vocals are back to end it.

"Silent Years" opens with drums and this all sounds so good when it kicks in. Vocals join in. Deep bass after 2 1/2 minutes when the vocals stop. It all picks up before 4 minutes. "Cross The Bridge" is the 18 minute closer. It opens with the sound of someone walking and whistling as they open a door. The bass comes in followed by a full sound. Guitar a minute in and vocals before 2 minutes. Organ after 6 1/2 minutes as bass throbs and drums pound. The guitar joins in a minute later. Expressive vocals 9 minutes in and a great sound follows a minute later. Synths and a lighter sound 11 1/2 minutes. A heavy soundscape takes over around 15 1/2 minutes.The song ends with someone walking and pouring a drink.

An enjoyable album for me from start to finish.

Report this review (#241574)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Oh, some albums are really hard to rate! Iīve been listening to Above The Storm for quite some time and still it does not click me. In theory it has just about everything I like in prog music: the instrumental is strong and creative, the musicians are excellent and the arrangements and performances are tasteful. The only part I really didnīt like was the vocal department. Not that Daniel Guathier is a bad singer, no! Itīs just the case his vocal style is not my cup of tea. I think he should get a real good singer and then things would improve a lot.

Well, at least thatīs what I can pont my finger at. The rest is just alright, I really liked Guathiers instrumental side. He plays great bass, good acoustic guitar and real fine synphonic keyboards. Gaston Gagnon is a terrific guitarrist and his solos are one of the CDīs highlights. The music is an interesting mixture of prog folk, symphonic rock plus some blues and jazz bits here and there. I donīt know why he is labeled as neo prog, but then it is hard to define his music anyway. Itīs quite varied and I can say there is no bad moments. Nothing really excited me, but still the music is good. It just does not fit my current taste, I guess. So 3 stars will do it for me.

Report this review (#377369)
Posted Sunday, January 9, 2011 | Review Permalink

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