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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I always wondered why I seem to relate to all things medieval, fascinated by the couture, the castles, the heraldry and those magical "chansons de geste" that permeated my musical and historical upbringing, a bleak time when chivalry, honor and hopeless passion collided with stark brutality, disease and endless blood letting. Perhaps because I can relate to my own family's 7o0 years of gentrified Hungarian existence and like some childlike fantasy, the inquisitive mind travels back to those "Dark Ages" with fascination. While always a prog rocker, I was still a devout sucker for lute, mandolin, zither, cimbalom, krumhorn, oboe, bassoon, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy and various pipes. My first read literary works were Rabelais, Chaucer, Chrétien de Troyes, Dante and Villon, where the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Chanson de Roland and the Canterbury Tales whetted my alarmed curiosity. So it should come as no surprise that everything from Malicorne, Gentle Giant, Gryphon, Loreena McKennitt, Dao Dezi, Alan Stivell, Runrig to Iona, Shine Dion and Seven Reizh always manages to capture my imagination. Recently albums by The Morrigan, Gian Castello, Bededeum and even Blackmore's Night have provided unlimited hours of audio pleasure. Of course, understanding the French lyrics go only so far as the language holds no mysteries for me, forever enchanted by the slippery pronunciations. Perhaps the shut-eyed images of misty forts, towering turrets, jongleurs, troubadours and raconteurs, torch-lit banquets where wine, hydromel and roasted meats are what overpower the senses. A definition of medieval prog is perhaps necessary here: "Troubadour is the generic term for poets and minstrels who flourished in southern France and in Northern Italy from the 11th through the 13th centuries. Called trouvères in northern France and meistersingers in Germany, these artists elevated storytelling as an art, and often entertained huge crowds at fairs, weddings and other medieval celebrations. During this time, works from medieval monks had become tired. The public wasn't as interested in hymns, chronicles and treatises penned in Medieval Latin. These new stories were sang, while music was played on strange, new musical instruments, brought back to Western Europe from the Crusades. Verses became quite complex in style and ranged in topics from satire, love, and politics, to debates, laments and spinning songs. French lords wanted to hear tales of bravery about their own countrymen, and ladies were being swept away with epic love poems, as they practiced the rituals of Courtly Love. Professional singers who performed work penned by a troubadour were called jongleurs, and they might be accompanied by ioculators (jesters) and ystriones (actors). Minstrels were found in every social class, with wealthy or noble troubadours traveling like royalty from town to town. "(Quote taken from Motis (Emmanuel Tissot) is a one-man, one name virtuoso handling passionate vocals like a sprightly minstrel, highly skilled on both guitar and an assortment of keyboards including mellotron and synthesizer while helped out by drummer Rémy Diaz, a deft percussor who keeps things bubbly at all times and Florent Tissot on flute, vocals and electric guitar. Their second album "L'Homme Loup" is a fantastic voyage through time, kicking off with the rollicking spirited romp "Isengrin", a tale carpeted with mellotron washes flowing through the dramatic vocals that certainly recall the master, Christian Decamps of Ange. You can almost here the werewolf ("Garolou") howling in the bog, a spooky voyage into the gloomy past. P'Tit Louis" is a highlight track here, full of ribald cockiness, veering towards lewdly sexual intonations that recall Ange's more explicit lyrics ("Reveille-Toi" on Guet-Apens), conducted by a sprightly mandolin caressed by soft waves of mellotron and ticky-tock percussions while Motis intones carnal pleasures vividly expressed = "She said that life was beautiful just before biting the pillows" . "L'Ermite"(the Hermit) is another classic piece that has a dreamy epic qualities reinforced by the subtle keyboard work, a cool organ expression that breathes even more when the slithering synthesizer enters the fray, stamping solid symphonic credentials on the proceedings. The fabulous "La Dame et le Dragon"(The Lady & the Dragon) is straight out of Middle Ages tradition, a slow lumbering medieval dirge that recounts Teutonic knights with clanging armor, hapless damsels in distress and a raging dragon that knows no fear. Flute and passionate vocals lead the courageous charge into the beast's fire. "Les Normands" is a bouncy organ-led affair that recounts the brutal history of the Norse conquerors of France and later Britain, a story of bellicose warriors who feared no one in their path of conquest. Earth, wind and fire in musical form, as if a minstrel was entertaining at a banquet. The grandiose "La Trahison" (Duplicity) is the 7 minute medieval epic that is guided by a supremely adroit tale evoking the cruelty of hypocrisy, perfidy and guile. The magical flute waves the flag of serenity in mortal combat with the blaring trumpet of despair, while Motis emotes in that classic theatrical French prog style some of us adore (obviously knowledge of the tongue helps). The raspy organ makes a stunning introduction, egging the forlorn trumpet solo along in a true moment of magic with the drummer filling in supremely. "L'Enchanteur" recalls that famed personage Merlin, a prime source of progressive inspiration, the magician/wizard/alchemist remains a mystery that still fuels passions today. Motis proves that his emotional vocal delivery is world class, a mellifluous storyteller that emotes, evokes and chokes whenever the lyrics call for some depth and emotion. His ability to sugarcoat the arrangements with classic keyboard ornamentations make the whole even more palatable to the progfan. "Allons mes Compagnons"(Hey my Companions) is an anti- war ditty that underlines the savagery of warfare especially at a time when it was bloodiest, where slicing, spearing, decapitating and eviscerating were the norm. The rolling drums, the mandolin and the shrieking violin all conspire here to strike a painful chord. "L'Artaban" is another major highlight, a disturbing expedition into the medieval depictions of the devil (another major star in those heady times), a breathtaking scream for help as the horned beast infuses dread and fear in all those whom he faces. "Madrigal" has a shrewd violin leading the way, a somewhat pastoral musical journey from fort to fort, as the jovial troubadour hones his craft, encountering pagan lords and orgiastic feasts, serenading the moon with tales of indecent love, hopeless bravery and devious plots. The subtle use of inspired violin underlines the theme, breathing life into the mist of history. The title track (the Man-Wolf) concludes this masterpiece of medieval prog on a lugubrious note, an eerie foray into the frightening world of mystical trances and spells, where brave princes can be cast into horrible monsters, half men, half beast by the witchy lady of the woods. From the Motis website, it is apparent that their live concerts are amazing affairs, where costumes, ancient instruments and evocative stories are the norm, an escape into the dark past, a bloodthirsty era that also knew romance, chivalry and nobility. We still have the evil tendencies but where have the honorable ones gone? An absolute must for progfolk fans. 5 Windswept Avalons
Report this review (#245236)
Posted Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Impeccably produced Breton folk rock with well placed progressive keyboard flourishes and sensible pace changes form the essence of MOTIS on this their fourth studio album. The vocals suggest an underclassman's attendance at the Christian Descamps' school of the emotionally overwrought, while the picked instrumentation, flutes, and airs evoke last summer's visit to a European castle fair without the dankness.

The opening and closing cuts are among the strongest, both concerning themselves with the title theme of the "wolf man" or "werewolf" in folklore. But "La Dame et le Dragon" is more transfixing thanks to the dramatic delivery, flutes and organs. "Les Normands" accelerates the pace and exploits the organ to a greater degree in a killer riff that simply rocks. "P'tit Louis" is highlighted by a sparkling blend of mellotron, mandolin and feverishly tickled guitars, while "L'Artaban" again exemplifies the group's way with shifting tempos cleverly yet authentically, weaving in all manner of sung and played interludes. Even without the keyboards this would be spot on progressive on that basis alone.

Unlike "Prince Des Hauteurs", this disk does contain several tracks of minimal interest, which occur in succession - "La Trahison" lacks any sort of denouement clamored for by its 7 minute running length, and L'Enchanteur" and "L'hermite" are suprisingly languid, with even the rare emergence of synthesizer failing to salvage the latter as it winds down. I do, however, enjoy tunes like "Madrigal" that suggest, well, a certain style of music yet deliver more of a savoir faire swing simultaneously suggestive of les Chansonniers of Quebec..

Without sounding remotely self conscious, "L'Homme Loup" manages to virtually quantify timeless tastefulness and relevance independent of its substantial lyrical qualities. Not quite the legendary stuff of its namesake, it's no sheep in werewolf's clothing.

Report this review (#586756)
Posted Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars If we have to measure the importance of a band to the number of followers he has generated, no doubt Ange would appear at the top of the scale of the world's most influential French rock formations. Motis, the Emmanuel Tissot band that is one of those followers is not the first (nor the last, hopefully) to claim a share of the angelic heritage, at least from the creative wealth accumulated in the years 70. for example, just a year after the release of the legendary Au dela du délire (Ange, 1974) Atoll is somewhat inspired by. And since it has not calmed down. But unlike all the current and past band, young musicians Motis drink greedily from other sources, on the outskirts of the prog field or not. The principal is called Malicorne, folk band developed raging with happiness and success at the same time (the glorious 70's, so). Therefore, each album of Motis oscillates between a tribute to cloudy sounds (Mellotron and organ tampered ...) and bright styles (symphonic rock ...) of French vintage prog, and some intimate breath terrible legends of our land so dear to the former group of Gabriel Yacoub.

L'homme loup, the fourth Motis album accentuates this two-headed appearance while confirming the qualitative accelerator already been shot forward with the previous generation, the pleasant Prince des hauteus (2004). Motis is not only a son born of the Ange and Malicorne light. It is a full of personality that seeks group finds themselves allows audacity. Significant changes, primarily in terms of orchestration, with the increased use of keyboards (Mellotron very present, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes and moog solo!), And some guests, trumpet (or alternately jazzy south America!) or violin, to flesh out the story arrangements alternating with flute Florent "Flo" Tissot. Only regret the absence of the electric guitar magic of Flo who amazed us with his quiet virtuosity (similar to Brezovar) on the previous album.

Report this review (#1302404)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The French folk and prog traditions are often quite distinctive from those of other nations and the work of Manu Tissot is no exception. Acoustic instrumentation is his the foundation and strength of his music but there are electronic enhancements and electric instruments to make important and sometimes key contributions to each song. Of the MOTIS songs I've been able to hear, the ones from L'homme-loup feel the most universally accessible and appropriate for the Prog Folk monicker, while the ones from 2004's Les prince des hauteurs contain more a bit more diversity of styles and tempos and much more variety in electronic enhancements, and those from 2011's Ripaille exhibit a little more prog rock stylings (e.g. riffs from GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, YES, et al.) though in simplified, abbreviated forms.

Try listening to: "Prince des hauteurs" (from Le prince des hauteurs) et "L'homme-loup" (13:07); and "Ripaille" (3:44) and "Pleine lune" (6:00) from Ripaille to see your reaction.

Report this review (#1345779)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the unique French progrock band Motis, they have released six studio-albums and five live albums between 2000 and 2014, and one compilation in 2015.

This review is about their fourth studio effort from 2007. The 11 compositions sound like a blend of folk/medieval music and early Ange with strong, typically theatrical French vocals (like Ange, Mona Lisa and Versailles). Motis uses a wide range of instruments, both acoustic (guitar, violin, flute) as vintage keyboards. This results in very interesting combinations.

Like violin-Mellotron waves and acoustic rhythm-guitar in P'tit Louis.

Trumpet and Hammond organ in Les Normands.

And runs on the acoustic guitar, accompanied by violin-Mellotron and the sound of the psychedelic organ like early Ange as in the captivating titletrack.

This is not really mainstream music but if you have an adventurous mind and you like folk, this is prog to discover!

Report this review (#1949644)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2018 | Review Permalink

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