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PAR LES FILS DE MANDRIN

Ange

Symphonic Prog


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loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In an attempt to not overuse the word Classic, I must site "Par Les Fils De Mandrin" as a 70's French prog classic and one of their most enduring albums of all time for me. 5th release from ANGE successfully revisiting their classic ANGE style throughout with dramatic intensity. "Par Les Fils De Mandrin explores a nice wide range of musical aspects from folk-inspired as found in the epic tracks "Hymne à la Vie" to the classic-Ange-sounding track "Au Café du Colibri" which could have been lifted off their debut album years earlier. A truely wonderful concept album full of beauty with the real accent of classic ANGE....

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#19781)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars I'll review the English version (called Son) of the Cd, but I had this album in its French vinyl (called Fils) version back then?. But it is now a long forgotten story?.. and since my library system has only this one? With Délire and Jacotay, Ange was reaching a European level (touring as far as Finland) and Christian was Napoleon and dreaming of conquering the British Isles. So the group decided to record their next album both Fils (French) and Son (English), like some Italians chose to do the same (Banco & PFM), but this would proof useless in the face or the British snobbery of anything non-British. The group was still in its prime when they got in the studio in July 77 to record this circus fantasy-filled concept album, illustrated by the front and back artwork, while the group members taking on a role and name in the story, a bit like GonG has done for the RGI trilogy.

I have no remembrance if the Fils version had a Descamps text explaining their new musical deliria, but the Musea Cd reissue certainly gives it four pages (and forgetting the usual liner notes) dedicated to the history, which might be a bit too much considering that most fluent English auditors will probably have a difficult time concentrating on the abundant English lyrics, sung approximately by Christian. The concept revolves around a Circus theme, which in itself was hardly new since The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour or Procol's In Twas Held In I, both already dating ten years. Just like I remembered the Fils version I owned as a vinyl in the late 70's, Mandrin is way too wordy and overly dramatic and simply too theatrical as well, and this goes for the Son version as well. It's all starting with a cuckoo call, echoed by footsteps and a distant kb & bass that gradually grow into a growling guitar and electronica weirdness (courtesy of brother Francis), but Christian's vocals are embedded, his pronunciation clear but still filled with an accent and the lyrics are not always well translated.

So in some ways, one could justify the UK snobbery against anything not properly sung in English, and if the Son version is (IMHO) not convincing enough, then they should dare the Fils version, provided they like the album enough to buy. I understand that PFM's Manticore albums are selling enough to warrant reissues of the non-original versions, but hopefully the progheads are able to overpass the language barrier.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#19782)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
r.constant@cl
4 stars My first french record, and what a record, the first track , is almost a common rock track but with 3 time changes and, of course, the only european feeling (to not forget), the drummer is always great on this album... The second track, another very happy song, with two or three time changes, another great song, the third one, (now things get more serious), am i kidding? very quietly in the beginning, almost all narrative, its perhaps the best song in the end, thriller and emotional, but only in the end, do not forget, ....the fourth song, a kind of a mediterranean acoustic guitar playing, very very good to split up the waters... do i know what am i saying?... "Salitimbaques" very up beat and folk, well... this a mix of symphonic rock with folk, a very good taste and balanced music, not always agressive, the last song is not so good to me, if you have no problems with the french language, get ready, cause you will loose this, ... very VERY HARD LISTENING album... recomended .

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#19784)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Album released in 1976 "Par Les Fils De Mandrin". Work to which English version is released. The drummer alternated to Jean-Pierre Guichard. The feature is to perform like an extremely dramatic vocal and effect sound, etc.However, the style is near JETHRO TULL rather than GENESIS. I feel comical, avarice, and even tough in this album. The impression of the sound is too stout of fantastic. Therefore, reverberations with a warm finale are wonderful. Moog and the cembalo in addition to a peculiar organ are effectively used. And, the guitar is preeminent. It might be a work of which the style of ANGE has gone out most.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#79271)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The title track is rather hard, not really the symphonic Ange we have known in "Caricatures" and "Au-delà Du Delire". It introduces the concept of this album, which is the quest of hapiness by a gang of bandits. This concept (as in their previous album "Emile Jacotey") is rather "thin" and does not allow to develop a strong theme throughout the album.

"Au café du Colibri" has its good but also its poor moments. Some "special" organ effects are not of the best vein. A rather mixed feeling prevails. "Ainsi s'en Ira la Pluie" is a difficult track : during two third, it is a long recitation with some light background music. Absolutely not convincing. Fortunately, the last two minutes are grandiose and belong to the true symphonic Ange that I praise so much. "Autour Du Feu" is a folkish ballad with little flavour. Of course, its title (around the - camp - fire) is an clear indication on its content and the Spanish/Flamenco sound will not raise the quality of the song.

The medieval mood of "Saltimbanques" is rather Tull oriented. But these harpsicord sounds are really too much for me. I've never been a fan of these combinations : mixing instruments from another age with rock music. Being played by Ange or even Tull will not change my opinion. So far, it is rather a flat album (if we except the opening number).

Three great songs will save this album. "Des Yeux Couleur d'Enfants" has this bombastic and vibrant feeling Ange has conveyed during some of their previous albums. "Atlantis" has this scary side so typical for the band. Mystic lyrics (god and devil) that take up again with the disjointed atmosphere we could feel in earlier works (especially the two albums that I have already mentioned and which are my preferred ones from the band). Again, the fantastic instrumental break that closes the track is way too short and ends abruptedly.

The epic track of this album is of course, gorgeous and will be a highlight of their live performances. It is a real hymn (hence the tile), especially the second movement of the song ("Procession"). A wonderful sort of repetitve and hypnotic riff, with extremely passionate vocals (but this is not a surprise). The finale and third movement, "Hymne" is a variation of the second one but even stronger and more powerful. Without doubt, a great Ange song.

To summarize my feeling, I am also missing the absolute craziness and mocking tone of the lyrics of the early Ange. They were really devastating, irreverant; talking against religion, the establishment, praising sex with such a Frenchy and cocky mood. Incomparable. But nothing as such here.

As far as music is concerned, this album is stronger than "Emile" but the omnipresence of the vocals leaves little room for great instrumental parts.

I like Ange a lot and I would have rated this album seven out of ten. I can hardly upgrade it to four stars, so...

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#122137)
Posted Monday, May 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A colorful journey

Another quality release by the French legends, this is another concept album dealing with a roving band of characters on a journey of some sort. The back cover is more revealing showing the throngs behind their leader driving a cosmic horse and buggy. The sound on this album is more folksy and melodic perhaps though retaining the mellotron and electric guitars for the most part. I've read a person or two call it their best album but I can't agree with that.

The title track opens the album with some bird noises and gently building keyboards until the band kicks in about one minute later. A chunky guitar riff and sets the stage for the entrance of the master of ceremonies, the fabulous Christian Decamps, who once again will be taking you on a mini-theatrical journey. His voice is the best kind of musical chameleon, able to act out different characters, go high, go low, rant, rave, and drool as the material calls for. He's the very definition of an engaging charismatic frontman who likes to push people's buttons. He doesn't appeal to everyone for exactly those reasons but if you accept his style you're in for a real treat each time. "Au Café du Colibre" begins with a quirky, fun keyboard part that continues throughout the track giving it a light, festive vibe. The drums and bass are excellent at accentuating each point with a real punch. Narratives which I can't understand (in French of course) are constant and English speakers simply have to kick back and enjoy the descriptive style of Decamps' vocal, after some time you begin to understand some things despite the language gap. He's that expressive. "Ainsi s'en ira la pluie" starts quietly with soft vocals over mellotron. Half way through is a very nice section of volume controlled guitar painting a peaceful background, this track is very mellow and moody. Finally 4 ½ minutes we get a sweet electric lead that ushers in the exuberant ending. Brezovar plays guitar very well but rarely does he take a solo for as long as I'd like him to. "Autour du Feu" begins with acoustic and tambourine, then quiet vocals. It is a soft folk music track that briefly gets foot-stompin at the end. "Saltimbanques" is a delightful melody that will invade your head and never let you go, another quirky, proggy folk song. Flute and harpsichord are featured prominently and along with Decamps lively vocal make this a standout Ange track. The music stops and the track ends with a voice speaking and more bird sounds (which Ange love apparently.) "Des Yeux Coleur D'enfants" is one part hard rock sound with the big guitars and the other parts mellow keys and vocals alternatively. "Atlantis" is a very quiet atmospheric piece, with spacey synth blurbs, some singing, vocal narration, and light guitar work. The last minute is given to a fine electric guitar solo but again length is a problem, it begins to fade after 40 seconds. The album's highlight is the 3-part closer "Hymme a la Vie" opening with acoustic and excellent vocals. Keyboards fill in the background and mood is a hopeful one. In the middle section the pace picks up a bit with strummed acoustic and drums and what sounds like recorder perhaps? The vocals again feature nice arrangements and a well timed electric solo give it some spunk. The finale gets heavier still with the deep bass and electric much louder as Decamps pleads over the music in a wail. A big drum roll signals the dramatic end followed by a final quiet note.

"By the Sons of Mandrin" is a pretty good album in their canon but for me doesn't approach "Au-dela Du Delire" in sheer beauty. It's a mostly laid back affair that has a few punches but mostly plays it down a bit. Decamps is not as obnoxious here as on other albums (and that's not a dig, I like him edgy) so in that sense this might be an easier album for Ange newbies dipping their toes. I like it but of the Ange I've heard I notice more clearly with this one the relative lack of instrumental length and aggressiveness. The vocals are awesome but the music stays too much in the background and when solos do arise they are just too short, frustratingly so for those who love a bit of expansion. So I'm stuck around 3 ½ stars again not quite able to give them 4 this time. But I still recommend this easily to Ange fans and fans of classic French prog. Despite my reservations there is still much to enjoy. The Philips issue CD I have is again woefully inadequate, without notes or lyrics.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#161977)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Kotro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After failing to live up to Au-Delà du Delire with Emile Jacotey, Ange fail again, this time in their effort to recover from the failure that was the preceding album. By failure I don't mean a poorly made and unremarkable album, just one that, while good, was miles away from the sublime which the band had previously delivered. The band seemed astray from their eerie soundscapes and theatrics reminiscent of Ancien Régime plays, towards a more musically regular, hard-rocking approach. And so we have Par Les Fils de Mandrin, an album altogether as unremarkable as the previous one, with even less highlights than Emile Jacotey.

The title track opener, Par les Fils de Mandrin, is a catchy rocker with a pretty standart rock song formula. A slow organ crescendo (and nothing else) opens it before the theme guitar riff is introduced at 1:20 into the song. The vocals by Christian Decamps are as usual, never disappointing, but also not as vigorous. A soft section before a good guitar solo, and then we resume the initial riff. It is followed by Au Café du Colibri, another rocker, but this time with a more clear Ange sound - the organ is much more noticeable on this one, despite the clearly defined presence of the guitar. It is also a less formulaic song, with a carnival sounding rhythm. It features some interesting passages, musically unrelated to the rest of the song, with pretty comic sounds and vocals. A glass smashing sound followed by the noise of water make the transition towards the next track, Ainsi s'en ira la pluie. The organ then takes the stage, playing gently in the background to Decamps delicate vocals. Here and there, the faint sound of guitar chord. A small instrumental interlude, and the return of the same gentle melody and vocals. Christian dialoguing with himself, and then, nearing at 4 and a half minutes into the track, a sound burst, an electric guitar solo, a sudden quicken in pace conveyed by the introduction of the drumming and finally Christian reaching for his pipes, before an organ solo takes the song to its end. The sound of a fire quite logically opens Autour du Feu, a very flamenco- sounding track dominated by the acoustic guitar, gently accompanied by the harmonic, whose ending really reminds you of a party on a gypsy camp. Gypsies and the circus really seem to be the main theme of the album, from what my poor French can understand. Saltimbanques confirms this. This track presents Decamps as a grand master of ceremonies to a great show, a feeling conveyed both by his vocals and by the music, again a very circus sounding piece, dominated by the keyboards whose sound ranges from flutes to harpsichords. The music finished suddenly, giving way to a short declamation by Christian. Des yeux Couleur d'Enfants follows in typical Ange grandeur, opened by their trademark organ and guitar interplay, interluded by an eerie all-organ passage. Again a delicate passage, this time with vocals, more emotional than theatrical. The track remains quite spacey, with only a slight presence of percussion (mostly cymbals) and a very faint guitar work. Like many other Ange tracks, it all bursts into a faster paced ending, with another great guitar solo and organ interplay, all the way through the rest of the song. Atlantis les géants de la 3e Lune is a very spacey track, mostly keyboard dominated with occasional sounds of waterdrops, and presenting in the vocals. Robert Wyatt?? Actually, no, but Christian sure delivers some Wyattesque vocals on this one, a feeling only interrupted by the adoption of his usual tone. Then. guess what! After nearly ¾ of an eerie atmosphere and delicate singing, a guitar solo. Again. This one is however slower than the previous and a lot more Foydian. In fact, this is much a track you'd be likely to hear from Eloy than from Ange. It is a short solo, as it quickly fades away as the song ends. The final track, Hymne à la Vie, is supposed to be the epic of the album. Despite its length, I do believe it fails in dong so. The beginning, with the trademark emotional vocals accompanied by acoustic guitars, soon joined in by the unavoidable organ, and a couple of good arrangements, despite sounding lovely its not compelling or memorable at all when compared to other ballads in the same genre. This is true for the entire first section of the song, entitled Cantique which ends at the 4:15 mark. It is quickly followed (as it should be on what intends to be a single long piece) by the second section, Procession,

opened by acoustic guitar and a trumpeting organ melody. Christian Decamps begins to sing in a delicate tone, but soon decides to take it up a few notches, with lovely overdubbed vocals, making this a beautiful crescendo only slightly interrupted by a another good Brezovar guitar solo. It is clearly the high point (and most memorable bit) of the song. The final section, Hymne, follows instantly with the successful Ange formula of guitar solo/organ interplay and great vocals. A good ending.

I found this album the most unrewarding of the three I currently own (actually, the most unrewarding of the 5 early Ange albums I've heard). The few highlighs of the album are so more for being catchy than for being very good. The title track is a good example of this. The good bits of this album take place whenever the old Ange formula (at this points one begins to wonder whether the word cliché is beginning to sound appropriate) of bursting guitar solos, eerie organ an emotional vocals is displayed - however, the band pulled that off better in other albums, making the efforts on this one look pale in comparison. But like I said, it is mostly bits of songs that make the album interesting, as opposed to full songs. Overall, this is a small, easy album to listen, but ultimately unconvincing for those who pick it up expecting to be amazed. A pity, since we already know that Ange were quite capable of producing such moments. This is a good band, well worthy to be discovered and listened to, and despite sometimes putting out unremarkable albums, like this one, I can't really say any of the ones I heard is not good.

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Send comments to Kotro (BETA) | Report this review (#162911)
Posted Friday, February 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Par les Fils de Mandrin" is the last Ange studio album with the classic foursome (the two Decamps brothers, Brézovar and Haas) and the first one with drummer Jean-Pîerre Guichard. It is a concept- album revolving about the way of life and pursuits of a group of bandits, and you can tell that there is much room for folk-rock sonorities, as well as a refined handling of not too complex ambiences in many places: these two items are inherited from the days of the previous studio effort "Emile Jacotey". But also, there are many signs of a refurbishment of the old Ange style (as delivered in their first 3 albums). "Par les Fils de Mandrin" is, stylistically speaking, a convincing recapitulation of all that Ange had given so far to France's prog rock scene at the time. The album kicks off with the namesake piece: it has an atmospheric intro, eerie yet agile enough as to fluidly segue into the rocking main body. 'Au Café du Colibri' is another rocker, solid as the oponer although not as aggressive: the use of some Cabaret-like moment as a sort of interlude helps to enhance the sarcastic nature of the lyrics. 'Ainsi s'en Ira la Pluie' goes to a far different place. It starts with a long, spacey section dominated by cosmic synths, random soft percussions and a few lovely lines on harmonica as Christian Decamps goes reciting a ceremonious soliloquy; the latter section is a dynamic exercise on symphonic rock in the same trend of the "Cimetiere" and "Délire" albums. 'Autour de Feu' is an acoustic ballad (featuring plenty of acoustic guitars) that sounds like a bunch of guys sharing a moment of reflecting while camping in the desert under the moonlight - the partying climax is quite catchy and contagious, at least to me. 'Saltimbanques', once again, finds the band twisting the road toward a very different direction: this time we have a circus-meets-Renaissance dance framed as a celebratory litany: this makes sense after the festive closure of the previous track. The second half of the album is the most ambitious one in terms of progressiveness. 'Des yeux Couleur d'Enfants' pretty much follows the pattern of 'Aujourd'hui C'est la Fête chez l'Apprentice Sorcier' (from "Cimetiere") and 'Les Longues Nuits d'Isaac' (from "Délire"): powerful guitar, calculated mood shifts and soaring keyboards. 'Atlantis Les Géants de la 3e Lune' states a somber atmosphere based on sinister keyboard layers that go floating like dark clouds: the full ensemble's Entrance gives way to a majestic closure, but I feel that the fade- out comes too soon. I wouldn't have minded if this track had taken a longer expansion. But length is OK with 'Hymne à la Vie', the fabulous closer that has become a real timeless Ange staple. The first two parts of this mini-suite heavily rely on pastoral folkish moods, pertinently adorned by synths and mellotron; Brézovar's plethoric flute lines on part 2 are simply delicious. The last part is pure symphonic splendor, very much in a Genesis-meets-Moody Blues vein, of course, with a typically French flavor. A great album this is - another excellent effort by Ange tha tshouldn't be missing in any good prog rock collection.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#187203)
Posted Monday, October 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars By the time of their 5th album, Ange's playing, enthusiasm and originality had been replaced by a more professional but rather routine approach. Apart from some adequate songs, there's nothing on offer here that we hadn't heard on any of the previous albums.

The opener isn't bad but still not as captivating as you might hope. Just like the preceding album, this is the singer's brainchild, resulting in a strong focus on the vocals (which are luckily excellent again) but with little room for the musicians. Even the 10 minute long Hymn A La Vie is at heart just a long chanson.

Next to these two, also Au Café du Colibri and Autour du Feu are acceptable, but generally, there is little 'feu' at all on this album. The fire from the early Ange albums is pretty much extinguished. Luckily they would restore themselves with a good live album and one more excellent studio album Guet-Apens.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#251086)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Like other reviewers, I'm left mildly nonplussed by Par les Fils de Mandrin - it's not that it's a bad album, far from it, but it does feel more like an exercise in working through a formula rather than it does a piece the band feel a genuine enthusiasm for, and it's a formula that's better implemented on other Ange albums. Christian Decamps once more steals the show with his highly theatrical vocal style, and I'm inclined to agree with Bonnek that the songwriting seems intended to support his dramatic delivery rather than allowing the other musicians a chance to show off their skills.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#550405)
Posted Friday, October 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Par le fils de mandrin from 1976 capture Ange in their not so prolific moments, even the album is good in many parts, it seams to me that they lost the great ideas and originality of previous albums. Some truly great moments on tracks like Au cafe du colibri, title track or Saltinbanques, the rest of the pieces even are not bad at all, are little pale in comparation of the gretness of previous albums. The theatrical, dramatic moments exist for sure, but the overall atmosphere is only ok to my ears. My least fav Ange album from their golden era, but with all that desearves attention if the listner is orintated for such music. Desearves 3 stars for sure. Another great gatefold cover like on previous 2 albums aswell like on next one Guet apens.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#833781)
Posted Saturday, October 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars One more decent Ange release has reached my ears. "Par les fils de Mandrin" from 1976 is Ange's fifth studio effort and it features the commonly known group: DecampsX2, Haas, Jelsch and Brezovar. This record has not the same magic as the earlier recordings and some pieces are quite lame. I miss the penetrating sound of heavy (almost ugly) organs that uses to charactarize Ange's music. As Ange's music uses to, it has an interesting cover with a clown playing on an accordion.

The strengths are "Par les fils de Mandrin" with the most obvious rock sound and a grand bit of humour, "Des Yeux Couleur D'Enfants" which is a deep track with different passages, the sweeping long "Hymne a la vie" and the best track "Saltimbanques" which is the most folky track, with sweet flute and rhytm. The vocals there are dramatic and spiced with much humour.

The shortcomings are the lack of the typical organ sound and some quite boring tracks like the dull "Ainsi S'En Ira la Pluie" which feels like the band has forgotten their audience and the even duller "Atlantis Les Géants Le La 3e lune" where the singer seems to be afraid of being heard.

Over all a nice record to hear but I can't see the real highlights that brighten my mind and some tracks were unfortunately boring. Still I can sense a development in Ange's music that presumably would satisfy some fans. Ange had polished away the dirtyness in their music and made a record that was more well-behaved than before.

Best and most recommended track: "Saltimbanques" My rating: 3,44 = Three stars

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#979260)
Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 | Review Permalink

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