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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Among the well-known bands emerging from the huge progressive movement in Quebec,Canada, there were some ''smaller'' names,which didn't achieved the huge success or big promotion of their native groups.Such kind of a band were SOLSTICE,an intially four- member group found in mid-70's by guitarist Daniel Lafrance,bassist Daniel Mathieu,clarinet player Michel Marineau (ex-member of another obscure group from Quebec,''Nebu'') and drummer Gilles Dozois.For their first album, entitled ''Mirage'' and released back in 1978,the main composer was Daniel Lafrance.So it is reasonable the album to have many guitar excursions and solos around and Lafrance has done it very well on his section...but do not expect an explosive sound or massive interplays.''Mirage'' maintains a generally soft atmosphere throughout met in early WEATHER REPORT or even UK jazz rockers NUCLEUS,but it holds also a great introduction to the use of clarinet by Marineau,as he has a lot of space in the album for improvisational solos and smooth interplays with the rhythm section.It is quite surprising that SOLSTICE do not use any keyboards at all,yet their jazzy proposal has a deep and mature sound.The funky bass lines of Mathieu reminds me these of fellow compatriots UZEB,while drummer Gilles Dozois insists on a consistent yet steady playing without any dynamic changes.The result is a typical example of good-executed Jazz Rock with no risks but a qualitive performance overall.Recommended and strongly aiming on the Jazz-Fusion Rock audience.

Report this review (#331165)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

A Quebecois jazz-rock group that managed two albums at the end of La Belle Province's prog boom, both being quite obscure , having never received a re-issue under any format whatsoever, and to my knowledge, they've never been pirated as well. Despite that it appears that solstice two albums are still accessible on the second-hand market, but be careful, because there are at least two other more recent bands with the same name, included a prog band just above or below in the database. Anyway, this quartet develops a certain kind of instrumental fusion that could be inserted between Pastorius-era keyboards-less Weather Report, their Qu'becois fellows of L'Orchestre Sympathique and are certainly quite complex in terms of composition (mostly Guitarist Lafrance) and definitely jazzier than rock.

Their general soundscapes are axed towards the high-pitched clarinet Marineau and electro- acoustic guitar of Lafrance, but feature an ever-strong bass, and the drumming is not too shabby either. Well-executed and well recorded, all six tracks are rather pleasant, but definitely not to be used as background music. If you're going to spin either Mirage or Espresso (their last), you'd better do just that: forget other Mirages and plunge into your Espresso coffee and concentrate on them, because the music will often require your full attention due to the complexity of the compositions - sometimes maybe overly complex for their own good. Indeed Mirage is an acquired taste, and it should not be investigated before you've acquired a bit of experience in this field of music. If however, you're not a fan (like yours truly) of the late-70's synths that ruined many albums of that era, Solstice might just be your thing, even though their music is never full-speed-ahead type of JR/F despite some ethnic-funky tendencies (never overbearing, though), but some of these slower numbers, like the closing Nu-Pieds (barefoot) is quite hypnotising and easily the album's highlight, as it fades out on percussion around the 10-mins-mark.

Not for every pair of ears, but this should ravish many experienced progheads looking for obscure JR/F. Not essential, but definitely worth investigating.

Report this review (#428649)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permalink

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