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Franck Carducci - Oddity CD (album) cover


Franck Carducci

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Very impressive debut album, looking forward to the sequel!

"Oddity" is the debut album of multi-instrumentalist Franck Carducci. Franck is the lead voice on all songs of the album, and also plays all basses, acoustic and electric guitars and keys. The album features several guest musicians, most notably John Hackett, who contributes flute parts on the opening track, drummer and Phil Collins' disciple Phildas Bhakta, who also plays on the first track of the album, folk singer Yanne Matis who lends her beautiful voice to "The Eyes of Age" and to Genesis' cover "The Carpet Crawlers", and drummer Larry Crockett, who features on the bluesy "Alice's Eerie Dream".

"Oddity" contains 5 original songs and two bonus tracks, Genesis' "The Carpet Crawlers" and a radio edit of "Alice's Eerie Dream". The songs cover a variety of musical styles, from prog to blues rock to country and folk. Regardless of the particular style, all songs are skilfully executed and wonderfully composed ? they always keeps you interested and never drag. Surely, some of the music may sound somewhat derivative (Genesis and Pink Floyd are the most obvious classic influences to me, but also Spocks' Beard among the most recent prog outfits). However, and most importantly, all songs are great fun to listen to.

The opening "Achilles" and the closer "The Last Oddity" are probably the 'prog highlights' of the album. "Achilles" is a symphonic suite in six parts inspired by Omer's Iliad. The parts flow seamlessly one into another, and contains some great vocal melodies (Franck's voice is outstanding throughout the album) and excellent instrumental interludes (John Hackett's flute parts are particularly nice). "The Last Oddity" is a darker piece, inspired by Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey". A delicate acoustic guitar arpeggio, dreamy synth solos and interspersed otherworldly voices (Franck singing through a Leslie cabinet) give the first half of the song a spacey, dramatic feel which reminds me of Pink Floyd. Then the song surprisingly develops into a soulful, bluesy piece with some great electric guitar and Hammond work ? highly entertaining! The remaining three tracks are perhaps less 'progressive' in style, but nonetheless very good. "The Quind" is a meditative, Floydian song featuring some beautiful piano and acoustic guitar textures. Check out the inventive use of a didgeridoo over Hammond and acoustic guitar starting at mark 6:10. "The Eyes of Age" starts with a country feel but soon develops into a pastoral, folkish piece with violins, piano and double vocal melodies. This song reminds me of some RPI music (e.g. Angelo Branduardi). It is a very positive and uplifting track and one of my favourites of the album. "Alice's Eerie Dream" is a blues rock piece featuring some nice lead guitar work by Michael Strobel. It is probably the most 'ordinary' and mainstream track on the album and it sounds slightly too much as an exercise in style to me, but it is nevertheless an enjoyable song. I should also mention the excellent rendition of "The Carpet Crawlers", which witnesses Franck's passion for Genesis that also transpires throughout the album.

Overall, "Oddity" is a strong debut album, featuring some excellent songs which are great fun to listen to. I find particularly interesting the mixing of blues and folk with more traditional progressive rock sounds as in "The Last Oddity" and "The Eyes of Age". You can have a (free) listen and judge by yourself at Franck's Bandcamp page!

Report this review (#472970)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars Franck Carducci is a prog fan since he came in contact with the music of Genesis and Pink Floyd. He's a multi-instrumentalist and already has been a member of numerous bands in the past. In 2010 though it was Steve Hackett who encouraged him to produce an album containing self-made compositions. His debut 'Oddity' shows some influences from diverse bands indeed, speaking of The Carpet Crawlers cover version first of all, where he's supported by folk singer Yanne Matis. Leading us through tales inspired by English literature and Greek mythology his own songs are the real treasure though, especially the opener Achilles - a successful 15 minute suite arranged with a gentle symphonic fundament.

Probably you can mention the Alan Parsons Project for a comparison regarding this six sections here first and foremost - his charming voice convinces, John Hackett's flute nicely appears in between. Compositionally this is well thought out with changes in speed and mood - enjoyable even after repeated requests. With The Quind he begins to drift into mainstream fields then, a lovely folk ballad where I especially want to point out the organ ínput. Alice's Eerie Dream brings us back to the common rocking path, a blues based tune basically, still lacking of prog substance though.

Given with obvious Hackett reference The Last Oddity easily can compete with the quality of the 'Achilles' suite then. Balladesque apriori but livelier later on, when some 'Echoes' adapted jamming attitude comes up with fine organ and guitar interaction. While mixing up prog and mainstream textures Franck Carducci offers nice accessible songs on 'Oddity', some of them show real potential. A solid, technically skillful debut, worth a listen.

Report this review (#472985)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Franck Carducci is a multi-instrumentalist from the Netherlands who has spent the most of his musical career as an ensemble man in different bands. However, coaxed into working on it by our favorite guitarist, Steve Hackett, here we have Carducci's debut album. While it won't blow you away, Oddity is a fine debut and a fairly promising solo start for the artist.

The main portion of Oddity consists of 4 lengthy tracks all around 10 minutes, and one shorter song in the middle. The majority of the instrumentation is taken by Carducci, playing guitar, keyboard, bass, and even the mandolin. He also sings all of the vocals on the main tracks, as well as harmonizing with himself. There are a handful of instruments played by guests, such as flute and violin, though they only appear on one track each.

The sound of the album is pretty folky, and usually acoustic. The atmosphere is generally calm and peaceful, but in the fourth track, Alice's Eerie Dream, it gets pretty loud and rocky. The piano gets about as much time as the guitar, and provides a few very nice moments. The vocals are sung in English, though they are accented. While there are only a handful of vocal highlights, the singing is generally pretty good. The lyrics deal with myth and fantasy, and are evocative of early Genesis days.

The songs, like the album as a whole, are fine, but rarely anything more. Apart from the first track, which also happens to be the longest, none of the other three long songs break out into very exciting territory. The opening number, however, is composed beautifully, and is the one to feature the flute. It makes you wish that Carducci composed for it on more songs, as it is the highlight of the entire album. The fact that it's John Hackett, which the album cover is very proud to show, doesn't matter too much. It seems more like a name drop, because the part, along with the violin section, could ostensibly be played by anybody. Nevertheless, they are used well, and I'm glad they're on the album, regardless of who is behind the instrument.

Unfortunately the remaining four tracks just don't reach the heights of the introduction. They are nice, and occasionally have their moments, but mostly just meander along until the final notes. The middle song, The Eyes of Age, is a shorter bout of some goofy fun with the violin and mandolin. Even though it's half as long as any other song, it ends up being more enjoyable than either of the two it's sandwiched between or the closer, which are fine, but nothing special.

The bonus material consists of a pretty faithful, but more modern sounding version of The Carpet Crawlers, from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and a shorter edit of Alice's Eerie Dream. The former is pretty good, and solidifies Genesis as one of Carducci's influences. The edit is not bad, and puts some of the best part of that song together, but it's nothing you'll take over the full version. These two songs are good, and it's nice to have more material, but they won't change anyone's mind about the album as a whole.

I think if Carducci had focused more on the long dynamic songs like Achilles, and the shorter songs like The Eyes of Age, this album would be a lot stronger. However, the weird middle ground of simple, yet long songs that take up the majority of the album aren't my favorite. Even with three songs that are only OK, Oddity ends up being a pretty good album, and I'm interested to see where the follow up will take Franck Carducci.

Report this review (#473947)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Great example of what I call Variable Prog, style that roots so deeply in recent years. It means that such music would be very eclectic, quite poppy accessible with melodic hooks and connections, while still remaining Prog. Other examples from last year includes Seven Side Diamond or Haken's Aquarius.

Take for example first song [b]Achilles[/b]. Start with strong piano/guitar/percussion introduction (kicks right in the action type) and when bass joins in, Haken feeling is very eminent. Then all breaks up and quiets down, time for second in total, but first vocal intro that starts to tell a story. I like Ancient Greek myths (I like THAT VA compilation, you know which one) and the tale about mighty warrior speaks to me. Let's get back to the music - music, suddenly quiet is once again strengthening and meaning of these words gets intertwined with feeling I get from music. That's good. At nearly 5 minutes, clear keyboards joins and yet another chapter begins. Also, necessary melody eruption around 9:20. Not sure how to call it, nobody ever told me technical term. Don't worry, you will know when you hear it.

Now let's hold for a minute, I don't want this to become manual to songs on this album, describe one by one, minute by minute. But I'm sure you know get the idea how this song works.

[b]The Quind[/b] is humble piece and not that enjoyable for me (too weak - quick hint from Marty says that you should turn up volume, perhaps up to eleven). It has very interesting end, but it's only one minute out of nine. Weakest link of Carducci chain here. Oh, sorry, I almost forgot about [b]The Eyes of Age[/b]. Enjoyable indeed, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Would probably be hidden in the back of such drawer if that drawer was meant to be Prog one. Then we get [b]Alice's...[/b], which is basically Blues Rock with some Prog patterns thrown in (trying to be progressive Blues, length of it), but in the end it's Blues-Rock-a little bit of Prog hybrid. Interesting work though. [b]The Last Oddity[/b] is the kind of Genesis-like Prog that we heard before. It's interesting song, where you will feel familiar. Can be divided into three parts. Sometimes rather Rock song. Pleasant ending cover, [b]The Carpet Crawlers [/b] is beautiful one. On par with original version (singing jumps, sometimes better, sometimes worse).

Is it only coincidence that there is Genesis song The Carpet Crawlers and Hackett on one album ? Even it's not that Hackett. Nice cover art though.

4(-), while this is nice album, it's nothing like breakthrough release. I wish there were more songs like first one, so deep and complex, yet melodic. Others are rather average.

Report this review (#474209)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Oh, Holland... I´m falling in love with this country. Well, at least with its prog scene. the bands in there don´t think that great hooks and nice melodies are a sin in the prog rock religion. While the once so promising polish scene seems to be sinking deeper and deeper on the american alternative rock swamp, the dutch artists still cherish what made progressive rock famous: elaborated, complex, and yet accessible and pleasant music. It doesn´t have to be too zany or too complicated to be great. Groups like Flamborough Head, Odyssice, Trion, Leap Day, Nice Beaver and so many others are carrying the flag with pride. And now comes along solo artist Franck Carducci. Somehow I guessed his first solo CD would be good. And I was right.

First of all, the guy is no newbie: I heard he´s been playing for over 20 years in several bands (none famous, as far as I know). Second, he decided to do it under none other than Steve Hackett´s suggestion (for whom he was opening at the time in Holland). So I guessed he: a) had a quite strong repertoire and b) he would be doing it in the melodic and tasteful tradition of most dutch artists. When I put the CD to play I was delighted to hear exactly that: fine crafted songs, a modern, but very organic production and surrounded by excellent musicians. One of the guests was SH´s brother, John on flute.

Carducci plays most instruments and sings all the tracks. His voice is not that great, but he does it with such passion and conviction you end up thinking that, if not great, he is at least the right person to sing them. the arrangements are very well done, and I specially liked the keyboards (lots of Hammond organ) and drum sound (a rare case when the right production and the right musicians meet). But of course nothing would work so well if he hadn´t come up with a bunch of real good songs. And that´s where Carducci´s power really lies: good, melodic, varied and full of energy set of songs. Ok, nothing´s new here. In fact his influences are easy to trace and he makes no secret of them: Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, krautrock, blues and country. In other words, late 60´s/early 70´s stuff. Yet it doesn´t sound dated nor too retro. It is original music inspired by his heroes.

Highlights are many. In fact, it´s hard to point out just one track, they are all quite different from each other. One of those records where different styles are in fine harmony and the CD always seem to be too short, even if it is over one hour of music. A good sign indeed. However, for the average prog fan the opener Achilles, an epic with almost 15 minutes of music (and John Hackett´s flute), is maybe the most appealing one. If you want to get a taste of what Carducci´s all about, go straight to this tune. He even goes as far as covering one fo Genesis most beautiful and well known songs: The Carpet Crawlers. A bold move where he succeeds in what most people fails: he kept the original feeling and melody while adding his own mark on it (I just loved the violin line on the chorus).

Conclusion: Oddity is a very strong debut in any way you look at it. Franck Carducci proves to be a talented and promising artist. I´m looking forward to hear his next works. Holland has geven us one more reason to just love this country!

Rating: something between 4 and 4.5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#555051)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Franck Carducci is natural born french multi instrumentalist , moved to Holland later on and having released thier first album last year named Oddity. Well, I like what I've heared here is a combinattion of symphonic prog not far from Genesis realm, he even got a cover version of Carper crawlers from Lamb, with some crossover prog elements, the resul is a pretty decent album, but nothing is spectacular, maybe only the opning track Achilles. He got a bunch of guest musicians here, the most known one, at least by me is the brother of Steve Hackett, John Hackett who is responsable for some flute parts, most notable on Achilles. So, a good album that most of the time is pleasent, Achilles is a great piece with lots of keyboards, changing moods and tempus, like the voice on this one a lot, nice guitar parts. The Quind for example is the opsite of greatness of opening track and here Carducci shows his mellow side, to long track almost 10 min without variations of arrangements, and to mellow for entire timing. Another worthy piece is The Last Oddity, here he gets in spce prog zone, beggining like a psychedelic piece from late'60's but after 4 min gets up tempo and really good aswell, very similar with Eloy in their best period, space prog atmosphere, long instrumental passages and even the voice on this one remnds me a lot of Pink Floyd meets Eloy, not bad at all. The album ends with Genesis cover from Lamb Carpet crowlers, is ok but nothing really special version. All in all a decent album, with good parts, but aswell some dull and unintrsting ones are interfear here. 3 stars, odd cover art but nice in a way.
Report this review (#642096)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have this album on my MP3 player. It's a nice debut album with lots of variety in the songs. It's pleasant to listen to with all sorts of rock elements. Franck's love for Genesis is clearly present and so is mine. Good vocals and a lot of Hackett influences too, very melodic. A short summary: *Achilles: bombastic opener, a masterpiece (10/10) *The Quind: reminds me of a Trick Of The Tail, very melodic, great (9/10) *The Eyes Of Age: cheerful folk song with violin and female vocals (8/10) *Alice's Earie Dream: bluesrock orientated song, nice change (9/10) *The Last Oddity: what can I say, the symphonic masterpiece (10/10) *The Carpet Crawlers: decent cover with addition of violin and female vocals (8/10) *Alice's Earie Dream (radio edit): not really necessary, but ok (6/10) The Netherlands is a progressive rock artist richer, just listen and wait for what comes next ...
Report this review (#769720)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Self-taught French multi-instrumentalist and singer, who was born and has grown up in Lyon, influenced initially by The Beatles and later by Pink Floyd, Genesis, Supertramp and Kansas.In 2008 he decided to follow his girlfriend in Amsterdam, giving him the chance to meet with some of his idols, like Steve Hackett at the backstage of the De Boerderij Festival.This discussion there encouraged him to record his first album ''Oddity'', moreover after opening for Hackett in one if his 2010 concerts, it was mainly a collection of old material plus one new song.The album was recorded in four different places worldwide, featuring a huge list of guest musicians, among them Steve Hackett's brother John appears on flute.It came out in 2011 on the French label Vocation.

Basically you can considered ''Oddity'' as the perfect definition of a modern Neo/Xover Prog album, which opens some branches to more symphonic territories, is often flavored by clever Art Pop vibes and at moments comes quite close to the sound of Carducci's heroes PINK FLOYD.But the overall atmosphere, the stylistical variety and the electroacoustic switches come closer to what STEVE HACKETT was producing in late-70's, some sort of pre-Neo Prog fashion with evident hints to the symphonic bands of the 70's and a certain eye to the future.What sets him apart though is the fact he decided to put some effort on long, multi-themed tracks instead of delivering shorter and more accesible pieces.Of course his music is filled with elaborate melodies and cathartic acoustic textures, but there are also lots of bombastic sections, epic atmospheres and symphonic grandieur to be found.Blending PINK FLOYD and IQ would make a pretty accurate result.Carducci's compositions are not outstanding or original, his Prog idols apparently inspired him to more than an average deegree, but his material is well-crafted and perfectly balanced with the old stylings (vintage-sounding organs) meeting modern fashion (synthesizers).Nonetheless the songs are pretty enjoyable with countless twists and variations and a decent prog depth.

A modern version of a young STEVE HACKETT in my opinion.Blend of Symphonic Rock, Neo Prog and Art Rock in equal doses and executed in lovely, long arrangements.Recommended.

Report this review (#1352694)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2015 | Review Permalink

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