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Martigan - Ciel Ouvert CD (album) cover




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Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Martigan´s second release found the band still struggling to find their own sound that would eventually culminate with the superb Man Of The Moment and the masterpiece Vision. Although all the basic elements are here, their distinctive blend of melodic rock and symphonic prog is yet in embryonic form. Ciel Ouvert is the classic case of hit and miss. Some tracks already show some maturity while others are not as well done (the title track is a good exemple of the latter with its mistaken brass arrangement. It should never be the opener)

The CD superficially is not that interesting. But if you pay close atention, you´ll see their superb musicanship and great talent as songwriters. At first look the songs seem too simple and boring, but after a few spins you start to realise how elaborated, creative and different each one is. The unsual rhythm patterns (led by the funky and brilliant bass lines of Axel Schütze), the odd chord progressions, the economical use of the guitar and keys and the brilliant vocal lines are soon noticeable, even if the songwriting and the arrangements are not fully developed as I stated before. Production is adequate.

All in all I found Ciel Ouvert far less accessible and well crafted as their last two fantastic releases. Still they are also too talent to release something totally uninteresting. The CD takes some time to sink in and is quite more demanding to the listener, but it is worth it. My rating keeps shifting between 3 and 3,5 stars. Not really essential, but good enough.

Report this review (#222707)
Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Martigan met music-producer Rudolf Nepix from Cologne soon after the release of ''Stolzenbach'', who was actually the one who encouraged the band to work on a second album.With the same line-up Martigan entered the studio and the result was the ''Ciel Ouvert'' CD in 1996, again released on the Cologne-based label Floh Dur.

The album shows some noticable improvement over the very weak ''Stolzenbach'', as Martigan play some more interesting and focused musicianship on this album with memorable and demanding material, not meeting the high standards of other Neo Prog bands, but moving certainly on the right direction.The dull and cheesy moments of the debut are almost gone and the gifted vocalist named Kai Markwordt now performs under more dramatic and progressive arrangements.His slightly GABRIEL-esque tone meets series of melodic, groovy compositions with some fine guitar solos, passionate atmospheres, powerful rhythm section and balanced keyboard work.The vocal arrangements are also more interesting and expressive, a couple of more mellow ballad tracks are now more needed than ever to soften the heavier tracks and the inspired keyboard/guitar solos along with the fair amount of breaks are more than welcome.On the other hand the somewhat cheap digital keyboards, the clear but mechanical mixing and a few moments recalling the low quality of ''Stolzenbach'' are present as well, scribbling down a bit the new face of Martigan.

Finally Martigan can be considered a band with a brighter future and potential for something trully essential.For the moment ''Ciel Ouvert'' is a good Neo Prog album along the lines of FINAL CONFLICT, MAGRATHEA, COLLAGE and SATELLITE with enough interesting material to be regarded as a recommended release.

Report this review (#714338)
Posted Saturday, April 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recently I've been doing my usual "search for the prog" ritual, and this album cought my attention, as I'm really sold on these obsolete 3D computer graphics, especially as prog-rock album covers.

So, Martigan is a german quintet, playing mild and dreamy neo-prog, very similar to the other neo-prog bands from the era, although with less of energy and darkness, and with more romantic feeling. The music is not very complex or original, but the atmosphere is definitely there. The vocalist really brings Peter Gabriel and Peter Nicholls to mind, which is not necessarily a bad thing: he may not have the most impressive voice in the world, but surely it works on this record very nicely. I really enjoy the guitar playing: it's colorful (both in sound and play) and has a lot of emocional feel in it (kinda similar to David Gilmour's style). The keys, unfortunately, are rather tame, and are used mostly to create an atmosphere with pads, however, they do get more complex and playful at times. I really like the sound of the keys as well - while other people generally dislike such "cheesy" and "cheap" 90's synths, I happen to enjoy them a lot. The rhythmic section is nice as well - nothing particularly breathtaking, but these guys surely know how to make good use of their instruments.

The problem I have with this record, is that it lacks energy and fury, and it's a bit repetitive as well, mostly in terms of mood. The atmosphere is very nice and plesant, but it doesn't change too much as the songs go by. Even if some songs get more energetic and rocking, the overall mood stays the same. Compositionally, it may use some more rememberable and essential moments, but overall it's definitely not bad.

I think most people would find this a rather mediocre record, and honestly, in some ways I find it mediocre as well. But, from the other hand, it somehow manages to please me with it's gorgeous romantic/synthetic neo-prog-from- the-90's feeling very well. Nothing really special or essential, but still a great, well put-together and enjoyable album. For the music itself, I think I'd rate it 3.75 stars, but it deserves some bonus points for the pleasant, dreamy atmoshpere and a superb cover art. It seems to me that this release will appeal mostly to those, who enjoy early Genesis, IQ, Gilmour-era Pink Floyd ("A Momentary Lapse of Reason" & "The Division Bell"), and even... some Phil Collins' solo works! Warmly recommended.

Report this review (#1731992)
Posted Saturday, June 10, 2017 | Review Permalink

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