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4 stars This is a very exciting album. It's not that often you get to hear something that is as progressive as SOTOS nowadays. They are among those bands that are pushing the progressive music to its outer limits, and for some reasons I always get excited when I hear such music. SOTOS is from France and they're reminiscent to other French bands such as ESKATON, GONG and MAGMA as well as KING CRIMSON. This is their debut CD, and it's released on Musea's label Gazul. Their compositions are rather complex and furious, and they're all instrumental. They are mixing such instruments as Bass, Cello, Drums, Flute and Guitar. Although there's only four tracks on this album it's almost 70 minutes. All the four tracks are passing 13 minutes, and the opening epic track "Tango" is almost 22 minutes! Much of SOTOS power and energy comes from the drums and percussions. Just listen to the 16 minutes track "Gilgamesh" where the focus is on the percussion's. "Tango" and "Gilgamesh" are my favourites on this album. France is a very exciting country for this kind of music. I don't think that this album would appeal to every progressive rock fan, but if you're adventurous enough, I think you will love it! Recommended!
Report this review (#25189)
Posted Sunday, February 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Somewhere between Magma and RIO Type music such as Ensemble Nimbus , this is long acoustic pieces that could also classified as zheul. As I traded this album with Chris/SYZYGY, in the early part of 2006, you should be reading a review of it sometime soon.

This is not for repeated listening , at least not for these ears. Still good , though. According to the grapevine, they made a second album , but by the time of the trading of this album, the groups had stopped existing.

Report this review (#25190)
Posted Monday, March 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the debut album from a French group which formed in the mid 1990s. They operate in a similar territory to Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and Present; dark chamber rock which uses orchestral instruments alongside a rock rhythm section and which exists somewhere between RIO and Zeuhl. There is also some resemblance to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt Zion in the sound, although the compositional style is very different - there is a little too much rhythmic complexity for post rock.

There are just four long pieces on the album, three of them composed by guitarist Yan Hazera and one by bassist Bruno Camiade. While they have a good grasp of dynamics and a real sense of adventure, the writing of these pieces often lacks the focus and sense of urgency that is found in albums by the RIO/Zeuhl bands which are their most obvious inspiration.

The opening piece, Tango, is a 22 minute epic that could probably have been slimmed down into an effective 12 - 15 minutes, with lengthy passages that fail to develop in any significant way. This is a pity, because there is also some superb interplay between the strings and electric guitar, with intelligent support from a flexible and imaginative rhythm section.

The next piece, Gilgamesh, is a big improvement on this, with an imaginative interlude on percussion featuring the guitarist and bassist on Djembe, an African drum, before leading into a violin-driven climax that briefly recalls King Crimson circa 1974.

XXXVIIIeme Parallele is Bruno Camiade's contribution and includes some very nicely scored flute, percussion and cello parts, with Yan Hazera switching to acoustic guitar for the quieter interludes. The contrasting acoustic/electric, quiet/loud interludes could have been realised with a greater sense of drama, but this is a minor quibble and has more to do with the production than with the composition.

L'espoir Du Clan Des Huntres closes the proceedings, and begins with one of the most uptempo passages on the album, Camiade briefly taking the lead on fuzz bass. This then settles into a similar style to the opening track, with a rhythm that owes more than a little to Magma's Kontarkohsz. As with the opening track, some sections are a little drawn out and repetitive, although again there is also some superb playing to be heard here. The track closes in a manner that recalls the end of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, inviting further Magma comparisons.

Sotos is the work of a relatively young band - one member was only 16 when they formed, and apparently this was recorded only a year or so later - and shows a lot of promise. With a stronger willed producer and more disciplined writing, this would have deserved four stars and a strong recommendation. As it is, this is still a worthy addition to any RIO/vant prog collection.

Report this review (#75970)
Posted Sunday, April 23, 2006 | Review Permalink

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