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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Second and much awaited album after their tremendous debut album called Cycle 1, although it was a slower process than originally announced. Although not named as such, Gu'rison delivers what was promised as most of the album is related since the opening 3- movement suite is named Cycle II. The group is now only a quintet (KB-man Goulay is listed as a guest), but numerous guests are contributing, the better-known being Benoit Widemann on the minimoog. This is not the only surprise as this album contains vocals (not just chants), but not the sublime Natacha voice present on the debut, replaced by Yannick Duschene, who also takes part in the mixing and mastering (along with the ever- excellent Udi Koomran). As for the artwork, it looks like some tantric 'sand painting' and the back cover feature a wink to the five musicians in stylised silhouettes.

Opening on the 10-mins Cycle II, the album takes off where its predecessor had left things at, with a delightful and serene Zeuhl music (we're nowhere close to Magma's oppressive climates). The following three-part 8-movement Triptyque, of which the first part is surprisingly dedicated to Supertramp's Roger Hodgson, but fear not, it's only in the spiritual mode, not in the musical realm. Nevertheless, the lengthy 26-mins suite plunges deep in the inner throes, while remaining fairly lightweight, the JR/F moods being never far away.

The closing 15-mins Gu'rison (Healing) suite presents slightly different soundscapes, sometimes passing through the Canterbury-ian counties, with some delightful Kentian meanders and detours - most notably the fuzzed organ is track 14. The two bonus tracks are a bit awkward, the Parasite bit being mainly a drum solo (from the Gu'rison suite), while Hymne Au Soleil (from the first Triptyque piece) is mainly a Rhodes and vocals thing. While both bonus tracks don't clash with the album proper, they do sound and feel a bit less thought-out as the three main suites.

The logical continuity of their first album, Gu'rison just doesn't repeat the formula, but expands on the universe developed before. Easily as good as their first effort, hopefully, they'll concentrate on the main Setna project, instead of spreading themselves a bit thin on side-projects like Xing Sa.

Report this review (#958998)
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Coming almost 6 years after their highly regarded debut, Setna's follow-up marks a shift in the band line-up, most notably the replacement of the distinctive female vocalist Natascha Jouet with charismatic male Yannick Duschene, but still highlights the musicians forging ahead with their own interpretation of the Zeuhl genre, with heavy inclusions of Canterbury sound jazz, fusion, avant- garde and experimental electronic elements. This makes Setna much lighter in tone for a Zeuhl band in some respects, but never any less dramatic or complex. Although indexed into 17 tracks on the CD, it's really three extended pieces and two bonus tracks, but all coming together to form a continious, sweeping and near-orchestral grandiose work.

`Cycle II:1-3'(9:52) sees the band enter with swallowing bass and sprinkling raindrop piano, slowly working up a groovy funk fusion by way of hypnotic Zeuhl explosion, with an almost Michael Jackson-esque glee! You listen closely trying to make out small fragments of audible clear words through breathlessly exhausting and indecipherable scat-vocals, with the most secret and placid of shimmering Rhodes purring in the background. Searing and manic Canterbury-fueled fuzz organ intensity before jazzy glistening electric piano ambient breezes finally lift us to safety in the clouds above. The piece is meant to represent moving beyond one's fear, filling your life with joy, creativity and peace, so hopefully listeners will open themselves to that possibility.

`Triptyque pt 1' (8:27) highlights human madness and chaos, quickly recalling `Welcome'-era Santana molten rapid-fire twisting electric guitar fusion over pools of Mellotron waterfalls. Soothing Magma-styled gospel vocals intertwine with acoustic guitar, before a final joyous and sweet rising vocal crescendo over intensifying drumming, snarling bass and weeping piano. `Triptyque pt 2' (9:45) symbolizes solitude and sadness, before a glipse of a solution. Crying sorrowful calls, acid- fried David Gilmour-like lazy lead guitar over jazzy drumming picking up and dropping back in tempo with twinkling Soft Machine spastic Mini-moog eruptions. Soon haunting majestic Mellotron choirs and sweet falsetto tones dart back and forth between punchy and heavenly while the Rhodes positively hums. `Triptyque pt 3' (8:04) offers meditation, a reflection on human nature, advancing into harmony. The opening ambient passage is full of suspensful ghostly electric piano that sneeks up behind wrapped in hypnotic murmurring bass, before the pieces turns confronting and somber with thoughtful clarinet and ethereal phasing droning voices to envelope you. The gentle shower of electric piano and lapsteel guitar bring positivity and warmth.

The title track `Guerison' (14:58) represents the parasite, a process of healing and a fresh start. Overall very percussion driven, it begins with a machine-like hum and other-wordly electronics that make for briefly uneasy listening, but soothing vocals and twirling Mini-moog turn the direction more reassuring. A funky wah-wah guitar and Canterbury-fuelled fuzz organ blowout that would make Caravan smile makes for a perfect and uplifting way to wrap the album, although a couple of shorter bonus tracks allow an alternate approach to two earlier passages to be heard.

`Guerison' is certainly one of 2013's best albums, and along with Rhun''s `Fanfare du Chaos', offers a unique and individual take on the Zeuhl genre performed by a group of talented musicians. It is frequently thrilling, varied, warm and joyous, almost taking on a spiritual quality to lift you into the blissful heavens. Progressive listeners who find the darker and oppressive elements that frequently define the Zeuhl genre may want to consider this album and band first, as they perhaps offer a more approachable and human take on the style. `Guerison' is a truly divine and rapturous experience, an absolute joy to listen to over and over, so don't miss out on it.

Five stars.

Report this review (#1080793)
Posted Sunday, November 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Imagine the most hypnotic Zeuhl grooves that Magma has ever given us, blend it with the accumulated best Canterbury instrumentation that any of Dave Stewart's bands ever gave us, arrange it all with the most positive, uplifting chord progressions and gorgeous male and female vocal melodies imaginable, then use the best technological advantages that 2013 gives us and you get a glimpse into what Setna's second album, Guérison, has to offer. It is beautiful, sublime, hypnotic, and so spiritually uplifting! Each of the five songs is sub-divided, but, in effect, the album has a straight-through flow not unlike many Magma albums. Every song and, in fact, each sub-song has idiosyncrasies worthy of high praise and long discussions (as well as repeated listens), but "Cycle II (c)," "Tryptique I (c)," "Tryptique II (a)," and "Tryptique III (b)" and "(c)" stand out particularly strong for me--should you want to listen to a few pieces in order to get a feel for the album, these might be just the ones cuz they display quite a broad spectrum of the sounds, feels and styles offered here. The "Guérison" suite feels separate, a bit more atmospheric, more displaying of rhythms and percussion, and, until the interesting Part "(c)," a slight step down from the previous two suites (four songs, eleven sub-songs). Still, this is one of the best releases I've heard from 2013, one of the best Zeuhl or Canterbury albums I've ever heard, and an album that will likely grow in my esteem as it occupies my turntable for the upcoming months.

5 Stars; an unquestioned masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Report this review (#1128684)
Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Setna prove that their command of fusion-oriented zeuhl (laced with a little Canterbury) on Cycle I was no mere fluke with Guérison, a more than competent followup which finds them focusing more intently on longer compositions. (Indeed, if you count the separate parts of Triptyque as being a single song the shortest piece on here is Cycle II, which is nearly 10 minutes long). Far from being an excuse for meaningless instrumental noodling, the band demonstrate their superior command of the subgenre, clearly drawing on the work of the likes of Magma without feeling bound to stick solely to the Magma aesthetic.
Report this review (#1152858)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars It's been six years since their debut album "Cycle I" was released, an album I rate extremely high, in fact it's my number two album for 2007. There are a few changes on this one as Benoit Bugeia who was a guest on the debut is now a full-time member, and Nicolas Goulay a former member is now a guest. The female vocalist from the debut has been replaced by a male singer and Benoit Widemann guests on minimoog.

"Cycle II" is a three part suite beginning with light drums and fender rhodes in this laid back and jazzy intro. Some fuzzed out bass joins in then the vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. Love the distorted keys that bring Canterbury to mind. Some backing vocals as well later on in part I. The last two sections are gorgeous with those distorted keys with bass and drums standing out.

"Triptyque" is divided into three main themes and eight total parts. It begins with sounds coming and going and check out the minimoog as the synths sweep in the background. It settles back as the vocals arrive including some backing vocals. A calm with vocal melodies arrives in part III with drums and a wind instrument. I'm reminded of a mellower MAGMA when the vocals come to the fore. Fuzzed out bass late. The second main theme opens with liquid keys and atmosphere as haunting vocal melodies arrive. The guitar cries out ala Gilmour. It picks up some in part II of this suite and it sounds amazing. The vocals stop late in this part as we get organ-like sounds then flute. Beautiful. The third main theme is relaxed as vocal melodies arrive then it builds slowly.

The final main theme is called "Guerison" and is divided into four parts. Random drum patterns and atmosphere to start and it all settles down late in part I. Drums lead the way in part II as keys then vocals join in. Lots of minimoog and vocals before it settles back late in part II. Love the distorted keys in part III, very Canterbury-like. Vocals arrive during the final part but they stop halfway through as it settles.

I'm in the minority for sure in rating the debut higher than this one but I miss those female vocals and the atmosphere that was simply stunning. A very solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#1382351)
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2015 | Review Permalink

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