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The Crow
4 stars After enjoying their performance live recently on Midsummer Prog Festival 2018 and having only listened their first album before (and not enjoying it very much), I decided to go through the last record of the band!

And I have to say the very positive impression that these songs gave me when I listened live are more or less the same than in this album. Their music is not really progressive, groundbreaking or original, but the overall quality of the record is just excellent, both in terms of production and compositions.

The album starts with J'attends un Printemps is a very beatiful and delicate way, with fine keyboards and vocals, accompanied by soften guitars, but soon the power of the whole band explodes in 02:57 sounding just great and very cohesive, making a crescendo which is a trademark of the band.

Un Linceul de Brume is even better, with a great beginning with echoed guitars and the great voice of Dominique Leonetti, who shows his qualities as a great Singer. The final part of the song is an apotheosis of leòde, distortions and a brutal double pedal on drums. Mes Amis, Mes Frères is rockier, even with some Hammond organ in the verses and a great guitar solo. Not so good as the two previous tracks, but good for being played live.

Les Côtes es a very surprising change of directions, with a very cool beginning which sounds like a strange carnival music, dark and atmospheric. And even the predictable crescendo maintains catches the listener's attention! Just like Chronique Canine, another dark tune which follows the path of the previous one but in a more rhythmic and guitar-oriented way and with another great use of the leòde, an instrument which gives this band an special and very welcomed personality.

Mes Semblables retrieve the rock mood of the third track, but with an oriental influence in the verses and a good instrumental bridge. De Deus Choses Lune is another hit of the album with powerful percussions on the verses, fine vocals (again) and tons of dramatism. And the leòde steals the show again!

The album ends with the excellent Les 4 Mortes Saisons, a sweeping acoustic song which is almost perfect in its minimalism.

Conclusion: if you are searching for intricated prog passages or tons of complexity you are on the wrong track, because Lazuli are some kind of world music rock band with some touches progressive elements. But the quality of their music is undeniable, just like their very strong and catchy live performances.

They are not the most original sounding band and they abuse of crescendos in their songs, but the incredible and unique use of the self-invented instrument leóde and the quality of the production, the vocalist and the rest of the band, make the listening of this album a real pleasure.

Excellent work! I'm eager to hear more albums of this band.

Best songs: Saison 8 has not a single bad or mediocre song, but J'attends un Printemps, Un Linceul de Brume, Les Côtes, De deux Choses Lune and Les 4 Mortes Saisons are the best.

My rating: ****

Report this review (#1946496)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars It has been some years now that I desire to dive in to Lazuli' s material and I finally managed to get synchronised with them only with their 8th album, aptly titled Saison 8. And while some elements were instantly understood from the first listen, some stylistic issues gave me a hard time, to be honest.

I find it very hard to believe that any experienced listener, no matter personal tastes and preferences, would disagree that Lazuli deliver music of the utmost quality. All technical aspects of their work is really close to excellence. More specifically, their personal sound is unique (with the custom-made stringed instrument called "Leode" playing in important role in this), they deliver flawless production and extraordinary instrumentation/arrangements, revealing musicians with the highest levels of perfectionism and advanced "quality control" mechanisms. Furthermore, the musicianship is equally admirable, with none of the 5 members never playing not even an unnecessary or not ideally expressed note. Finally, their songwriting skills demonstrate players/composers of the ultimate artistic confidence and knowledge. All 8 compositions stand in the exact same level and Saison 8 is truly one of the most balanced and controlled albums you can listen to, really.

Now that we got some things straight, it's fair to say that I can imagine two potential contrasted ways to view Lazuli' s music, especially in the way the music actually feels. One view could be that, besides the excellence described above, their style feels quite "safe" and radio friendly. That their undoubtedly beautiful melodic songs balance somewhere between sophisticated pop and rock music, without really being progressive or innovative, that there are no risks taken and nothing to really challenge the prog enthusiast. It's true that there is nothing technical or complex here and that Saison 8 feels more with that beloved old companion with whom you can share deep feelings of tenderness rather than passionate, adventurous love.

On the other hand, one may say that Lazuli capture many of the fundamental essences of prog music, after complexity and technicality is removed. The prog vibes are ever-present, the beautiful harmonies, the bittersweet notes, the uplifting or delicate atmospheres that define the cream of the prog style. It's all here, trapped within the notes. And while the sound is familiar, in the end Lazuli resemble nothing particularly. Even in moments when you can vaguely connect them with post-2000 prog rock bands like Porcupine Tree and the likes, or when you recognise folk, jazz or world music elements here and there, they remain intact and untouched, safe within their prog minimalism.

I traveled a lot between these two different opinions, between 3 and 4 stars, only to end up giving them 4 stars with all my heart and the reason is the songs. Those beautifully crafted 8 songs that may not have the power to change or shape me differently as a person but generously offer their "easy" but still intellectual delights, in a way that only a virtuous band can. And while I find it easier to get bonded with the slightly darker moments ("Un Linceul de Brume", "Les Cotes"), nothing stands out really. And you don't need to understand the French language in order to realise that this whole construction can't escape a remarkable level of poeticness. There are no Babel towers in art, anyway!

Saison 8 by Lazuli don't reserve the qualities of a wild, passionate lover but those of a good and trustworthy friend. I can strongly recommend this album to anyone that is after these values. As for me, I really enjoyed the album and the constant trip between its imaginary oppositional aspects!

Report this review (#2056537)
Posted Saturday, November 17, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Two previous reviewers did a great job to describe what this album is, and I agree with their assessment. It was my first introduction to Lazuli, and I have to say I loved them immediately! And I still play them ones in a while, and they are not getting boring. Yet, at least! :) They don't play quirky, intricate music with tricky time signatures or epic-scale compositions. But they have a lot of strengths! Firstly, they are excellent songwriters: they songs are inventive, melodic, infections and very well constructed and arranged, and they last exactly as long as they should. No wanking there, guys! :) Their lyrics are also pretty good, at least to my limited French :) Secondly, their vocalist has an excellent voice that he uses masterfully. Thirdly, this is rare noways, but this album doesn't not have any fillers, unlike the most modern prog albums that lasts 60-70 minutes! It plays for 43:01, excellent length, quality over quantity. I'm giving it 5 stars even though this is not a "prog masterpiece". But it is sure a great piece of modern prog-related rock music that I love more than many overhyped "heavyweights".
Report this review (#2136427)
Posted Thursday, February 14, 2019 | Review Permalink

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