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Maneige - Libre Service - Self Service CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars Although most of the people (few) that know this band prefer Ni Vent.... I like this one better but both are excellent , this one confirming the directions taken by its predecessor. Actually , it goes a little farther providing some really fantastic beats and rythms that one forgets easily Weather Report and its artificial ambiances and over-powering showmanship and demonstrative dexterity. Of course Maneige excels in the last category but it does not come to showing off as most of the bands in those days. And for the ambiances I can assure you that they don't need tape effects or other phoney gadgets.

As with this album , they are veering towards Canterbury style music , putting a bit of humour in the music, but playing with the song titles but in French. Troisix , I think refers to the three X on Amsterdam flags and reaches funkish border. And the second last number is reggeaeish.

Report this review (#30702)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Libre Service" enhances the prominent fusion orientation that Maneige had already assumed for their previous album. Almost nothing remains from the spectacular academic display that played such an important role in their first two albums. Generally speaking, this album comprises a more pronounced uplifting spirit, and the reasons for that are the incorporation of exotic Latin-jazz colours and a major presence of funky undertones in the repertoire, which ultimately bring an augmented colorfulness to the band's style and compositions. The addition of some Gentle Giant based stuff (mostly in the counterpoints and some tuned percussion passages) helps to build that colorful spirit. The first four tracks set the most playful mood in the album, and they certainly serve as accurate examples of the factors I've just mentioned. Those effective bass lines that run all through 'Trozix' and the tropical-like cadence that forms the main body of 'L'envol des singes latins' are simply irresistible: the listener feels compelled to let himself be contaminated by this good vibe. The brief 'Bagdad' offers some weird dissonances and syncopated tempos in a very pleasant way, as if the potential tension would have been subtly replaced by a strange kind of "harmony": these guys sure know how make the best of a not too complex 1'50'' musical idea. Genius doesn't always come wrapped in gigantic boxes. This notion is corroborated by the next two following pieces - 'Noémi' is a beautiful brief piano solo ornamented by some guitar and some flute, while 'Célébration' states a delicate romantic ambience, with immaculate grace and infinite class. The last three pieces kind of contain a combination of the reflective spirit of tracks 6-8 and the prominent uplifting mood of the precedent ones - all of them state a certain emphasis in the solemn side of things during their first section, before spreading on the fusion stuff until the very end. While the first four tracks incarnate the uplifting side of "Libre Service", the last three encapsulate the whole spirit of it. Though I don't find it as brilliant as "Ni Vent. ni Nouvelle", it still deserves to be regarded as an excellent musical work, full of great, attractive musical ideas that have an irresistible appeal. 4 - 4 1/2 stars.
Report this review (#30703)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5/5.0

This is my favorite Maneige album. Maneige is not an easy group to listen to at first if you are not used to xylophones and other less commons instruments. But it is worth it to give it a try if you like Canterbury music and percussions, along with a jazzy touch.

Althought the musical structure does not seem at first to be progressive (shorts songs) all the songs go along very well one with each other, so the whole album creates a very interesting and rich climax. This is an album a bit like "The Snow Goose" by Camel; you have to listen to it from the beginning to the end, and not just one song in particular to really appreciate the beauty of the music.

This is a very organic music with some new-age influences and what I would call post- modern conceptions. Very refreshing, yet not that complicated technically. A very very good album!

Report this review (#66731)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the about turn of Ni Vent Ni Si Nouvelle, Maneige ploughed on in an even more emphatically accessible direction. This album is adventurous as a form of nascent World music ... we get percussive jams, ethnic instruments mixed in with disco and the some funky jazz-rock ... but really despite the music being very good, most of it is hardly what I would call prog-rock, and is certainly light years away from the best material on Les Porches.

My favourite tracks come towards the latter half of the album. Celebration is a symphonic flute-led instrumental that would grace a Camel record, while La Noce starts off the same way, before mutating into a fascinating band piece featuring Andy Latimer-style lead guitar. There's a glorious flute bit with reggae inflections, and another punchy guitar lead to round things off. Another highlight is La Belle Et La Bete, a pleasing slan of darting jazz-rock that's a little tricky to pin down.

Unfortunately too much of the album is totally unconnected with progressive rock. L'envol Des Singes Latins starts off as a Santana tribute, whereas Toujours Trop Tard becomes a Latin jazz excursion that also recalls Carlos and co. Les Pentocles is a real funky disco track, with some blistering electric guitar leads. Bagdad is a little different with a middle Eastern theme. Miro Vibro is a little silly, but has a nice massive sax opening, and sees Maneige foreshadowing the Dire Straits sound for the second time, the first being Douce Am Re from the previous album.

Overall, the best bits here put the album narrowly above its predecessor, but I still feel that Maneige took a wrong turn after Les Porches. ... 58% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#82113)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The album's opening is probably rather misleading. Troizix bounces with a simple jazzy hip-hop feel, a deep bass, clap, bass, clap, type of thing. Soon, though, bongos, drums, flute, guitar and piano arise and drown out the bass, clap, repeat, theme, and drive the song towards a jazzier and smoother, less contemporary (though still very much so) song. The album proceeds very differently, focusing on lush flutes, aggressive splashes, and excitingly odd rhythmic complexities. The rhythm section get quite a spotlight appearance here, which is strange, as on their more noted release Les Porches rhythm was quite diluted and the focus was, without shame, the flutes, clarinets, and their lush and beautiful themes.

A second misleading quality of the album is cover. Don't expect dark, sinister, grim, and bleak atmospheres. Expect funky beats, bright atmospheres, and sharp drums.

Though it shapes up to be a pretty decent contemporary jazz release, I find Libre Service to be almost too modern. The production and sound quality are extraordinarily clear, but they also have more of a mechanic feel, as opposed to the really free, organic compositions of Les Porches which really drew me in. That, and some of the feel that distinguished them from other jazz bands in a similar pool is nearly gone completely. Despite these flaws, however, it is a great 'song-based' jazz album with some truly stellar moments, and some very mediocre segments.

Report this review (#158773)
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I guess you could call this "Rhythmic Fusion" with all the percusion, drums, xylophones and vibes. Very accessible and polished with shorter tracks, it's a far cry from their first amazing album. So yes this was disappointing for me at first, mostly because my reference point with them is the first album. On the other hand this is so intricate and melodic it's hard not to like it.

"Troizix" opens with a beat and lots of clapping. Guitar comes in followed later by flute. "L'Envol Des Singes Latins" opens with percussion and synths before drums and flute take over.There is an island vibe to this tune after 1 1/2 minutes. A catchy track. "Les Petoncles" is better with the slower beat and vibes. Guitar and bass follow. I like the calm after 3 minutes. Sax comes in then the tempo picks up to end it. "La Belle Et La Bete" features xylophone and vibes early with drums. Flute 1 minute in. I like it better 2 1/2 minutes in as we get a fuller sound. A gong ends it. "Bagdad" has a good rhythm to it once it gets going. "Noemi" is less than a minute of piano,guitar and flute.

"Celebration" opens with bells as flute joins in. A full sound arrives around 1 1/2 minutes. "La Noce" opens with sleigh bells then flute and classical guitar. I feel like throwing on some tights and prancing around. Kidding ! Thankfully a good piano melody takes over with drums and bass. Guitar comes in at 2 1/2 minutes. Flute leads the way later. "Toujours Trop Tard" is mellow with flute. Drums, percussion and guitar take over. Sax 3 minutes in then guitar returns before 4 minutes. I like this one a lot, especially the melancholic mood early. "Miro Vibro" opens with piano before flute and percussion arrive before 2 minutes. Piano is back leading the way then flute joins in again. Tasteful guitar late.

There is certainly lots to enjoy here if your into the lighter side of Fusion. Barely 4 stars. I really like the album cover too for some reason.

Report this review (#202560)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Forth album from their catalogue released in 1978 named Libre service - self service is almost same in manner of composing with previous one, aswell shorter pieces but full of inventive passages. I guess I like this one more then previous album, maybe more then Les Porches, I don't know really why I'm more attached by the music offered here by the band. Overall polished sound, some untraditional instruments here like xylophone, marimba combined with the rest gives a very solid album to my ears. Flute again is important as guitar and keyboards, again an instrumental album. Maybe in places is little more accesible then previous album and maybe lighter in aproach but never the less a great album by Manaige that keeps the flag high in those dark years of prog late '70s. Another winner and I guess the last true great album by the band. 4 stars again. Maybe my fav Maneige album.
Report this review (#760329)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2012 | Review Permalink

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