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4 stars I recently bought this CD, and, as in the case of TRITON, their previous album, I instantly enjoyed the music. The album is all instrumental, very jazzy, led by an excellent guitar work, some hammond organ and electric piano. The songs are short but very energic, with the typical french jazz style found in other excellent bands like SPHEROE or the canadians SLOCHE. A dark feeling is also noticed, specially in the composition, due to the MAGMA influences, as POTEMKINE opened that band shows in France. A very good album, an excellent addition to any prog music collection, specially for jazzy tastes.
Report this review (#75400)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Potemkine's third and final album is their strongest, and is something of an overlooked classic of late 70s prog. Following Triton the band became a quartet again with Michel Goubin back on keyboards, and there had also been a period of intense gigging including opening for Magma on several occasions. All this made for a much tighter and more confident band than previously, both in terms of writing and playing.

The sound of Nicholas II takes the Zeuhl of Magma's Attahk and adds the jazz fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brand X and Billy Cobham circa Spectrum. The arrangements are dominated by the interplay of electric piano and guitar, with Charles Goubin turning in some excellent lead guitar work - he may not have been in quite the same league as John Mclaughlin or Alan Holdsworth, but he was no slouch either. Dominique Dubuisson and Philippe Goubin keep things as tight as ever on bass and drums, with Dubuisson's bass occasionally recalling Bernard Paganotti's fluid basslines for Magma. On this occasion there's a funky undercurrent to a lot of the rhythm playing, and on Theme Pour Une Swing Imaginaire there's even a hint of reggae. Throughout the album the playing is tight, the compositions are focussed and the production is crystal clear, most of the pieces sounding as though they were performed live in the studio. The CD reissue includes all but two tracks from Potemkine's debut album Foetus, on which the quartet were augmented by violinist Xavier Vidal. The earlier music sounds a lot more tentative, with acoustic piano as the main keyboard and Charles Goubin's guitar playing more of a supporting role, but there are some good ideas lurking in there and there are definite hints of what was to come.

Apparently this incarnation of Potemkine opened for Shakti and were warmly congratulated by John Mclaughlin, and going on the evidence of this album he should have been both flattered and impressed. Recommended to fans of Attahk era Magma and of 1970s jazz fusion.

Report this review (#135070)
Posted Monday, August 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was POTEMKINE's last album and like ZAO (who went from Zeuhl to Jazz / Rock) there's not really any Zeuhl left in their sound. As a matter of fact this sounded to me like a straight up Fusion record for the most part. Very well done of course. This is also their only release without vocal melodies on it.

"Tango Panache" is an uptempo track with some screaming guitar that comes and goes. This is excellent Fusion with the guitar leading the way. Bass,keys and drums fill out the sound. "Raspoutine" has some outstanding drumming on it. This song is tamer than the first one with relentless bass and some nice piano melodies. "Theme Pour Un Swing Imaginaire" is a funky little number with some ripping guitar part way through as the bass throbs. The liquid sounding keys are great.

"Air De Famille" is more Fusion with some excellent guitar 3 1/2 minutes in. The song calms down briefly before the guitar lights it up again. A jazzy keyboard / drum melody follows. "Aux Images" is a mellow song with the piano dominating. Strange sounds to end it. "Amphitheatre Magique" is my favourite track on here as it has a much richer, darker sound. Some atmosphere to it as well. Violin melody 2 1/2 minutes in as we get a great, full sound. 3 minutes later the guitar becomes more prominant as we get more of a Fusion flavour to end it.

I think this will be hit and miss with Zeuhl fans, but Jazz / Fusion fans will really enjoy this. Right from the first listen I couldn't believe this was the band who recorded the amazing "Triton" record. I still like this one though, as it is extremely well played.

Report this review (#148734)
Posted Saturday, November 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Potemkine was a French band whose musical offering brought a Zheul-friendly sort of jazz-prog: the legacy of pre-"Romatic Warrior" Return to Forever and early Weather Report, plus some touches of Canterbury, was given an extra edge with the addition of pulsating rhythmic ornaments in places. The lead guitarist's style shows a combination of McLaughlin's intense vibe and Phil Miller's melodic drive, which makes a perfect complement for Michael Goubin's keyboard deliveries. "Nicolas II" is the third and final Potemkine effort: generally speaking, it doesn't equal the powerful magic of the preceding album "Triton", but it most certainly reinforces the refreshing approach to jazz-prog that Potemkine displayed in the aforesaid album. The opener 'Tango Panache' bears a captivating punch, wisely focusing on a catchy main motif without employing resources of excess in the expansions. 'Raspoutine', despite the intriguing allusions of its title, offers a more candid ambience in its melodic structure, compared to the opener. The celebratory vibe gets increased in the following track 'Theme pour un Swing Imaginnaire', which finds the band exploring the swing of funk: the addition of extra percussion feeds the groove in a very effective way, and so does the electrifying guitar solo that emerges along the way. This album has really started well, but the best is yet to come. The last four pieces (which filled the vinyl's B side) are linked in a continuum. 'Air de Famile' states a languid, relaxed mood that ultimately develops into a more intense atmosphere for the last minute. This, in turn, states a contrasts with the softly dissonant lyricism developed in the first half of 'Odes de Mars': its second half shifts to a funk-instilled vibe, exciting yet controlled at the same time. A new change comes with the arrival of 'Aux Mages', whose romantic mood sets an evocative magic through the air. The weird percussive textures that emerge for the last seconds serve as a prelude to 'Amphitheatre Magique', the closing piece that brings an unexpected dark atmosphere. Its somber synth layers and mysterioys chorale arrangements, overlapped on the electric piano bases, close down the album with a moderately spectral ambience that never gets too creepy. This band bears its influences upon its sleeve, yet it finds an original way to ordain nand develop its musical ideas. While not being as peculiar Sloche, Iceberg or Il Baricentro were on their own terms, Potemkine's legacy to the world of prog is interesting and worthy of much appreciation. "Nicolas II" is an excellent item in any good prog collection.
Report this review (#176455)
Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Potemkine - Nicolas II it's a very unique piece of undiscovered history! This album hasn't a weak track, every song it's full of musical acrobaties, tecnique, great arrangments and emotions of course! This album it's very jazz/rock fusion influenced, there is not much zeuhl ispiration like his precedessor Triton. This work is more shiny than Triton

Tango Panache it's one of the greatest song i've ever heard, seriously! You will sure note the strong Fusion inspiration for this one, from the first note of the guitar and the timing of the drums. The guitar of Charles Goubin plays some very deep notes full of expression, he had a great sense of creativity and composition (i read that Charles Goubin has died in a car accident in 11 july 1979) and the solos are amazing, even if they're a little shorter. The bass line and the drums are something excellent, they play a very hard parts that pulsate in the hearts of those how listen and leave an undeletable sing in their minds. Probably this song has been recorded in live playing in studio, there is some minor errors that i've noticed, but the result it's something amazing! The cd goes on and then we have Rasputine, a strange track i assume. There is not the same energy of the first track but the result is not bad at all! Even with dissonant or dark chord this band keep a great sound! Theme pour un swing immaginare it's a very creative song! It's very fantasious track, this shows that this band can be very various. Remind me some 80's tv series but hey, there is a great keyboard and guitar work and there is a very catchy rythm accompained by a great bass line! Overall, this song it's great Now we're going to take a little break, Air de famille (which means family resemblance in French) it's a quite calm and relaxing song. There is a great use of Rhodes piano (with phaser effect i assume) and synthsiezer that create a good atmosphere, the other instruments complete a picture of a good and genuine song. Ode de mars starts with a calm phrase with a good choise of notes, than this song become different, becoming a bit darker. An inteligent use of the guitar and Rhodes in this track, a great and complex timing with drums. It's not my favourite song, but i have to admit that there is a great job behind it. Aux images it's another song that make you understand how this band had great capabilies! It's really different from the rest of the album. Something really really calm, with acoustic piano, synthesiezer and a very very quiet percussion work that will also close this song. Just a good song that create a very calm and relaxing atmospehere. Then we close with Amphiteatre Magique, which begin with a misterious riff and synthesiezer filling the atmosphere. This song have got some choir too which create a powerfull atmosphere and synths have good sounds too.

In Soleil Zeuhl cd there is also some bonus tracks, comings from Foetus, but i think i should review those song appart, Nicolas II ends with Anphiteatre Magique, so i think we done!

In conclusion this album it's bomb! I think this band had a very personal sounds, it was a real disgrace that guitarist died in a car accident, this band maybe deserved a great future. I recomend this cd to every fan of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Magma, Area, Yes, Gentle Giant and jazz rock in general! This it's a real undiscovered masterpiece, if you see this cd for a good price, don't think a second, just buy it!

PS: I'm sorry for my English but i'm italian, it's not perfect... I forgot! The cover art it very beutiful!

Report this review (#271229)
Posted Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars (please note this is a review of the original album and my review does not include Foetus which was added as bonus tracks)

Potemkine ended up as a clean cut fusion band on their third and final album. No zeuhl in sight, as far as I can detect. Well, the bass and some tangents can be called zeuhl, but they are also typical fusion and jazz melody lines too.

The music on Nicolas II is pretty nifty with a hammering Hammond organ dueling with electric guitars. The bass is always present and the drums are also always there. The music is pretty close to Mahavishnu Orchestra, soundwise. Unfortunate for Potemkine; not in the same league.

The quality is pretty good throughout. There is not greatness about this album though and the material is pretty anonymous too. Only a track like Raspoutine can be regarded as a very good track. There is a good drive throughout that track. The rest is OK but nothing more. It is a safe album and that's all.

3 stars (barely)

Report this review (#320089)
Posted Monday, November 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Strangely enough, I thought I had written a review for ll Potemkine some two years back.... Oh well!! ;o))

Potemkine's last album is more of a return to their Foetus origins than Triton was, since we see the return of one of the Goubin brothers (Michel) as a full-time member, but also musically with a return to jazzier-rock than Triton. Armed with a superb proggy artwork, the group's soundscapes are definitely fusionesque, this could be their easiest album to get into.

The band's Brand of JR/F is not so much of the X type (less flashy), rather more in the MO, RTF, the Spanish group Iceberg or their countrymen Transit Express mould, but the Zeuhl influence is still resent in some tunes, mainly through Dubuisson's bass. Yes, we're very much into the typical mid-70's fusion wit the usual prog-quartet line-up, so it's not like the fusionhead will be unsettled, as there are plenty of 100 MPH tracks, namely the excellent Mahavishnu-esque Tango. The following Raspoutine is the only track that refers to the Russian-derived album title.

Sometimes things can get a bit funky with Swing Imaginaire (where the group adds some ethnic instruments too), but they can also slow down to a more delicate Air De Famille, which goes through a wide array of ambiances and dynamics, despite being the second- shortest track on the album ? this also goes for the album-shortest Aux Images. The album's highlight is the slow-starting Ode To Mars that slowly evolves in a scorching rapid- fire fusion, but the closing Amphitheatre Magique is also fine in my book, and the only time on the album where you'll hear some choirs.

So in terms of accessibility of the music, Nicolas II is easier to get into, but not that much more than their debut foetus album, of which most of the album is featured in the bonus tracks (read my review of that album in the specific Foetus page). Sooo don't expect Nicolas to sound like Triton, strictly on the assumption that it is the follow-up album, but think of an up-graded but wiser (no violin or choirs) Foetus album. A typical 70's JR/F album but also their more conventional (IMHO), a bit like there were dozens of them around at the time.

Report this review (#549256)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hailing from the more fusion-influenced side of zeuhl, Potemkine combine the more urgent- sounding aspects of the Mahavishnu Orchestra with a Magma-influenced zeuhl underbelly to create a hybrid which fans of both musical styles can appreciate. Those who dig what the RIO crowd or the more complex Canterbury units were doing in the late 1970s may also enjoy the album for its experimental take on jazz-rock (an element which underpinned many Canterbury and Rock In Opposition groups during the era). It's certainly much easier going than much Zeuhl or RIO too, so it may be a more accessible entry point to both of those styles than, say, the iconic albums by Magma or Henry Cow.
Report this review (#1130026)
Posted Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars A rough hidden gem of zeuhl. Potemkine plied a fusion infused take on the genre that on paper looks particularly wonderful. I went into this album with high expectations, hoping for a smashing take on zeuhl-fusion ruminating on the revolutions in Russia over the course of 1917. What I and every listener got was a decent yet ever catchy zeuhl-fusion rather not in the spirit the title and track names implied. It was a smaller form of the disappointment I got from "Romantic Warrior". The reason it wasn't so much of a let down was that it did grow on me to a degree; the band does play some good music, and it can and does draw a listener in. The opener is especially wonderful, and is what grabs you and keeps you listening through all the album's ups and downs. This is rather unique and enjoyable stuff, it just doesn't live up to potential. A lesser favourite of mine, results may vary but this is worth a try.
Report this review (#1323166)
Posted Thursday, December 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With this, the final album release from the French band that had its start in the Zeuhl world, we hear less of the influences of Zeuhl and more of the melodic jazz fusion in the vein of contemporaries NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN, NATIONAL HEALTH, BRAND X, RETURN TO FOREVER, and BRUFORD. Too bad the Brothers Goubin decided to call it quits: they were quite talented and definitely made some nice contributions to the progressive rock scene.

1. "Tango Panache" (6:18) very nice playing with a very engaging structure and melodies--sounds a lot like Al DiMeola and NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN. (9/10)

2. "Raspoutine" (5:56) more in the WETHER REPORT wheelhouse, there are some strong keyboard foundations here despite the Corrado Rustici-like guitar lead play. The bass and drumming sound and feel so close to the WEATHER REPORT style. Even the main melodies scream out WEATHER REPORT. Nice electric piano work. (8.5/10)

3. "Theme Pour Un Swing Imaginaire" (5:37) funked up jazz like STANLEY and AL were playing at this time. Great play by Dominique Dubuisson on the bass and by Michel Goubin on the keys. The dirty yet speedy guitar play reminds me more of Ray Gomez than either Al Di or CORRADO here. No, there is no Zeuhl here; this is all-out, funked up jazz-rock fusion. (8.25/10)

4. "Air De Famille" (3:19) opens with some more sensitive WEATEHR REPORT-like keyboard-dominated music within which drums and fretless bass play nice supporting roles while electric guitar tries to lead the way--though on this song Charles seems just a little out of sync with the other musicians--his attempts at John McLaughlin-isms either fail or are just off tempo. (8.25/10)

5. "Ode De Mars" (5:23) starts rather benignly before clavinet, bass, and drums bounce into something a little more lively at the end of the first minute. Once the tempo and structure are established and Michel is doing his magic at filling the sound palette, guitarist/brother Charles tries to steal the show with his guitar play. But it's always Michel's keyboards that seem to own the heart and soul of the music. Charles does reach some nice heights in the fourth minute, but Michel is so smooth, so effortless, so cool! (8.75/10)

6. "Aux Images" (2:41) some pretty Chick Corea-like piano sets up and maintains the foundation of this song well into the second minute while other key boards and percussion instruments have joined in and have added their magical little embellishments. Nice piece; probably the best song on the album; definitely my favorite. (5/5)

7. "Amphitheatre Magique" (6:45) a solid song in the style of the slower, more steady-paced Chick Corea/Return to Forever songs, this song has the most hints at any remnants of Zeuhl the band may still harbor with some of the bridges and transitions as well as Philippe Goubin's fine drumming--also in the nice shift at the five minute mark-- but the final section is a return to J-RF. (14/15)

Four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially those lovers of 1970s Jazz-Rock Fusion. For those of you really looking for the Zeuhl be forewarned: There is little or no Zeuhl here.

Report this review (#2136099)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars There is no Zeuhl! Potemkine's final album slightly follows the Magma release of 1978 (Attahk) in moving away from 'traditional' Zeuhl, but even more apparent here given it is fully instrumental. There's still the Canterbury-style elements in what is more of an experimental Jazz Fusion album. Heavy on the funk in parts, particularly "Theme Pour Un Swing Imaginaire" and a generally happy feel throughout. Electric piano is dominant in most tracks with a rolling bass and drums too. I did find the tracks rather blended into each other which is either a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. Its an accessible, easy listen, which you don't often expect with something filed under the Zeuhl genre.

Nothing negative to say, but its a fairly middling jazz fusion album really. But not a bad way for Potemkine to end their run of albums

Report this review (#2576539)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2021 | Review Permalink

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