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Xaal En Chemin album cover
3.68 | 30 ratings | 3 reviews | 3% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1 Child (L'Enfant) (6:25)
2 Walk (Ballade) (Version) (5:32)
3 Hhunk's Garden (le Jardin) (3:58)
4 On the Way (en Chemin) (6:37)
5 Talisman (5:14)
6 Old Butterfly Hunter (le Vieux Chasseur de Papillons) (7:40)
7 Ascension (6:38)
8 Byblos (11:09)
9 Final (:52)

Line-up / Musicians

Nicolas Neimer Bass
Xaal Arranger, Performer, Main Performer
Jad Ayache Synthesizer, Guitar (Synthesizer), Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Guitar Synth
Patrick Boileau Percussion, Drums, Engineer
Alain Guillard Sax (Tenor)
Yvon Guillard Trumpet
Stephane Jaoui Keyboards

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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XAAL En Chemin ratings distribution

(30 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(3%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(63%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

XAAL En Chemin reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really

In the lenghty French prog tradition of heavily Crimson inspired bands (such Carpe Diem, Shylock and recently Nebelnest), came out in the early 90's Xaal, a guitar-lead trio that gets some help either from a keyboardist on some tracks and some brass section in other (and both on the second last track). Clearly this instrumental trio was at the top of their game and from these years, there were not many new generation groups that were able to top them.

Starting out on three very familiar APP notes, the album is a conceptual piece about a Child's way to his destiny and the tricks, traps and other obstacles of life on his road to fulfilment. Yes, these guys have clearly heard some King Crimson, but they are jazzier than the Fripp boys, but there are ever-so subtle hints of Magma also.

Not everything is perfect on the album, most notably the weak KB on the closing moments of the title track but on the whole, the album holds its own without ever being really brilliant either. The climax of the album comes with the second-last 11-min Byblos (and its incredible middle section where the brass section is contributing to the madness that Alamaailman Vasarat would make theirs a decade later, and the incredibly violent Final.

Not an easy listen for casual progheads, partly due to the instrumental nature of their music, Xaal's first album is certainly worth a spin, but nothing absolutely essential either.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Xaal's first album was quite a revelation for the prog scene in the early 90s. The mixture of Crimson trend, jazz-rock and regular melodic symph prog that the band developed across this album's repertoire felt really amazing, regarding that it was really mature for a debut and for such young musicians. Also, you will find lots of energy in the trio's performances and a clever use of complexity in the arrangements: at times, that complexity is enhanced by the use of some RIO-inspired tricks, like dark ambiences and subtle dissonant textures. "En Chemin" is really great, from beginning to end. The opener 'L'enfant' is related to the KC-meets-Camel aura that Shylock recreated and mastered some time ago. 'Ballade' goes to the fresher vibes of funky-jazz, with the added intervention of a duet of sax and trumpet that helps the basic trio to fulfill properly the joyful demands of the basic jam. 'Hkunk's Garden' retakes the path of track 1, only including some exotic flavors in the main theme; just to keep the logic working, I guess, the title track, track no. 4, displays a predominant jazzy colorfulness just like track 2 did, but this time, including some disturbing adornments in the interlude that may remind the listener of some sort of accessible RIO. 'Talisman' is driven softly and tastefully through the trend of fusion, portraying a patently modern sound, like some sort of Tribal Tech without a background of digital synths. After a mysterious and subtly dense guitar-synth intro, 'Le Vieux Chasseur de Papillons' follows a similar path to that of the title track: the energetic climax that is built up before the closing reprise of the intro theme shows how powerful this trio was. 'Ascension' finds the band exploring seriously and deeply their taste for accessible RIO: the darkness of the motifs and counterpoints is elegantly achieved, although perhaps a little more strength could have been used here. But strength is what is not missing at all in the 11-minute 'Byblos', which installs a "Red"-era KC vibe on a solid jazz-rock basis during the first part. Then comes a languid interlude based on aleatory guitar and synth layers, from which the dissonant fire of the second part emerges in a majestic way. This time, the use of guests on brass instruments serves as a vehicle for RIO mannerisms, helping to build up a climax. This is the richest number in the album. The frenzy of the 1-minute 'Finale' sounds like a funny impersonation of the release of inner demons: a surprising, joyful way to end a great album.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars XAAL were an all instrumental band from France who put out two great records in the nineties. There is a mixture of Rio, Zeuhl and Jazz in this their debut, and more than once I was reminded of both CAMEL and KING CRIMSON.This seems to be some sort of a concept album as there is a little written blurb with each song to read, but the concept is vague to say the least. The music though is crystal clear. Cool to see the Guillard brothers here on horns, they've both played in MAGMA and WEIDORJE.

"L'Enfant" has such beautiful sounding guitar melodies (Latimer-like) with light drums. As bass comes in 4 1/2 minutes in the song changes with uptempo, passionate passages coming and going. The drumming is fantastic ! "Ballade" is a good uptempo song with the focus on the guitar and drums with sax and trumpet adding some flavour. "Le Jardin" opens with the birds singing as an intricate guitar melody with bass comes in. Drums follow as the guitar gets more aggressive. I'm reminded of CAMEL a minute in. "En Chemin" is quite a ride as it opens with piano, bass, drums and guitar. The tempo changes often and the song gets intense 3 minutes in before changing completely 4 minutes in to a jazzy little number. Synth-guitar and light drums as the song builds after 5 minutes.

"Talisman" opens with some beautiful sounding guitar as bass and light drums come for the ride. The guitar is more raw after 4 minutes. "Le Vieux Chasseur De Papillons" opens with lots of atmosphere that lasts for 2 minutes before some tasteful guitar comes in. Great sound 5 minutes in. "Ascension" has a dark and heavy intro with Fripp-like guitar that slowly grinds out angular melodies. The song stops completely 2 minutes in and restarts with a different guitar melody as the song continues to unfold. The wind is blowing to end it. "Byblos" is dominated by guitar and drums before a blistering guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. We get an atmospheric section 2 minutes later with some synth-guitar before a climate change 8 1/2 minutes in of horns and drums. The final track "Final" is less then a minute long. It sounds like someone breathing hard and then yelling as drums pound to a dramatic ending.

Just an excellent release with amazing instrumental work that should satisfy Zeuhl, Rio and Jazz lovers alike.

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