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Robert Bériau

Symphonic Prog

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Robert Bériau Selfishness - Source Of War & Violence album cover
3.24 | 15 ratings | 9 reviews | 7% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Agoraphobia (5:45)
2. Terrorism: A Two Actors Play (4:53)
3. Blind Heart (9:47)
4. Last Call for a Change (6:31)
5. The Rats Leave the Sinking Ship (4:05)
6. Self-contempt Behavior or Social Poverty (7:48)
7. Time Fracture (5:51)
8. Thoughts Are Not Enough (4:01)
9. Homeless (If Only!) (6:09)
10. Hoping on the Next Generation (10:28)

Total time: 65:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Bériau / acoustic & electric guitars, piano, Mellotron, keyboards, synth, flute, bass, percussion, vocals, composer & producer

- Catherine Denis Gagnon / backing vocals (9)
- Lee Levin / drums (1)
- Elad Fish / drums (4,6,8,10)

Releases information

Artwork: Robert Bériau

CD Beriau International Records ‎- ROB0008 (2008, Canada)

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ROBERT BÉRIAU Selfishness - Source Of War & Violence ratings distribution

(15 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (60%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ROBERT BÉRIAU Selfishness - Source Of War & Violence reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Selfishness: Source of War & Violence" is the sophomore effort by Quebecois multi-instrumentalist Robert Bériau. He has shared his profession and expertise in the financial world with his own musical interests, managing a label created by him and creating music. His multitask duties on guitars, keyboards, bass and flute have now the addition of lead vocals for this "Selfishness" album. The vocal thing is not his forte, and it shows, but he decided to assume the role because of the personal nature inherent to the album's overall concept (an observation of how many forms selfishness can adopt and how much hurt these varied forms can cause on people, society and the environment), and that includes the sung tracks. The sound production is also another uneven item of the album, since in many passages it sounds too flat to successfully convey the evocative moments when the synth layers abound or the power working on the harder passages. Anyway, the material is very good in terms of composition and very well developed in terms of arrangements. The artistic result stated in the album's repertoire is quite eclectic, actually, with a notable alternation of hard-edged moments, slow reflective moods and stylish symphonic passages. 'Agoraphobia' kicks off the album with a prog-metallish vibe, where standard industrial rock and Floydian psychedelia meet in fluid fashion. I have the feeling that the track's potential is not fully developed, but it works fine as an opener. 'Terrorism: A Two Actors Play' is more developed, managing to emphasize the symphonic factor that on the previous song was just lying underneath. 'Blind Heart' bears a cosmic lyricism, stating a mixture of "Wish You Were Here"- era Pink Floyd and 70s Hackett: the soaring synth layers and eerie guitar leads build dreamy nuances over the perfectly harmonized acoustic guitars. This magic is so well accomplished that the track's 9+ minute span never gets boring. 'Last Call for a Change' is an instrumental that can mixes symphonic bombast (UK, Yes) and space-rock, with a noticeable jazz-rock cadence provided in no small degree by drummer Elad Fish. This is a very robust piece, indeed. 'The Rats Leave the Sinking Ship' has a first section that states a return to the aura of constrained power that had been traced by the opener early on; its second section is more introverted. 'Selfcontempt Behavior or Social Poverty' reminds me of Clearlight, as if it were under a refurbished treatment: spacey symphonic rock with an extra charge of fusion-oriented sensibility, with a very classicist piano and heavily cosmic synths that jointly elaborate a tight dynamics. The passage featuring pipe organ and soft, dreamy lead guitar might as well remind us of 76-79 Tangerine Dream. 'Time Fracture' is a somber ballad, Hammill-style (it might as well been from "The Silent Corner" or "Over"). The lyrics portraying a man's anger for his daughter's assassination are delivered with more discontent than sadness. Fish's drumming brings a solid jazzy foundation to the rather spacey 'Thoughts Are Not Enough', which once again reiterates the dreamy aspect of Bériau's musical vision. 'Homeless (If Only!)' starts with an ambient mood until the main body reveals another Hammill-esque ballad: its introspective mystery reminds me of the "What Now?" album, a more contemporary Hammill, that is. The closer is 'Hoping On the Next Generation', which completes a powerful amalgam of space-rock, introspective symphonic rock and jazz-rock nuances that have been prevalent throughout the album's framework. Even though I feel that the linkage of motifs doesn't get to be completely cohesive, it bears enough sonic power to close down the album efficiently. All in all, "Selfishness: Source of War & Violence" is a very interesting input for the current prog rock scene: Robert Bériau shows his enthusiasm and talent equally.
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Robert Beriau is a very skilled multi-instrumentalist and composer from Canada. Beriau made a name on the musical local scene a few decades ago and appeared in various musical projects. This third solo album has been published in 2008 by his own music company. For the occasion it features various international guest musicians. Conceptually this album reflects a serene and comprehensive meditation on various sources of human conflicts, global violence and inequality which prevail nowadays in a burning "world-society". It expresses a a certain fear, anxiety for a near future but it is also supposed to deliver a message of hope and humility for a better existence. Musically speaking we are in common, familiar musical territories: This album is an achieved balance between 70's classic proggy influences and mellow prog metal. We can also notice the presence of quiet spaced out rockin' passages. Agoraphobia starts with one of the most metallic-furious compositions punctuated by detached-suspensful guitar leads. Terrorism: a two actors play is an interesting piece which is musically a strange medley between VDGG-ish nervous emotion and moody-plaintive background synthscapes. Blind Heart is a sonic soundscape including a nice, dreamy-like acoustic guitar-piano duet . Hoping on the next generation closes the album with a complex collision of musical styles, from ambient jazz to mainstream epic metal and proggy melodic interludes. No so strong, innovative or challenging but beautifully composed, constantly moving with the aspiration of the ancient prog-ish time.
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars First of all, thanks to Progarchives and Robert Beriau for providing this album as one of the review giveaway awards.

The first thing that comes to mind after listening to this album is how much many of the songs here sound like Peter Hammill. Not only does Beriau's voice sound identical to PH, but also his phrasing, lyrics, and melodies. It's eerie. But I like Hammill's music very much, so I also enjoy this album. There appear to be other influences as well, most noticably Pink Floyd.

Nonetheless, Beriau, who plays all the instuments on this album, save some of the drums, has given us a beautiful album of interesting prog. His mastery of all the instuments played is impressive, and his songwriting, despite the above listed references, is somewhat unique.

This is a pleasant addition to my collection.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Also I want to give my thanks to PA and Max for allowing me to enjoy this musician (who I would otherwise not intentionally overlook) via Monthly Giveaways (by the way great feature, possibilities of promoting artists are big) and mostly Robert Bériau for making this album and his kind words.

As every multi-instrumentalist, I admire this. Something that not everyone can do. But in case of one project (one man) I've heard few months ago, it can result in something not so good (in this case it was using of electronic drummer, something that I can't stand a lot - fortunately, most of drums here are real people drumming and if electronic is present here [important word - if], then it's rare and not so clear - possible in The Rats Leave the Sinking Ship). Overall feeling about this album is great. I like the sound of 70s here (even it's 2008 release), great nostalgia. I had little problem with vocals, but just from beginning, then I somehow get used to them and now I like singing style quite a lot. Really not singer in classical way, but more like Peter Hammill style - give it some time and you'll be rewarded with unique performance. Very emotional, which brings another dimension to this music. And nope, for me, power metal singers are not emotional, they just shout as much as possible.

So presuming that Robert Beriau's style can be similar to Peter Hammill's one, I can't hold back though that this album is then actually better than "Fool's Mate". What a treasure I won. Maybe bold though, maybe just daring, maybe simply foolish (what a ironic pun to "Fool's Mate"), but for sure, there's some truth in it.

Another great advantage of Selfishness (by the way interesting title, promising concept album, which may be here, but I didn't notice it. I'm not good at these things) is that it's eclectic a lot. Incorporating many different styles, elements and parts (we have a saying from one fairy tale, how doggy and kitty were making big cake made from many different ingredients, but it's fortunately not this case) and it works. Mostly. This would be maybe most prominent flaw of this album, some of them just doesn't fit me. But yeah, that can be just me and my taste. Anyway, most of them makes me feel good (or in other words, I like them), so that's nothing bad. The problem i that I don't find any problem.

as I'll make another bold move with being second rater (and first reviewer) to give this stars. I wanted to be neutral (even the fact that I get this for cheap helped me obtaining it a lot) and rate fairly, but the result looks like this. Masterpiece. Emotional depths without needless emotions (attacking my senses with brutal onslaught, or cheap copying of melodies, nope, none of this is here).

It's not optimistic, shiny happy people album, it's quite dark. But done in good dark light.

EDIT: one half a star lower rating. For now, I wasn't decided whether 4 better, or 5 worse, so I'm now. Mostly because of first two tracks, they're quite ambient and long, filled with just a few things. But 4(+) because other tracks counter-weight this.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Listened to this album, I returned to it time to time. Sometimes you are listening to new album and can stop doing it till the last sound. It doesn't happen with this album.

From very first sounds I was intrigued by melodic, a bit dark, slightly melancholic atmosphere. Guitar lines, keyboard lines. I could say I like this music, but very soon (after few songs) I just realised I need some more spices in this music. Mid tempo music with similar angular constructions, some interesting sounds quite soon became too much ... repetitive. Not enough drama, nothing happens.

Then I just made a pause, and after some time started to listen album from the place I stopped. Absolutely same feeling. Few first songs sounds quite attractive, than you feel as you're watching the same movie once again.

Possibly, this problem is common for many multi instrumentalists' works. First of all it's extremely difficult to play many instruments at the same high level. But even bigger problem is that in fact very important (if not most important) instrument become studio itself. Using endless overlays, it's so easy to kill all dynamics of previously live music.

We are learned it still from Mike Oldfield's sound many-layers production company. Not too many things changed from that time. Earlier this year great guitarist Pat Metheny tried to solve this problem recorded his real solo album "Orchestrion", when he played all instruments himself, but used Robotics and mechanical devices to have possibility to play as much instruments at the same time as possible. He even had a world tour, demonstrating this techniques live during concerts. For sure, it is much easier way to do it, using computers, but then you will miss this live sound again. So, Pat Metheny partially solved this problem, his album sounds if not very special, but not frozen and lifeless. But it's a rare example.

So, there on Selfishness... unhappily this problem exists in its full. Having it's great moments, album in all sounds very static, lifeless, sometimes repetitive.

Possibly, it's difficult to suggest something new there: I believe same material, played with a band of competent musicians, could sound much better. But - even there enthusiastic fan of symphonic prog will find many pleasant moments to listen.

Review by thehallway
2 stars A multi-instrumentalist a la Oldfield with an apparently Hammill-esque voice, delivers a message that could have easily fabricated another angry Roger Waters album; but it lacks the power of our Floydian friend. And unfortunately, the music doesn't save it.

Vocally, Beriau has an unnerving skill, but his timbre is hardly unique. And the extensive vocal treatments used on this record actually make it rather difficult to hear the lyrics. The occasional sentence comes through, and it's usually phrases like "[%*!#]ing politician" or "rising sea levels"; issues which, in my opinion, are already dull and depressing (if not clichéd in the music world). But nevertheless, I looked forward to the prog itself, having read about Beriau's skills on multiple instruments. I was somewhat disappointed in this area too though.

It is prominently modern-sounding keyboard 'scapes with drenchy guitar melodies, but neither are played to an impressive standard. And I can hear you saying "It doesn't matter how impressive it is if it has emotion and power!"- this is true, but emotion and power are also lacking here. Maybe that's being harsh; there may be a maximum of ONE emotion present, but this emotion is the frustration or bitterness that you would expect from reading the album's title, and it grows boring after the first 3 or 4 songs. It's the same problem Waters' had after he abandonded the rest of his band; single-minded albums with mediocre players and little dynamic or harmonic variation. Sometimes saxes, flutes, and other exotic keyboards threaten to join in the mix, but they stay for a mere phrase or two and leave again. There are tinklings of percussion and and effects which are also used sparingly, a shame.

This album also has a huge range in it's production quality. Some songs are way over-produced, drenched in over-the-top effects and literal decoration, while others sound almost like a rehearsal, especially in the drum department (I can't tell if it's an incredibly complex time-signature, or if the drummer is simply out of time). Both extremes diminish the quality of the songwriting, which isn't all that bad. It just suffers from lashings of melodic cliché and a far too overbearing concept. And the murky, deep sound does represent the concept well, but that doesn't make it automatically good; I would prefer some variation on such a long symphonic prog album.

To conclude, this is a mediocre prize from Prog Archives (much appreciated nonetheless) with rather predictable content. It suffers from the Oldfield syndrome, as mentioned by Snobb, and is mostly lifeless. But there are moments to enjoy for someone I'm sure. Owners of Beriau's previous album will probably have more luck.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The second album from this Canadian multi-instrumentalist. The first thing that stood out to me was the Peter Hammill like vocals. Wasn't expecting that. I've heard very little recent Symphonic Prog, so I didn't know what to expect with this album. There is a guest vocalist and a guest drummer here, but most songs do not feature drums and Robert himself does the lead vocals. The album is a concept about problems in the world which are reflected in the lyrics. The music is generally moody, not upbeat or happy.

"Agoraphobia" is the most rocking song. I like the bass sound at the start; don't know if that's a bass guitar or a synth, but I like it. The riffs here are pretty good. Nice echoed vocal effect at one point. Gets more mellow in the middle with a guitar solo. "Terrorism: A Two Actors Play" has some interesting keyboard work. "Blind Heart" has a nice mix of guitars and keyboards. I like the almost metal guitar playing done on phased guitar. Later some good acoustic guitar playing and symphonic synths before an electric guitar solo. After some cool phased synths and the acoustic guitar playing gets more interesting. Then a short synth solo followed by some piano. Great instrumental.

"Last Call For A Change" reminds me of Soft Machine at the start; nice electric piano sound. "Self Contempt Behaviour Or Social Poverty" and "Time Fracture" begin with the exact same bass line. "Time" is "Self" all over again but now with atmospheric synths. Has the same lyrics as "Self" with some addition lyrics I think. Both songs have a nice cello sound at one point. "Hoping On The Next Generation" has what sounds like two overdubbed basses passing notes back and forth. Next to the first song, this is the only other one where the drums are important. Love the organ over halfway with the martial drumming. Nice string-synths later on.

I like this the more I hear it. There are some cool guitar tones here using chorus and phaser. The bass playing is generally enjoyable. Some overdubbed vocal effects in places. The drums I find to be mixed too low, but maybe that was on purpose. This is a good album but I think there is an audience out there that would enjoy this more than me. To me, this album is good but not essential. 3 stars.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars First, let me present my excuses to Robert who took the trouble to send me the actual CD instead of the virtual album when I won it through PA's contest. And the real shame is that I almost immediately lost it, without hearing a single note: I thought it had fallen out of the car from the passenger seat and it was irremediably lost, but when doing a recent full vacuuming of the then-brand new car (there had been intermediary cleaning, but not this thorough), I found out that the album had indeed slipped out of the seat, but on the inside and sat hidden away from view. Soooooo, I'm now trying to catch up time, and still "waste" some by saying once again: sorry!

I'm generally not fond of these solo projects, where the sole composer/musician does everything himself, including recording/mixing and artwork (here, an amateur computer photo-montage) to go along. And when I first re-set my eyes on the present, I was thinking of the Ere G Québecois fellow, whose sole album was quite disappointing, despite many glowing reviews. It turns out that many of the flaws found in these solo projects are still present here, but it's less apparent that they are flaws. Indeed, when doing an album from A to Z (except for D and V which are occasional drumming and backing vocals), one single person cannot get much input or corrections from the other participants, since there aren't any. But Beriau gets away from this danger with much talent and a solid dose of talent, because outside his obvious influences and an over-ambitious concept (partly about violence against women to which he contributes), by the third track, I'm sucked into his world, which is fairly rare with these prog concept albums of the last two decades. One of my main concerns is the lyrics, translated (sometimes approximately) from French, but sung fairly convincingly in English.

You're not immediately snatched away from your seat after push the play button. Indeed, it does take the first track, which happens to be the harder rocking piece of the album, and the intro is actually somewhat of a mild repellent with the gothic ambiances and vocals, followed by almost metallic crunchy chords, but by the end of Agoraphobia, your first fears should've disappeared. With the second Terrorism track, the slow slide comes with the Hammill-ian vocals and slow melodies, and by the time the almost 10-mins Blind Heart starts, you're under the spell, despite some weak symphonic synth sounds, but as soon as Beriau's slow but sensual lead guitar soaring over his acoustic guitar arpeggios hits your eardrums, you're hooked. Once the mellotrons enters, you're pulled in an early Genesis or Harmonium spell and all hopes of escaping are useless. With the amazing 6-mins+ Last Call For A change, Robert's Dionne-Brégent influences (debut album mostly) are just tearing your sanity apart, first with the use of keys, ten strings and with an outstanding flute. The Graaf/Hammill-ian soundscapes and dramatics return with The Sinking Ship, and the spell cast is now turning into an addiction. Next is what Beriau call the B-side, which opens on the instrumental Selfcontempt (sic) with heavy-phased-echoing synth then a haunting piano that veers to the "Dantesque" until a church organ (not sure it's the real thing) brings a Froesian guitar solo, before a Graaf- esque ending wraps it up. A heavy bass is announcing a Time Fracture, and you'd swear that PH is at the helm and behind the console. That very same bass (this time, a bit Floydian ala Sheep) comes back for the instrumental Thoughts Are Not Enough, which is another superb instrumental piece. Another slow piece, where Robert's vocals gets a feminine intro and outro, courtesy of a certain Catherine, but Homeless ends in near- suicidal ambiance. The crunchy guitars come back for the closing Next Generation, where the Dionne-Brégent keyboards come back, but the almost 11-mins track recaps most ogf the album's important musical passages.

A big surprise really, given that I wasn't expecting much when I had first opened the cardboard envelope fallen in my postal mailbox. Of course, I'm generally not very appreciative of works that show way too openly their influences on their sleeves, but for some reasons, Beriau's album makes the exception that confirms the rule. It's now been three months since this album has been spinning regularly, and this is about three times the time-lapse that I devote to most post-70's works, so this in itself is already quite an achievement. No doubt I'll investigate his other (previous) works, once given the chance.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I got this album many, many fullmoons ago as a prize in PA's lottery. I should have reviewed it loooong time ago too, but I forgot. Shame on me. The reason may be that this is not exactly easy listening, this album. It is nominally a symphonic prog album. But it has a lot more to it than sympho ... (read more)

Report this review (#450828) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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