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Taal Skymind album cover
4.10 | 149 ratings | 15 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Skymind (9:53)
2. Yellow Garden (7:38)
3. Blind Child (6:10)
4. The Purple Queen's Lips (9:48)
5. The Egg Shapped Moon (9:07)
6. Stratus (13:24)

Total Time: 56:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Anthony Gabard / acoustic & electric guitars
- Sébastien Constant / keyboards
- David Dosnon / bass
- Igot Polisset / drums

- Hélène Sonnet / flute, vocals (3)
- Manu Fournier / violin, saxophone
- Gaelle Deblonde / violin
- Manue Bouriaud / viola
- Mehdi Rossignol / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Loïc Bernardeau

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4483.AR (2003, France)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TAAL Skymind ratings distribution

(149 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

TAAL Skymind reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Definitely more of a group effort than their debut , it is also more coherent and does not wander north , south east and west. However , the whole album in one shot is a lot at once because it might be a little too homogenic.(no , it does not mean that they are destined to be gay, you wise-arse). In concert the two drummers take the front center of the stage and face each other and the other eight musician take place around them , the brass boys and girls at the rear behind the skin pounders. This is certainly good times music at times going in RIO ground, gypsy/jewish music/folk , zeuhl music and some type of jazz ( Django Reinhardt). Fun for about one hour but by the end of the concert , i was really happy to be the first one out.
Review by el böthy
4 stars Taal is a band hard not to like if one is a prog fan. hard indeed. They are just so full of complexity, humor, intelligent musicianship and funny French accents it's not easy to say no to them. ah, and to top it all, they are really good at it! And if that isn't enough, and if this might scare some non hardcore prog fans away, they manage to be totally accessible, it's not hard to get into them (hard is the key word people).

Skyminds is the bands second and latest album to date (hopefully that will change. soon I expect!!!) and unlike their first one it's more of a group's effort. It's also better, if I may say so. The musicianship is tighter, more focused and has more of an edge than their previous work. It also sounds more modern and richer, due thanks to the fact that there are. more instruments present (duh!).

The album starts with some static radio sounds before beginning to. change from station to station, always with a new background music until the listener is left with some (almost) trip hop drum beat. Skymind has begun. Followed by cellos and that disorientated guitar that is a trademark in Taal´s music the song begins to mutate as it goes faster and faster with every passing guitar riff. Then, it all becomes a controlled mess, Taal never looses control of what they do, it only seems like it sometimes, but repetitive listening will uncover their mysterious use of this method. The songs keeps on mutating( changing is just to clean and. well, mutating just sounds so much cooler in this case). The vocals are, in English with a veeeeeeeeery French accent that suits the music for they give it a sense of comedy already presented with the instrumentation, but with vocals it just gets better and funnier.

That's pretty much the story of all songs, but don't be alarmed, they do not copy-past themselves! Every song has something different to offer, and if I may say so, quite a lot actually. These guys really took their time here (three years in fact) to make every song as strong as possible and every note as good as the last one. Apart from Skyminds, which I consider to be their best I must mention Yellow Garden, Blind Child, The Purple Queen's Lips, The Egg Shapped Moon and Stratus! .wait a tick. did I just mention every song on the album for recommendation...? oh, yes I did! YES I DID!!!

Recommended to any Art rock, Fusion, Metal, Symphonic, Folk, Celtic, Rio, Avant Garde, Zeuhl, Trip Hop, comedian, white, black, Chinese, Turkish, Latin, young, old, married, happily married, single, swinger, Dream Theater lover, Dream Theater hater, maniac, school teacher, blogger, doctor, lawyer, constructor, architect, painter, homeless, tall, short, girl, man, woman, E.T., dancer, Kevin Costner, hungry, naked, n00b, mother. just get the damn album!!!

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Bienvenue au théâtre du rock-progressif

Welcome to the theater of Progressive Rock.

Creative, original, fun, complex, dynamic and beautiful. Those only begin to tell the story of this album, and yet can't even scratch the surface of an attempt to describe its brilliance.

Spell-binding. That is the effect the music Taal composes and plays has on me. It literally grabs my whole and undivided attention, holds it focused for the entire spectacle which is this album. It is pure bliss to hear the chant-like vocals in the title track Skymind as it ascends to an explosion continued by a frantic violin. It is ecstatic to enjoy the intricacies of their complex songs like The Egg-Shaped Moon. It is a delight to have the French folk sound "intrude" into Blind Child.

Being true to the spirit of past French rock-progressif, Taal's music, is an auditory exhibition; a manifest of talent, creativeness and originality; and a mélange of influences and sounds. Theirs is a truly forward progressing movement of musical search, a way to express themselves differently while using the known instruments and tools of the trade. They can play a hard edged rock theme and then switch to a light-headed tune and backwards seamlessly. They like to mingle those circus- or parade-like sounding themes, showing their happy and humoristic side, counterbalancing the seriousness of other components.

Part of the magic of the band, comes from its expanded lineup and its instrumentation. The use of saxophone, violin, viola, cello and flute alongside the conventional rock instruments adds a special flavour to their sound. It's not only the sound, but the way those instruments are used. Whether as giving a more weird or eccentric feeling, or serving as a lead role, the instruments are an imperative part of the TAALian sound. The drums as well have a very important role. Take for instance the opening of Skymind where electronic drums are used, and are then joined by the "real" drums. The combination works wonferfully, showing the aspiration of TAAL to mingle what may seem as too opposing routes. As an aside, Polisset the drummer is doing a wonderful job with the drums, giving exactly what each track needs. This can be said about all the musician here. It seems that each one gives exactly what is needed; not more and not less. There is no one major lead, no one overshadowing the others. Each instrument gets its fair share of play at the appropriate time and place.

The music itself can be of the most relaxing nature and then change to super energetic and crunchy-riff guitar lead rock; there are great guitar-violin interplays, fantastic discussions between those instruments. A carnival atmosphere in some of the songs is also evident, further accentuated by the vocal and their frisky style (Yellow Garden, Skymind). The carnivalesque and folkish elemets are also quite prominent, and the addition of a heavy guitar sound only serves to emphasize it and serves as a good contrast. This fantastic amalgam works wonderfully, and is part of what gives the band its uniqueness.

Taal manages to capture the essence of rock, carnival/circus, classic and folk (French and other) and bring it to life with their talent and vision; make it into a piece of art that is much more than its ingredients - this synergy of elements, is the beauty and magic of music. This is a band not afraid to experiment and be adventurous; but not in the sense that is found in avant-rock bands, but in the sense of looking for ways to expand their sound into new territories and yet keep it clearly TAALesque. They bring not a new wind of change to the music scene; they are a hurricane of talent. I'd compare their novelty and creativeness to that heard on Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's Of Natural History. Not only is it good; it is novel, relies on the past to create something new and is not afraid to go out there and try something new.

If I was in a band, I would wish to make music of their style and level.

What more to ask from a band? Another one like this.

4.5 stars in PA scale

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars The heaviness that is prominant throughout this album reminds me of SHINING's "Grindstone" record and also the band SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM. All three bands are quite unique and different from one another, yet I could see how a fan of one of those bands would like the other two as well. The heaviness is contrasted well with lots of acoustic stringed instruments for a more dramatic affect. Oh yeah, this is a concept album(don't ask me what it's about) even though the lyrics are in English.

"Skymind" opens with someone trying to find a station on their radio, it also ends the same way. A steady drum beat is joined by violin and heavy riffs.The rhythm section is very explosive throughout this disc. Vocals before 3 minutes go from a whisper to a shout. Solo violin before piano joins in. Vocals are back with riffs. It's building. Some great guitar before xylophone comes in. These themes are repeated. "Yellow Garden" opens with piano, then drums and violin come in suddenly. Vocals arrive as it calms back down. Lots of tempo changes on this one. It goes from very heavy and bombastic to almost a whisper at times. "Blind Child" builds slowly as piano and violin create an almost waltz-like rhythm. The song builds and collapses until 2 1/2 minutes in when female vocals arrive. She also plays flute on this one.

"The Purple Queen's Lips" hits the ground running as the guitar trades solos with the violin until the flute comes in. Bass is prominant as vocals arrive. Guitar and violin continue to duke it out. Some nice angular guitar before a scorching solo 2 1/2 minutes in. A good heavy soundscape follows. More great guitar after 4 minutes. Processed vocals and violin after 5 minutes.Blistering guitar 2 minutes later and also 8 1/2 minutes in. Lots of violin to end it. "The Egg-Shaped Moon" opens with a heaviness that comes and goes. Some nice bass lines a minute in as violin and then vocals join in. Check out the drumming 3 1/2 minutes in. It calms right down after 5 minutes. The heaviness is back a minute later but not for long. Vocals return 8 minutes in. "Stratus" opens with a spacey calm with different sounds coming and going until guitar comes in heavily at 2 minutes. A nice heavy rhythm follows. It calms down with violin and percussion as drums also join in. Guitar arrives 7 minutes in. It settles down as vocals arrive 9 minutes in. The tempo then starts to pick back up as tempo changes continue. I really like the last three songs on this album the best.

This didn't wow me like I thought it would. Perhaps because i'm not a huge fan of the violin, but I love those heavy guitar passages and there's lots of them. Of the 3 bands I mentioned earlier SHINING has impressed me the most.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The sophomore Taal release, after their stunning opening salvo Mister Green, is even more accomplished, forging new musical adventures with a rarely attempted dual drum attack (Hawkwind, KC, Allman Brothers) that is even more thumpingly percussive than ever and sharpening those precious Taal identities even further with some serious string sections. "Skymind" is a devastating journey, brutally plowing where no man has dared before, polyrhythm central with Anthony Gabard's schizoid guitar clearing the path, remindful of almost where the previous album ended in abject fury. "Yellow Garden" is more contrast laden, a roller coaster ride with early playful Zappaisms colliding head on with the harsh rhythm, bashing, smashing and ultimately trashing the arrangement pitilessly, some hysterical mid-song atmospherics verging on the paranoid and a carnival gypsy violin just to confuse the masses. An obligatory return to more jazz rock extremities flavors "Blind Child", with some wonderful dissonant passages, fueled by the now well embedded string section, forging some turbulent interludes, a sudden very French cabaret torch song with mandolin "accompagnement" and an odd circus fanfare exit. "The Purple Queen's Lips" is a stunning achievement, incorporating multiple moods, from the utterly heavy to the broodingly groovy, bestially prodded along by the pulsating rhythm. These guys do not turn on a dime but rather on a nickel, bold as lightning and swift as the wind. At times the urgency is almost like a zeuhl tornado and then out of the blue, a floating passage keeps the mood schizophrenic until the steam slowly rises beyond the boiling point. A tempestuous lead violin is twined with some weighty chugging axe work, until the valiant Gabard unleashes a sulfuric solo that leaves no prisoners in its wake. The highlight track, "The Egg-Shaped Moon" harkens back to the debut's similarly titled finale "Super Flat Moon", suggesting a different take on the same KC territory but with restrained fury this time, some efficient vocals making this almost occasionally linear, soft passages getting comfortable until the rhythm section decides to spice up the proceedings and usher in some power contrasts. Some pastoral flute keep things comfortably numb, gently escorting the piece to a soft landing. Brilliant! The disc ending epic, the 13+ minute "Stratus" (no, not the Billy Cobham classic) enlists some early atmospherics before dive bombing into some dizzying musical spaces, verging on speed-space with eerie synthesizers blazing amid shredding guitars, waltzing violins, Arabian percussion, Wettonian basscraft and some totally spell binding aural sonics. Anthony Gabard displays some incredible chops, lacerating his strings viciously with total disregard for any collateral damage. The carnival Planet Gong kookiness takes a vaudevillian bow just when you least expect it. Ah! The French, always throw in some new twists just like true gourmets. It becomes evident that Taal really enjoy finishing off albums with some stellar music and this piece is no exception. A maghrebian theme puts this stud to rest! Taal is one of the bands to watch. Part 3 just maybe completely awesome, I shudder at the thought. 5 étaals!
Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Taal is an extended family that holds prog ideals up and hangs on tightly, and this little orchestra's 2003 release is a testament to that. Willing and able to do just about anything, the 10-piece are high-flying acrobats who bounce with ease in and out of twisted folk, ominous black symph, cabaret, doom metal, ritualism, and psychedelic polka. Reminiscent of Floyd's The Wall but far denser and with little social commentary, Skymind is a rich and brilliant tapestry by players with a keen sense of drama and enough musicianship for three bands. Their sound may appeal to fans of Unexpect or even SGM, but Taal achieves a more diverse if less avant-garde effect and gives real meaning to the term "symphonic" with deep pools of strings, ethnic diversity and subtle transitions.

A patchwork of radio tunings begin the ten-minute title, Mehdi Rossignot's cello lingers until the group comes in one by one, the foam of Anthony Gabard's electric guitar, Sebastian Constant's light-filled piano, and seamless drumming pair Loic Bernardeau & Igot Polisset. The piece is not unlike what vintage art rockers High Tide would be doing if they existed today, and 'Yellow Garden' is a logical second movement capering with Eastern European dance but soon has more to say, more darkness, more magma to spew and ends with a fiddle and a folk dance. This leads to 'Blind Child' tributing Edith Piaf's difficult life and takes us to a smoke-filled cafe in France with war just outside the door, weaving cabaret with Bela Bartok. Wonderful, and features Helene Sonnet's flute and Gabard's spot-on nylon string acoustic. 'The Purple Queen's Lips' jumps ugly with deadly spies in every corner waiting to cut your throat, only to relax halfway through with a Floydian refrain. Big and pompous is 'The Egg Shaped Moon' jutting between layers of heavy guitar and eddies of chamber music, and a tar pit of dying creatures opens 13-minute 'Stratus' in an epic battle between a hard rock band and several alien spacecraft in an Egyptian desert, and at some point these realms meet with unexpectedly pleasing results (not to mention a haunting by Jim Morrison). Quite fine stuff, and a potentially great gateway drug to the more outrageous modern prog bands.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Skymind' - Taal (81/100)

I was recently introduced to the world of Taal through their debut album Mister Green, a melange of classic progressive styles the French act quietly delivered to the world back in 2000, without much in the way of fanfare to herald its release. Lamentably, there's every reason to believe Taal have gone their separate ways in the time since, Mister Green nonetheless struck me as the work of a band with great potential. Most of the prog rock subsets you can think of (including metal) were represented at some point on the album, with each song a new opportunity to divulge another influence. Though they ultimately struck me as window-shopping proggers in a search of style they might call home, Taal's passion for progressive music was clearly apparent in how well they could immerse themselves with each style, be it space or jazz rock, classical or folk, heady composition or avant-garde quirk. Theirs was an ambitious first undertaking, and there's merit is calling it an overlooked gem. Even so, Taal's all-encompassing approach suffered the lack of a distinctive, identifying character; this kept their music sounding like a series of song-length excursions into other bands' sounds, rather than a testament they might truly call their own.

With that preface, their second album Skymind startles me. Not only did they find themselves a distinctive sound in the three years between this and Mister Green; they managed to do so by broadening their dense ambitions to an extent unrivalled by the debut. Those, of course, being the same ambitions I thought had originally held Taal back from finding themselves in the first place. Strange things were clearly transpiring for Taal in the first years of the millennium. Skymind almost sounds like the work of a different band altogether. That's not entirely inaccurate, either. Taal effectively doubled their ranks, bringing in another drummer and permanent string section. This completely changed the game for them, and it shows in the music. If Mister Green was the work of a skilful prog rock band, Skymind is the product of a tightly-knit chamber rock ensemble, now with the scope and confidence to wield their eclecticism, but with no loss to the humour and energy of their earlier work.

I was actually talking briefly about this album with a friend last night. He described Skymind (I'm paraphrasing here) as 'classical music played by rock musicians'. It was funny, because a lot of the time I've spent listening to the album, I've had the opposite impression in mind. Regardless, this might go to show that the Taal circa Skymind is and should be judged by a different criteria as its earlier incarnation, which sounded like a prog rock band sounding like other prog rock bands. In my experience with the more eclectic side of prog, I've found it can take a long time before one can safely judge how good the music really is. I'm sure the same could be argued for all music in general, but it's especially true when bands are pushing ideas into their music like there was an 'Everything Must Go' closing sale at the Wholesale House of Riffs. Mister Green took me three or four spins before I could say I'd firmly grasped it. With Skymind, I'm seven listens in (and counting!) and I'm still hearing new things about it. It's not that Skymind is necessarily more jampacked than its predecessor; in fact, it feels as if Mister Green had quite a bit more content to wade through. The biggest change is the way Taal handled their ideas on Skymind, how they've strung them together. It doesn't feel like a rogue's gallery of prog rock styles most of us are already probably well-versed in. Their reach is as varied here as it ever was-- drawing in all between avant-metal and gypsy jazz-- but with Skymind, they became master of these influences, rather than the other way around. These compositions, however diverse they may seem at times, sound like they were written with fealty only to a style Taal were carving out for themselves. I was impressed by the skill with which they tackled each style on the debut, but it's another thing to be hearing them bring those ingredients alongside their own voice.

The biggest change, I think, that's empowered them to take charge has been the string section. Two violins, a viola, and a cello fill out Taal's newfound 'other half'. It's not unheard of that progressive rock band incorporates symphonic influences, but very rarely does a band integrate it to the point that I can't imagine hearing Skymind without the violins. They are a constant presence on the album, swirling about in a way that often compliments, and occasionally even competes with the guitars for my attention. The consonant arrangement for the string section remains the same regardless of the genre Taal are touching upon at the given time. Because the strings are so consistent in their colour throughout each eclectic shift, Skymind sounds coherent and whole.

While I don't think Taal managed to make vocals work in their style (Loic Bernardeau's tongue-in- cheek delivery sounds like a joke the listeners weren't let in on), Helene Sonnet's voice on "Blind Child" works well for the intended chanson-type tone they were going for. While vocals seem to pop up a surprising amount on Skymind, I still think of Taal as an instrumental prog band. Here moreso even than on Mister Green in fact, they carry so many of the qualities I'd attribute to instrumental progressive rock: dense, meticulously composed, and with the tendency of losing track of melody. It took a fair while longer for Skymind to grow on me relative to the debut, but in the end, Taal's second album stands a full head beyond the debut. Skymind does for me what many of these 'composer-rockers' fail to. Where the common tendency is to get mired in cerebral noodling, there is an emotionally palpable beauty to the music that sets Taal apart. Now that I've heard their magnum opus, I'm wondering what the hell ever happened to them. Though they weren't alone in their chamber rock niche, I've seldom heard a band of that style that brought a goodhearted humour to what they did. I imagine it's probably fruitless to wish it, but I hope one of the band members conjures some manner of necromancy, and brings Taal back for another record. Skymind is a damned fine contribution to modern progressive rock, and it's a shame they've never taken their sound further than this.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Excellent album.....excellent of the better examples of france's role in prog of modern times. all elements are present needed to make a good band, as well as the gel-like feel needed in a song that brings it right back to where it is supposed to be (way too many bands thes ... (read more)

Report this review (#259759) | Posted by smuggledmutation | Thursday, January 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Skymind is a modern progressive opera. I found it not only very enjoyable and innovative but also that kind of prog we found only in '70, and I mean complex but easy to listen. The songs passed by and the button repeat is inevitable. The jazz-rock is combined with neo-classic music and in some pl ... (read more)

Report this review (#177776) | Posted by Warhol | Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars TAKING THE RIGHT PATH With their second effort, Taal are taking a form i really like and the pattern i think they must follow, unfurtunately we haven´t seen any other release since this magnificent album, wich i believe is more consistent than their first, becoming a more modern Prog act, bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#130274) | Posted by FranMuzak | Wednesday, July 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Unfortunately, Taal are regularly, perhaps even criminally, overlooked even by Collabs here at PA. Taal's sound incorporates enough ground for just about any fan to find something they'll enjoy. The great bulk of it consists of symphonic, as can be seen by taking a glance at the instruments pres ... (read more)

Report this review (#129918) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is one of the most unique albums I've ever heard. It's hard to place a finger on any one prog band that they sounds most like, but if you add up a few together you can sort of get the idea. They are something like a mixture of Larks' Tongues King Crimson + Frank Zappa + Magma +a touch ... (read more)

Report this review (#110085) | Posted by Erock | Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Skymind" is the second album from French Art Rock band Taal. To my ears it is a 5 star effort. The music is complex, intriguing, harmonically challenging and original yet accessible. Not an easy feat to accomplish. Don't look for a strong vocal presence. There is no front man like Peter Gab ... (read more)

Report this review (#87716) | Posted by Schizoid Man | Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If this was considered a progressive metal album it would probably be a masterpiece, but as for an avantprog album I dont think its that inovative. Although musicianship is high there are other more interesting bands out there. But this album is probably a great start for people who are stuck ... (read more)

Report this review (#83672) | Posted by Andreas | Thursday, July 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars for once i'm proud of my fellow citizens doing progressive rock ! elements of jazz, classic prog, RIO; metal & even yiddish music make the picture wider and greater than any other prog band these days !!! it's like King Crimson with fun or Mister Bungle jamming with Yes... YOU HAVE TO BUY THIS ONE ! ... (read more)

Report this review (#17495) | Posted by | Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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