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Minimum Vital

Eclectic Prog

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Minimum Vital Sarabandes album cover
3.67 | 75 ratings | 11 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Le chant du monde (7:37)
2. Porte sur l'eté (2:55)
3. Sarabande no. I (6:24)
4. Cantiga de Santa Maria (3:48)
5. Sarabande no. II (7:04)
6. Hymne et danse (8:52)
7. Danza Vital (7:27)
8. Le bal du diable (1:32)

Total Time 45:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean Luc Payssan / guitars, vocals
- Thierry Payssan / keyboards, accordion
- Eric Rebeyrol / bass
- Christophe "Cocof" Godet / drums

Releases information

CD Musea FGBG 4014.AR (1990, France)

CD MALS MALS 057 (2006, Russia)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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MINIMUM VITAL Sarabandes ratings distribution

(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MINIMUM VITAL Sarabandes reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lor68
4 stars This album by MINIMUM VITAL is one of my favorite ones, regarding of their whole production: it is characterized by an excellent fusion progressive with excerpts from medieval music, enriched with tasteful music themes.

Highly recommended!!

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is Minimum Vital's first official CD recording (their two previous efforts had originally been released on cassette format), and, together with their following one "La Source", it perfectly epitomizes what the Minimum Vital prog style is all about at its finest hour: melodic symphonic prog with lots of Renaissance and late Mediaeval references, as well as some unmistakable hints of jazz fusion, not unlike early Eclat and early Edhels. Camel and Yes' softer side are the most featured foreign influences on MV's overall sound, although it is fair to acknowledge their own originality. The four musicians' skills are also quite noticeable, especially when it comes to brothers Thierry and Jean-Luc Payssan (on keyboards and guitars, respectively), who are, indeed, the combo's leaders. "Sarabandes" kicks off with 'Le Chant du Monde', a majestic number built on a 6/8 tempo, which portrays a celebratory spirit. A real catchy starter. The enthusiastic mood is soon later retained in 'Sarabandes No. 1', which continues to explore the musical heritage from the Renaissance with an added fusionesque touch: the synth solo towards the end is worth a special mention. Sandwiched between these two amazing tracks is 'Porte sur l'Ete', a beautiful, serene classical guitar solo piece immaculately delivered by J.-L. Payssan. 'Cantiga de Santa Maria' is - despite the archaic connotations of the title - the most modern-sounding number in this album: this is a cantata mediaeval style elegantly delivered over a basis of ethno-pop keyboard layers and loops, with the guitar, drum kit and bass providing additional hues. Bizarre without getting disturbing. 'Sarabande No. 2' brings back the colorful ambiences of tracks 1 & 3, with a soft Arabesque twist: the addition of exotic elements allows MV to widen their sonic spectrum and achieve a greater dose of melodic intensity. But the top of intensity is yet to be found in the epic-tinged 'Hymne et Danse', the most intricate and diverse track in the album. Here you will find: an amazing piano solo intro that wanders seamlessly through the realms of jazz and the classicist roads of chamber; a majestic main motif that keeps a strong relation to the album's overall symphonic trait; and, finally, a Gregorian chant in the coda. 'Danza Vital' is the most overtly joyful piece in this album: starting with a grandiloquent synth fanfare, the main motif surfaces and goes on constructed over a melodic jazz pop basis. The sense of joy is properly perpetuated in the brief folk-tinged closure 'Le Bal du Diable'. All in all, "Sarabandes" is one of MV's most accomplished and prototypical efforts: an excellent prog recording, a must for all symph prog lovers who dig for something refreshing from the 90s.
Review by NJprogfan
4 stars Having gotten this disc on the cheap, I didn't know what to expect, (even though I heard of them). I knew through prog websites this was their suppose of, best album, I was unimpressed at first listening. Over time tho, I've grown to like the pleasant mix of gentleness/explosiveness of the work. They come across as a Happy The Man style of prog mixed with Gryphon renaissanceness, very masterful instrumentation with minimal vocalization. I'm not happy with the Midi drumwork which gives this 1990 disc an 80's sheen, but the guitar work is exemplory. Keyboards also, at times, remind me of the sterle 80's, but here and there they have some good moments. At times they throw in some medival tones balancing the overall sound away from some new age moments. Coming right down to the nitty-gritty, if you're interested in some pleasant laidback prog with burst of guitar energy and slick keyboards, this might be your bag. If, on the other hand, you're looking for some meat and potatoes prog, then stay away. A very good disc rating 3.5 stars, (I'll give them a push into the 4 star zone just because the guitarist is that good).
Review by kenethlevine
2 stars On paper (or websites to be precise), this sounds like a real winner...a French prog band blending medieval influences and some fusion into a symphonic base, but, just as battles are not won on paper, neither are my ears. This turns out to be a remarkably self-indulgent recording that substitutes the most irritating repetitiveness for innovation and compositional development. It's an album that's hard to listen to but which provides few rewards for the effort. Comparisons to Gentle Giant seem most fitting for me - that contrived ancient approach that demonstrates musical virtuosity without warmth.

The meat of the disk is supposed to be the title tracks, but they epitomize the above distractions. Usually it is the guitars that zap us for too long too hard, but sometimes it's the bass. Minimum Vital seems an equally opportunity over loader. The waste of potential is also evident in "Hymne et Danse" which has an intriguing slow beginning and some lovely passages but unfortunately seems stuck in digital, either going full bore or barely at all. "Danza Vital" starts off beautifully before it too goes off the rails in the middle section. Indeed the breathless pace reminds me of a lot of neo prog. Only in "Le Chant du Monde" is a nostalgic vision fulfilled, whether intentionally or not.

While the vital signs are operating far above the minimum, I find myself wishing that the patient could be properly sedated all too often.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The music played by this French band is quite difficult to apprehend and therefore fully justifies its entry in the intricate Eclectic style. What you will discover is a quite bright and complex voyage into the border of symphonic and eclectic prog music.

Mostly instrumental, this album gently mixes sounds from the French folklore (Brittany) and classic (or symphonic if you prefer) prog. This is how the opener sounds (''Le Chant du Monde''). Complex rhythms combined with more accessible parts. There is even a pastoral acoustic guitar track as if the band felt necessary to break their sophisticated music with a fresh, simple and short ''Porte sur l'Eté''.

Maybe was it just there to introduce the title track. ''Sarabandes N°1 & 2'' (I use to listen to both tracks in a row) has some weird atmosphere. The first section is dark, intriguing although some light instrumental passages confer a more attractive angle to this fine song. Wonderful guitar break is to be highlighted. There are also some short and totally incomprehensible vocals.

The second part sounds more ''medieval'' and more complex. The band really performs with a high degree of skills and unity. At times jazzy, this section also shows their tendency for melodic and warm passages (guitar).

There are unfortunately some tracks that can not really hold the comparison: the religious related ''Cantiga.'' and ''Hymne Et Danse'' features too many parts which I can not endorse. The closing part of the later song is pretty indigestible to my ears.

But the quality is again picking up with the good ''Danza Vital''. It is another instrumental full of brilliant synth, clever guitar, upbeat tempo and varied music. I was expecting more of the closing track when I discovered its title (''Devil's Ball'') even if its length couldn't really bring anything spectacular. I would have expected something bombastic, scary and powerful. Instead, I had a gentle and middle age short madrigal.

In all, this is a good album. Not for all ears but once the astonishment has passed, it is quite enjoyable. Three stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Superb french progressive rock band,actually existing since 1980 under a diffrerent name and led by brothers Thierry and Jean-Luc Payssan.In 1985 they were renamed to MINIMUM VITAL and released a cassette and later their debut ''Les sainsons marines'' (in 1988,re-released in 1992).In 1990 the fantastic ''Sarabandes'' was published.A great and highly-original release of symphonic progressive rock with trully obscure and imaginative keyboard work.The album is obviously guitar/keyboard-based,as Payssan brothers lead the whole effort.Firstly goes the absolutely great guitar work by Thierry,which comes like a cross between soft GENESIS and symph/fusion Latin-American bands like ICEBERG or CRUCIS.Then come Jean-Luc's keyboards...really imaginative,Jean-Luc manages to produce weird and sometimes grandiose effects,which sound surprisingly like medieval tunes coming from another age!Deep into melody,ballaced complexity and jazzy culture,''Sarabandes'' is a highly-recommended work for all those who search for something unique for their collection!
Review by Neu!mann
4 stars Progressive Rock fell on hard times in the 1980s, but one of the brighter spots in an otherwise drab musical era was the French band MINIMUM VITAL, who released their incandescent debut CD at the tail end of the decade. It wasn't the group's first studio effort (two earlier sets of lightweight fusion noodling were belatedly re-mastered onto compact disc several years later), but the dramatically revamped, harder-rocking sound of this recording makes it a better introduction to the band.

The album borrows a similar Medieval Rock aesthetic from GENTLE GIANT, even including (in "Hymne et Danse") an ersatz, multi-tracked madrigal. And like GENTLE GIANT the band was formed by musician brothers: Thierry and Jean Luc Payssan, playing keyboards and guitars, respectively. But there's a distinctly Gallic flavor to their music compared to the more traditional Elizabethan Rock of GG, and a bigger, bolder sound as well, updating the often primitive production values of the previous decade to the high-gloss studio sheen of the late 1980s.

Purists might sneer at the brash attack of all those midi-drums and digital keyboards, but the songwriting (more or less exclusively instrumental, by the way) is always strong and confident, with a sometimes startling contrast between quiet acoustic and much louder electric elements. Don't be lulled, for example, by the playful accordion and mock-lute duet on the album opener "Le Chant du Monde"; in a moment the entire quartet will slam into a rock solid Neo Prog gavotte (or something not unlike it), featuring a savage guitar solo from frère Jean Luc.

Likewise the twin title tracks: all tricky polyrhythms and playful, overlapped synths, the first part preceded by a solo classical guitar piece straight from the court of Charlemagne. The only real dud on the album is "Danza Vital" (the title suggests a signature tune of sorts): a somewhat forced and too self-consciously upbeat toe-tapper, with all the unappealing bombast of then-current GENESIS (circa "Invisible Touch"), synthetic horns and all.

Otherwise it's a winner from start to finish, and perhaps the easiest 4-star recommendation I've ever had the pleasure to make.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars MINIMUM VITAL are from France and they play a sort of Symphonic / JRF mix with some Folk elements thrown in.This album was released in 1990 and the only thing i've heard from them prior to this was their contribution to the "Odyssey-Greatest Tale" concept album where I felt they offered up the best track.That was in 2005 and to my ears an improvement on what we have here. Still it seems most rate this album or their most recent 2009 release as their best. There's plenty to enjoy with this record, it just didn't meet my high expectations although it's still a low 4 star rating for me. Unfortunately all the liner notes are in French because there is a long list of instruments used on this record, much more than is attributed here on this site.

"Le Chant De Monde" opens with acoustic guitar followed by the accordion that eventually leads. It kicks in with guitar, drums and more before 2 minutes. Excellent. It does settle back a little with flute-like sounds, bass and drums standing out.The guitar is back leading before 5 minutes. "Port Sur L'ere" is acoustic guitar melodies throughout. "Sarabandes No. I" his some prominant chunky bass early as other intricate sounds come and go. Flute then guitar after 1 1/2 minutes.This is great.Vocals for the first time on the album a minute later. Guitar follows.

"Cantiga De Santa Maria" has these synths that pulsate slowly with intricate sounds as the vocals join in. It's fuller 2 minutes in. "Sarabandes No. II" opens with spacey synths then a full sound kicks in. Guitar follows. It turns jazzy 4 1/2 minutes in then kicks back in at 6 minutes with the guitar lighting it up. "Hymne Et Danse" opens with piano then we get a change after 2 minutes.Vocals 6 minutes in as it settles right down to the end.

"Danza Vital" has these horns blasting away like royalty has arrived then it kicks in after a minute. Great sound here.Check out the bass, drums and guitar ! "Le Bal Diable" is the short classical sounding piece.

This is too good in my books not to give 4 stars to, there's so much here that I enjoy.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Travel to Castile. I think it is first useful to put this album in its context, that of the end of the 80th. What was the interesting thing that year in prog: in 1990? "1990" is precisely the title of an album that Solaris released at the same time. The comparison is not useless because it too ... (read more)

Report this review (#2463018) | Posted by Muskrat | Thursday, November 5, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Eclectic........ I did not expect an album like this from an Eclectic Prog band. Then again, Eclectic means Gentle Giant to me. Then again, the debut album from Minimum Vital is not a typical album from this band too. The band was trying to find their style and they came in from the left, fr ... (read more)

Report this review (#307661) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, October 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was tempted to assign five stars, but this album lacks the real genius or the surprising shock that only few artists have. However - 'Sarabandes' is a great progressive masterwork, a sort of 'Oldfield meets Genesis', not symphonic like Yes-sounds nor epic a la ELP, but a great team work with ... (read more)

Report this review (#17689) | Posted by | Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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