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CHEVAL - VOLONT╔ DE ROCHER

Isildurs Bane

Symphonic Prog


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Isildurs Bane Cheval - VolontÚ de rocher  album cover
3.33 | 31 ratings | 5 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Initiation (5:00)
2. The Find (1:27)
3. The Interpreter (11:52)
4. 33 Years (8:42)
5. The Ciceron (4:42)
6. The Aged (5:40)
7. Present (2:00)
8. The 8th Wonder (1:59)

Total Time: 36:22

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- BJ÷rn J:son Lindh / flute
- Fredrik Janacek / bass
- Bengt Johansson / EWI, saxophone and percussion
- Mats Johansson / keyboard
- Tommy Nilsson / guitar
- Jan Schaffer / guitar
- Jan Severinsson / keyboard, flute and mallets
- Kjell Severinsson / drums, percussion and vocals
- Hallandsensemblen Orchestra

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ISILDURS BANE Cheval - VolontÚ de rocher ratings distribution


3.33
(31 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
19%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
48%
Good, but non-essential (19%)
19%
Collectors/fans only (13%)
13%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

ISILDURS BANE Cheval - VolontÚ de rocher reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After some years of struggle to define their own musical personality, during which they made their stand somewhere between symphonic new age and folk-oriented jazz-pop, Isildur's Bane started their maturity phase with 'Cheval', their 5th effort: now they are more than ready to meet their own symphonic progressive essence with very good results. The Hallandsensemblen Orchestra serves as an effective supplier of lush touches from Grieg, Debussy and Prokofiev, while the band members keep an air of exquisite excellence in their performances: the grand piano is the most prominent keyboard instrument, while the guitar parts sometimes get a bit crimsonian (without the distorsion thing) for good effect - strangely enough, it works in the middle of all this symphonic pomp. The orchestra's role is specially significant on tracks 1, 3 and 4: the magnificence of 'Initiation', the high-spirited colourfulness of 'The Interpreter' and the mysterious serenity of '33 Years' are properly enhanced by the interplay of band and orchestra, giving the overall impression of an epic movie's soundtrack (that is, without the easy clichÚs that we usually find in some drama's scores). 'The Interpreter', given its extended time span, has enough room for the expansion and continuing rearrangement of the main motifs, never getting boring or predivtable, but ultimately, consistent regarding melody and mood. Tracks 5-7 fill the most upbeat part of the album, where the band starts to add some world-music oriented stuff - my favourite moment is the entry of the exotic rhythm pattern that sets the path for 'The Ciceron', which helps to preserve Isildurs Bane's perpetual gusto for ethnic-inspired stuff, even in such a symphonic album. All in all, a great album that allows the listener to witness the birth of one of the most interesting directions of current symph prog. From the womb of 'Cheval', Isildur's Bane was reborn as a challenging prog act for the 90's onwards.

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Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars French postman Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924) was a unique character. Inspired to build a house made entirely of stones he'd collected, he worked tirelessly over 32 years to create his dream. Ridiculed by his community and only recognized for his accomplishments just prior to his death by greats such as Picasso, this record is a tribute to his imagination and willpower.

Swedes Isildurs Bane do the kind of symphonic rock most would expect. They make no apologies for being a larger-than-life concert hall of a rock band, and do it with as much skill as any of the symphos who have come before them. The musical connection to Ferdinand Cheval is nominal and Cheval- Volante de rocher is cinematic at heart, exuding the power of drama, passion and war. Mats Johansson leads on keys and also composed this opus which has many good moments. It also is rather full of itself... but again, isn't that what we want in our grand pomp rock? No, indulgence is not this album's shortcoming. If anything, its Achilles heel is the music itself, but it is so well-executed one has a hard time finding the weak points. Playing much like a modern film score, the record still finds room to rock but has no qualms in transitioning to all number of chamber orchestrations, chorales, flights of fancy and romantic adventure. The pounding of drummer Kjell Sverinsson and Johansson's plinking keys begin 'Initiation', a reasonably good bit with a nice guitar intro by Jan Schaffer. It leads to the new-agey 'The Find' and the full orchestrations of 'The Interpreter' with a whole host of classical players including a cello, oboe, bassoon, string bass, flute, clarinet, horns and violins. Top-notch symphonic prog here with many neat changes, plenty of ELP-like aspirations, Gentle Giant counterpoint and some heavy rock for flavor. Getting into full-fleged classical is the remarkable '33 Years', with moving strings and the weep of an oboe, eventually slipping into dark territory. Some world percussives open 'The Cicerone', a somewhat commercial venture saved by the screamin' axe of Tommy Nilsson, and 'The Aged' is in a similar Peter Gabriel vein with a breathy flute. 'Present' is an invigorating slice of robot-prog as it clunks, chirps and digitizes its way onto the dance floor, and the '8th Wonder' chants Gregorian.

Residing somewhere on a scale between Jordan Rudess Feeding the Wheel and Renaissance's Scheherazade, this is a successful piece of work and though not essential, it is a fine record.

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Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is quite different from their early recordings (especially their first one, which is my favourite) and their two latest ones which were frankly heading the jazz-rock style.

There is a lot more chord instruments (sometimes too many to my taste like during ''33 Years'') which conveys almost a classical feel to the whole. The story which is depicted in Atavachron's review is whispered throughout the album (in French: ''a coeur vaillant, rien d'impossible'').

I have to admit that this orientation (classical prog?) is not my cup of tea. In the style, I far much preferred a band like ''Renaissance'' for instance. This effort sounds at times almost as new age music (''The Aged'') but without reaching the grandeur of an Oldfield.

I am not convinced with this work either: the horns in ''Present'' and the orchestra in the short and closing ''The Eight Wonder'' are definitely not of my liking. This album just doesn't work for me, but I understand that some of us think different and praise this album more than I do.

Two stars as far as I'm concerned..

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Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Isildurs Bane is one of the bands I have learned about from Progarchives.com, and I thank the web site for that. At this point I have located three of the band's albums, and will continue to search for more.

This album, from what I have read here is a departure from their usual style. The songs are very orchestral. It helps having a full orchestra to work with for that effect. The production is beautiful. It sounds like you are sitting right in front of the orchestra throughout the album.

Compositions are a nice mix of orchestral prog (the orchestal part sounding like much of the more accessable 20th century composers - I get something of a Copland vibe from it frequently). The vocals are mostly whispered, and I assume in French, but they mostly blend to the background. Whether you understand the words or not, the music is magnificent enough to provide a great listening experience.

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Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After playing live in their homecountry and visiting Germany and Hungary for the promotion of ''Eight moments of eternity'', Isildurs Bane decided to re-record ''Sagan om ringen'' and release it properly on vinyl in 1988, after all they made a name out of the album.It was around the same time they added guitarist Tommy Nilsson in the line-up.Looking for another concept work, they found themselves surprised by the story of infamous French postman Ferdinand Cheval, the man who built his own castle all alone, working continuously for 33 years.The band toured prior to recording the album, when the time had come they collaborated with the local Hallandsensemblen orchestra plus guitarist Janne Schaffer.The album came out on the band's own label in 1989 both on vinyl and CD format under the title ''Cheval - volonte de rocher''.

Same problem apparent in most of Isildurs Bane albums during the 80's is present in another ambitious work by the Swedish, hiring a small orchestra was representive of the band's direction, which would now be much more orchestral and symphonic, but the 80's-styled production value and instrumental quality are again significant flaws, such a same, because the musicianship is pretty nice and even top notch at moments, while Isildurs Bane would record some of their most complex arrangements in this album.The sound has taken a more symphonic essence, but not the one appearing in the early works of the band, it's much more orchestral and recalls more of the works of MIKE OLDFIELD, PEKKA POHJOLA, STEVE HACKETT and the likes, strengthened by the massive sections with the backing orchestra and the use of keyboards and piano.Keyboards and drumming are the basic negative selections on this work, too thin and weak for supporting such an ambitious effort.The music also crosses THE ENID territories at some point, but the addition of some nonsense jazzy guitar plays are rather questionable.The orchestral arrangements are great to say the least with some beautiful climates and instrumental interplays and a few more cinematic segments.There are even some nice guitar solos in the process, but the overall quality is always linked with the mediocre production, making the album sound very digital.

An uneven work.Musically it's pretty strong and the emphatic orchestrations show the talent of the group.But I guess there was no other way at the time than to record this work under the period techniques, this happens to lower its quality at the point some of the material to sound more disturbing than attractive.Maybe fans of STEVE HACKETT's or ANTHONY PHILLIPS' orchestral endeavors are likely to find this one charming from start to the very end...2.5 stars.

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