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Machiavel Machiavel album cover
3.32 | 60 ratings | 7 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Johan's Brother Told Me (7:30)
2. Cheerlesness (6:40)
3. Cry No More (5:20)
4. When Johan Died, Sirens Were Singing (9:20)
5. I Am (1:30)
6. Leave It Where It Can Stay (8:35)

Total time 38:55

Bonus tracks on 1994 CD release:
7. To Be Free (3:01)
8. Don't Remember (3:34)
9. When You Turn Green (2:44)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jack Roskam / guitar
- Albert Letecheur / keyboards
- Roland De Greef / bass
- Marc Ysaye / drums, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Cornelia Roskam

LP Harvest ‎- 4C064-23565 (1976, Belgium)

CD Spalax ‎- CD 14262 (1994, France) Remastered by Jerome Sandron and Marc Ysaye with 3 bonus tracks from 1974 previously unreleased

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MACHIAVEL Machiavel ratings distribution

(60 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MACHIAVEL Machiavel reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars The drummeer is the grandson of classical composer Eugene Ysaye and is now responsible for this Belgian-state owned classic rock radio station and we hear all the great prog moments now and then during the week and on sunday morning. Asd for the album , this is with the following two , just average rock for the era.
Review by ZowieZiggy

I guess that very few of you know that Belgium is a desert. Located in the North of Europe (well not the very North because Scandinavia is no desert) this small country is a unique desert. A rock desert, of course. Just look at the very short list of bands on prog archive from Belgium (but you could extend the list to the overall rock music).

Not only is this list short, but it includes so many obscure bands that no one would ever listen to that I guess that about ten fingers are enough to count ten important ones (anyway, as far as I know, human beings only have ten fingers...). Maybe that the creator knew about Belgian rock while he created the human race...

I remember having exchanged a few mails with Eric (Neuteboom) about this and he was trying to console me and told me that Belgium produces the best chocalates and beers in the world. And this is true. But still, in terms of rock...

So, once came "Machiavel". I am biased for lots of reasons. First, I know one band member (Roland) since I was six or so (our mutual parents were friends and we shared some kids experiences but he has probably forgot this). Second, they are Belgian (but I agree that this should not be sufficient) and finaly, a colleague of mine (Frank) was almost their roadie for a very long time so we frequently exchange feelings about them at work.

Now, about the music. Well, actually as the most famous fanzine ever produced in Belgium in the seventies ("More") would tell, "Machiavel" belonged to the "Eurock" genre. It meant : lots of keyboards, long compositions, and complex music. This is exactly what you will find on their debut album.

In terms of compositions my favorites songs are "Johan's Brother Told Me" mainly for its brilliant intro, "Cheerlesness" for its fabulous intrumental final as well as the wonderful finale (fully keyboards oriented) and "Leave It Where It Can Stay". Do listen to these songs, it won't hurt you, I guarantee.

A weak moment ? Yes : "Cry No More". Mellowish and pityfull vocals (sorry Marc). As he said "You must promise you cry no more".

Everyone will tell you that vocals are not on par. Don't worry, Machiavel knows about that. This aspect of their work will be taken care of as soon as in their second album. And this was a good decision (sorry Marc).

Back to the desert now..."Machiavel" paved the way for almost any rock band which will follow in Belgium. They will be the first Belgian band to play in Forest National while being top of the bill (our largest concert hall at that time). Before Machiavel, the Desert was one of the driest one. After Machivel, some oasises will grow.

For these reasons, I will be very gentle with their first release (but you know that I usually don't act like this). Three stars from a fan. For the average proghead, I have to admit that two stars would be the normal rating. Machiavel will produce better releases after this one.

Review by ExittheLemming
3 stars Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great (Niccolo Machiavelli)

I've only ever been in Belgium once (passed through on my way to see the Rolling Stones on their Street Punks with Bus Passes tour during the early 80's) but even limited to this 30 minute stopover can see why the inhabitants may have chosen to shut themselves away in attics to rehearse and record music such as this prepared by Machiavel in 1976. God, it's a desolate and featureless place. Little wonder they have their own annual music festival which goes out under the moniker the 'Dour Festival'....

'Johan's Brother Told Me' - This carries a hint of Barclay James Harvest via some arresting string synth work at the outset and does have a memorable tune sung exceptionally well by Marc Ysaye. Although Mr Y is saddled with the obstacle of a very thick Flemish accent which lends his 'second tongue' delivery a rather unwitting comedic element, he is the owner of a very fine and plaintive voice. Refreshing to hear a band who do not automatically reach for the 'tron whenever a lush pad accompaniment is called for (albeit they may not have been able to afford one from Mellotrons R' Us in Brussels) Jack Roskam contributes some very melodic and tasteful guitar here exploiting a thick meaty tone that is neither 'balls to the wall' fuzzed mayhem or blandly squeaky clean. This kind of sound is notoriously difficult to achieve and is perhaps redolent of a similar texture obtained by guitarist Andrew Dalby in Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come outfit. The mood on this track sets the tone for much of the rest of the record as there is a bleak melancholy and wistful yearning at the heart of this music that is very endearing and sincere.

'Cheerlesness' - (Not an uptempo rocker then?) Nah.

I was reminded of Scottish insularists 'The Blue Nile' here, as the excellent vocal melody is the focal point around which all the instrumentation is subservient. Unusually for a prog band, minimalism is the key on this track and the players restrict themselves to just subtle string synth washes and electric piano with which to lend gentle harmonic support. Thereafter we enter a classically hued developmental section with a nod in the direction of Bach but even here at a quicker tempo the feel is still laid back and unhurried. As melancholic and downbeat as this track is, I do fear that the translation dept at the record company may have fluffed their lines on the title (Or perhaps with hideous irony, the Belgians do not have a word for 'sad')

'Cry No More' - This carries an echo of a Celtic folk ballad or 'Simon and Garfunkel after Mogadon' with some acoustic guitar arpeggios overlaid with some more yummy lead guitar from Mr Roskam and a surefire 24 carat hook from the synth of Albert Letecheur (right on Albie baby) Towards the end Machiavel finally shake off their cobwebbed blues and kick into a heavyish riff which (paradoxically) lightens the mood considerably and as beautiful as the preceding music was, you can have too much of a 'bad' thang y'all?

'When Johan died, sirens were singing' - Kicks off with, dare I hazard a 'sprightly' piano motif supported by yet more delightful and understated lead guitar from the unerring Mr Roskam. Here the mood is less wistful and more defiant as reflected in Marc Ysaye's declamatory vocal. He seems quite unequivocally to be grieving the death of his lady love (but Johan would be an unusual name for a chick even in Belgium yes?) The transitional section borders on the 'funky' compared to what preceded it and over this infectious syncopated groove appears a delightful raspy and resonant synth followed by a distorted organ solo from our old buddy Albie the Belgian Ivorian Tickler. (mercifully the charges were dropped)

'I Am' - Expertly performed but rather pointless short unaccompanied guitar solo in a hybrid classical Spanish /folk finger-picking style. This would have perhaps been better employed at the start of the album and rearranged for the whole band.

'Leave it where it can stay' - This track suffers from a rather haphazard arrangement i.e all the constituent parts are strong but Machiavel seem unsure where to put them or in what order. There are faint traces of Albinoni's Adagio and the feel during the beautiful guitar solo is reminiscent of Focus's particular take on the European classical repertoire (which certainly ain't a bad thing) At one point we are interrupted by someone opening a door and letting us hear what must be the cold desolate Belgian wind lashing the surrounding countryside? It probably sounded like a great idea at the time but in the cold sober light of day, just sounds contrived. Despite these niggles and some unnecessary repetition, this is a very finely composed piece that contains many moving and inspirational passages.

Belgium have never won the world cup and on the evidence presented by their happy go lucky progsters Machieval it does not require a quantum leap of thought to deduce why (as soon as they concede a goal, the whole team would retire to write a sulking concept album about their defensive shortcomings)

What puzzles me about this record is I am unsure as to when it was recorded. The archive clearly states 1976 but it sounds considerable older and perhaps more dated than that? This is a very fine album that is free from the usual excessive virtuosity and pomposity of so much other prog and occupies a particularly deserted niche by being a welcome antidote to the mindless clatter of the 'terminally cheerful'.

Review by historian9
3 stars 3 stars for Machiavel debut, leaning more to 2 stars then 4. Most of the songs are more art rock then progressive, it's just to watered down for me. If judging by this album alone, Machiavel would fit better in crossover genre of prog than eclectic but I didn't have a listen of other albums just yet.

For me this album's weak points are sort of the strong ones, the most sentimental and maybe needlesly prolonged ballads are the ones that I could listen to once in a while, "Cry No More" has a decent guitar solo to which it builds up bit slow, and for another example "Leave It Where It Can Stay" is more of the same with more synths in the play and guitar follow them nicely, more of that sad atmosphere going on. All of those by the way, very vocal oriented. "When Johan Died" is more reminiscent of the classic prog genre and being rock in its form, and I guess the spacey opener "Johan's Brother..." is ok, but even it overstays it's welcome. All the rest I find pretty unmemorable, except the previously unreleased "To Be Free", I remember that one cause it's straight up rock'n'roll and if it were me I would leave it unreleased. And while talking about these new tracks, I can only see hard fans going for it, "Don't Remember" being the only decent one that's more like the ballads from the original. There is some potential in this band and I presume by looking at ratings that after the debut MACHIAVEL gets much better.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I donīt understand why so many people put this album down. Most progressive rock fans seem to enjoy JESTER and MECHANICAL MOONBEAMS. But they either donīt mention this one at all, or they say that this one isnīt of any interest to prog-rock fans. This IS progressive rock. Sure, itīs not as comp ... (read more)

Report this review (#194518) | Posted by Micke E | Saturday, December 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As Hugues Chantraine said, Marc Ysaye is now artistic director of Classic21 (rock/pop station well-known and famous in Belgium and North of France) and contributes to promote the best music of the 60's, 70's and 80's. He made (producer/presenter) some very deeply interesting broadcasts about clas ... (read more)

Report this review (#57973) | Posted by BronDune | Saturday, November 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm not saying this album is Machiavel's masterpiece. However the album has potential of full blosom for the Machiavel's 30 years glory. It's like a seed which will be shown later for the prog side of Machiavel. The muic contained in this cd has full of melancholy and sentimaental moods. Somew ... (read more)

Report this review (#4579) | Posted by progtopia | Saturday, June 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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