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Mona Lisa

Symphonic Prog

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Mona Lisa L'Escapade album cover
3.56 | 41 ratings | 3 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prélude A L'Escapade (2:10)
2. La Fantôme De Galashiels (6:38)
3. Voyage Vers L'Infini (3:42)
4. Les Vieilles Pierres (8:43)
5. Le Colporteur (8:12)
6. Petit Homme De La Terre (12:04)

Total time 41:29

Bonus tracks on CD release:
7. Diableries (8:49)
8. Les Vieilles Pierres (5:35)

Line-up / Musicians

- Dominique Le Guennec / lead vocals, alto sax, flute, percussion
- Christian Gallas / electric guitar, violin
- Gilles Solves / acoustic & electric guitars
- Jean-Paul Pierson / keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
- Jean-Luc Martin / bass
- Francis Poulet / drums, percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Gérard Lecoeur

LP Arcane ‎- 87015 (1974, France)

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4032.AR (1991, France) Two bonus tracks; New cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MONA LISA L'Escapade ratings distribution

(41 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

MONA LISA L'Escapade reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The 70's french progressive rock scene could be split in two groups: In the first one we meet the symphonic/fusion side of these bands- best example could be considered CARPE DIEM-, while in the second one we have to deal with the GENESIS-influenced symphonic rock played by bands like ANGE...MONA LISA belong to the second group of bands and appeared in the prog world around 1973 with the album ''L'escapade''...

The year of the release doesn't leave any doubts about the influences of the band...First of all come GENESIS who have influenced the whole french symphonic prog scene and their music style was something like a guide for such french bands.Secondly it is obvious that the band had already listened to ANGE'S music.ANGE had already released their debut ''Caricatures'' a year earlier and MONA LISA' style is quite similar to ANGE's.Personally I find that this band is also influenced by italian prog bands like PFM or BANCO as some atmospheric intros or darker passages are reminiscent of those bands...

Musically speaking,everything in this album seems to unfold around the uinique voice and performace of Dominique LeGuennec...but that's what it seems and not what happens.This album really contains some very good musicianship.Of course LeGuennec is the main figure of the album,he doesn't have an excellent voice,but his theatrical and sometimes dramatic singing is something that doesn't go unnoticed.His performance is very strong but sometimes he overdoes it with his excessive singing,screaming or laughing...Peter Gabriel seems like a lamb in front of him,if you know what I mean.Noone can accuse him for this type of singing cause' that seems to be part of the lyrics and apart from that I really like that type of music/vocals alternation...

Hey,there is also some music here...and it's great!What I really love in this album is the great analog keyboard sound and work of Jean-Paul Persion.Sometimes it's dark,sometimes rhythmic and other times it's hypnotic,excellent work.LeGuennec contributes himself in the music especially with his flute,which mainly sounds very close to early GENESIS but a few times he also takes over like Ian Anderson in JETHRO TULL.Great work also by Christian Gallas and Gilles Solves in the guitars with nice mellow Anthony Phillips-like passages or Hackett-ish melodic solos!The result is generally over- decent,but it must be added that the album suffers from a bad old-aged production which steps the effort a level down,LeGuennec's voice covers almost everything when he takes over...

If you like symphonic prog with dramatic singing don't hesitate and search for this album,it's a must have for you...I had a really good time listening to this album and I'll rate it with 3.5 stars...

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Formed in 1970, it was only in 1974 that French band Mona Lisa could perpetrate their debut album and start to bring their contribution to their country's progressive rock arena and deliver one of the most accomplished expressions of theater rock. This band pursued a development through the paths of art-rock opened years earlier by Ange and was more than willing to leave a solid trademark on this specific road. In fact, this album received a noticeable heritage from the dark playfulness that inundated Ange's first two studio efforts, and what's more, Ange's guitarist Mr. Brezovar was himself in charge of the production duties for "L'Escapade", although the result of this first attempt of his turned out to be only partially credible. Anyway, through the limited range of sonic sources, the incomplete elaboration of the interplaying arrangements and the not-so-perfect sound production, you can tell that Mona Lisa had a voice of its own in terms of composition and musical expression right from the beginning. The album kicks off with a pastoral prelude entitled 'Prelude A L'Escapade', a lovely sketch of early Baroque moods dominated by classical guitar and flute and ended with a cymbal beat. Then, the sound of a cold wind and the distant melody of a bagpipe playing 'Amazing Grace' sets the opening stages of 'Le Fantome de Galashiels', a song signaled by somber moods and solemn dramatics, which makes it a perfect manifesto of what the whole album is all about. There is much intensity in this performance, but there is also a sense of constrain that properly highlights the mysterious aura that the track is intended to portray. The intensity level goes up quite a bit with the next two pieces, con 'Voyage per l'Infini' and 'Les Vielles Pierres' ? the former is a catchy mid-tempo prog rocker that raises the Ange reference quite vividly, while the latter explores an artsy dynamics with more power and fruition, abundantly bringing images of spacey Pink Floyd-meets-creepy Procol Harum-meets "Trespass" Genesis. A special mention goes to the lovely intro of a musical box playing 'Pour Elise': this melody can never seem to be a failure. IMHO, the last two songs capture the best part of "L'Escapade", since they develop and schematize the most ambitious levels of expression and musicality that the band was capable of at the time. 'Le Colporteur' and 'Petit Homme de la Terre' are just great, clear signs that this band had enough artistic and intellectual sources to rival (or even surpass) any other compatriot band of the rock theater area. The Musea edition adds two bonus tracks: a demo version of 'Les Vielles Pierres' and a previously unreleased song, 'Diableries', which delivers a similar aura to that of 'Le Colporteur' only with a bit less of muscle. This is a great opening for a rock career destined to generate artistic glory for French progressive rock in the 70s, all specific faults aside: I grant a 3.60 star grade for Mona Lisa's debut album since it is excellent in eclusively artistic terms.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars There are extremely few reviews for this « Mona Lisa" debut album. Shame on you! (just kidding).

The instrumental intro from the opening track isis quite dark and oppressive; but the whole scent of this album is of the same vein. The superb "Le Fantôme de Galashiels" is one of the central pieces of this work. Of course, it is greatly "Ange" oriented. But since it was one of the greatest prog rock bands from France, there is nothing wrong here. Maybe some lack of originality.

Still, I quite like the French scene of these days. Even if the master ("Ange") will not be surpassed. I reckon though, that these complex French lyrics are not helping their cause! Even a short track as "Voyage Vers L'infini" demonstrates all the skills from this band.

Lots of passages are instrumental and if some of you are reluctant to the theatric tone of voice of their leading vocalist, they should be pleased to know this. I also have to say that even if I am a native French speaker, it is at times quite difficult to understand the wording sung by Dominique LeGuennec. Still, don't expect the same saucy lyrics (when understandable).

The early "Genesis" is of course the other major influence. But never blatant even if some "Watcher" passages can be smelled during "Les Vieilles Pierres" which is one of the highlights from this album.

One of my fave is by all means the sublime "Le Colpoteur". It is an extraordinary song which could sit in the Walhalla of prog songs. Great music, superb keyboards and meaningful lyrics. The exploding pre-finale is just magic. A highlight.

Still, the best is to come: "Petit Homme de la Terre" is the epic of this album and features some definite Tull filiation (flute and heavy sound) and the great early "Genesis" is of course very much present. The whole shows theme changes and musical maestria, with a French touch. Some sort of French "Musical Box"?Is it necessary to tell you that I quite like it?

This is quite an enjoyable album. When you listen to the powerful and melodic intro for "Diableries" you should be charmed as I was. Fluting and keys are clearly gorgeous. OK: this might not be 100% innovative, but "Mona Lisa" should be better considered IMHHO. Such songs should sit higher in the prog hierarchy. The wild finale reminds me of "Hogweed". From whom you might have heard?

Four stars seem legitimate to my ears. I wouldn't insist too much about the filiation between the closing "Les Vieilles Pierres" and "The Knife". You just have to know that there some similarities.

In all, I quite like this album and I rate it without any doubt with four stars. Do grab if you can and listen to it with a positive ear. An excellent debut; that's all I can say.

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