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MIRAGE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • France


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Mirage biography
French band MIRAGE were born in1996 of the fusion of keyboardist Philippe Duplessy, drummer Joël Mondon, bassist Cyrille Forner and his brother guitarist Stephan Forner; Stefan's wife Agnès, who would join them on flute and vocals during concerts, soon became a permanent member of the band. For most of twenty years, all had been CAMEL devotees (as you may have guessed from the band's name) and by 2001 they had gigged, jammed and accumulated enough material to release a first album titled "A Secret Place". This gave them some exposure and fostered a renewed enthusiasm for a second album titled "Tales from the Green Sofa", released in 2004. Besides CAMEL, bassist Cyrille Forner says the band members are also influenced by The ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, KING CRIMSON, PINK FLOYD, The FLOWER KINGS and PORCUPINE TREE as well as by not-so-prog acts such as LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE.

Both of their albums, "A Secret Place" and "Tales From the Green Sofa", feature that rich, warm, mellow, melodic guitar and flute play reminiscent of early CAMEL; add some female vocals plus a little touch of jazz fusion and you'll get the picture. Throughout both CDs, you'll be hearing hints of "Moonmadmesss", "The Snowgoose" and "Nude" as well as of "Harbour of Tears" and even "A Nod and a Wink". Overall, both feel a bit like some timeless CAMEL albums. Nothing revolutionary but fairly well done and faithful to the CAMEL spirit, with nice arrangements and a very decent production.

Recommended to vintage CAMEL fans.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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MIRAGE discography


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MIRAGE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.86 | 14 ratings
A Secret Place
2001
3.97 | 22 ratings
Tales from the Green Sofa
2004
3.42 | 12 ratings
borderline
2008

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MIRAGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tales from the Green Sofa by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 22 ratings

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Tales from the Green Sofa
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

4 stars This band's name leaves no doubt as to who their foremost influence is, so the question for me is whether Mirage can come up with anything to rival the illustrious English band; is ''Tales From The Green Sofa'' good enough to challenge the pre-eminence of Camel's finest work? It's certainly a worthwhile effort but there's not a whole lot to distinguish these guys from Camel. Lyrics are in English, so there shouldn't be any problem for those with issues about non-English lyrics, and vocals are pleasant if lacking a little in feeling. Emotive guitar slices like a hot knife through buttery slabs of Hammond organ, and the occasional flute contributions further strengthen the Camel comparisons.

Thankfully I didn't go on my first impressions with this album, because ''Tales From The Green Sofa'' really grows on you if you allow for second and further thoughts. So long as you're not looking for originality you'll be fine here, although I do have one or two minor quibbles. Firstly, there are precious few moments to even remotely challenge the listener. However, the members of Mirage demonstrate a notable capacity for melody, so fans of symphonic prog should enjoy the album. Only seldom do they draw on more distant influences though.

''Secret Place (Part One)'', for example, comes to life after its murmuring intro with some spacey Floyd grooves, while ''Gone Margarita'' is arguably the album's jazziest track with chilled-out flute and congas. The title track waxes and wanes with a neat syncopated rhythm underpinning synthesizer and organ flurries, then wah wah guitar and short stabs of harsh organ. And that brings me to my second slight criticism, i.e. the album's lack of variety. The first three tracks basically follow a parallel course of guitar and Hammond duet, some funk-fuelled electric piano, and maybe a bit of acoustic guitar and flute. Jazz moments are definitely at a premium, but overall this is a quality piece of work.

 borderline by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.42 | 12 ratings

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borderline
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One thing you can´t really accuse french band Mirage of is sameness. Their so far 3 albums are quite different from each other, their sound always evolving somehow. And. alas, that does not exactly mean for the better. While Songs From The Green Sofa is a tremendous improvement over their debut, this new offer from this very interesting group somehow failed to excite me as much. It is like they want to have their own sound, whatever it takes. But I really enjoyed more their early Camel-like approach of the first two discs.

Don´t get me wrong, Borderline does have very good moments. The group is not totally removed from their past, but the new songs are leaning much more towards average jazz rock/fusion than to the symphonic/neo/jazzy mixture they were so good at. The music is a lot less melodic and takes much more time to really sink in. After repeated lsitenings I can say I liked most of what I heard, and yet it does not have real memorable tunes, if you know what I mean. I don´t have the same willingness to push the repeat button like I had when I hear A Strange Place and Songs From The Green Sofa. I can´t point my finger at what is wrong (Production? Songwriting? Arrangements?), but the guitars are heavier. the new material is less interesting, the vocals are duller and the general feeling is that the band is going to be one of those "all skills and no heart" type of jazz rock records I really don´t like.

Of all the tracks here I guess the Pink Floyd-ish Nothing Stops Me is a highlight.

Conclusion: A good, if not outstanding, CD. A bit of a letdown considering their previous works. Still. a 3 star affair. Barely.

 Tales from the Green Sofa by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 22 ratings

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Tales from the Green Sofa
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well, what a giant leap forward when compared to their already good debut A Secret Place. But unlike their first effrord this one is much more cohesive and personal: the early Camel sound is now a big influence, not a copy anymore. The strong Marillion references on a couple of tracks before is all but gone. The result is a very melodic, powerful and diverse CD, where you can still hear a lot of Camel references, but with a music of their own and very good songwriting.

The somewhat odd female singing is also history (Agnès Forner is now cited as a guest and on flute only). And even the male singing is much better now. However, the instrumental parts is where the gold is really in: gorgeous guitar solos, terrific bass playing, dreamy keboards (much on the Peter Bardens vein) and very versatile drumming. To top it all, we still have excellent flute on some songs. Those guys really know how to write great, memorable songs and performe them with very tasteful and varied arrangements. The playing here is top notch and there is absolute no low moments on the whole CD. All tracks are excellent and it is a joy to listen to it from start to finish.

Production is good, with all instruments very well balance in the mix.

Conclusion: a reall winner! A very nice surprise from France. If you like early Camel (around the time of their 4 first albums) with a slightly more jazzy approach, you just can´t miss Tales From The Green Sofa. An hour of pure prog heaven for all those who love great melodic symphonic prog. Rating: 4.5 stars at least. Highly recommended!

 A Secret Place  by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.86 | 14 ratings

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A Secret Place
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Let me start this review stating that I just LOVE this record! Personally, I´d give it a four star rating or more. However, I should also point out that there are some issues here that prevented me to do so. First of all, this french quintet is not original at all. From their name (taking from Camel´s Mirage album) and with a song called For Andy, they made no secret to no one of who their idols are. No problem with that, but songwriting-wise, they go beyond just being influenced by Camel to actually copy part of their songs: Untold Story, just to cite one, is almost a total rip off of Lunar Sea. And yet, I must say they do it very well.

Another strong influence is Fish era-Marillion (as the opener Nothing On TV Tonight shows quite clearly). But most of the time Mirage soudns like a slightly jazzy version of early Camel. Flutist and singer Agnés Forner has an unsual voice that takes some time to get used to, but also helps them to be a little more than just a copy of Andrew Latimer´s famous band. And their musicanship is excellent too, with brilliant guitar solos, excellent keys, great bass (a highlight on all the songs) and very good drumming. There are no fillers and songs like Time machine are fine samples of their skill and passion. The last track , Alien Attack - Supernova, is on the more experimental side and is a clue of the sound they would eventually develop outside the Camel scope.

Conclusion: for an early Camel freak like me, A Secret Place is pure prog heaven. Originality aside, Mirage is a very good band (Camel was not an exactly easy band to emulate, if you know what I mean...). And it is obvious that this group had all they need to go much further on their own (which they would do from their second release onwards). So this album is recomended for the ones that have a similar taste.

Final rating: 3,5 stars.

 A Secret Place  by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.86 | 14 ratings

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A Secret Place
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars 3.5 stars to be exact...

A very good band from France,but with a very UK-styled prog rock sound, MIRAGE were found in 1997 by Phillipe Duplessy on keyboards, Joel Mondon on drums,Cyrille Forner on basses and his brother Stephan on guitars, while Stephan's wife Agnes contributed on vocals/flutes at the live performances and soon she became a stable member of the band.During all those concerts MIRAGE worked on their own material and out of 16 tracks,they chose half of them to be included on their debut.This came out in 2001 on Musea Records under the title ''A secret place''.

With such a band name and tracks with a title like ''For Andy'',I expect to listen to nothing less than CAMEL-influenced progessive rock with ANDY LATIMER-like emotional guitars...and,sure, that is exactly what is going here.Excellent melodic stuff, which lacks a bit in diversity, but it is based on strong musicianship, melodic arrangements and emotional instrumental parts,exactly like CAMEL.Guitars and flutes play first roles here and create soundscapes met both in early- and later era-CAMEL: from Canterbury Jazz-Prog to flute-driven symph-like orchestrations and highly emotional instrumental music, characterized by nice guitar solos.The keyboards here are placed mostly in the background,so the music becomes deeper and more atmospheric and,as for the bass work,this goes mostly from slow bass lines onto a jazzier approach.Imagine all this well-crafted musicianship supported by the crystalline voice of Agnes Forner,who sings only in English.This is first quality dreamy and atmospheric progressive rock in the vein of CAMEL or even ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT, DOGMA and CHANCE.Strongly recommended!

 A Secret Place  by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.86 | 14 ratings

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A Secret Place
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Mirage's debut amounts to little more than a CAMEL tribute album. At this point they are not so much playing "In the spirit of" CAMEL as to the letter of CAMEL. They are content to intermingle blatant riff-offs from classics like "Lunar Sea", "A Song within a Song", "Harbour of Tears" and "Echoes" to the extent that the actual tracks contain very little development of their own. They create a soulless CAMEL soundscape that conjures precious little of the original emotion while failing to establish any credibility in their own right. These guys can play, but virtuosity in itself is not the name of the game.

"For Andy" delves into fusion in a way that Mr Latimer only did sporadically, and hints at the direction taken on subsequent releases, but it's still pretty tentative. The female vocals do not suit the style and mar tracks like "Nothing on TV tonight" and "The UFO trip". The finale "Alien Attack-Supernova" shows more than experimentation and a willingness to spread out. It even has CRIMSON ish heavy guitars. But ultimately it lacks both the continuity of a compelling suite and the import of an epic. This may have something to do with being essentially silent for the latter half of its 20+ minutes.

In all, at this point the band sits in a place best kept secret. That changes dramatically a few years later.

 borderline by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.42 | 12 ratings

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borderline
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars With "Borderline", Mirage has completed the transition from Camel clone band to their own style, albeit remaining faithful to their original inspiration as well as a host of other artists from that era. In casting a broader brush, in general they have chosen the harder rock approach than on "Tales from the Green Sofa", especially in the rhythm guitars, but they remain committed to variation even in the heaviest songs.

The first four tracks are all lengthy indulgences with plenty of tasty guitars in bluesy and jazzy tones, interspersed vocals, strong melodies, and skillful shifts from quiet to raucous and back. In general, track N is heavier than track N-1. Like the previous album, it takes numerous listens to sink in, which I am only too glad to indulge. Unlike the previous album, I am not entirely happy with the production, which seems oddly compressed and lacks the openness of "Tales..". Also the vocals seem a bit colder, which may relate to the production. These factors may help influence my assessment that the songs are just a little less appealing than I had come to expect.

With the brief "When I Play Part 1" the album shifts into a relatively mellower mood, with songs generally running shorter. At 6:19, you would expect "I Saw You" to have sufficient time to develop, but it seems half baked by comparison to what came before, perhaps because the band enjoys slow buildups which necessitate proper allotment. In fact, "The Girl with the Sun in Her Hair" and "Blue Pill" both show greater progression, especially in the song structures themselves and the creative vocal melodies. even though they are much shorter. They make me think of "Breathless" era Camel a bit, and hence the Canterbury style. "When I Play Part 2" develops the original motif and includes some excellent organ work and another aggressive guitar solo before closing out with 2 minutes of bird sounds.

I had been so anticipating this release, and it does have many merits, not the least of which is the boldness of the band, but ultimately "Borderline" has me sitting on the fence a bit more than I would like.

 borderline by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.42 | 12 ratings

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borderline
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A nice surprise by this French outfit, releasing a strong album with this third effort.

There's a distinct 70's flavour to this album, although personally I have a hard time placing exact influences in this case. Some parts sound like Kansas or Rush, traces of Camel and Genesis appear as well; and even some Jethro Tull flavoured moments. But the final product here doesn't really sound like any of these acts; and I would guess their main influences may be artists so far unknown to me.

The nine compositions on this creation are all parts of a whole - one song divided into 9 parts. So basically we're talking about a tune lasting for more than one hour. The band specialize in the mix of electric and acoustic guitars, with electric piano, organ and the occasional flute adding some spice to the mix. Another key asset is changes in pace, sound and style - where the band creates effective, free flowing structures where one change has a natural flow into the next; utilizing breaks more as a dramatic effect.

A strong effort, which should appeal to many fans of 70's prog rock in general.

 Tales from the Green Sofa by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 22 ratings

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Tales from the Green Sofa
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Tales from the Green Sofa represents a major progression for this group of starry eyed Camel fans from their debut. Here Mirage has defined its own identity, and it consists of more than a "spot the Camel reference" novelty act, something of which they could have been legitimately accused on "A Secret Place".

The stellar playing is still on display, but it is more on Mirage's own terms. This is such a wonderful album to listen to - I love to lose myself in the lengthy melodic tracks full of equal parts flute, organ, graceful lead guitar, and warm appealing male vocals. Speaking of vocals, that is one area of notable improvement, as the Camel-esque style of the first album collided miserably with the female vocals.

All tracks here are at least good, and for different reasons. Some are more mellow, some more rocking, some more fusion-y, some more bouncy, and these variations often occur within the same sprawling yet cohesive piece. My favourites are "Secret Place" (both parts), "You Don't Fool me", and "Friends of Mine", but the ones I have not listed are just as likely to be some else's favourites.

Mirage has emerged from Camel's shadow, and we discover it is a beautiful child with qualities of its parent but a purpose all its own. We look forward to watching the child grow.

 Tales from the Green Sofa by MIRAGE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.97 | 22 ratings

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Tales from the Green Sofa
Mirage Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Excellent album CAMEL never made!!!

Can be compared with best CAMEL efforts like Mirage,Moonmadness and The Snow Goose.Highly melodical,professionally played,a bit DIY recorded and produced,but great anyway!The only problem I have is a lack of emotions...but wait,that's the same problem I have with CAMEL sometimes!!!OK,4 stars and an excellent addition to any prog-collection - highly recommended!!!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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