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ORION

Symphonic Prog • France


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Orion biography
ORION is a strange case of Symphonic bands that escapes to the normal parameters of French groups, which normally follow the school of French Theatrical Symphonic like MONA LISA and ANGE or the more Art Rock oriented sound of bands like ATOLL

ORION combines both currents but add a clear Medieval Folk influence similar to GRYFON plus some melodic sounds from the softer side of CAMEL and KERRS PINK, that lead to their original inclusion to Prog Folk instead of Symphonic where they are now and belong.

The band was formed in the late 70's leaded by the flute player and vocalist Laurent Delenne who is responsible for the peculiar Folk influence, the keyboardist Janusz Tokarz and Franck Mamosa in the guitar.

In 1977 they release the single "Folie" that prepares the audience for the very good 1979 LP "La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui, Critique..." which is a typical Symphonic product of the late 70's (What we call Neo Symphonic era) in any part of the world but strange for France.

Recently Musea has released "Critiques de La Nature Vit, L'homme Lui, Critique..." on DVD with two bonus tracks from the early 45 RPM of the band and a new art cover by Jean-Jaques Killian, so we are able to have their full produvctuion in one album.

There's little information about the band after the release of their LP, but despite their short history is a good option for the lovers of the most eclectic form of Symphonic that softens the classical and aggressive French Theatrical inspired in Genesis.

Iván Melgar-Morey - Perú

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Who Was That Masked Man?Who Was That Masked Man?
Box set · Import
Bear Family 1999
Audio CD$55.99
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ORION discography


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

3.05 | 16 ratings
La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique...
1979
4.08 | 53 ratings
Memoires Du Temps
2013
4.00 | 56 ratings
La Face Visible
2015

ORION Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ORION Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ORION Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ORION Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ORION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 La Face Visible by ORION album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 56 ratings

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La Face Visible
Orion Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I had that eerie palm scratch feeling when I landed on the PA page describing Orion, a French symphonic band that went under my radar, forcing me inexorably to pull the trigger on an immediate order to get their highly rated "Memoires du Temps" (2013) and their latest the sublime "La Face Visible" (2015). Well, what can I say, the gut feeling that guided me since 1969 still kicks ass! "La Face Visible" is a thrilling masterpiece of the highest order, somewhat closer to Pulsar than the usual 'theatrical' French prog of Ange/Atoll/Mona Lisa, preferring a slightly more obscure and instrumentally heavy option with subdued and occasional vocals that add and not overpower. In fact, this is a keyboard -dense and electric guitar paradise, with countless soloing and textural embellishments.

I was initially attracted to something that caught my eye in the song titles, a reference to the monumental changes in the USSR that ultimately led to the surreal and rapid breakup of the Communist Iron curtain which had imprisoned East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and my native Hungary. This Stalinist colossus, thought once to outlive all other forms of social politics, ultimately collapsed from its own internal corruption, inefficiency and callous lack of judgement. Freedom to express oneself was severely curtailed by the 'people's democratic' dictatorship, at one point even trying to ban instrumental jazz as being 'seditious'. The idiot Soviet censors were actually correct in their fears, as popular western music played a large role in eventually collapsing the rigid and inept system. Those iconic 70s Yes, Floyd, Crimson and Genesis albums were even more prized in Budapest and Warsaw than in the West because they were stamped as technically 'imperialist bourgeois propaganda'. Two members of Orion, Patrick Wyrembski and Janusz Tokarz are of Polish descent, escaping in 1965 to France and are the main composers who remember only too well the inadequacies and injustices of Communist Poland and now seek to immortalize those heady days in November 1989 , when the Wall of shame collapsed within mere days, totally unexpected and unannounced.

For those of you too young to recall, a physical wall of barbed wire, minefields, trip-wires, guard towers, self-firing machine guns and stiff border controls divided Europe from the Baltic Sea to Trieste in the Adriatic, turning once great cities like Prague, Bucharest, Warsaw, Sofia, Berlin and Budapest into drab prisons. Many were forced to flee with guards shooting at them (such as my parents cradling me in their arms) and seek a better life in the West, where at the very least freedom of expression is a constitutional right. The words of President John F. Kennedy remain visionary and immortal, a young leader who saw the future in his famous "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech that eventually led 40 years later to inevitable freedom. I urge all readers to look up the content of that speech and be forever imbued by the courage and foresight of what was the beginning of an end, at least in terms of political accountability.

The tracks all represent various impressions, the opener "La Face Visible" refers to the 'wall' itself, which was touchable on the western side, while unattainable on the eastern Communist side. In fact, having seen it personally, the East German borders guards trained their guns inward, preventing escape of their citizens instead of defending their 'paradise' from Western imperialism. The band sheds light on this fact both in the booklet as well as in their music, a greyish mist floating over the doom-laden forest of barbed wire, ghostly East Berlin houses with windows boarded up and the monstrous presence of the Vopos, ready to shoot to kill. And they did?Thus the music is rather sombre with a militaristic beat, disturbing keyboards and a raging guitar that scours the night fog , a foreboding ready to ask for your documentation and permit passage only if you are a foreigner. The synths are highly evocative with cascading waves of symphonic thunder and plenty of the chicanes, twists and turns that made Checkpoint Charlie so un-manoeuvrable to both vehicles and pedestrians. The more upbeat moments surely have to do with the 'other side', flush with endless light and eternal hope for eventual 'Einheit' (unity) with the rest of Europe.

"Quelque Part en 1989" (Sometime in 1989) puts into music the sheer elation of the sudden collapse of the dreaded wall. Truth be said, a series of inescapable events began with the 1978 election of a Polish pope that led to the Solidarity movement having the courage to rise up (once again) and challenge the brutal one-Party Communist state. Like the sun rising over tempestuous clouds, the suave piano and yearning synths announce a brighter tomorrow, where dreams can now be permitted again. The gentle vocals swoon over the wire, intoxicating and liberating, the impending winds of change as the wall begins to fall. By then, party members who were more reform-minded in Hungary and Czechoslovakia took over their respective countries leadership positions, encouraged by a new breed of Soviet ruler in Moscow, a man called Gorbachev, who realized that the morally corrupt, economically underachieving, militarily-driven and heavily subsidized social paradise was an abject failure. And totally bankrupt. This was the USSR's last dance ("La Derniere Danse in Berlin"). The music is both reflective and inspiring, as the trilling synth announces the beginning of the end , the once unsurmountable obstacles are now openly left to pass through, as the stunned Volkspolizei look on , knowing soon Berlin will be one. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, ("De L'Autre Cote du Rideau de Fer") relates to ordinary men, women and children who were forced to believe in a system that degraded them intellectually, morally, spiritually, religiously, socially and economically. Criticism was crushed by the secret police, nowhere better illustrated that in East Germany, where the dreaded Stasi (State Security) employed one in 7 citizens to inform, spy and denounce their parents, children, neighbours and co-workers, the highest rate in history. People were arrested more out of spite, mistrustfulness and envy than due to any fascist western conspiracy. Fear was commonplace and omnipresent. Communist propaganda also claimed that the west was poverty ridden, with endless racial riots and hunger. Yet, everyone knew about the west from exiled family members, they marveled at the material wealth , the amazing automobiles, the department stores loaded with variety and options, the blue jeans and the wild fashions. But it was the freedom to travel anywhere that really created the most jealousy. When my parents ran with me into Austria in February 1957, they were greeted with oranges, which were such a distant memory, they ate the peel just in case?. Also the rock music, the Beatles, Yes, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Manfred Mann, Queen and so many more. Steve Hackett remains a massive attraction in Budapest (and from his releases, the feeling seems mutual). The sounds are markedly more electronic and modern, the electric guitar showing daring and audacity, in a near Holdsworthian style, notes bending as the wind of freedom blows now more like a hurricane.

"Puis Un Jour On m'a dit" (and one day I was told) reflects on all the false promises, the distortions of reality, the dreary Marxist rhetoric, the endless glorification of the state that verged on a personality cult that would have made Hollywood jealous (check out North Korean poster boy Kim-Jong Un if you have any doubts). These peoples barracks were tragi-comic laughable, where workers were paying for an automobile for 10 years before it got delivered, generally without the options and colour or even the model you asked for and purchased. Freedom to obey, comrade. The track has instrumental loops and snares that illustrate the so-called "Pravda" (truth).

As this album was being mixed in early 2015, the Charlie Hebdo incident shook the French Republic down to its core and was the first step in a new/old fight against foreign fundamentalist aggression. 17 innocent victims who died needlessly. After release, I am sure that the November 2015 attacks in Paris struck another chord, in view of the fact that most victims of that attack where music lovers who died at the Bataclan, a famous Parisian concert venue. This is today's "Resistance", a contemporary rant about the crumbling of the European pipe dream, of Paris under siege by intransigent ISIS terrorists, of fearful citizens living in the City of Light and expressing fear and darkness once again. "Stele Blanche" has a brief accordion moment that is so Paris, a cool take on the past, present and future, especially in a country now stricken with grief. It is dedicated to all the victims of the Iron Curtain/Cold War as well as those who perished recently in Paris. "Le Singe de la vie" (a play on singe (monkey) and signe (sign) of life) puts this amazing album to rest, a thoroughly enjoyable release.

This album is about freedom, the gift of living in a just society, even though at times imperfect but at least yearning for a better life for our children. Understanding, reaching out and caring is important but courage of conviction and decency remains unalterable examples of humanity. Musically, it belongs with Camel's cruelly underrated "Stationary Traveller" and Proteo's amazing "Republikflucht".

5 Franco poles

 La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique... by ORION album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.05 | 16 ratings

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La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique...
Orion Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Musea's reissue booklet provided great info about this second-wave French Prog band, found in 1974 in Meaux, near Paris, by bassist Patrick Wyrembski, his cousin Janusz Tokarz on keyboards and the cousin of Patrick's wife Laurent Delenne on flute, guitar and vocals.The line-up became complete with Franck Mamosa on guitar and Michel Rousseaux on drums, both played in a progressive combo named Rapace.They had a great live activity, passing the narrow Paris borders numerous times, but their future was somewhat held back, when Mamosa quit to focus on his studies in 1975.He was replaced by Philippe Bedos and later on by Patrice Boudot, but he returned in 1976.A single on the small Olivier label was released in 1977, selling about 6000 copies, and in 1978 the band booked the LSB Studios in Paris for one week to self-finance and record the debut ''La nature vit, l'homme lui critique...''.Only label interested in their work appeared to be the independent Oxygene and the album was eventually released in March 1979.

Orion belong to the second-class bands from France appearing during the late-70's/early-80's and their music had much in common with the sound of OPALE, NUANCE, ONIRIS or GRIMME.Basically this is pretty laid-back Symphonic Rock with intense, French vocals and strong theatrical leanings in the singing lines, divided both in short and longer pieces, with smooth guitar and keyboard plays.They sound quite retro-styled, as ANGE and ATOLL seems to be their creative inspiration, but their style was rather updated to late-70's with the sharp use of synthesizers instead of more vintage keyboards.The compositions are characterized by some playful, soft interplays, typical French-styled vocals, atmospheric keyboard interludes and an attempt on providing some decent melodies.Not the best production or equipment around, the band reputedly worked hard for night and day during the limited time of the recordings and the result is an average mix of instruments, which affects the quality of the compositions.However there is some great stuff in this album with dramatic, instrumental textures, Classical flavors and satirical voices, the combination of which marks Orion as a pretty talented group.Some nice flute work is present unfortunately in rare moments compared to the band's only single, both tracks of which are included in the Musea reissue, and appears to dominate the music, which is still along the lines of French Symphonic Rock.

Decent Progressive Rock in the standard French tradition.Mediocre sound quality is an issue here, but the music is mostly nice, albeir rather unoriginal.Recommended, especially if you like the more theatrical side of French Prog.

 Memoires Du Temps by ORION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.08 | 53 ratings

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Memoires Du Temps
Orion Symphonic Prog

Review by lucas
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The perfect blend of hard-rock and symphonic prog

'M'moires du Temps' is Orion's second album. It was originally recorded in 1980, but released only in 2013, after digitalizing and mixing the original tapes, and adding 4 bonus tracks. It is an album that manages to blend successfully hard-rock and symphonic progressive rock.

The title track, "M'moires du temps", features in the first half strong vocals in a hard-rock mood (Grzegorz Kupczyk of Turbo, who shares the same origin as the founding members of Orion, Janusz Tokarz and Pat Wyrembski, might be a good comparison). Those hard-rock vocals contrast with the mellow voice of the chorus. Keyboards and guitars offer some "orientalizations" after the first verse. The rhythm guitar reminds the southern-rock guitar heroes. The second half of the song is a "jamming" playground where guitar solos burst all along with notes "flying" from left to right speaker, as Jimi Hendrix had the habit to record his guitar solos back in the late sixties, and drums express themselves more prominently. Words sung and repeated during this second half are in an anthemic way, or for a better comparison, like sailors singing "sea santies".

The first half of "Attila" is in a hard-rock mood again, sounding like Mahogany Rush or even the Judas Priest of the late seventies, with, once again, the Grzegorz Kupczyk timbre in the vocals. The second half, like in the title song, gives free card to instruments to express themselves, with keyboard and guitar solos. Gong's "the isle of everywhere" comes to mind with the prominent bass and the the groovy rhythms.

"Carpe diem", is, like its title would suggest, a cheerful upbeat song, with echoes of Camel's "unevensong". Guitars are played in the delicate and muted way of Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. In the bridge, hypnotic keyboards and guitars provide a haunting atmosphere to the whole. A mellotron solo escapes at times from the cohesive ensemble. Anthemic guitar/keyboard interplay conclude the song. Vocals here are reminiscent of famous french vocalist William Sheller.

In "noyade interdite" [drowning forbidden] (a pun on "baignade interdite", bathing forbidden), vocals are in a soft mood all along the song, still reminiscent of William Sheller. This song features echoing guitars with cascading keyboard notes and complex drum patterns, harking back to the jazz-rock drum heroes (first with Billy Cobham in Mahavishnu Orchestra's "miles beyond" then, when the pace accelerates, Rod Morgenstein in the faster moments of Dixie Dregs' "Odyssey"). At times, a keyboard-generated choir backs vocals, and some whistling keyboards punctuate verses. A crying guitar, accompanied by a syncopated hard-bop piano, concludes briliantly the track. Sounds of birds singing, flute and human voice open "Pr's de la nature", a song paying tribute to wildlife. Echoing rhythm guitar (that a few years later will become common in the sound of many bands of the "gothic wave/darkwave" bands) are soon accompanied by biting southern-rock guitars. Solid drums maintain a "hopping", funky rhythm. The words sung towards the end of the song match the title of the first album, hence linking this album to the previous one.

Those 6 songs, that constitute the "unfinished" second Orion album, besides the previously mentioned vocal resemblances with Grzegorz Kupczyk, share also similarities with songs of another polish act, namely the band Exodus, one of the most accomplished Polish progressive rock band.

On to the bonus tracks.

"NoirO evil" [which is "live Orion" in reverse], is a song recorded during a live performance, and according to the liner notes, after attending a Gentle Giant gig. It is instrumental, and has a strong hard-rock vibe, Mahogany Rush coming once again to mind. However, with the humorous guitar and rhythm changes, we can see there indeed a little tribute to Gentle Giant.

The other three bonuses are pieces recorded in 2011, all on keyboards with drums and guitar programmed, and the overall sound is obviously very different from the previous tracks. "Le Rappi'c'" ["patched", with a pun on "rap' (not gratuitous, see the use of turntable) since the correct spelling is "rapi'c'"] is a new version of "le rapace", a song from the first album. It features "mischievous" guitar, blowing winds and turntable playing the main theme of the song in the closing section of the song. The second bonus track recorded in 2011, "j'entends les filles", is an upbeat pop song with some "gothic" accents in the voice, probably as a match to the words ("the haunted castle", "fear"). The closing bonus track, "Il est parti", is a synth-pop song with vocal canon as a wink to Gentle Giant. This is a tribute to the Orion of the late seventies first, and to the late members (Laurent Delenne and Pascal Vatier), "il est parti" means indeed "it/he is gone".

Last but not least, the issue of this second Orion album comes with a briliant artwork by Michel Philippon, blending the cubistic vision of Picasso with the oneiric world of Marc Chagall.

Brought together, all the musical and graphical elements above described, make for a very enjoyable album.

 La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique... by ORION album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.05 | 16 ratings

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La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique...
Orion Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Underrated little treasure

This band from France released only one album in the late '70's - exactly 1979. The music on this single album is symphonic with a touch of Shylock and here and there Ange but less theatrical. Not very much to add just if you put the hand on this one you want regret it, at least i was very pleasent surprise when i bought this little gem from Musea. Great guitar parts from Franck Mamosa and some very intristing keys passages from Janusz Tokarz - in the same time smooth if the mood needed and very fluent and symphonic if the piece change in a more symphonic aproach. The album is maybe typical for french prog shcool from the late '70's and why not to some of the canadian prog bands from the same period (french part of the Canada) This single album worth to have in your collection, and only for Le Singe De La Vie , Le Chevalier and La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique the best pieces from here. The album has 2 bonus tracks that didn't make it on the album first time was released. So 4 stars for this unknown but in the same time intristing little gem from the late '70's.

 La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique... by ORION album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.05 | 16 ratings

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La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique...
Orion Symphonic Prog

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Very much from the melodramatic style of French symphonic prog, Orion did not really offer anything new to the scene, especially given the 1979 release date of the original LP, but this would not have been innovative even in the mid 1970s. Overwrought vocals, cheesy synths, lack of a song development, and a faux-folk sheen are all in evidence here, to the detriment of the occasional inspired passages.

A particularly telling observation is that, apart from the pretty title cut, the best song is the bonus cut "Il faut aimer ou mourir" which was released as a single. It owes more to traditional folklore than the symphonic genre, but does incorporate those influences to produce a singularly powerful song. But the low points are just too many, like the squandered "Le Monde Invisible" which starts well but becomes progressively more irritating, "La Rapace" with its preachy manner and silly hard rock riff, while "le Chevalier", like much here, is highly repetitive and goes nowhere fast.

For collectors of the French 1970s prog scene, but be warned that Orion does not live up to its extraterrestrial name.

 La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique... by ORION album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.05 | 16 ratings

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La Nature Vit, L'Homme Lui Critique...
Orion Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars By the late 70's the French symphonic prog scene was getting frankly repetitive and clichéd to death, Orion was certainly not about to change that. This quintet (from the Northwest Paris outskirts) presented you typical symphonic prog that ranged from Ange and Atoll to Pulsar, Shylock (their first album anyway) and Carpe Diem. Musea re-issued this album from a mint vinyl (since the master tapes were lost) and changed the artwork to a more "fitting" (as in cliché) artwork and added as bonus tracks the single that they had released as well. The group presents itself as the standard prog quartet plus their leader: a lead singer, guitarist and flutist Laurent Delenne.

The group's music is really along the lines of the groups mentioned above, and the themes are also fairly well matching the usual themes developed, with a slight ecological denouncing of modern society. While it is evident that the group pulled out all of its sweat, ardor, heart and guts into the record, I am sadly thinking that it was all a bit too few and certainly too late: they had started as early as 74 and this album was recorded in early 79, when it was all but over for symphonic prog, even if their single dates from mid-77. Rather standard, typical "French-school" prog, I personally think that you'd better start elsewhere to discover that era of France's scene, but if you are a confirmed fan, while not bottom of the drawer, this could easily fit in your shelves, but it won't floor you.

Thanks to Iván Melgar-Morey for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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