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LAZULI

Eclectic Prog • France


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Lazuli biography
LAZULI are a French rock ensemble, currently recognized as an arousing, enchanting and vigorous prog rock value. Formed in 1998, their musical debut was tough and unoriginal, but in the next years, revealing a promising number of shows and a music undergoing a quality transition, they earned the appreciation those bands capable of making unusual, very pleasant or promptly fresh music usually receive. Their best release so far, On Avant Doute, is a fantastic record for some, while, generally, its critic and feedback is positive.

Except guitarist Marc Almeras, who departed right between LAZULI's most significant albums, the band members stayed bonded throughout all the years: Yohan Simeon and Frederik Juan (playing stand-up drumkit/percussions, respectively assorted percussion, marimba or vibraphone) enforce a good taste and vigor for drumming, Sylvan Bayol plays the Chapman Stick (reminding of no one else than Tony Levin) and, as of late, improvises on War Guitar too, Dominic Leonetti is the vocalist and the lyricist (playing acoustic guitars in between), while Claude Leonetti plays "La Léode", an over-exciting midi-electronic plug-guitar instrument, providing something from LAZULI's unique or unusual sound, despite that it works pretty much on distorted, synth guitar sounds (or does even more, by sopping the rock into a mature, and laudable, eclectic tone).

LAZULI's concerts have an unexpected quality, most of their musical shows being appreciated or even well-awaited. Except a 1999 notable concert, held at FIMU in Belfort, most of the band's important concerts were held in these recent years. In July 2005, their attendancy at the Montreux Jazz Festival earned them acclaim, plus an award for "Under The Sky". In 2006, they were present at the Baja Prog Festival or the German festivals Colos-Saal, KOMMZ-Festival. Invited by Ange, LAZULI played a full concert at Bergerac, in France. In 2007, they've repeated some of the German stage previous performances, while every new programmed event is spot on interesting.

In their music, LAZULI do a relaxed blend of prog rock (classic, retro and modern spots altogether, but mostly the last two), instrumental songs and alternative/warm world music - the edge between pop and rock being, mostly, a good one. Numb folk, heavy beats or rich samples are fairly used. Their artistic top quality is not so much the high-striking, elaborate or attractive tones and prog-generating sensations, as the insp...
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Lazuli official website

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Buy LAZULI Music


Tant Que L'Herbe Est GrasseTant Que L'Herbe Est Grasse
L'Abeille Rôde
Audio CD$23.39
4603 Battements4603 Battements
L'Abeille Rôde
Audio CD$23.29
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LAZULI shows & tickets


  • Moon Safari + Lazuli at Borderline, London on 29 Nov 2014
  • Progdreams IV on 4 Apr 2015

LAZULI discography


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

2.95 | 28 ratings
Amnésie
2004
3.95 | 80 ratings
En avant doute...
2007
3.68 | 48 ratings
Réponse incongrue à l'inéluctable
2009
3.74 | 77 ratings
( 4603 battements )
2011
3.68 | 38 ratings
Tant que L'herbe est Grasse
2014

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

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

4.14 | 9 ratings
Six Frenchmen In Amsterdam - Live At Paradiso
2010

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

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

LAZULI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 ( 4603 battements ) by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.74 | 77 ratings

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( 4603 battements )
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by The Jester

3 stars Lazuli is a French band which was founded in 1998, and they have released 5 albums so far, with "4603 Battements" being their latest endeavor. The band's current line-up is: Dominique Leonetti - Vocals, guitar, mandolin/ Gédéric Byar ? Guitar / Romain Thorel - Keyboards, French horn / Vincent Barnavol - Drums, percussions, marimba and Claude Leonetti - Léode.

Initially, I'd like to say that they use "Leode" in their music! For those who might wonder what "Leode" is; it is pretty much a unique mid-electronic plug guitar instrument that comes with a unique sound. This instrument is used most of the times with distortion, and gives the band a very unique and personal sound. Another fact that gives Lazuli a unique sound is the use of French language in their songs. Well, there is a possibility that some people may find it not to their liking, but I believe that in Lazuli's case the French language matches their sound perfectly.

The album is a great combination of loud electric guitars mixed with more acoustic sounds, but also many melodic and darker parts. I mentioned it before, but I have to relate to 'Leode' once more. This bizarre instrument gives so unique a style to their sound which is very difficult for me to explain here. If you have never listened to it before you can't simply understand what I'm talking about. That's why my best advice could be to go and buy this record! But not only for 'Leode'.

Mostly because it is a really good record, with great production, interesting compositions, and, in a nutshell, it is a record worthing every penny you will spend for it!

The best moment which catches your attention right away, is the song "Je Te Laisse Ce Monde" which is my most favorite by far. But above that, there are many other worthy songs here. For example, the more intimate 'Le Miroir aux Alouettes', the beautiful 'Les Malveillants', or the more trippy 'Saleté de Nuit'.

Of course this is just my personal opinion, other people might feel differently about the songs which are included in this album.

Speaking objectively, "4603 Battements" is surely a very solid and a very intriguing record, which I recommend not only to Progressive Rock fans, but also to eclectic listeners who wish to discover and enjoy unique bands like LAZULI.

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 En avant doute... by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 80 ratings

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En avant doute...
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by justaguy

4 stars Lazuli is one of the greatest musical discoveries I have made these years. I was completely blown away by performance of this French group during Symforce festival in Tilburg in 2007. I have never heard something like that. The group has such an absolutely unique sound, such a drive. They don't merely play music. They fly, and take the audience along, to the far away and unimaginable heights.

They use no synthesizers, but still, the music sounds very modern. Their specific sound is defined by the omnipresent vibraphone and marimba played by Frédéric Juan, polyphonic Warr guitar of Sylvain Bayol and the high pitched vocals of Dominique Leonetti. But above all soar the unpredictable and beautifully outrageous improvisations of Claude Leonetti on Leode. This Leode deserves a few more words here. It is a strange self invented musical instrument, a hybrid of electric guitar and sequencer. It looks a little like Chapman stick, but is played by gliding the fingers along the fingerboard. Like SynthAxe, it is hooked to a midi controller and can actually produce a very large variety of sounds, including saw, violin, plush bear and of course - electric guitar.

Dominique Leonetti has told me the creation story of Leode after the concert during Symforce - of course, I couldn't suppress the urge directly to know all about them, then and there. By the way, you will also find this story ? as a short film - on the bonus DVD. After a motorbike accident a while ago, in the 80-s, the left hand of Dominique's brother and guitar player Claude Leonetti became partly disabled. So he couldn't play guitar any more. One day - or one night, according to the story on the DVD - Claude imagined a new sort guitar. A synthesized instrument that you can play with only one hand. It came to an actual creation of the instrument only 10 years later. Until now, Claude is the only player of Leode in the world.

"en avant doute?" is Lazuli's second record, after the very strong debut "Amnesie". It comes together with a bonus DVD with a live show and some extra's. Both CD and DVD contain beautiful music. The CD might seem a little short with it's 41 minutes of music. But the sheer strength and intensity of the music makes up a lot. It stands, like a musical monolith. I will place only one critical note: all songs are composed in a little similar way and don't provide quite enough diversity. One can say, it is their style, love it or leave it. But for me, it's still a reason not to give them 10 out of 10.

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 ( 4603 battements ) by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.74 | 77 ratings

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( 4603 battements )
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars '(4603 Battements)' - Lazuli (7/10)

This year, France seems to be a hotbed of prog rock output. With French band Nemo sparking my interest with their latest album 'Revolucion', it is a joy to see another band from the land of cheese and revolution reaching my ears. Lazuli is a band that fits firmly into the sounds of modern prog; a band who is eager to venture forth with sounds, painting more modern sounds of music witht eh same passion and fire that the prog legends once did. '(4603 Battements)' is not the first album that the band has done, but alas, it is my first experience with the band, and- to start things off- I have been greatly impressed with the sound they have here. Although bearing a resemblance to the brooding atmospheres and songwriting of other, compatriotic acts, Lazuli carves out an interesting sound with this record. What we have here is an great piece of modern prog.

A broad comparison I could make for this band's sound would be Porcupine Tree and especially Radiohead. The largest difference between those acts and this album would likely be the fact that here, the lyrics are sung in French. It is not very common past the borders of Italy for a prog album to be sung in a language that is not English, so it is a nice change of pace to hear a different language being sung, even if I can only partially understand what is being sung. The vocals of Dominique Leonetti are very strong and richly accented, and while many English listeners may be hard pressed to enjoy his performance on a narrative level, his voice has got a great range to it, and works very well with the nuances of the French language. This album has a very modern sound for prog, meaning that I am sure I could show this music to an everyday listener and they would not see this as dated in any way; while there are tinges of psychedelia and vintage symphonic rock here, much of this is taken more as a root of influence, rather than the sound itself. Take the vaudevillian rocker 'Dans le formol au muséum' for example; a piece that screams the bombast of experimental Beatles albums, and the adventurous arrangements of King Crimson. when the sound emerges finally however, it comes out as something a little different than the music it draws upon.

The mood of the album is generally dark, and while the very dramatic way that Lazuli brings about this sound is executed very well, its not entirely effective the whole way through, and I cannot say I feel the music frrom start to finish. The two modes of music I am sensing on '(4603 Battements)' are mysterious mellow atmosphere, and theatrical symphonic rock. As far as the former goes, it is dominated by Leonetti's voice, where he gives his best performances on the album. For the harder rocking sections, the instruments take more of a precedent, especially when it comes to the intriguing synth and string patterns that add depth to the band's sound. While I would not necessarily call this pop music, there does seem to be an effort here to take some greatly ambitious and theatrical deliveries and condense them into something a little more bite-sized, although the entire album (including the mellow segments) has a larger-than-life feel to it. No song here particularly stands out to give the album that classic potential, but it flows decently enough, bookended by two short instrumentals; although it could have flowed a little better, there has been visible effort here to give the album a feeling of completion.

The music here will be quick to please the eager listeners of modern prog, and while I can't call '(4603 Battements)' a truly excellent album, it is a very good album that at times hints at a possible masterpiece in the woodwork. I did find my experience with the music waned a little when the dark, brooding nature of the music finally worn thin and broke, although it is a very consistent journey. A very good album for fans of Radiohead and the darker side of Porcupine Tree.

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 ( 4603 battements ) by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.74 | 77 ratings

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( 4603 battements )
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by lukretio

3 stars Dark, melodic, modern and original - great music from France

(4603 BATTEMENTS) is the 5th album from excellent French outfit Lazuli. The band is currently composed of Dominique Leonetti (vocals, guitar), Claude Leonetti (léode - an instrument designed by Leonetti himself and described on the band's website as an "improbable mix of a guitar, a synthesizer and a melodic saw"), Gederic Byar (guitar) and new members Romain Thorel (keyboards) and Vincent Barnavol (drums).

The album contains a convincing mix of acoustic and electric rock, with a decided predilection for melody and atmosphere over complexity and technicism. The clever combination of samples and synths with a more traditional use of acoustic guitars and orchestration makes the music sound fresh and modern while remaining within the boundaries of melodic rock tradition. Claude's use of the léode greatly contributes to create a unique sound for the band, which makes Lazuli stand out relative to other outfits proposing a similar blend of eclectic prog rock (indeed it was an airplay of the song "Je Te Laisse Ce Monde" with its fantastic léode solo that first caught my attention and encouraged me to find out more about this band). It is exactly the screaming sound of the léode, as well as the use of a brooding guitar sound and heartfelt vocals, that manage to infuse all songs with a melancholic but sinister atmosphere which brings to mind the latest Porcupine Tree or Norwegian electro-dark band Manes (although they do sound quite different from both bands). Some listeners might be put off by the fact that the lyrics are in French. In my opinion the use of French also contributes to the distinctiveness of the sound offered by the band. Moreover, the music alone is more than successful in conveying the moods and atmosphere.

Personal highlights of the album are the aforementioned Je Te Laisse Ce Monde, the more intimate Le Miroir aux Alouettes, the fantastic Les Malveillants with its catchy chorus, and the trippy Saleté de Nuit (great vocal performance by Dominique Leonetti here). But all songs on the album are consistently good, and the album as a whole is a very mature effort.

Highly recommended!

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 Six Frenchmen In Amsterdam - Live At Paradiso by LAZULI album cover DVD/Video, 2010
4.14 | 9 ratings

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Six Frenchmen In Amsterdam - Live At Paradiso
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Of the new wave of prog groups from the new millennium, one of the most original is the French group Lazuli, who presents the particularity of having invented and built some of their instruments and very-modified others. Indeed Claude Leonetti plays the Leode, a sort of Chapman stick with an electronic base hidden in a tiny body; it is played even more upright than a stick and sitting down and Claude pulls some sounds that can be assimilated to synthesizers keyboards, especially in the drones or layers by sliding on the chords, rather than strumming them with a pick, but he also pulls some magnificent solos. The other invented instrument is the Warr guitar of Sylvain Bayol, which looks like a double stick in width (imagine Tony Levin having two Chapman glued side by side and restrung) and this invention is carried more like a guitar, but develops bass guitar sounds, most probably providing mant more notes in that type of frequency that a normal bass. Gederic Byar's electric guitars is also midified electronically and produces some bizarre sounds especially with the slide. On the "look" front, these guys could be confused with the Ozric bunch if they were not wearing the Kobaian de-rigueur black.

Musically speaking Lazuli can be thought as a cross of Wetton-era Crimson, the dynamics and dramatics of Ange and some more neo-prog groups, like the Belgian group of AmAndA (singer Dom's voice mainly), but the group doesn't have (at least at this point) a keyboard player (see my remark below about this), but has two percussionists including a stand-up drummer and a vibraphonist, but one of the guitarists also plays the Metalophone. The music is very much lyrical, the individual musicians are seemingly virtuoso at their respective crafts and even more, since there is a track at the 2/3 of the concert, where most of them change instruments, just for kicks and panache (or show-off if you wish). The group tries to speak Dutch (and English, when unable to say it in Vondeel's tongue) and it seems appreciated, and this complements the group's obviously wide-open frame of mind as their music present a definitive "ethnic" feel or influence, but I wouldn't classify their music in the world music racks either. They definitely rock.

I'm not exactly sure when in their line-up changes this DVD recording took place, but there arte a few troubling bits that seem to diminish the group's authenticity, namely that Dominique Leonetti (that's Claude's twin brother, certainly looks like it) has some of the songs' texts in his palm (this is a bit of a detail and does not interfere with the band's performance), and more importantly there are some (a non-negligible amount) of pre- recorded bits that are played back; notably some keyboards layers, kids choirs, and tape effects of well-known politician voices - Lazuli is very politically and socially minded, but this is lost to non-French speakers. The six-man formation does indeed create a fairly personal soundscape, but does not vary its spectrum enough and the sheer repetition of tracks repeating the musical climates does become tiring for the unitiated or even the casual fan, but the group is talented enough to keep you riveted to your seat if you haven't destroyed in the first few songs. Despite this release being rather short (no encore filmed) this DVD seems like the perfect introduction to the band's oeuvre, because it is useful to see their special instruments' possibilities.

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 Amnésie  by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.95 | 28 ratings

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Amnésie
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars Despite Lazuli creating a small surprise in the last two years with their slightly ethnic-laced light prog, the group had not started at all in that direction. Amnésie, their first album is from 2003 and it sounds a very different animal: an electric pop laced with some trip hop beats and plenty of effects. There are few interesting things the proghead might catch at first glance, like the use of a Chapman stick, 12-strings guitars, many electronic doodlings, a few deep ambiances and that most of the seven group members are multi-instrumentalist, plus a bunch of guests (including the sister and another brother of the two Leonetti brothers), but despite these facts most of the tracks remains desperately pop tracks of the kind that fills the French radio airwaves.

While some tracks might be appealing to just about anyone, don't go look for deep lyrics and anything but deeper songwriting. A faraway beast than that of its follow-up, Amnésie is best put aside to first start with En Avant Doute and maybe even waiting for the third one (coming up soon as I write this in Oct 09), Just a pop album, like those thousands flooding the planet, neither good nor bad, Amnésie might just as well suffer from your own amnesia about its existence.

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 En avant doute... by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 80 ratings

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En avant doute...
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is much better than their debut i'll say that much. These guys have such a unique sound with the percussions, marimba, vibes, warr guitar, chapman stick and a homemade instrument called a leode that can make synth-like sounds to distorted guitar-like sounds. No keyboards. The vocalist does remind me a little of Descamps from ANGE, they even cover one of their songs, so they're no doubt influenced by this great fellow-French band. For me the toughest thing to digest is the vocals. They're not bad at all, it's just that they are often almost spoken and the focus of the song. Just not a fan of them that's all.

"En Avant Doute" is a good example of the vocals being the focus as sounds come and go in a pastoral setting. "Laisse Courir" opens with percussion and leode as reserved vocals come in. Some atmosphere here and good contrasts as well. One of the better tracks. "Le Repas De L'ogre" opens with almost spoken words and vibes while the leode creates some atmosphere. It kicks in briefly as contrasts continue.

"Capitaine Coeur De Miel (Part II)" is the ANGE cover but much shorter than the original. The vocals are almost spoken as leode cries out in the background. It's building until it gets intense before 2 minutes. This is the best part of the album. It ends as it began. "La Valse A Cent Ans" features vibes and fragile vocals. Not a fan. "Film D'aurore" again has these almost spoken vocals but it kicks in quickly. It sounds good 2 1/2 minutes in to the end. More intense. "Quest Terne" is my least favourite, it just doesn't go anywhere. "L'arbre" has these high pitched vocals and I like when it kicks in at 2 minutes. "Cassiopee" opens with some atmosphere as these light vocals come in. A heavier sound does take over and these contrasts continue.

Just can't get into this band the way most can.

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 Réponse incongrue à l'inéluctable by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.68 | 48 ratings

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Réponse incongrue à l'inéluctable
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by Warren

4 stars Following up the excellent En Avant Doute, Lazuli's new album retains and develops upon their characteristic sound. The compositions are longer and more complex, and the band has drawn on some interesting influences. In particular, On Nous Ment Comme On Respire has a Middle Eastern rhythm to it and uses recorded voices (George Bush, among others) in a way that might remind some of another French band, DEMIANS. Similarly, Toujours Un Gars Sur Un Pont strays into electronic territory with some interesting beats. Meanwhile, songs like Abime and Aimants would have fitted comfortably onto En Avant Doute and are perhaps a sign of the limitations of trying to hold on to such a distinctive sound (although both songs are excellent).

Overall, the album has many qualities and is surely Lazuli's most ambitious effort to date. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave me feeling as satisfied as its predecessor does (although this is more a reflection of how good En Avant Doute is). Réponse Incongrue A L'inéluctable is therefore a perfectly congruous response to the inevitable task of following up the band's second album. Lazuli remain one of the most original sounding bands in the Archives today.

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 Amnésie  by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.95 | 28 ratings

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Amnésie
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars LAZULI are a French band formed in 1998 with an aim to create totally original and unique-sounding music.Their first,at least officialy,release ''Amnesie'' was published in 2004 and I would compare to AFTER CRYING in terms of musical approach,though their styles are surely different.LAZULI mix their love for ethnic and world music with light progressive rock and modern pop.The vocals are quite poppish and modern yet absolutely great,the ethnic orientation is strongly supported by a mass of unusual instrumentals from the four edges of the world (strange sounding flute- and mandolin- like instruments),while the intense presence of the Chapman stick adds an extra flavor of sounding obscurity.The music circle closes with some light electric guitars and distinctive,psychedelic percussion work.A very original record indeed from a super-talented new band!

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 En avant doute... by LAZULI album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.95 | 80 ratings

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En avant doute...
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This French band didn't really impressed me with their previous album which was very much world music oriented.

It is rather different with En Avant Doute (which doesn't mean anything, it is a play-on-word actually). The opening number and title track sets the pace: great play-on-words, Crimsonesque music. It is a good summary of what we'll get on this good album. Laisse Courir reminds me of

The band keeps on with the magnificent Le Repas De L'Ogre. IMO, it is the best track of the band. Intriguing lyrics (at last!!!), scary and exceptionally dark music. The influences are obvious: Crimson for the music and Ange for the theatrical vocals and lyrics. It is a wonderful piece of music and a highlight of course.

The next song is a cover from Ange. Captain Coeur de Miel was the central piece of their very good Guet-Apens album. The last of their classic era. Although the original song lasts for about fourteen minutes, this cover only lasts for about a third of its original length. The vocal parts are the best ones and compared to the original version what is really missing is the fantastic closing guitar solo. Since this album is so short, they really could have developed this great song a little more.

The band is still in the very good territories with La Valse à Cent Ans. While the band totally ignored Ange in their first album, it sounds different here. Again, the whole Ange world is close: weird lyrics (which was a characteristic totally alien during Amnésie) with lots of play-on-words (like the masters). Another highlight.

The album goes on finely with another dark song: Film d' Aurore which is another scary number on the heavy side this time.

Other play on words with Ouest Terne (literally lifeless West but referring to Western-the US). Lyrics are full of these play-on-words mixing the wild West and the French (or best said Parisian) press world (Fogiel for whom who might know this TV guy whom I can't stand). But it is almost impossible for a non- French (or neighbour as I am Belgian) to get into these lyrics.

L' Arbre brings us back to their debut album and the world music feeling. Middle-East musical sounds and very high pitched vocals (as on most of the songs). One has to bear this aspect which could not be easily digested by most listeners.

In all, this album is much better than their Amnésie one. Much more interesting lyrics and obvious references to two prog giants for the instrumental parts are a much better experience.

Four stars.

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