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TAAL

Eclectic Prog • France


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Original, innovative, inspired: that's one of the ways you could describe the debut album "Mister Green" of this french progressive rock band TAAL. They manage to mix influences from jazz, metal, celtic, classic and other music styles into a very surprising sound, while playing a huge number of instruments. The strength of their album is surely the instrumental part, lead vocals are not very present. Naturally, you will find some touches of the other bands like PINK FLOYD, AYREON or DREAM THEATER, but TAAL is one of the most promising groups of the last year.

Second album from this French progresive rock band is difficult to describe. The band uses heavy guitarwork as a cornerstone of their sound but it is augmented by violin, sax and flute. Stylistically it jumps around a bit touching on classical music, symphonic rock, gypsy folk and dare I say it...even metal. Looking forward to their next album!

(Claude Bpl)

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Mister GreenMister Green
Import
Musea 2000
Audio CD$11.49
$10.33 (used)
SkymindSkymind
Import
Musea Records France 2004
Audio CD$57.73 (used)
SulbiSulbi
MUSICSTORE
Audio CD$24.00
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TAAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 74 ratings
Mister Green
2000
4.08 | 115 ratings
Skymind
2003

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TAAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Skymind by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.08 | 115 ratings

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Skymind
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Skymind' - Taal (81/100)

I was recently introduced to the world of Taal through their debut album Mister Green, a melange of classic progressive styles the French act quietly delivered to the world back in 2000, without much in the way of fanfare to herald its release. Lamentably, there's every reason to believe Taal have gone their separate ways in the time since, Mister Green nonetheless struck me as the work of a band with great potential. Most of the prog rock subsets you can think of (including metal) were represented at some point on the album, with each song a new opportunity to divulge another influence. Though they ultimately struck me as window-shopping proggers in a search of style they might call home, Taal's passion for progressive music was clearly apparent in how well they could immerse themselves with each style, be it space or jazz rock, classical or folk, heady composition or avant-garde quirk. Theirs was an ambitious first undertaking, and there's merit is calling it an overlooked gem. Even so, Taal's all-encompassing approach suffered the lack of a distinctive, identifying character; this kept their music sounding like a series of song-length excursions into other bands' sounds, rather than a testament they might truly call their own.

With that preface, their second album Skymind startles me. Not only did they find themselves a distinctive sound in the three years between this and Mister Green; they managed to do so by broadening their dense ambitions to an extent unrivalled by the debut. Those, of course, being the same ambitions I thought had originally held Taal back from finding themselves in the first place. Strange things were clearly transpiring for Taal in the first years of the millennium. Skymind almost sounds like the work of a different band altogether. That's not entirely inaccurate, either. Taal effectively doubled their ranks, bringing in another drummer and permanent string section. This completely changed the game for them, and it shows in the music. If Mister Green was the work of a skilful prog rock band, Skymind is the product of a tightly-knit chamber rock ensemble, now with the scope and confidence to wield their eclecticism, but with no loss to the humour and energy of their earlier work.

I was actually talking briefly about this album with a friend last night. He described Skymind (I'm paraphrasing here) as 'classical music played by rock musicians'. It was funny, because a lot of the time I've spent listening to the album, I've had the opposite impression in mind. Regardless, this might go to show that the Taal circa Skymind is and should be judged by a different criteria as its earlier incarnation, which sounded like a prog rock band sounding like other prog rock bands. In my experience with the more eclectic side of prog, I've found it can take a long time before one can safely judge how good the music really is. I'm sure the same could be argued for all music in general, but it's especially true when bands are pushing ideas into their music like there was an 'Everything Must Go' closing sale at the Wholesale House of Riffs. Mister Green took me three or four spins before I could say I'd firmly grasped it. With Skymind, I'm seven listens in (and counting!) and I'm still hearing new things about it. It's not that Skymind is necessarily more jampacked than its predecessor; in fact, it feels as if Mister Green had quite a bit more content to wade through. The biggest change is the way Taal handled their ideas on Skymind, how they've strung them together. It doesn't feel like a rogue's gallery of prog rock styles most of us are already probably well-versed in. Their reach is as varied here as it ever was-- drawing in all between avant-metal and gypsy jazz-- but with Skymind, they became master of these influences, rather than the other way around. These compositions, however diverse they may seem at times, sound like they were written with fealty only to a style Taal were carving out for themselves. I was impressed by the skill with which they tackled each style on the debut, but it's another thing to be hearing them bring those ingredients alongside their own voice.

The biggest change, I think, that's empowered them to take charge has been the string section. Two violins, a viola, and a cello fill out Taal's newfound 'other half'. It's not unheard of that progressive rock band incorporates symphonic influences, but very rarely does a band integrate it to the point that I can't imagine hearing Skymind without the violins. They are a constant presence on the album, swirling about in a way that often compliments, and occasionally even competes with the guitars for my attention. The consonant arrangement for the string section remains the same regardless of the genre Taal are touching upon at the given time. Because the strings are so consistent in their colour throughout each eclectic shift, Skymind sounds coherent and whole.

While I don't think Taal managed to make vocals work in their style (Loic Bernardeau's tongue-in- cheek delivery sounds like a joke the listeners weren't let in on), Helene Sonnet's voice on "Blind Child" works well for the intended chanson-type tone they were going for. While vocals seem to pop up a surprising amount on Skymind, I still think of Taal as an instrumental prog band. Here moreso even than on Mister Green in fact, they carry so many of the qualities I'd attribute to instrumental progressive rock: dense, meticulously composed, and with the tendency of losing track of melody. It took a fair while longer for Skymind to grow on me relative to the debut, but in the end, Taal's second album stands a full head beyond the debut. Skymind does for me what many of these 'composer-rockers' fail to. Where the common tendency is to get mired in cerebral noodling, there is an emotionally palpable beauty to the music that sets Taal apart. Now that I've heard their magnum opus, I'm wondering what the hell ever happened to them. Though they weren't alone in their chamber rock niche, I've seldom heard a band of that style that brought a goodhearted humour to what they did. I imagine it's probably fruitless to wish it, but I hope one of the band members conjures some manner of necromancy, and brings Taal back for another record. Skymind is a damned fine contribution to modern progressive rock, and it's a shame they've never taken their sound further than this.

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 Mister Green by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.91 | 74 ratings

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Mister Green
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Mister Green' - Taal (71/100)

Some bands have trouble finding a style on their debut. On Mister Green, Taal plunged into several. Taal is what happens when a rag-tag group of prog rock lovers meets an avant-garde flair for the eclectic. Although their second, final album Skymind dawned to the world way back in 2003, I would associate them with the modern trend in so-called 'traditional prog'; that is, the sense that no possible outcome was left unturned. Proggers tend to be eclectic listeners by nature, and many of the bands that have carried the torch of the 70s' reflect that in their work. On this (mostly instrumental) album, Taal explore most of the great schools of progressive rock. This is including, but not limited to: Genesis-type symphonic prog, Pink Floydian chillouts, jazz-rock, avant-prog, and even progressive metal of the Dream Theater variety.

For starters, I don't think Taal quite managed to seamlessly fuse these styles together. Mister Green gives the impression of musical window shopping; Taal take their listener on a survey through so many of these styles, but don't seem to come out of it with a sound of their own. There's not much about the bombastic hard rock of "Flat Spectre", for example, to tie it to the jazz-metal of "Ragtime", much less the King Crimsony explorations on "Super Flat Moon". Although the diversity isn't so far-fetched as to make these songs incompatible with each other, I can listen to the entire album without knowing feeling a characteristic style about them.

Taal bit off more than they could chew with a debut, but in the end, I'm not complaining. Whether it's metal or ragtime, the styles they incorporate on Mister Green are all handled with the expertise I'd associate with a band that had specialized in them. "Barbituricus" is a progressive epic in the image of the 70's greats, and "Coornibus" follows it up with a beautifully pastoral nostalgia. Taal have dipped their wicks in a number of the old greats' styles, and I don't think they follow any band better than King Crimson. The more sprawling parts of "Super Flat Moon" remind me of the infamous instrumental noodlings on "Moonchild", albeit with a far greater impression of momentum. While Taal spend the majority of the time exploring traditional progressive sounds, I think they sound most at home on the avant-garde end. "No Way!", "Mister Green" and "Mister Grey" form the album's single centrepiece, a weirdly theatrical jaunt with vocals that sound a greater part tongue-in-cheek than sincere. Nonetheless, getting avant-garde and sporadic with their sound affords Taal the opportunity to fit all of their ideas on the album. Saturating their composition with ideas is something they try to do regardless of style. Understandably, this has the effect of making the 68 minute runtime feel even longer than it should.

Although I've had no preconceptions of Taal's music going into them, it's still hard for me to believe this was the band's debut. Mister Green may not sound like the work of a band who know what they want to do, but each of their little stylistic expeditions enjoys the aura of expertise I'd associate with well-seasoned veterans. Mister Green is too self-indulgent for its own good, and it's questionable that the band did anything entirely fresh with any of their styles. Regardless, each of their sounds are a result of clear love on the band's part, and likeminded proggers should love most, if not all of the colours Mister Green has to offer. For my part, I'm impressed by Taal's exploration of prog conventions, and I'm looking forward to see how they developed with their second, final album Skymind.

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 Mister Green by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.91 | 74 ratings

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Mister Green
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars TAAL is the name for many things such as the Philippine volcano, an Assamese musical instrument and is even a film from Bollywood as well as being a type of Indian rhythm, but the TAAL we are interested today is a progressive band from Poitiers, France. TAAL is yet another progressive rock band that knows how to take a vast swath of musical influences and sews them all together in a very original way. While only releasing two albums to date which sound very different from one another, the debut MR GREEN shows the band finding an original way to construct highly complex compositions by leaving no influence unused. On this debut we only have five musicians while the second "Skymind" has twice as many but this album still sounds very rich and powerful as it seems like a strange medley of sounds throughout the space and times of our world and melds them together in a very interesting way.

As a template TAAL utilizes everything from traditional French chanson, to Celtic folk, space rock, jazz, metal, Parisian accordion music, cabaret, gypsy violin, ragtime and more progressive elements like Zappa-esque time signatures as well as symphonic, prog metal bits and more! The band pretty much excels at everything it puts forth. It is nearly impossible to go through every stylistic change that goes on here and this will require many listens to digest but only one to really slap you in the face and let you know you have found something truly unique, outstanding and incredible.

I won't go into a track by track analysis but i'll just give the first track "Barbituricus" which is the longest track clocking in at 15:16 a description as an example of just HOW eclectic, HOW adventurous and HOW unpredictable this music is. The album kicks off with a folk song being played on guitar at some party while one member, MR GREEN, decides to walk through a door and light a smokable while we can still hear a party going on on the other side. There seems to be a theme of this MR GREEN character aimlessly wandering around checking out various types of music. The track continues with some Floydian synths slowly creep in taking us on the musical journey. Spacey guitars slowly build up tension sounding Floydian in tone with some Air (French band) type grooves with some rock guitar joining in. The music steadily gets louder and then morphs into some nice Harmonium like symphonic prog with sweet vocalists harmonizing for a while and then some more strange instrumental time signatures that give the guitar a chance to shine before mellowing out to subdued synth line that quickly changes to a mid-tempo metal rocker which alternates between strange keyboard runs and frenetic drum rolls. The music just keeps getting more frenetic and things are changed up more often incorporating different ideas every couple measures or so and i could write an encyclopedia length review if i mentioned every little change! This pace continues for several minutes until it changes into a classical piano run. The guitar repeats the run and they play together. More interesting variations occur. Some ideas are revisited such as the Harmonium symphonic prog and then the track goes on to something completely new! This is about the 10 minute mark and it only continues the pace and franticness.

The rest of the album follows suit with both "Flat Spectre" and "Super Flat Moon" running well over 10 minutes. There are also shorter and sweeter tracks like "Ragtime" which is indeed a rag but sounds more like a cartoon theme with all kinds of crazy instrumental touches added like guitar, horns and a hard rocking section. Although this track is only 2:40 min long it still manages to take you on a roller coaster ride of ideas but unlike many other tracks that can seem aimless at times, this one has a clearly defined melodic approach that is adhered to.

Because this album exhibits a ridiculous amount of different musical ideas it is only recommended for the most adventurous of music lovers who really love the Mr Bungle approach of incorporating everything including the kitchen sink and then some. The difference with TAAL to the more extreme bands like Mr Bungle is that TAAL takes a classical musical approach to its compositions making a symphony of sampling and exceeds in creating a rotisserie of atmospheres and although I wish there could have been more uptempo parts that really ripped as the band tends to stay in the mid-tempo range they do conjure up some virtuosic moments. The brilliance of this one is clearly in the band interplay and how they seamlessly meander throughout the musical universe in unison like a school of fish. If that is your game though you will hardly be disappointed with this one.

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 Mister Green by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.91 | 74 ratings

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Mister Green
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars Most of French progressive bands (even that not from Symphonic-prog style) always give us a impression of be influenced by bands like ANGE and MONALISA... and although TAAL "Mr Green" reveal a bit of Symphonic in their music, this effect don't appears...in fact their music is Eclectic-Prog in the more pure way, you can find a "touch" for various music styles. This affirmation is already clearly perceived as soon in the first track "Barbituricus " starting with a Symphonic theme with a female chorus and alternate this calm theme with a Heavy-Prog direction , but around 10:30 min the music takes a dramatic form like a sound-track from a Opera with flute and horns intermissions and retakes the initial theme in a "Grand Finalle". The first compass from track 2 "Coornibus" evokes Ravel's "Bolero" due their musical construction and rhythm and forward in some type of Heavy "gypsy dance" and after a "hint of Bach's music (starting at 3:50 min). Track 3 "Flat Spectre" is a "stylized waltz" which the main theme seems taken from Harry Potter's films. In track 4 "Ragtime" the title say all, the curiosity in this track is a Sax or something like that ( P A line-up don't show any info ) sounding like a elephant's singing and dancing in a cabaret (at least a very funny scene ). The track 6 "Mr Green" shows the same ragtime "flavor" form track 4. Track 7 "Mr Grey" is another "stylized waltz" . Some moments of track 8 "Aspartamus" recall me the Symphonic Prog of CAST. Track 9 "Super Flat Moon" is a mix of space and fusion like a meeting from Return To Forever and Pink Floyd. In my opinion this first album from TAAL "Mr Green" is superior in relation to "Skymind", my rate is 4 stars !!!

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 Mister Green by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.91 | 74 ratings

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Mister Green
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Named after a volcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, French band Taal from Poitiers appeared in 1992 as a trio led by drummer/singer Loic Bernardeau.By mid-90's they were joined by keyboardist Sebastien Constant and their sound obtained a more symphonic, proggy nature.The band, with Anthony Gabard on guitar and David Dosnon on bass, signed a contract with Musea and released the debut ''Mister Green'' in 2000, featuring plenty of guest musicians on female voices, wind and string instruments.

Taal ended partly with a semi-original sound, containing elements from Progressive Rock, Folk, Avant-Garde, Jazz, Soundtrack Music, Classical Music and Heavy Metal, a weird but tight mix of different styles based both on technique and atmosphere.What really helps the band is the presentation of several long compositions, where these styles can be mixed sufficiently and there is enough room for the music to breathe.Vocals are limited and ''Mister Green'' depends much on the instrumental exercises of Taal.The vast amount of the music is characterized by the quite heavy guitar work, including some very complicated moves and hard riffing, and the huge Classical elements delivered by the string and wind instruments on the release.Of course this description is rather simplistic.There is a fair amount of orchestral keyboards, delicate Ethnic-sounding flutes and even some jazzy guitar solos to be found throughout, eventually creating an album with a variety of atmospheres, a good balance between almost metallic moments and smooth passages and a good dose of complex breaks, professional interplays but also grandiose orchestral themes.

Very demanding and unusual musicianship with a quite haunting mood.If you like bands in the vein of THORK or SYRINX, ''Mister Green'' will not dissapoint you.Strongly recommended..3.5 stars.

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 Mister Green by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.91 | 74 ratings

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Mister Green
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by Ovidiu

4 stars EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED,that's what we can say before listening this debut album of a very talented and original French band-TAAL!I was intrigued and undecided which album to choose for the review,because both are excellent ,and finally I've decided that this first one has something superior to the second one!Because it was a major discovery since the beginning 'cause I haven't great expectations for it!But after the first accords I've realised that TAAL is a band with strong personality and precise musical direction!They simply don;t want to go on musical clichees and have this spirit of musical adventure,and those who want to hear something different will be plenty satisfied after the whole audition of the album!Good production and very competent musicians,we can include it in the eclectic prog category,heavily influenced by the innovative spirit of ZAPPA,KING CRIMSON,sometimes even FLOYDIAN psychedelic accords and other unconventional artists!There is also a MIDDLE EASTERN musical influence,some flute and cello accords and a weird tone for guitar ,but everything is packed in an intelligent musical message,and the more then 60 minutes of musical wizzardry is an axcellent discovery!David Lucas has an original voice,he is very discreet in it's register and the complex music makes sometimes the vocals unnecessary! BARBITURICUS-the opening tracks are putting the standards very high and the rest of the album continue to flow in a bizzare musical direction,without any compromise for the good quality music!It's a band who deeply deserves to be discovered and we hope for a third album,because the distance from the second ont until nowin 2010 is pretty long already!4 STARS for an invitation to discover new musical horizons!

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 Skymind by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.08 | 115 ratings

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Skymind
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by smuggledmutation

4 stars Excellent album.....excellent music.........one of the better examples of france's role in prog of modern times. all elements are present needed to make a good band, as well as the gel-like feel needed in a song that brings it right back to where it is supposed to be (way too many bands these days make music that makes no sense, has no tie into anything else, and basically is a collection of rythyms) Everything I like is in this album.....heaviness, good guitar work, good sounding drums and bass....other stringed instruments ex: violin family.....climaxes and soft parts... Very good addition to anyones collection, even if not a prog fan, a fan of rock should be able to appreciate this. solid 4 stars

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 Mister Green by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.91 | 74 ratings

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Mister Green
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A special thanks to tszirmay first of all. Man this is a good album, and talk about being Progressive and adventerous ! I still think the followup "Skymind" is the better album. They went from five members on this one to ten on "Skymind" adding a lot of strings for the most part. Also "Skymind" is heavier and more dynamic. Having said all of that, this one is so impressive.

We get started with the over 15 minute "Barbituricus" which is worth the price of admission by itself. It sounds like a party to begin with until we hear the sound of a door opening, then as it closes the sounds of the party end. Atmosphere rolls in. A melody after 2 minutes turns heavy. Female vocal melodies as it settles after 3 minutes. Nice chunky bass too. Heavy again 4 minutes in. It calms right down before 5 1/2 minutes as contrasts continue. Organ before 8 minutes then the guitar takes over. Flute and a calm 12 1/2 minutes in before kicking in once again. Great tune. "Coornibus" is led by flute early. It kicks in with the guitar before 2 minutes. Heavy a minute later. A change before 4 minutes as it settles. The flute is back. Heavy again after 5 minutes then settles with piano before 6 1/2 minutes. The guitar joins in and the tempo picks up.

"Flat Spectre" is another long one at over 12 1/2 minutes. It's mellow to open before the drums and guitar arrive. Contrasts continue. This sounds really good, both the laid back and aggressive sections. The guitar rips it up pretty good late. "Ragtime" is as the title suggests. The dissonant horns are interesting. The song ends with breaking glass. "No Way !" opens with samples of someone speaking and other sounds. Fast paced vocals come in as we hear someone drinking, burping and throwing up. Nice. "Mister Green" opens with horns and a rhythm. Vocals join in. Some silliness on this one. "Mr Grey" opens with marching styled drums as horns then guitar join in. Heaviness after a minute. It comes and goes. "Aspartamus" opens with samples before the music takes over including piano. The guitar sounds great 1 1/2 minutes in. A calm follows as piano takes over. When it picks back up it sounds amazing. A calm before 5 minutes,it's kind of spacey. It kicks back in before 7 minutes. "Super Flat Moon" is jazzy to start. Violin and guitar then take turns in the spotlight. It's spacey 4 1/2 minutes in before kicking back in. It gets experimental too. Jazzy again before 9 minutes. The music stops 10 minutes in as we hear that party again to end it.

Easily 4 stars but recommended to those who are into Rio / Avant and adventerous music.

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 Skymind by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.08 | 115 ratings

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Skymind
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Taal is an extended family that holds prog ideals up and hangs on tightly, and this little orchestra's 2003 release is a testament to that. Willing and able to do just about anything, the 10-piece are high-flying acrobats who bounce with ease in and out of twisted folk, ominous black symph, cabaret, doom metal, ritualism, and psychedelic polka. Reminiscent of Floyd's The Wall but far denser and with little social commentary, Skymind is a rich and brilliant tapestry by players with a keen sense of drama and enough musicianship for three bands. Their sound may appeal to fans of Unexpect or even SGM, but Taal achieves a more diverse if less avant-garde effect and gives real meaning to the term "symphonic" with deep pools of strings, ethnic diversity and subtle transitions.

A patchwork of radio tunings begin the ten-minute title, Mehdi Rossignot's cello lingers until the group comes in one by one, the foam of Anthony Gabard's electric guitar, Sebastian Constant's light-filled piano, and seamless drumming pair Loic Bernardeau & Igot Polisset. The piece is not unlike what vintage art rockers High Tide would be doing if they existed today, and 'Yellow Garden' is a logical second movement capering with Eastern European dance but soon has more to say, more darkness, more magma to spew and ends with a fiddle and a folk dance. This leads to 'Blind Child' tributing Edith Piaf's difficult life and takes us to a smoke-filled cafe in France with war just outside the door, weaving cabaret with Bela Bartok. Wonderful, and features Helene Sonnet's flute and Gabard's spot-on nylon string acoustic. 'The Purple Queen's Lips' jumps ugly with deadly spies in every corner waiting to cut your throat, only to relax halfway through with a Floydian refrain. Big and pompous is 'The Egg Shaped Moon' jutting between layers of heavy guitar and eddies of chamber music, and a tar pit of dying creatures opens 13-minute 'Stratus' in an epic battle between a hard rock band and several alien spacecraft in an Egyptian desert, and at some point these realms meet with unexpectedly pleasing results (not to mention a haunting by Jim Morrison). Quite fine stuff, and a potentially great gateway drug to the more outrageous modern prog bands.

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 Skymind by TAAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.08 | 115 ratings

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Skymind
Taal Eclectic Prog

Review by Warhol

4 stars Skymind is a modern progressive opera. I found it not only very enjoyable and innovative but also that kind of prog we found only in '70, and I mean complex but easy to listen. The songs passed by and the button repeat is inevitable. The jazz-rock is combined with neo-classic music and in some places we hear the gypsy/folk guitar. When I listen The Purple Queen's Lips I like to say that this is the history of prog. Everything that need to be memorable it's written here, and makes from this song my favorite from Skymind. The opening Skymind sees the band focusing on strong rhythm rather than melody. Yellow Garden it's catchy with good short vocal intervention, Blind Child brought the gypsy spirit into and The Egg-Shaped Moon it's kind of psychedelic oriented, even with Loic Bernardeau sound like David Tibet. Stratus (Including The Little Beatle) it's built on rock-in-opposition structures, and the finishing is eclectic. The negative side is the production which sound a little bit older than it is, but maybe this was the purpose. The real good prog rock was made in '70 and Taal are time travelers.

It's very attractive! Go and buy or download it, doesn't matter

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