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FRACTALE

Zeuhl • France


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Fractale biography
Fractale is a new band formed by the french jazzy rock artist Julian Julien after the release of his soloing works Terre (Prikosnovenie, 2000) and Strange (Cristal Records, 2007).

In this adventurous musical voyage, Julian Julien is accompanied by a group of seven musicians, playing the saxophone, saxophone tenor, electrified saxophone baritone, bass clarinet, trumpets, electrified tuba and drums. The musical alchemy is described as follows: the baritone saxophone and the tuba are saturated and electrified, then tuned on a computer basis rhythm. Numerous improvisations are added to the verse/chorus structure. Finally, saturated riffs create nerves and spices to simple catchy melodies.

Fractale recently published a live album entitled Live suranné (A bout de son, 2011): A convincing and colorful incarnation of various musical subgenres, from the french 70s avant rock / Zheul scene to spaced out cosmic synthedelica and prog jazz style.

First Fractale album available on:

www.myspace.com/groupefractale

http://transitmusicgroup.com/

Similar bands in the archives : Et Cetera, Dün, Alcatraz, Gong, Magma (...)




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3.66 | 39 ratings
Live Suranné
2010

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FRACTALE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

3 stars From reading the English translations of the liner notes and hearing the selections from Fractale's one album (so far), I think that saxophonist/composer Julian Julien (catchy name) wanted to create an experience that is ''irregular''. The live cut SURANNE certainly does that.

Instead of a standard rock ensemble, Fractale is comprised of a miniature jazz-band of sorts of which only the drummer isn't playing a brass-made instrument. Anything that might sound like a bassline comes from an electric tuba. The music the band plays can best be described as acid psych-jazz with slight traces of Zeuhl. The electric brass instruments give Fractale a bit of character, but something else.

All throughout the live cuts, that looming presence of the electric bari sax (I assume through a phlange effect) sounds like a cool gimmick on the surface. After two songs hearing that sound constantly, it gets on my nerves fast. The worst part is that it takes away from the trumpet/alto sax interplay, psychedelic soundscapes and jazz fusion constructs, all of which could be fantastic should the band ever put out a studio album. That's why the two bonus tracks are instantly the best off the album as that piercing sax effect is toned down to non-existent. The final track ''Clementine'' justifies the band's Zeuhl tendencies with the march-style of the bass clarinet solo at the beginning.

Fractale is a band that has plenty of potential in the Zeuhl world, particularly with their unique construction and music philosophy. If the sax effects are gone, the band could potentially have a masterpiece up their sleeve in the near future.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by BORA

3 stars Well, I too, have received a PM from someone representing Fractale and inviting my attention to their works. My comments here are based on a combination of checking out this person's private preferences via his ratings of other works and the three very short YouTube links available on PA. I have not heard this (very short!) album in full - and probably never will as a result of my "homework".

My reasons are many-fold.

Firstly, I am not immune to ZEUHL as a genre as I am very fond of Jazz and more so Jazz- Rock, but the Avant-Garde side to the genre is not something I'd salivate over. That led me to bypass numerous - otherwise credible - works owing to personal preferences. A ZEUHL fan, I am not.

Secondly - and even more importantly - this very person who approached me gave SOFT MACHINE - Seven a 3 star rating! Now, that's really serious in my world. One of my very fave albums where both Karl Jenkins and John Marshall deliver a breathtaking performance rated 3 (good, but not essential)? No thanks, you've made my dentures rattle and nearly fall out.

Now, onto FRACTALE. I could be seen as a spiritual, New-Age, gracefully ageing hippy-type and the fractals are part of my general interest. Computer generated images of a mathematical formula where even the tiniest bit contains the original shape and further magnified, the tiniest of that bit does it again - ad infinitum.

Quite something to wrap your mind around, delivered in splendid visualization. The documentary "Colors Of Infinity" narrated by Arthur C. Clarke with pleasing guitar licks by the very David Gilmour (sound lifted from the Pan-Americana DVD by PINK FLOYD) is a must to see for every thinking person. You may care to note that perusing this documentary on the fractals (Mandelbrot-set) assisted me to understand what I've been told over and over, but could never wrap my mind around before. That there is NO TIME, OR SPACE and that realization came without using any illicit substances..

Well, the band FRACTALE, doesn't seem to do justice to their name via their music (of what I've heard). Multiple horns playing in unison can come off well by the likes of B.B.King's band, but here it's, but a waste of breath and effort.

The music itself is enjoyable, but rather an overkill where more horns won't necessary make it better. I'd rather BACK DOOR, a trio with bass, drums and sax delivering a storm, but more on that some other time.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Julian Julien's group based on large brass ensemble supported by drums whip out their release debut as live recording. The stands as a great way of presenting new music, giving a very convincing first impression on the performers, and allowing to hear the real interaction of players.

The music has quite clear themes, multiple harmonies in structured and controlled musical entity, pulsing on tunnel of rhythmic groove, and enriched by myriad details of instrumental solo decorations. More traditional jazzy tones merge to cosmic electronics, introduced on the spacey second track, and later hovering around the compositions as a fully adopted aural element. The Suranné suite evolves from the upright start and ethereal celestial moment towards more anticipating feelings, both cosmological surroundings and earthbound lead themes circling each other. The intense growth of composition is honored with fine tight arrangements, and sharp concentrated playing.

Though the cover picture and group's name gave me some chaotic association, the music is very coherent, improvised variations bursting as logical branches supporting the main compositions. I actually studied the booklet quite much before starting to listen, and I think this affected my experience and thoughts on the album decisively. The pictures within seem as glimpses of life, and the theoretic time qualities of fractal mathematics and contemplations of Javier Marias were declared as philosophic basis of this music. Forming my own understanding to this, which might deviate from the artists intentions, the song chapters and their musical progression started to appear following the logics of human lifespan; most early chapters like memories of childhood missing, and the last movements growing longer, stagnant, and separate from the most concentrated and intense middle sections... So I thought the word "Live" on the album title could have another larger semiotic meaning for this release, in addition of describing the recording method on stage. From the quotes of the book mentioned as inspiration, I found some correlations with essays of cosmological and quantum physic writes, referring to reductionism as quality of consciousness observing the information from human senses. I have found all kinds of approaches to metaphysics as interesting attempts to try reach answers for the fundamental questions of life's true essence, and I recognize art as one of the most interesting channels to this quest man almost seems to be made of. From the void of energy fields ghostly flickering shapes emerge, these fusing together, creating units and functions which meaning might be only a creation in minds of performer and listeners; however these sensations are factual to the entities in the world, and though man's created fractures in time might not be infinite like the theoretical mathematic forms of chaos, they are permanent on human life scale, like this pleasant evening on Suranné caught to the tapes.

The two bonus tracks outside this concept have slightly different lineup, and the sound quality on these earlier captures from Paris aren't as good as on the main tracks. However stylistically being quite similar, these pleasant brass lounging colored by the electronic aural illuminations document the progress of this fine French cosmic brass rock group.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars This terse live album offers a quirky blend of instrumental big band and psychedelic effects. The first piece is the most accessible, and reminds me of a high school band at a pep rally (I assure the reader that I do not mean this derogatorily- I have many fond experiences of such ensembles). The second piece is far more bizarre, with strange psychedelic noises not unlike those found in Genesis' "The Waiting Room." The third blends both into an exercise of experimental yet structured jazz. The fourth part is more straightforward power jazz with layers of brass. Up next is a more plodding, darker tune that borrows a bit from Latin music. The first bonus track has a backing riff that in tone reminds me of ELO, while the soloing over it is more traditional funk. The second will appeal to those who enjoy Henry Cow. "Partie XV" is the best of the bunch for me.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by Paleoprog

4 stars Some time ago I was asked by french musician Julian Julien if I would like to listen to the new album of his progressive jazz band named Fractale.

The name of the album is "Surann' - Live", and as it's said in the title, the whole album is recorded while live performances.

I have to say that I didn't realise that it was really a live album after I heard some claps at the end of the first song. The sound quality it's so good that it could be released as a studio album instead.

I was told about the influences of the album, including bands like Pink Floyd and Magma. And it was right, because the sound of both those bands can be recognise in the album. The space rock psychedelic music from Pink Floyd and the great jazz sound from Magma. So I would finally describe this band as an Experimental Jazz one.

It's and album that every jazz fanatic should like, with great trumpets riffs and improvisations from all the instruments.

I personally really liked it since the very beginning and it would be great for everyone, including Julian and his band, that more people could know about this.

It's a pity that the sound of some great bands like this one gets lost due to the mainstream sound which big music business needs to be listened.

I hope Fractale gets as high as it can in music industry.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Julian Julien of Fractale contacted me along with several other progarchives reviewers to solicit our opinions on this debut release by the band. For my part, I'm favourably impressed (and I'm not just saying that because they flattered me with the invitation to review their music - Nurkostam were the last group who asked me to review their stuff and I was far from positive about their output). When the opening track started I thought this had been misfiled - the musical style presented sounded to me a lot like straight jazz. But as the composition progressed I noted a mysterious, dark presence lurking in the composition, as well as a few foreboding rhythms that put me in mind of Magma. The second track, with its psychedelic freakout opening, cemented the connection still further.

What the band have accomplished is to produce a hybrid progressive fusion/Zeuhl style of music based almost entirely on brass instruments; whilst some synthesisers can be heard here and there, at other times the only accompaniment to the six (!) brass players the band brings to bear is drummer Benjamin Vairon. But with six different varieties of brass instruments being played by a range of talented performers, the sound of the group is a lot more diverse and versatile than one might expect. This brief live EP is a fun listen which has made me appreciate just what is possible with the approach Fractale have chosen, and I eagerly await more from this innovative and novel grouping.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Live Suranné' - Fractale (6/10)

While most bands wait at least until they have a studio album out before they release a live concert recording, French jazz group Fractale have jumped right into the fray. For music of this style, playing all together at once has some tasteful benefits, but can fall apart quickly if the musicians aren't tight enough. Fractale are certainly a skilled bunch, and their chemistry as players shows. This is a strange performance for jazz, with many of the sounds making me wonder which instrument they are actually coming from. The compositions of this band are inventive and complex, and well worth several listens. However, despite being a live demonstration of skilled musicianship, there's something about 'Suranné' that feels more mechanical than it should.

Fractale are often labelled as a Zeuhl outfit, and this is fair to say; they have that odd apocalyptic tinge to their jazz fusion sound. Fractale's music is not conventionally happy or sad, but rather eerie and unsettling. There are many members participating in Fractale, but it is largely the project of Julian Julien, a man who obviously has a distinct idea of what he wants with the music. Unlike alot of jazz I'm used to, the musicians here rarely seem to improvise, nor do they ever get energetic with the compositions. Instead, their musical skill is represented through the way they are able to perform complex, sometimes polyrhythmic passages without breaking a sweat. 'Suranné' is filled with moments where the saxophones will be building on an idea, while the tuba and trumpets will be doing something that grinds against it. The result is not at all catchy, but it is interesting, and quite enjoyable if you're in the proper mindset.

Although 'Suranné' is labelled as a live album, there was something about the recording that didn't feel right to me while I was listening to it. Sure, these compositions may have benefited from a few extra hooks and dynamic in relation to the pace and tempo, but the biggest issue I have with 'Suranné' is that the production sounds mechanical and contrived, sometimes to the point where it actually helps the music to become eerier. Although the warmth of the individual instruments translates into the recording somewhat, I could not stop thinking that, for a live audience, there was very little background ambiance. That is, until the musicians finished, and immediately there would be a monotonous wave of applause. In fact, only on the bonus track (and highlight) 'Sans-Papiers' is there any indication that humans are listening to the performance. Perhaps it's just me being used to hearing the audience element of a live album, but the crowd reaction is possibly the most jarring and frightening aspect of this performance.

The compositions on 'Suranné' sport some impressive complexity to them, although in terms of execution, Fractale are a little rough around the edges. It will be very interesting to hear how these songs translate onto a studio recording, and while the music itself is intriguing, the band does not use the live setting to their advantage as much as they should have.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'll be honest, because I'm an honest fellow; upon being summoned by this group, Fractale, to listen to and review this album, I was not expecting anything special at all and had low hopes (I'm typically the pessimist type). To my great surprise, Suranne turned out to be an absolutely wonderful listen and has started off this new year with a positive note (though this isn't a 2012 recording).

I'm usually not so satisfied with the noisy and super-active post-bop or avant-garde jazz improv artists that are very popular because it only comes off as just that: noisy improvisation. Improvisation obviously works great with jazz, and being able to improvise well says a lot about the musicians, but I mostly have a taste for song-based jazz that sticks to a memorable riff and has tasteful and sparse improvisation as an additive. On Suranne, Fractale play a very memorable, dark, forceful, and somehow very smooth type of jazz that is very reminiscent of the earlier French jazz-rock style of zeuhl, but eshews the imperialistic chanting or operatic vocals and instead focuses on the jazz aspect. Though the tracks themselves are memorable and relatively simple, the tasteful and reserved improvisation is obvious, and the fact that these musicians are able to play in such a reserved style while still proving that their musicianship is impeccable really speaks to me as a listener and shows that these musicians are definitely highly skilled in their craft.

To compare the music on Suranne to other artists or albums, I'd have to say that the music here has a similar tone and infectious grooving tendency as Weidorje's only album albeit less distorted and with more emphasis on horns. There is also a considerable touch of kosmische electronic music that really adds to the overall dark, unearthly mysteriousness of this album. I'm definitely no expert on trumpet, but the tone and overall playing of the trumpets present here almost sound comparable to a much more energetic Mathias Eick, which is a huge compliment. In comparison to other style of jazz: this album sounds like equal parts zeuhl, jazz-fusion, and nu-jazz.

The only problem that I have with this album is that it is too short (just over 27 minutes), but this isn't entirely bad; the short length has me craving more, and I'll be willing to jump instantly at the chance to listen to Fractale's next release. Very well done, very impressive jazz.

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Julian Julien introducing his new venture Fractale.....

Actions speaks louder than words. In particular in the music business which is rich on hype and poor on substance and action. I believe Julian Julien has understood this by releasing a live album with his new band instead of just hyping it up. Actually, Julian Julien has not hyped Fractale at all to my knowledge. I really like this approach ! It is really an approach more bands should take instead of twenty on the dozens hypes. Live Suranne is a demo(nstration release) by approach and intent.

Fractale has been put in the Zeuhl label and that is probably right too. But I as a fan of the jazzier side of the Canterbury scene does find a lot of pleasures on this album too. The music is dominated by alto sax and other woodwinds. The music is a blend of Latin-American jazz, Zeuhl and some Balkan jazz. That and RIO too. The chamber rock orchestra vibe from the RIO scene is clearly there. The melodies are both accessible and avant-garde at the same time. The sound is very good too.

Very good is the verdict I would give this album. Fractale still has some work to do before they are where they want to be. But this demonstration of their intentions still promises a lot and I am sure they will extract the last percentages and become a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime; this is a release well worth investing in.

3.5 stars

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 Live Suranné by FRACTALE album cover Live, 2010
3.66 | 39 ratings

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Live Suranné
Fractale Zeuhl

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Now for something a little different... Suranne is the debut live EP of French saxophonist Julian Julien's group Fractale. He has released some solo studio albums previously but this is the first release of his new group. Julian studied classical music before discovering Jazz and, later, progressive rock. This project was originally inspired by the Javier Marias book "Tomorrow In Battle, Think Of Me." There is in fact a lot of inspiration from books and film on the music of Fractale. Some of the musical ideas were taken from background music in some films for example.

The music of Fractale is entirely instrumental and features just wind instruments (sax, trumpet, tuba, etc.) and drums. However, the baritone sax and tuba are electric and put through effects pedals. In addition, Julian has pre-programmed sounds playing from his laptop while the band plays in time to those sounds. If this wasn't a live recording you might be fooled into thinking it was somebody playing a synth. The music itself is generally lively and is maybe too jazz to be considered rock and too rock to be considered jazz. The laptop adds a welcome spacey element to the proceedings. The rhythm is more of a rock or funk type most of the time. The wind instruments make great interplay with each other but rarely solo as such.

This music is tightly composed and leaves little room for improvisation; that is one of the things it has in common with Zeuhl. The rhythms are fairly Magma-esque, but unlike the majority of Zeuhl, vocals and bass guitar have no place here. Stated influences include Miles Davis, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and Genesis. Now the last two throw people off, but I detect some influence from the horn-heavy Atom Heart Mother. The spacey vibes puts the music more in a Gong vein. For a jazz-rock oriented group they tend to stick to a groove, as opposed to many fusion groups who try to be as technical as possible. The sound is decent but not crystal clear; this music must be more powerful being in the audience.

The first five tracks were recorded in 2008, I'm not sure when the other two were. The last two tracks are sonically inferior to the main five tracks. Those five do not have a title and are presented not in any kind of numerical order. On Youtube there are also videos of the group performing numbered pieces not on this EP. The two recording dates contain slightly different line-ups and instrumentation. "Partie VI" is the shortest track and may be more improv oriented. "Partie V" is the longest track of the main five and is probably the highlight of the whole EP. A little bit more spacey than the other tracks.

The first bonus track "Sans papiers" is a highlight and is generally a very upbeat and happy sounding song for the most part. Some actual soloing here. "Clementine" is more chamber-prog sounding compared to the rest of the EP. Great guitar-like solo from I don't know which instrument. The electronics here benefit the song. This is a mix of Zeuhl (both the darker, rhythm heavy as well as the lighter, soulful variety), spacey electronics, jazz-rock and a little bit of avant-prog. I really like the cover and pictures of fractals in general. I enjoyed this music very much and hope they record a proper studio album in the near future. A studio recording will not improve the performance but will give the music clarity and an extra punch. Recommended to Zeuhl fans, although don't expect any vocals or roaring bass. 4 stars.

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