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JULIAN JULIEN

Jazz Rock/Fusion • France


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Julian Julien biography
Julian Julien is the frontman and founder member of the instrumental jazzy-Zheul collective Fractale (free-form heavy-jazz improvs. One album has been published under this name and entitled Live Suranné, 2008)

Julian Julien started his composing works back in the early 90s. He first released an orchestrated live piece La tombe des lucioles (1993), then follows up on a soundtrack for the french documentary "Mémoire d'un maître chien". He finally auto-published his first complete album entitled Tupperware et Bibelot in between 1998 and 1999. in 2000 is published the album "Terre", then "Strange" (2006). The musical signature of these two official efforts oscillate between avant-garde-minimalism (mantric-like meditation) and psyched-out jazz. the musical direction sounds close to the world inflected jazz of Oregon, Codona, Brother Ah (...)the classical minimal epics of Jon Hassel, Ingram Marshall (with the add of punchy cosmic grooves) with a discreet reminiscence to Magma, Dün and a few others Zheul classics.

Groovy virtuoso featuring some astonishing folkish-ragadelic energies, an avalanche of variations and luminously orchestrated textures

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3.59 | 13 ratings
Terre
2000
3.84 | 19 ratings
Strange
2006

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JULIAN JULIEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Content Development & Krautrock Team

4 stars Julian Julien is an eclectic-multifaceted jazzy rock musician whose career began in the early 90s with the publication of La tombe des lucioles and with soundtracky recording experiences. He released a few solo albums before to form the collective Fractal. These albums that range stylistically from progressive rockin standards (Zheul / RIO / Kosmische music) to soulful jazz (with eastern inflected tendencies) have been published during the last decade. As a musical writer Julian julien develops a radical aptitude for an unique combination of styles, marvelously creative and always surfing on the challenging side of music. Strange is the second offering after the release of the raga-ish-world jazzy outfit entitled Terre (2000). Published in 2006, Strange reveals Julian Julien's qualities as an instrumentalist but also his interest for experimental soundscaping composition. We can notice a particular approach to music which favors film scores and a cinematic sound aesthetism. The world inflected flavor we can hear on Terre is less substantial despite the presence of some relevant exotic-percussive improvised sound textures. The album captures the attention on soloing progressive rockin excursions, largely improvised and based on a strong repetitive rhythmical section. The improvised parts are always groovy, epic, hypnotically melodious. The inter-musical exchanges remind me the vigourously avant-gardist "krauty" dimension of Et-Cetera, Drum Circus (...) and the "landscape music" side of Alice Coltran. Expansive, quietly psychedelic, charmingly meditative with some compelling moments and great dynamics, Strange is beyond any classification and remains warmly recommended for the prog-leading audience.

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Did you ever get an album that sounds nothing like you thought it would even after reading several reviews on it before hand ? Well for me this certainly is one of those records. Listed under Jazz / Rock / Fusion and getting plenty of high ratings I couldn't wait to get this recording. I almost did a double take when I started to listen to it the first time, and as the album played on it was clear in my world that this has nothing to do with Jazz, Rock or Fusion (haha). Maybe World Music but we don't have that category here so...maybe this is the best place for it. I have listened to this much more often than I usually would before a review simply because Julian sent me this cd and I did want to like it. This just isn't a style of music i'm into at all. Lots of strings and percussion sounds dominate. This has two violinists, a violincelloist, along with sitar, guitar, djembe, tablas and more. Julian does the keyboards and programming.

"Leh" along with "Plante" are the two tracks i do enjoy. This opener features lots of strings and percussion. Get used to it. "Cirque" has these intricate sounds and a circus-like rhythm. "Charlotte" is one i'm not a fan of at all. It sounds like toy keyboards until a change almost 2 minutes in when the strings come to the fore. "What's Democratie ?" opens with percussion then piano and vocal expressions come in. Catchy stuff as these sounds come and go. "Tinananana" has more female vocal melodies, percussion and intricate sounds. "Le Caquou" opens with what sounds like crickets. A collage of intricate and exotic sounds take over. The crickets are back to end it.

"Sophie" has a cool intro then a beat takes over with what sounds like flute helping out. "Cosmos" is percussion and keyboard led. I think. It's spacey late. "Plante" sounds excellent once it kicks in. Sounds like electric piano too. "Strange" is very oriental sounding. In fact yesterday a customer called and i had to go in the back where the speakers are and I knew he would hear the music pretty clearly. Anyway he says "Your listening to oriental music eh? " So i explained the situation to him. "Noturne Indien" features lots of strings and percussion. "Untitled" ends it with an oriental vibe. Not a fan of this one.

Clearly there are people on this site who really like this album so check it out.

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Strange indeed

Second offer who came almost six years after his first offer named very well Strange from 2006 is almost in same manner as previous work, I can't trace any improvement, musicaly speaking. Some RIo avant prog with ethnick folk is what I find here, at some point was hard to digest this release, as first one to tell the truth, but in the end is not bad, only is not my cup of tea this kind of music, really. Julian Julien is a good musician who really know what is doing , but falls to imprese me big time. As the title imply is really strange for my taste. All pieces are ok, no highlights. 3 stars.

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 Terre by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.59 | 13 ratings

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Terre
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Julian Julien from France is quite a new name for me. Even he releases two albums under his name long ago I've only came across of his work recently. He is a multi instumentalist but specialy a saxophonist, knowing him from band Fractale. Well his first album released in 2000 named Terre is an ethnic album with some jazz leanings, I can't trace here as aswell on his second offer those jazz fusion passages. Is quite an unusual album for me, not bad but I can't say that this is my kind of music I want to here every day. The album has plenty of improvised sections with many instruments working at full capacity, trombone, tabla, sax and others. Overall is pleasent, but something is missing in overall sound, to much world or ethnic parts and less jazz fusion arrangements. To me only 3 stars, ok but far from being something groundbreaking.

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Strange" is the second album of French composer Julian Julien, a truly talented musician who also chooses the correct people to work with. For this 200 release, besides Julien, there are at least five guest musicians who make this album possible, sharing their talent with the instruments that will produce the eclectic sound "Strange" offers. The album features twelve compositions that make a total time of 48 minutes.

It opens with "Leh" which has a violin since the very first second, later tabla and sitar join, making a mid-east tune that let us fly to distant places. This first piece is beautiful, yet sorrowful; an excellent introductory track. "Cirque" has some strings in the first seconds and then all of a sudden changes, keyboards produce new shadows and moods. This track could be used as the background of a weird movie scene, like some surreal circus, showing in one side the happiness that clowns must share, and in the other hand, the sadness those clowns have behind their disguise. Hope you get me.

"Charlotte" has weird keyboard tunes that are accompanied by tabla and sitar, making once again that mid-east sound, combined with a European flavor. There is later a great violin, and a curious child-like sound. "What's democratie?" is a wonderful composition that is closer to the world-music realm. It honestly reminds me a bit of Thievery Corporation, a band that has nothing to do with progressive rock, but that also takes different cultural elements that are represented in music. Here we can listen to a cool rhythm made by percussion, while a female chorus sings and piano and guitar background complement it. At half the track there is a change, the music slows down, a tense atmosphere is kept by keyboards while strings make it gentler. Later it returns, and finishes as it began.

"Tinananan" is a shorter track with a nice mixture of world and electronic music, the sitar and female voice take us to India, but with always a fresh sound. "Le Caquou" is another feast of Indian and European music, I like these compositions and how Julien combines different cultures and uses different elements to create such a good music. In "Sophie" the electronic sound predominates and leads, while percussion and flute make their appearance later.

"Cosmos" is one of the longer tracks here. It starts with violin and then percussion and keyboards join and produce a soft, delicate rhythm that is delicious. Later it is progressing little by little, adding elements while the seconds pass and increasing the energy. Very good song! "Planete" is a weaker track, with a chill-out mood, without leaving the world-music rhythm.

The longest composition is "Strange", reaching the seven minute mark. It is a very rich track because it gathers everything this album has offered so far. Here we can listen to violin, sitar and nice percussions that show the mid-east, Indian flavor of the music, while piano put a jazzy mood on it. Later it is developing passages and adding new elements, so in a place the electronic music is shown here, but not as obvious as in other tracks. Here I also like the bass sound, which I had not perceived before.

"Nocturne Indien" is a very cool song that reminds me a bit of the opener track of this album. The elements used are practically the same, Indian-like music and in the end electronic tunes. The final track is "No Name" which adds a soft and peaceful mood made by keyboards and accompanied by winds and percussion. A very good closer!

After having listened to Julien's two solo albums and his live one with Fractale, I can say I have the arms wide open to his upcoming projects, since I have enjoyed each and every of them, because the music is simply excellent. My final grade, four stars.

Enjoy it!

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Colours

I was really curious about his release. Julian's debut had sparked my imagination with its playful nature, and coming into this second one I think it's safe to say that I was expecting quite a bit.

Firstly, Julian is a brilliant composer, and here I am not talking about your everyday rock n' roll writer, nor fusion artist for that matter - no he is really a genuine musical persona. He seems to have hit a niche of his own, where eastern acoustic instruments co-exist with French accordions, violons and cellos. Now we've all heard music that takes its inspiration from that whole east meets west thing - in fact going way back to 66 you had The Paul Butterfield Blues Band issuing an album with the apt title of East-West, so we are certainly not reinventing the wheel here. Mind you, there is some wonderful experimentation going on here, that I have serious trouble describing without coming off as some kind of wine connoisseur. Maybe we're talking Indo-Raga chamber fusion here? I'm not that sure, but the way all of these stunning instruments from all over the globe melt together to form whatever playful dough - is quite simply a stroke of genius.

We've got djembes, violin, electric guitars, from time to time middle eastern lingering vocals, piano, accordion, electronic wizardry - such as the strange buzzing watery effects that creep up on some of the tracks. Lastly we get Sitar and tablas thrown into the mix, and swoosh we're off to Pakistan on some rather bizarre flying French wind sweeps.

My one gripe with Julian's debut was the lack of bottom in the sonic spectrum. In other words: I needed some bass! Well I'd like to say that this one boasts a lot more of this bottom dwelling musical beast, but that is not the case really. Yet I find this album to be much more round and wholesome. I think it's the samples and electronics that give off some kind of natural booming carpet underneath all of the other instruments. I'm not that sure actually, but the fact of the matter is still that Strange strikes me as a much more mature record. It flows very gracefully throughout its span time of 48 minutes.

Just as its predecessor this one also conjures up some wild and colourful motifs inside this Dane's increasingly confused head, and I find myself carried on soothing rhythmic notes to a land of smoke filled bazaars with Algerian French musicians and Indian DJs all jamming along to whatever comes natural to them at the time. The streets are sand coloured and narrow, so everybody are in the middle of everything - standing shoulder to shoulder beside yellow rocky bungalows that overflow with red, purple and bluish pieces of cloth bobbing wildly along to the airwaves and the beat. Everything is so close and intimate that you feel like the mad furious musicians playing music that reeks of spices and herbal tobacco, are sitting comfortably on your lap whilst greeting the morning rays of sun after a beautiful night of music and people.

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars French composer and instrumentalist Julian JULIEN made his solo artist debut back in 1999, and has since produced and released two more outings. "Strange" is the most recent of these efforts, issued by Cristal Records back in 2007.

A touch of jazz and a touch of folk music liberally flavored with exotic sounds and rhythms is what Julian Julien has to offer on his 2007 production "Strange". And with plenty of sequences sporting a distinct raga motif, those fond of progressive folk music in general and the psychedelic variety of it in particular appear to be something of a key audience for this CD. More varied in stylistic span than what one might surmise, not quite as varied in performance as one might ideally hope, but a fine production, by and large, and relatively unique at that.

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars "Leh" is how Ladakh is spelled in Tibetan, and the oriental inspiration is more than evident in this track that's a fusion between a string quartet and raga music. Tablas and violin create a special situation: the first by playing a melting and sad melody while the other strings give the rhythm, while the indian instruments work as accompaniment, even the rhythmic ones, adding the oriental touch to the track. Probably it's only my impression, but I hear a sort of regret for the current situation on Tibet, even if Ladakh is currently part of India.

The second track "Cirque" is even more contaminated. It starts with a harp sound, likely a keyboard then after a short pause it suddenly becomes grotesque. This vision of the Circus is very close to that of the movie director Fellini. If anybody has seen "8 and a half" or some of his paintings will surely understand what I mean. The track has a sad melody that the circus distorted sounds enrich of weirdness.

"Charlotte" has an unusual Reggae rhythm but the sounds used don't have any Calypso influence. There are strings. Bells and percussions add a touch of far east. This is a melodic track, with a very simple sequence of chords and an intriguing arrangement plus a short mention of "Pagliacci", the opera written by Leoncavallo that I don't think is casual also thinking to the track's title. I also think to "Charlot", as Charlie Chaplin was nicknamed in France and in Italy.

"What's Democracie?" starts funky with tribal percussions and vocals whose world mood goes from America to India. The title is possibly referring to the 3rd world countries whose peoples have probably never heard of democracy. The question is repeated by a male voice several times. The track has a strong "world music" flavor. Very interesting. A gong closes it.

"Tinananan" is apparently a patchwork. Started by techno percussion on which an indian female voice sings, soon acquires a rub-a-dub tempo on which the sitar makes his appearance. A very original track contaminated by world and techno.

"Le Caquou" is one of the most ethnic tracks which seems to cross the whole Asian Southeast since India to Indonesia passing through China. A very imaginative track to be enjoyed on headphones.

"Sophie" has a chill-out mood. The tempo marked by an electronic drum kit and the synthetic flute playing on major chords make it very relaxing. I'm quite sure to have heard an electric guitar. Also this track ends with a gong.

"Cosmos" is a bit darker than the previous one. This track is lead by the piano and it's the one with more evident jazz influences but with more than a touch of Canterbury with the violin taking an important role. The second half of the track fades out in a psychedelic environment.

Now the gong opens a track instead of closing it. "Planète" is another electronic-chill-out track made of different parts tied together, but all very relaxing and sometimes hypnotic. A good track to relax with closed eyes.

The gong opens also the title track, but this is so ethnic and so Indian that if it wasn't for the clean piano, could be confused with some of the ethnic Senmuth's tracks, also because it is one of the darkest of the album and features Indian female vocals. I have to say that it has something vaguely Floydian, too. The jazzy piano and the fretless bass in the last two minutes are supported by tablas and by an ethnic string instrument (I'm not expert in this matter).

"Nocturne Indien" proceeds with the contamination of a string chamber rock ensemble with the indian ethnic, but this time the symphonic element is more relevant than the ethnic one. The track ends with some electronic noises incredibly close to the ambient side of Senmuth. I say incredibly because they are two very different artists coming from opposite genres. The indian element is the link.

The closer "No Name" is closer to Zeuhl. The indian element disappears to leave room to a church organ which closes the album.

This is a good starting point to explore Julien, not too challenging but never trivial.

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Julian Julien is not only an intelligent and gifted artist but a pretty smart marketer as well, spreading news of his craft with strategic placement of his material into the laps of the reviewers and critics who populate the prog realm. This is a sensible move mostly due to the immutable fact that his music isn't exactly commercial or even easy listening, a tiny interval between jazz, avant-garde, world and with a "saupoudree" of zeuhl to seal the deal. This makes for some ardent listening that requires multiple listens before the magic sinks in. With a title like "Strange' what do you think is on the menu? Indeed, odd sounds abound, very much attuned to the urban cacophony that osculates the maddening crowds, the hustle and bustle of daily civic machines are expressed via sound and fury.

"Leh" is a perfect window onto the street, as orchestral strings play a sad lament. The electric sitar and the hand percussion revive the current realities of Paris, a city that is French in architecture and African in its aromas, a cosmopolitan miasma of bubbling contradictions and contrasts. This trend continues all the way through the album, showcasing the modern social realities of urban living, the merry go round lilt and innocent nature of the strident "Cirque" seeking to evoke the escapism that cities provide only in small occasional droplets. "Charlotte" is a whimsical keyboard ditty that again displays a certain child-like simplicity within a complex dissonance, screeching strings, gurgling synths and playful elegance. On the fascinating "What's Democratie?", Julien displays the distinctions between the "arrondissement" and the "casbah", a heady mixture of North African sounds and European structures democratically united in some temporal harmony, with assorted voices doing most of the weaving. Things get even more exotic on the brief "Tinananana", a ultra-modern electronica beat, spiced with tablas, derboukas, djembes and Michel Guay's slithering sitar, creating a fascinating snapshot of sound. "Le Caquou" is more of a string driven thing, again heavily loaded with aromatic percussives, swerving electric sitar. We were introduced earlier to the seductive Charlotte , now Julien has us meet "Sophie", a sultry little demoiselle , who seemingly exudes a ephemeral attitude, surely quite confident of her sensual looks, as she strolls down the avenue. This is a breezy affair, with electric guitar ruling the roost. Off to deep space for a while, first with orchestral "Cosmos", perhaps the most structured composition up to now, somehow reminiscent of mid-period Can, where the piano takes a predominant role and does so convincingly, still fueled by an array of percussion. This is certainly my favorite track here, as the sonic scope can be breathtaking. Got to land somewhere and "Planete" is chosen as an LZ, an echoing gong sets the craft in motion, spiced by cool polyphonic beats, distant e-piano and assorted effects. Another gong bash introduces the epic piece here, the 7 minute+ title track, "Strange" is in fact a perfect highlight reel for Julien's artform, as it encompasses all of the ingredients mentioned above, except this has a stronger zeuhl feel perhaps due to the groaning bass notes in the low ground that are fascinating to behold. Again, German legends Can come to mind, where massive amounts of colliding sounds coalesce smartly together. Modern, eclectic, jazz, world, zeuhl, electronica and piano etude all conspire to take this somewhere exotic, original and special. "Nocturne Indien" is a gently somber farewell that has a setting sun feel, still highly innovative and an untitled bonus track that defies description, led by a classic organ (that very French accordion sound) and a most welcome finale to this rather strange disc. Unique and sophisticated without falling into redundancies, make Strange a sobering inclusion into an already eclectic progressive universe.

Merci, mon pote et bonjour a Sophie et Charlotte

4 etranges etoiles

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 Strange by JULIEN, JULIAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 19 ratings

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Strange
Julian Julien Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Strange" is Julian Julien second solo album, and even if different from his debut it is not really "strange". If "Terre" was elegant mix of RIO and French urban folk with some Latin flavor, "Strange" is more exotic brew of oriental tunes,tasty melodies,string arrangements and multilayered electronics.

Collaborators team are totally different on this album comparing with its predecessor ( even if here are lot of strings as well). Music's texture is rich combining Indian strings,Oriental percussion with pure electronic rhythms - far not always such combination could be successful, but here it is a rare case when nothing sounds plasticky or flat.

Often big dose of electronics kills soul of composition, here music sounds surprisingly alive.Some moments reminded me early Nordic nu jazz (NP Molvaer,etc), but more often music sounded as soundtrack to dynamic movie where main heroes change geographical place of action every few minutes.

Nice and not boring release for fans of world fusion/electronics mix.Different but as good as Julien's debut - 3.5.

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Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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