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Neo-Prog • France

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Saens biography
Saens' story begins in 1996. Pascal Bouquillard, looking for an engineer to record his band's debut demo, comes across Vynce Leff, who also ends up acting as producer. Leff, loving what he hears, cannot resist, and adds some of his guitar "bits". From there, with some web discussions between the then band members & Leff, the decision is made to add him as band main guitarist.
At that time, they were finishing what would be their demo & eventual debut "Sagesse" (Les Regrets d'Isidore D.).
Then in 1998, they contact Mellow Records , who are very receptive to this debut recording, and agree to act as distributor.
At this point the group presents its' first shows. Although Bouquillard has been playing with the "Trio Français de Guitare", this is his debut playing his own compositions.
December 1999, their debut is released - "Les Regrets d'Isidore D.". As such, their luck is improving as they finalize a contract with Cyclops, a record label , who show much enthusiasm for this, their initial release.
But then a "big" change. They go from being called "Sens" to "Saens". As "Sens" is already taken in the wild west atmosphere of the web URL address world, they make the change over so as to distinguish themselves. Along with that, no harm that the new name brings to mind a grand composer. Plus, in English, it still is pronounced "sense".
Of course, the question, a french group that sings in English ? Two reasons - first - the ability to reach a wider public, and also, the belief that their type of music, prog, lends itself more to english lyrics. So while their debut owed much to Sophie Michel 's lyrics, they took over the task themselves on "Escaping From The Hands Of God", and found the end result to their liking. For those who long for a further francophone effort, the group still has in mind another release eventually with Michel as their lyricist, as they still have at heart a strong gallic pride in their language.
While compared to Ange at their beginning, they more readily see themselves as following British groups such as Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, Pink Floyd, and surprise - Genesis.
But to those who know their music well, they stand as standard bearers of the neo-prog banner.
Building on prog past, but believing in the future of prog.

Current line-up
Pascal Bouquillard - Lead vocals, bass, classical guitar.
Vynce Leff - Guitars, vocals, keyboards, wind synths, ...
Recording, editi...
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Camille Saint-Saens : Camille Saint-Saens: Samson Et Dalila CD (2009) USD $10.00 Buy It Now 1h 33m
Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens, Janowski USD $5.00 Buy It Now 1h 45m
AUDIOPHILE 200g - CHARLES MUNCH / Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 / RCA-AP, LSC-2341 USD $19.99 [0 bids]
2h 49m
TAS LIST 180g - RUBINSTEIN / Saint-Saens Piano Concerto / RCA-CLASSIC LSC-2234 USD $24.99 [0 bids]
2h 50m
SEALED 180g TAS LP - PARAY / Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 / Mercury-Decca SR 90012 USD $19.99 [0 bids]
2h 53m
SAINT-SAENS - Violin Concerto #3 / Introduction & Rondo FRANCESCATTI JAPAN 10" USD $9.95 Buy It Now 4h 28m
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JANINE JANSEN S/T CD BRAND NEW Violin Tchaikovsky Khachaturian Saint-Saens Ravel USD $9.52 Buy It Now 5h 15m
Saint-Saens / Mork / - Cello Concertos & Other Works [New SACD] USD $19.71 Buy It Now 5h 17m
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C. Saens / Jan Krayb - Saint Saens: Symphony No. 3 Organ [New SACD] USD $15.64 Buy It Now 5h 24m
SAINT-SAENS / POULENC / HINDEMITH / SCHUMANN - Oboe Sonatas - John MACK - NEW USD $19.57 [0 bids]
5h 35m
Lalo / Saint-Saens: Cello Concertos (Jean Martinon) : Pierre Fournier USD $13.05 Buy It Now 5h 45m
Zukerman Saint-Saens Rondo Vieuxtemps Concerto Rare Australian LP Vinyl USD $7.90 Buy It Now 5h 46m
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Saint Saens:complete Piano Works V4 - Geoffrey Burleson Compact Disc USD $19.29 Buy It Now 6h 52m
7h 11m
7h 11m
7h 11m
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Gregor Piatigorsky Saint-Saens Masterworks X-182-(2) 78 Records Book Albums~READ USD $26.99 Buy It Now 7h 36m
421 427-1 Chabrier Dukas Saint-Saens Ibert Fete A La Francaise Montreal Dutoit USD $52.19 Buy It Now 7h 52m
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SLS 5035 Saint-Saens The 5 Symphonies French National Radio Orch Jean Martinon USD $26.10 Buy It Now 7h 57m
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Dvorak / Saint-Saens Cello Concerto Rostropovitch HMV EMI 1C 037-0192 LP USD $19.99 Buy It Now 8h 19m
Saint-Saens: Complete Piano Works (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $15.76 Buy It Now 8h 20m
Saint-Saens: Symphonies (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $10.07 Buy It Now 8h 21m
STOTT / GOODE / ALSOPSaint-Saens PIANO CONC NO.2 CD BBC MM90 1999 USD $7.82 Buy It Now 8h 23m
ASD 2946 Saint-Saens Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 / Martinon USD $7.82 Buy It Now 8h 29m
FALP 556 Lalo Symphonie Espagnole Menuhin Saint-Saens Goossens LVDSM HMV FRANCE USD $19.56 Buy It Now 8h 54m
Heifetz: Showpieces by Edouard Lalo, Camille Saint-Saens, Pablo de Sarasate, Er USD $6.39 Buy It Now 9h 16m
Angel 3639 C/L Saint-Saens Samson et Dalila PRETRE 3LP SEALED USD $12.99 [0 bids]
9h 42m
Chopin Concerto No. 2 Saint-Saens Concerto No. 4 RCA Victor LM-1871 USD $8.49 Buy It Now 9h 51m
Faure - Saint Saens - Lalo - Works For Cello & Orchestra - Vinyl Record Album USD $9.12 Buy It Now 10h 13m
Charles Camille Saint-Saens CONCERTO No.2 for Piano & Orchestra ALG 3028 RECORD USD $18.71 Buy It Now 10h 49m
Jean Martinon - Saint-Saens Symphony No 3 LP Angel SQ-1-37122 NM- In Shrink USD $4.99 Buy It Now 11h 12m
Offenbach, Saint Saens, Dukas by Lorin Maazel and the Orchestre France LP Record USD $4.70 Buy It Now 11h 56m
ARTHUR GRUMIAUX, SAINT-SAENS CONCERTO N° 3 50'S 10'inch PHILIPS 05354 USD $15.00 Buy It Now 11h 57m
Pierre Fournier Cello Works Mint 3 CD Saint-Saens Schubert Schnabel Beethoven USD $6.00 [0 bids]
USD $10.00 Buy It Now
12h 15m
Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole / Saint-Saens: Violin Concerto No. 3 / Chausson: Poeme USD $5.93 Buy It Now 12h 44m
CD: Imrich Szabo CSR Symphony Orchestra Saint-Saens Symphony #3 1988 Naxos USD $15.12 Buy It Now 13h 17m
CD: Jean-Jacques Kantorow SAINT-SAENS Africa Symphonies #2 & Urbs Roma BIS USD $15.12 Buy It Now 13h 17m
CD: Roland Pidoux JEAN HUBEAU Saint-Saens Sonates # 1 &2 1993 Erato USD $10.33 Buy It Now 13h 19m
CD: Miami String Quartet Saint-Saens FAURE The String Quartets 1997 Conifer USD $7.94 Buy It Now 13h 19m
CD: W. Thomas CARMEN PIAZZINI Saint-Saens Works for Violincello USD $7.94 Buy It Now 13h 19m
CD: Charles Munch BSO Saint-Saens Symphony #3 Debussy La Mer 1993 RCA Victor USD $7.94 Buy It Now 13h 19m
Saint-Saens / Schumann - Cello Concertos / Janos Starker / Dowel Spine / UK 1958 USD $23.19 Buy It Now 13h 44m
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CD: James Ehnes Wendy Chen RAVEL DEBUSSY SAINT-SAENS USD $19.91 Buy It Now 14h 32m
Paray/Dupre SAINT-SAENS Symphony No.3 - Mercury SR 90012 RFR-7/RFR-10 USD $9.99 [0 bids]
15h 12m
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Paganini Saint-Saens Concertos Francescatti 6 EYE LP USD $25.00 Buy It Now 15h 36m
Gaubert, Jeanjean, Saint-Saens, Messager~David Harman & John York~SEALED/NEW USD $19.51 Buy It Now 15h 39m
Camille Saint-Saens - Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 "Organ"; Danse Macabre CD 1985 USD $3.26 [0 bids]
16h 37m
Best of Saint-Saens (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $13.70 Buy It Now 16h 37m
Saint-Saens Carnival of The Animals.Felix Slatkin Conducting..20 Track LP ~EX/VG USD $3.85 Buy It Now 17h 2m
Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 In C Minor Jean Martinon 8-Track New Pads USD $19.95 Buy It Now 17h 3m
Saint-Saens / Yann B - Saint-Saens: Melodies Avec Orchestre [New CD] USD $14.69 Buy It Now 17h 9m
CD CAMILLE SAINT-SAENS - Carnaval des animaux - CHARLES DUTOIT 1986 {Saëns} USD $11.93 Buy It Now 17h 32m
RCA RED SEAL Sarasate Saint-Saens Chausson HEIFETZ SHOWPIECES LSC-3232(e) EX+ USD $13.77 Buy It Now 17h 35m
Saint-Saens / Bertra - Saint-Saens: Cello Concerto, Cello Sonatas Nos. 2 And 3 [ USD $16.81 Buy It Now 17h 38m
Various ?- Romantic Classics (CD 2001) Saint Saens; Schonberg; Holst; Offenbach USD $2.60 [0 bids]
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Saint-Saens / Yann B - Saint-Saens: Melodies Avec Orchestre [New CD] USD $15.81 Buy It Now 17h 41m
Saint-Saens: Cello Concerto, Sonata No.1 et CD 1998 DGG Mischa Maisky OCO Hovoro USD $2.60 [0 bids]
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Saint-Saens Le Carneval dex Animaux Symphony No 3 Organ CD NICE Suddeutsche Phil USD $4.95 Buy It Now 18h 2m
IVRY GITLIS - SAINT-SAENS violins concertos PHILIPS STEREO LP EX++ USD $26.25 Buy It Now 18h 13m
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Camille Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op.78 (Organ Symph) USD $19.00 Buy It Now 18h 58m
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Maria Kliegel, C. Saint-Saens - Cello Sonatas 1 & 2 [New CD] USD $11.14 Buy It Now 19h 23m
Classical Saint-Saens and Dukas CD by Philadelphia Orchestra USD $3.75 Buy It Now 19h 23m
Complete Piano Trios - C. Saint-Saens (SACD Used Very Good) Sacd USD $14.32 Buy It Now 19h 28m
Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3 Virgil Fox Ormandy 1974 RCA Records promo new sealed! USD $21.99 Buy It Now 19h 31m

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SAENS discography

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

3.95 | 22 ratings
Les Regrets d'Isidore D.
3.67 | 50 ratings
Escaping from the Hands of God
3.54 | 30 ratings
Prophet in a Statistical World

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

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SAENS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Escaping from the Hands of God by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 50 ratings

Escaping from the Hands of God
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

3 stars This is the follow-up to 1999's 'Les Regrets d'Isidore D' that was released on Mellow records when the band were called Sens. I haven't heard that album, but if it is of the same quality as this one then I do need to search it out. This is a combination of instrumentals and songs, with five of them at over eleven minutes in length. It is a truly progressive album, one that those who feel that the neo-prog movement is too constrained will fall in love with immediately. I can see why label boss Malcolm Parker is hailing this as the album of the year, and while I will not go that far (we long ago agreed that our personal tastes differ) I will say that it is an album that does need to be heard by progheads. It did take a few listens to get into, as is sometimes the case with prog, but that isn't altogether a bad thing. The band are French and they have little in common with much of the UK or American prog bands, although it could be argued that they have taken some influences from the Canterbury scene. Their influences for the most part are much more in line with classical music and jazz, while bringing it altogether in a style that often takes a while to make sense of. The first time I heard the album I wasn't convinced at all, as it was going straight over me with just the few neo-prog passages actually connecting, but the more I played it the more I could understand what was going on. It is not prog that is immediate but those who persevere with this will be rewarded with one of the more truly progressive albums around.

Originally appeared in Feedback #69, Aug 02

 Les Regrets d'Isidore D. by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.95 | 22 ratings

Les Regrets d'Isidore D.
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Before Saens acquired the "a" in their name and put out the remarkable Escaping From the Hands of God, they put out this competent and highly enjoyable neo-prog album which shows the influence of bands such as IQ and Arena. The jazzier keyboard playing which had tickled my fancy on the followup is absent, and at points the production seems a little sparse and the keyboards sound a little cheap, but for the most part Saens/Sens rise above these constraints and deliver a set of songs which are stronger than the rest of the pack, even if the band haven't quite hit on their unique sound yet. Pascal Bouquillard's lead vocals deserve a nod for the theatrical, dramatic flair they add to proceedings, reminiscent of the work of Christian Décamps in Ange; indeed, those who particularly like that aspect of Ange's work will find this a worthy homage to that style whilst those who find Décamps' vocal approach irritating may find Bouguillard's work similarly ruins the mood for them.
 Escaping from the Hands of God by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 50 ratings

Escaping from the Hands of God
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars At first, Saens' Escaping From the Hands of God seems like a fairly typical Genesis-influenced neo-prog album - perhaps reminiscent of Arena from somewhere between Songs From the Lion's Cage and The Visitor. However, repeated and careful listens reveal hidden depths in the music, such as jazzy keyboard playing which at points becomes reminiscent of Canterbury classics of the past, along with a theatrical vocal style that puts me in mind of the work of Ange. Far from your typical Genesis/Marillion-influenced neo-prog, Escaping From the Hands of God presents a distinctly Gallic take on the subgenre which sinks or swims based on how much patience you have for the particular vocal style used.
 Prophet in a Statistical World by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.54 | 30 ratings

Prophet in a Statistical World
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars SAENS are a French band who've created a concept album of sorts here based on four books including "1984" , "Brave New World" , "This Perfect Day" and "Time Machine". I have to admit i'm not a fan of the vocals here or the male and female choirs that help out. And clocking in at 73 1/2 minutes it makes for a long listen.

"XX84" opens with some atmosphere as synths hover in the background. Vocals arrive around a minute then it picks up. A calm returns before 4 1/2 minutes then it rebuilds with some good guitar. "Suite No.2 (Prelude)" is a short piece with classical-like guitar throughout. "Lenina" features vocals and a fairly powerful sound.The tempo does change quite often on this one. Some vocal arrangements after 3 minutes I don't like. Choirs before 8 minutes then we get a mellow final minute. "Time Machine" opens with the synths rolling in followed by guitar then a beat. Vocals join in too. A calm 6 minutes in. Powerful organ before 7 1/2 minutes then it kicks in.Vocals are back at 9 minutes. A calm before 11 1/2 minutes with reserved vocals. "Forbidden Dreams" starts with atmosphere as the guitar rises up out of it before a minute.The tempo picks up before 3 minutes.The guitar reminds me of Oldfield here. Vocals before 5 minutes. "Welcome" is a short piece with vocal arrangements that do little for me.

"Statistical World" is better instrumentally but I still find the vocals poor. "I Wanna Be Free" features some passionate vocals. "Libera Me" is mostly choirs. "The Prophet" is fairly laid back with vocals. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes then it kicks back in before 5 minutes with guitar. A guitar solo 8 minutes in as well. "Revolution" kicks in before a minute. A nice heavy sound here but the vocals aren't that great. "Freedom" features choirs but also bass,drums and guitar.

Barely 3 stars really. A disappointment but i'm sure the Prog fan will find lots to like.

 Escaping from the Hands of God by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 50 ratings

Escaping from the Hands of God
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Having been tempted by some positive promotion from their record company Cyclops (well it would be wouldn't it) I bought Escaping The Hands Of God upon its release in 2002. I must admit it was an album of initial disappointment and hasn't received too many plays over the years. However it's an album that due to reasons I'll go into in a minute requires a lot of perseverance to fully discover.

Firstly at 74 minutes there's a lot of music to wade through with six compositions, all except one over 10 minutes and most considerably more. Saens have produced a complex and to a large extent, dark sounding album. There's a lot going on here and most of the melodies require a bit of digging to discover. Vocalist Pascal Bouquillard doesn't have the most endearing voice, a bit whinny at times and isn't the most melodic of singers. Incidentally although Saens are a French band unlike fellow countrymen Nemo, Bouquillard chooses to sing in English for the most part and will likely be an acquired taste for most people.

Another problem is that although the music holds together pretty well over all, it's often a case of finding one of the more interesting sections and before you know it its gone and we're into something else. Bits come and go but are not easily remembered later. The music moves through a number of styles; we get symphonic sections, jazz influenced moments, latin (briefly), and even choral chanting giving an eclectic sound constantly shifting through complex themes. Saens are good players with some pleasing searing and fluent lead guitar work. The keyboards too hit the mark with an excellent occasional church organ sound alongside the more expected synths, piano etc.

Overall then despite the fact that Saens have produced a good album with some strong moments, it's a record that tries to be a bit too clever for its own good at times and although it has grown on me somewhat over the years it's still one to be admired more than loved.

 Les Regrets d'Isidore D. by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.95 | 22 ratings

Les Regrets d'Isidore D.
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars This is one of those rather rare hidden jewels of prog, (one paltry review) of which there are thankfully so many, that goes way below the radar, like some musical cruise missile evading all kinds of defensive radars. These 4 clever Frenchmen slap together a mighty dense wall of sound on "Marthe a la Nuit", starting out deeply atmospheric in drenched synthetic chords, stately almost ornate phrasings that evaporate slowly, coming in with a massive choir mellotron theme that has all the pain of the universe painted on its brushes. The slippery guitar slices through the haze, until the binary bass nudges this one into a groove pattern, increasingly bewitching as the axe scowls. When bassman Pascal Bouquillard grabs the mike, he transforms himself into the frontman storyteller (in the finest Ange/Christian Decamps tradition) , gilded with melodramatics that breathe , leaving huge chasms for the instrumentalists to shine. With 2 guitarists weaving their magic, as both Vincent Leff and Benoit Campedel exchanges tapestries of sonic bliss. A female voice suddenly takes this into a softer vein, only then giving Pascal the spotlight to howl his heart out. The tectonic 24 minute epic beast "La Bête du Gévaudan" remains one of the finest French prog epics ever, a whirlwind extravaganza that retains a dark, paranoid, gloomy upbeat tempo, a rather unique style to say the least, replacing mood with an almost frenetic passion (a common French intellectual attribute, BTW!). Both very classy and intense, the arrangements are a mass of continuing contrasts, mood swings and a touch of insanity as well that permeates the entire disc and future ones . Drummer Stephane Geille really shines throughout, conjuring up intricate polyrhythms while keeping it fast and ferocious. The vocal heights are slightly schizoid but pleasantly so, alternating soft whispers, trembling tirades and power howling of the hardest caliber. The eruption into frenzy is astonishing, a screeching bluesy guitar flirts its way into the soul, careening, urging and pleading. And we are only half way through the track! Gentle carillons of teaming bells add a childlike respite of purity and naïveté, enough to forage towards another plane, where acoustic guitars rule the theme, a seductive wisp of self-control explodes into an electric solo that shines. This is tremendous music of the highest caliber, both intelligent and gut felt, as expressed by the wondrous and pastoral oboe-synth solo, a magnificent touch of class and creativity. When the sobbingly drab vocal returns, it's only to infuse more awe and profound admiration for their courage, metamorphosing unannounced into the darkest, eeriest hard passage of gloom-prog, chock-full of thunderclaps and wind swirls in the undertow, forcefully relentless and armed with masterful vocals, expertly delivered by Bouquillard. Again, I must repeat succinctly =this is one hell of a fire cracker. Needs to be heard, it's so good that this track would be reprised later by the Saens offshoot on "Prophet of a Statistical World". "Le Livre" is pleasant but the predecessor was just too stunning to judge fairly but it does swerve towards a more conventional heavy ballad style that is served by an inventive and urgent fret solo. The bass takes a few bright bows, looping along vividly, paving the way towards a fanfare-symphonic finale loaded with lush orchestrations. The title cut relies anew on an acoustic guitar intro, the ideal backdrop for another convincing vocal eructation of deep internal pain, guilt and regret, just like the story demands. The transformation into a heavy groove romp is spellbinding, propelled by Gaille's secure drumming and dissonant keyboard colorations, whilst the raging guitars fulfill the sordid mandate. "D'un Coup D'Aile" is a tongue in cheek tirade on suicide (check out the cover art) as "I toss myself into space" ridicule overtakes the mood, playfully intelligent and ultimately quite clever. The outro is delicious and the playing spectacular. "Jeu de Patience" has a groveling 12 minute pulse , Bouquillard screaming convincingly while the lads sculpt another prog monolith, a dark rocker that has an incredible chorus and ebbs with matching flows , a whistling Moog solo shepherds this one along. There is a lot of attention-to-detail complexity here even though its labeled "neo" and that you can't really justify pigeon-holing anyway. Not an easy listen, constantly boiling due to the unremitting dramatics, this does require an open mind and fresh ears, not always the case for many audiophiles, prog or otherwise. The brief "La Sagesse" ends this slice of prog nirvana on a theme influenced by Paul Verlaine, the great French poet. WOW! Though there are some slight faults, the sheer technical audacity and the overt passion displayed here is breathtaking. That so few have heard this is testament to the difficulty for many non-French speakers to fully appreciate the majestic poetry of Moliere's language. Having spoken to both sides, the level of awe is clearly in favor of those who understand. 5 etoiles sans regret.
 Escaping from the Hands of God by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 50 ratings

Escaping from the Hands of God
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars To avoid any confusions, Sens changed their name soon after the release of ''Les regrets d'Isidore D.'' to Saens.The band was reached by the Cyclops label in order to sign a contract and so it happened.Another ambitious work by the French progsters was unleashed in 2001, entitled ''Escaping From the hands of god''.

Along with the name change there is also a switch from French to English lyrics on this album so the group could be tasted by a wider audience.Over 70 minutes long, the new Saens album contains six compositions, five of which are over 11 minutes long.About the content of the material the music is fairly complicated, contemporary Neo/Symphonic Prog, built around haunting atmospheres, expressive vocals and complex songwriting, lacking some of the good melodies of the debut, which are sacrified in the name of an intricate, multi-parted style full of adventurous orchestrations, theatrical lyricism and grandiose performances.The tracks are pretty tight, stylistically somewhere between MARILLION, YES, MINIMUM VITAL, KING CRIMSON and TWIN AGE, with numerous changing climates and shifting tempos, pronounced by emphatic keyboard parts and sharp electric guitars as well as some fair doses of acoustic interludes.Surprisingly for such kind of a release, there are even some dissonant passages in here with a weird, almost Avant-Garde atmosphere, definitely an original addition by the group.The atmosphere is pretty dark with injections of dreamy, more ethereal movements, where eventually some melodious textures appear, but overall the listening contains different influences and well-hidden ideas, revealed with its spin of the album.The two longest pieces, ''Babel lights'' and ''Alone'', are possibly the best ones, impressive, blasting Progressive Rock with nice lyrical moves and tight musicianship, featuring both melancholic and more upbeat tunes.

Among the very complex works of the genre.Interesting album, which could have been even better if a little care was shown in the more melodic parts.Strongly recommended to all fans of captivating Progressive Rock, who can't get enough of long and irritating compositions...3.5 stars.

 Prophet in a Statistical World by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.54 | 30 ratings

Prophet in a Statistical World
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars While recording the official album, the band was willing to include one of their previous project they had been worked on for quite some time. It was called ''Dodecamania''. But when they compared it with the other songs, the band didn't feel it belonged to the new project.

One of the executives of the Cyclops label, suggested to include some work from their debut album to allow the addition of a bonus disc to ''Prophet In A Statistical World''. They re-worked the two long songs available, adding new English lyrics. This bonus disc is very much welcome for those of us who can't get hold of their first album under the name of ''Sens'' which was later on changed into ''Saens'' for copyright reasons (amongst others).

The result is excellent (but I can't compare with the original). I preferred to comment more extensively this bonus CD since my fellow colleagues already described the official album with skills.

The central piece is the long (over twenty-three minutes): ''The Gevaudan Beast''. Gévaudan is a region in the South of France in which many people were killed (over a hundred) by an animal during the years between 1764 and 1767. The animal was called ''The Beast Of The Gévaudan''. Many, many people tried to trap the beast, but most of the attempts failed. It is only in 1767, after that a big wolf was killed that the attacks ceased.

This is of course an excellent storyboard for an epic prog song, don't you believe? And the music is accordingly fine. Of course, there are some passages which are borrowed to ''Supper's Ready'' (but not too much). It is a fine combination of pastoral moment, powerful guitar breaks and even some opera- oriented vocals (towards the end).

At no moment did I feel any weak passages, nor dullness while listening to this very good symphonic neo prog epic. A definite highlight of this double CD set and a wonderful discovery for the fans. I have read the French lyrics of the original version (it is available on their official web-site) and I can tell you that the play between the Beast (the preparation of the ''meal, the preparation of the act), the feeling of the victim and the kill of the Beast is quite an ode!

The ''Dodecamania'' project appears here under the title ''Souffrances De Pierre'' (almost sixteen minutes). It is sung in French and can be considered as a middle line between ''Ange'' and Crimson. A weird and oppressive atmosphere. We are from the neo-prog here, as far as I'm concerned. A mix of symphonic (or classic as I prefer to name it) and eclectic prog. To be discovered by all means.

The lightest of the three bonus track is ''Games Of Patience'' (over twelve minutes). Again some sweet ''Genesis'' mood, gentle instrumental break. It is probably the most neo oriented song, with guitar breaks fully in line with Barrett (''Pendragon'') or even John Mitchell (''Arena''). Which simply means that there are passionate and great. I quite like the closing section with fine vocals (although some reviewers have criticized this aspect of their work).

About the official CD, it is clearly separated in two parts. Part A is deeply influenced by several sci-fi authors: Orwell (''XX84''). Is this a coincidence that at times, it sounds as a Bowie track? I guess not (remember ''1984''). Aldous Huxley inspired ''Lenina''. It holds several neo-prog feel (mainly Banks oriented synths). H.G. Wells is present with ''Time Machine'' of course. It is a darker and heavier song. Synthesizers are very much used but are combined with fine guitar parts.

The track I prefer on this first part, is ''Forbidden Dreams''. The guitar work is just wonderful and the Floydian atmosphere felt during the intro is a wonderful musical moment. Vynce Leff is really gorgeous on this track.

As a contrast, the band created their own ''Statistical World'' during the second part of the album. I have to say that it is less efficient. Some fine Eastern influences are combined to some very nice fluting during the title track. Probably the most sophisticated one from this section. Not brilliant but varied and complex.

My fave from this spart is the long ''The Prophet''. This one has a definite neo feel to be honest (but I have always tried to be so). Very emotional guitar and quite a pleasant melody during the vocal parts but not only. The concept of the ''Statistical World'' is almost permanently present in this part of the album. Here as well.

I like this band. I feel that their type of music is very close to the classic prog I have been fed with but it is true to say that some tints of neo are spread in their work as well. I would say that the bonus CD raises the level of this recording (seven out of ten). Upgraded to four stars.

 Escaping from the Hands of God by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 50 ratings

Escaping from the Hands of God
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When I discovered this work some years ago (in 2004 or so), I was quite impressed by this French band. Of course, I have a tendency to like these bands and appreciate their efforts since:

- they are so close to my culture (which is the same actually),

- they don't have the same exposure than English bands, - it is much more difficult to ''make it'' in France for a rock band (whatever the genre).

The quality of the musicians, the wonderful interplays, the complex song writing are a permanent experiment during this very good album. Of neo-prog, there is no question here. Don't get me wrong: I have listened to an awful lot of these albums (and not only the ones I have reviewed on this site), but such a song as ''Babel Lights'' is definitely heading the symph genre much more than anything else.

It is one of the epics from this offering which should please any prog lover. The great guitar work is just magnificent. I would have expected more lyrics probably (why not in French?). Some grandiose and fabulous text like some other great French prog bands have created? But these won't be available. I guess that it can only affect French speaking persons (to whom I belong FYI). Still, this opener is sumptuous and a highlight already.

It is true to say that this album is a lengthy one (over seventy minutes), but when one holds so many great tracks, there is no harm. Long compositions, diverse music using a lot of influences like the Oriental ''Ayanda'' can only be of high interest to any proghead.

There are little relation with any other bands here, and that's a positive assessment IMO. The music is original, pleasant, melodic and tasty. Some jazz feel during ''Ayanda'' which is not my fave of the whole (but you might know my difficult relation with this musical style).

There is no need here to have a vocalist who sounds as Peter Gabriel, no synthesizer solo to emulate Tony Banks, no guitar breaks a la Steve Howe, no bombastic keys like Wakeman or Emerson. No, what you'll get is brilliant and GENUINE music. Creative, crafted, impressive. At times heavy or intriguing (''The Crawler'', without its carpet).

Some songs might have been shorter, that's right. If you would exclude the short ''Epilogue'', each track clocks at over eleven minutes! I have always been a fan of long tracks (and I am almost fifty by now) but at times, it is not always necessary to extend your ideas too much. To be in accordance with this concept, I'll try to be short in this review by now!

These guys are bloody skilled and write very good prog music as far as I'm concerned. As many French bands, they are totally undervalued and should definitely deserve a lot more attention from the PA community. ''The Crawler'' is another great track with some passionate vocals and wonderful guitar play. It is another highlight.

I believe that it also necessary to mention that the lead vocalist does a very good job: there aren't so many French bands out there who decided to sing in English with such a maestria. Chapeau!

I am only concerned when I see only ten commented reviews for such a good work (but I have made this comment often already). Do have an ear to this fine work, you won't regret it. While more non- prog bands are featured on PA, it is an obligation IMHHO to promote the ones who faithfully represent the music we love so much.

The beauty developed during ''Alone'' is just magnificent. Again, vocals are super and keys are not behind. This band plays fantastic music. To show their roots, the metaphysical ''Requiem'' is sung in French. It is a very much lyrical track (in the genuine sense of the word), heavily religious-oriented with lots of choir parts (which I am not so found of to be honest), but the second half of this song is another great moment of ''Escaping from the Hands of God''. Even the tranquility and the softness of the ''Epilogue'' is moving. A nice and simplke way to close this very special album.

I wouldn't rate this album with the masterpiece status because of ''Ayanda'', but it is a solid and highly interesting album. Four stars. No question about that.

 Escaping from the Hands of God by SAENS album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.67 | 50 ratings

Escaping from the Hands of God
Saens Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the guidelines of progarchives is that you should write your own review without referring to someone else's. I understand why that is and I agree. I usually don't inform myself with other reviews about an album before I do mine, but in this case ...

I was at least curious what others had to say about it because we are talking about a very interesting album here. The only thing I knew about it before I bought it was a track on a Cyclops sampler and I can't say I was too impressed by that but when I saw the average rating I got intrigued because it was really high. When I read the reviews it was supposed to be a not really straightforward album (to say the least) but it had to be something special.

And that's what it turned out to be now that I gave it several spins myself. As one can see in my list I'm a true fan of the neo progressive style although I don't like everything there is to get of this category. And this album is not quite neo you might say. It's indeed somewhere between neo and symphonic but you could even call it eclectic at certain moments. This album leaves you puzzled about the final judgement because the moments of sheer beauty like on Babel lights and Alone for instance are being alternated with moments of aversion. For instead of keeping things beautiful and melodic all the time Saens makes a habit of surprising the listener with these changes. And you wonder: why ...? This is one way to approach it all but another version is that Saens plays symphonic-like neo and tries to be original in the way they do it. I gave it several intense listens by now and while listening to Ayanda I suddenly reached some sort of click with what I was hearing.

And then I return to my opening lines referring to other reviews about this album and I think I have to agree most with prognut and then especially with his last few sentences. I fully agree that this is an album that requires a lot of spins before you can really judge it. And with me it's also the case that it grows on me more and more. But I have to say I can also relate to the opinion that the whole thing could have been a very melodic masterpiece (in the vein of Clepsydra for example) if that would have been the choice of the band. But they decided differently, so it's take it or leave it. If you like the challenge it appears to be, it's very recommended. If you like pure neoprog, leave it.

To me it's all things considered a clear case of 4 stars. Maybe objectively it's a masterpiece but I will also have to include my personal taste for the judgement and then it will have to be 4.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to debrewguy for the last updates

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