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ARRAKEEN

Neo-Prog • France


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Arrakeen biography
The only French neo progressive group to have themselves known outside the country. ARRAKEEN sounds very, very French. The music is to 100% similar to MARILLION with a NIGHTWISH touch (because of the very high pitched singing). The guitar player is rather known as solo artist's Sylvain GOUVERNAIRE. Of course, what will catch the attention of most listeners is ARRAKEEN's lead singer MA¤KO. She's the best soprano I've heard since Annie HASLAM of RENAISSANCE. It is really great Neo Progressive music and I can't understand why this band did not gain a huge followership.

The French ARRAKEEN have out two cd's that are very very difficult to find. Both cds are out in the 90s one is called "Patchwork" and the other "Mosa´que". Speaking of "Patchwork" CD, the singer is a woman (MA¤KO) and Steve ROTHERY (MARILLION) has played with them on the CD as well as they have been on tour with MARILLION (FISH era). It is accessible, and most prog and pop/rock fans should like it.

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ARRAKEEN discography


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

3.70 | 34 ratings
Patchwork
1990
3.30 | 25 ratings
Mosa´que
1992

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

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4.00 | 1 ratings
"Folle Marie" demo-tape
1989

ARRAKEEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mosa´que by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.30 | 25 ratings

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Mosa´que
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Arrakeen had built a good relationship with Marillion and in 1991 at a sold-out concert at Theatre Dunois in Paris Mark Kelly and Steve Rothery joined the group on stage.However they struggled to find success in hard times for Prog music, especially by singing in French, preventing them having international recognition.Sylvain Gouvernaire left for England to form Iris with the help of Marillion's Pete Trewavas and Ian Mosley and the rest of the group hired Cyril Achard, a guitarist with a metal background.Gauthier Mejanel was the new drummer and Arrakeen recorded their second album ''Mosaique'' in 1992, released on MSI.

Achard's presence gave Arrakeen a harder edge in the lead guitar parts, but generally the group maintained its style of cinematic Neo Prog with delicate symphonic orchestrations and fabulous, theatrical female vocals provided by Maiko.Through a collection of both short and long tracks they offer elaborate arrangements with interesting melodies, romantic lyricism and extended instrumental workouts, based on Eric Bonnardel's flashy synthesizers.Some of Gouvernaire's monumental solos are absent, but new guitarist Cyril Archard was overall an excellent fit with some great guitar moves and a number of nice solos also in his armour, although a STEVE VAI virtuosic influence is evident in a couple of cuts.Maiko's voice remains the absolute trademark of Arrakeen, combining her majestic chords with passionate, symphonic-inclined musicianship.MARILLION, IQ and RENAISSANCE are the strongest reference points: A nice bunch of Classical inspirations and the lead female voice recall the later, the melodic guitar lines along with the bombastic synthesizers are elements of the first.However ''Mosaique'' was sort of a personal album with non-pop leanings and often a very orchestral sound, twisting from theatrical Progressive Rock to melodic Neo Prog.

After the mini-tour following the release of the album Arrakeen sadly disbanded.Cyril Achard followed a good personal career in the Prog Metal field, while Gauthier Mejanel and Maiko remained involved in the music industry, although far from their progressive roots.

Hail to one of the most underrated Prog bands of the 80's/90's.''Mosaique'' is another nice example of solid, non-commercial Neo/Symphonic Prog, definitely a must-have for fans of the style, albeit a touch weaker than Arrakeen's monumental debut.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 Mosa´que by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.30 | 25 ratings

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Mosa´que
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Arrakeen's first album (short enough to be more of an EP, really) was notable mainly for the band's competent neo-prog performance and a guest appearance from Steve Rothery. This time around, there's no famous guest star - and, sadly, not much in the way of advancement over their earlier sound. On the whole, in fact, the album finds Arrakeen practicing an anonymous, faceless sort of poppy neo-prog which distinguishes itself from the work of other groups only in that the vocals are sung in French. Neo-prog fanatics will find this to be an OK listen but for most other listeners there's far better albums to be spending your time and money on.

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 Patchwork by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.70 | 34 ratings

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Patchwork
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This French album combines a classic neo-prog sound - which to my ears sounds a little more like early Pendragon than Fish-era Marillion, with a bit more emphasis on the keyboards than either band - with the excellent vocals of frontwoman Maiko, whose singing, influenced by the "chanteuse" style, is reminiscent of a French Annie Haslam. Marillion fans will be interested to hear Steve Rothery's guest solo on the closing track, a live recording of Folle Marie from when the band were supporting Marillion on the Seasons' End tour, though I think few others will consider it a particularly high priority release - it's a pleasant enough album but it doesn't really add much new to the format.

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 Patchwork by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.70 | 34 ratings

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Patchwork
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by Distant Planet

5 stars This is a wonderful piece of neo-prog minstrelsy, from 1990, worthy of the attention of any prog fan.

The music is drenched in the very essence of La France. In the same way that there was something very English about the early GENESIS sound, something very Italian about the early PFM sound, there is something very French about the sound of the music of Arrakeen.

Fronted by female vocalist Maiko, fans of bands such as STREAM OF PASSION (but imagine a French essence replacing the gothic flavours) will enjoy this as much as the MARILLION fans it is so often aimed toward in reviews. The accessibility and style of the music is probably comparable with early PFM (think PHOTOS OF GHOSTS) and in fact doesn't have so much in common with MARILLION .

The album is only about thirty minutes long, but the quality is exceptional. Compositional skill is high and everything is played with real passion and enjoyment.

The first track 'Le Monde Du Quoi' is probably the closest we actually get to an early MARILLION sound, particularly noticeable in the keyboard lines. The track ends with a memorable guitar solo. The next track 'Differences' is an eleven minute long prog classic and it is here that the French flavour really kicks in. It's a work of many contrasting styles from acoustic piano to heavy guitar power chords. The third track 'L'Entaluve' somehow manages to convert what sounds like a Eurovision song entry from the 80's into an anthemic prog song !!

Musicianship, throughout is second to none and this release evoked some essential and seminal guitar playing from the excellent guitarist Sylvain Gouvernaire, whilst keyboardist Eric Bonnardel displays a talent that is second to none. The whole band provide an epochal performance on the final track, 'Folle Marie' which is recorded live. On this track Maiko's vocals ebb passion and ache with melancholy over a beautiful acoustic guitar riff that is complimented by some emotional keyboard lines before building into a powerful finale where the band are joined by Steve Rothery from MARILLION. This is one gig I sincerely wish I had been at....

It's a shame this album is often remembered only due to the band touring with MARILLION and is often ignored because of this. If you have heard this before and dismissed it, I urge you to listen again with 'fresh' ears !! If you have never heard this, please take the time to find a copy, you will not regret it.

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 Mosa´que by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.30 | 25 ratings

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Mosa´que
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Mildly Interesting Heavy Pop-Prog

Arrakeen was an early 90's French neo-prog band that boasted a very strong singer and some guitar hero flourishes. I was attracted by the strong reviews to their second album Mosaique on this site, and my initial reaction was that the band's sound was good but that the songwriting was not too memorable. After returning to the album that impression remains. Female lead singer Maiko mixes some Enya into the usual female-fronted heavy metal sound (admittedly before that sound was so common). Guitarist Cyril Archard has all the usual shredder moves including sweeps, legato runs, and some tasty clean chops. His leads are quite good, but his distorted rhythm tone is terrible. (The fuzzy timbre sounds like a cheap amp and distracts me throughout the entire disc. The keys are typical of late 80's / early 90's pomp, and really date the work as well. (They aren't frankly unpleasant, however.)

The issue for me is that the compositions are glorified pop rather than prog, and while pleasant, don't really challenge my ear in any way. The song "Sizygie" has some proggy rhythms and some keyboard flourishes, but most of the songs are much more straightforward. "Celebration" is a guitar showpiece which begins with a nice jazzy clean composition that ends with a hammer-on cadenza a la Joe Satriani's "Midnight." A distorted whammy-fest then comes in over a vocal-synth pad, but it's quickly over with little sense of risk. "White Moon Dreamer" is sung competently in English for a changeup.

I must admit I'm not a big fan of neo-prog, but I've certainly heard examples that held my attention. Mosaique is a little too typical, its production a bit too dated, and despite very talented players, fail to make a strong musical statement. I compare this to Magenta, which plays music in very much the same territory, and the difference is immediately obvious. Both the singer and guitarist in Arrakeen probably have better chops, but Magenta has something musical to say.

Pleasant enough, but with so much great music out there, this is really just for neo-prog collectors.

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 Patchwork by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.70 | 34 ratings

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Patchwork
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Interesting, but yet little bit sinister cover. These two words means probably weird, so this is weird cover. But nice one. Can be cover art better than music itself (just asking) ? Fortunately, this is not the case. One can't know everything and I have to say that I lack knowledge about Marillion of this era. So as far as my ears work, I can say that I like it. That could be enough for me, but not for you, readers. And because I write also from reason to think about music I'm listening and to understand it more, I'll be glad to continue.

Nightwish reminiscent ? I don't think so, using of higher woman vocals doesn't mean NW automatically. And metal part is maybe 1/10-2/10 of these songs. It's quite short and because of this, my rating wouldn't get over 4 stars. Maybe unfair, but little bit over 20 minutes is not so interesting, as 40, or even 80 minutes. It's almost over before you notice anything. No, this is good neo-prog, which has one big mistake, so

4(-) for short length. Believe me or not, but I see it as a mistake.

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 Patchwork by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.70 | 34 ratings

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Patchwork
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars When I found the music of Arrakeen I managed to get my hands on both issues and because of that I checked them out simultaneously. And that was a funny experience actually because to this very day I can't decide which of their two great studio releases is really the better. After the first five spins I thought this Patchwork would be the winner but after five more I'm not too sure anymore.

Patchwork is definitely the shorter album with only four songs clocking just over half an hour. These four songs are all winners though so that makes it hard to be negative about it. In fact it's a bit of a strange release because the fourth and last song is played live and that's not very usual on a debut to say the least. It's a great song but it has to be said - and that's my only criticism on both Arrakeen albums that this live song is not really the best of them all. Female vocalist Ma´ko must have had a tough evening because she sounded exhausted at the end. Well, it's just a minor complaint, the rest of what this band has done in the early nineties deserves every praise and are performances they can be proud of.

I'm proud to own them and recommend both Patchwork and Mosa´que to all neo progressive music fans. But I feel any music lover can enjoy this. It's near perfect stuff. Hats off for Arrakeen.

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 Mosa´que by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.30 | 25 ratings

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Mosa´que
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I managed to get my hands on both Arrakeen releases from the early nineties and I'm very happy about that because it was a long search. And I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on this experience. Of the long list of neobands I'm checking out this year Arrakeen has proved to be a must have . Mosa´que is the successor of their debut Patchwork and despite the fact their music is pretty accessible I had to play the disc quite a few times to get into the individual songs.

Star of the band is Ma´ko, an excellent female vocalist. I did a google search lately because I could hardly understand a woman with these qualities would do just two albums with this band and then nothing anymore. But I couldn't find anything really unless of course I didn't dig deep enough. Ma´ko is the dominant factor of Arrakeen and that's a big achievement since all members of the band are very capable on their instruments.

Also the songs are very worth while, there are hardly fillers on this album. On the other hand there are no real highlights either which means a very equable performance and it has the advantage you can play the album without skipping songs. If I do have to name two stand out tracks it's the title track and the longest on the album, Rages.

I hardly can believe this band quit after this album and I really regret this too. I believe they could have had a shining future, at least where their potential is concerned. Maybe they called it a day at their highlight, we'll never know. This album is recommended to those who like cristal clear female vocals, very capable musicians playing excellent songs. I don't really know who to compare them with. It's true neo prog no doubt but it's certainly not a clone of any band. Four stars easily for Mosa´que

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 Patchwork by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.70 | 34 ratings

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Patchwork
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars This is actually an EP by one of the most underrated neo prog bands in the history of progressive rock...This EP contains 3 studio tracks and a live one,in which Steve Rothery contributes with a guitar solo...It was released in 1990 and the musicianship is just excellent!

So,to create decent neo prog you need mostly a good melodic guitarist and a sufficient keyboard player...Well,this band has it all...Behind the keyboards we find Eric Bonnardel who plays amazingly his role without having to be extremely bombastic...Sylvain Gouvernaire is a fabulous guitarist filling the tracks with its melodic guitar play and the great,emotional solos ala Steve Rothery...Maiko's vocals are just a paradise...Strong performance that fits greatly with the thrilling atmosphere of the album...MARILLION,CLEPSYDRA,ARENA or even RENAISSANCE fans will a have a great time listening to this...Other progressive rock fans should also check this album out definitely in my opinion...A great music creation by a short-live legendary band which deserves at least 4 stars!Highly recommended!

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 Patchwork by ARRAKEEN album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.70 | 34 ratings

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Patchwork
Arrakeen Neo-Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

3 stars ARRAKEEN were presented to me as a female-voiced French early MARILLION. I heard another band of that kind, LA TULIPE NOIRE, and still had an interest to further researches in this area :) .

“Patchwork” is a EP released in 1990, and sometimes it truly captures MARILLION spirit and manner. But I believe, the direction and ideas the band followed were quite different. ARRAKEEN sound more like a proto-NIGHTWISH stuff, i.e. “Metal with female vocals”. Guitar solos are great and somewhat close to Rothery’s ones, but they’re more metal-edged and less emotional. Nice record as a whole (I wonder what happened to the band), but if you really want to get something from ARRAKEEN, begin with “Mosaique”. Recommended both for Prog-Metal and MARILLION devotees.

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