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CARPE DIEM

Eclectic Prog • France


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Carpe Diem biography
This French group was founded on the Riviera (Nice more precisely) as had SHYLOCK also. They both managed to make two albums both on the Musea catalogue nowadays. However they do sound different, CARPE DIEM sounding more diversified and also holds some singing, as well as some wind instruments (flute & saxes). One can say that they had that typical French symphonic prog sound of the second part of the 70's much like PULSAR, ATOLL and a bit less in the ANGE and MONA LISA mould.

Their two albums are highly regarded by progheads but do not ooze originality, always eyeing towards the British references. Still well worth the discovery, though.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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En Regardant Passer Le TempsEn Regardant Passer Le Temps
Import
Musea 1975
Audio CD$15.89
$15.99 (used)
Cueille Le JourCueille Le Jour
Import
Musea 1976
Audio CD$10.75
$8.50 (used)
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CARPE DIEM discography


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

3.66 | 73 ratings
En Regardant Passer le Temps
1975
3.85 | 51 ratings
Cueille le Jour
1976

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

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CARPE DIEM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cueille le Jour by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 51 ratings

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Cueille le Jour
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As if their debut album was a warm-up--though I'm sure they did not see it that way when recording it--Carpe Diem release their tour-de-force in prog, Coleurs. Although there are some singles on the B-side, and ones that are fairly decent at that, the importance of this album lies in the epic.

Coleurs is really a wonderful piece. From the mysterious introductory sequence, in which every fourth bar has a missing beat, to the nicely paced final wind-down, this track is a treat throughout. Although there's little that's virtuosic or innovative about this piece, the genius lies in the slow build and the textures generated by the arrangements, including some wonderful soprano sax and subdued guitar. Just a series of catchy, dreamy melodies, delivered wonderfully, that leads to one of my top 50 all time epics.

So, of course the key piece is the extended one. That should be enough for most of us, but the rest function as decent throw-ins, if that happens to sweeten the pot. In all, unique, happy, and "real" prog.

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 En Regardant Passer le Temps by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 73 ratings

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En Regardant Passer le Temps
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Flucktrot
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One of those unique 1- or 2-shot wonders, like so many Italian prog bands. Unlike some of the Italian prog bands with severely truncated careers, I'm not sure how much Carpe Diem had left to give. This is a good album with some nice textures and pieces, but then after listening to their next and final album, it's hard to pick out meaningful differences in some places. Given that there are a few minor tempo, compositional, and coherence issues in this release, I think I prefer their next album to this, although either is nice to have for a little light French flavor.

When I say light, it's not to say the music is lacking in intensity--as a matter of fact, one thing that Carpe Diem do very well is keep the tempo brisk, even in sections in which the percussion is light. I think this helps to keep the listener engaged during the softer sections, and I think it's a songwriting tool that more prog musicians might take notice of.

The highlights for me are Reincarnation and Jeux, which are both extended pieces that feature plenty of nice keys and very effective soprano sax lines, often combining with the guitar for some beautiful harmonies. They certainly have a very distinct sound! Reincarnation is perhaps a bit heavier, while Jeux is more dreamy, although both strongly remind me of their next album.

Overall a very nice sound, solid playing, and interesting compositions--this is a decent choice to track down if you enjoy instrumental, lighter symphonic prog.

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 Cueille le Jour by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 51 ratings

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Cueille le Jour
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Once in a while, a piece of music jumps out of the loudspeakers and grabs me by the throat. The opening track Couleurs is one of these pieces of music. The twenty-two minutes of music is a blend of symphonic prog, Canterbury prog and jazz. The opening salvos of moog is just heaven and utter heaven. The rest is a mix of superb vocals and the above mentioned styles of music, pretty much dominated by Claude-Marius David's superb flute and sopransaxophon pieces. Couleurs is a creative triumph for the mankind and one of the best piece of music I have ever heard.

I have no idea who this band is. I put the album on for the first time and I lost my ability to speak for some minutes. I was spellbound. I was shocked. I was in heaven. I am now supposed to give reference points for this music. The first thing that came into my mind was a melodic version of The Soft Machine's closing twenty minutes long epic on their Fourth album which I have forgotten the name of. PFM also springs to mind. So does Genesis too. Return To Forever also springs to mind. The excellent, intense music on this album as a whole is something Chick Corea would have been happy with. Add some really good vocals too and you get the picture. In short; this is music which should appeal to mostly everyone in PA.

Couleurs is a fantastic track and the rest of the album is not that good. But it is still an excellent album and one I will saviour for decades. I still have no clue who this band is. But I am now a fan.

4.75 stars

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 En Regardant Passer le Temps by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 73 ratings

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En Regardant Passer le Temps
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Superb French band,who recorded two albums in the 70's before disappearing just before the 80's.There are historical traces that the band existed since early 70's,but didn't release anything before 1975.CARPE DIEM were located in Nice at the southern side of France and debuted finally in 1975 with ''En regardant passer le temps''.

While some obvious influences by older bands can be indicated,I find their sound to be very intricate and efficiently original.Their unique musicianship can be split in two styles.Definitely the smoother parts follow the vein of pastoral symphonic rock,characterized by the dark use of mellotron,the leading acoustic guitars,the intricate flutes,even some harpsichord appears at some moments, and, if you dare,add some atmospheric full-spacey synths around to complete this fully attractive soundscape.Seems if early KING CRIMSON and CLEARLIGHT are together on stage featuring STEVE HACKETT on guitars!On the other hand there are plenty of parts where the music is led by Claude-Marie David's saxes and his unbelievable solos yet in a melodic way,supported by the nice breaks and dynamics of the rhythm section.Can't help thinking of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR or even MAGMA listening to these parts,as they were very popular and respectful in France during the 70's.The whole result is beyond your imagination and the album comes highly recommended to fans of daring,challenging and original music!

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 En Regardant Passer le Temps by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 73 ratings

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En Regardant Passer le Temps
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Having got acquainted with Carpe Diem through their sophomore (and final) release "Cueille le Tour", it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that this band already had a mature musical voice of its own as it is revealed in the repertoire of "En Regardant Passer le Temps", the debut album. There is a predominant lyricism refurbished through some spacey vibes here and there, plus a gentle use of jazz- oriented cadences within an overall symphonic scheme. On thing that caught my attention especially was the presence of rough instrumental travels in many places, energetic in a clearly psychedelic fashion. This is something that is coincidental with the dominant mood in Pulsar's first two albums as well as Asia Minor's debut release - going even a bit further back in time, you can also notice traces from King Crimson's "Islands" and "Lizard". No doubt that David's efforts (mainly on soprano sax, but also flute) are the most notorious in the recurrent dialogues between lead guitar, wind and keyboards; by no means it is my purpose to overlook Abbenanti's tasteful solos or Trucchi's ability to build up phrases and orchestrations (somewhat Bardens-influenced). The solid rhythmic foundation of Berge and Faraut, meanwhile, states a perfect balance between the pulsation of art-rock and jazz-inspired dynamics, very pertinent in order to sustain the melodic developments in each turn. The shortest piece, 'Réincarnation', opens up the album on a very Gong-meets.-early Soft Machine note. It is so exciting that one can only regret that the fade-out arrives before the 4 minute mark, but the good thing is that this sort of colorfulness is well elaborated in the next three tracks. 'Jeux du Siècle' is a 13- minute suite that kicks off very pastoral, featuring a playful flute flowing over the eerie synth layers. Once we get to minute 2, the full ensemble states a rich musical travel elaborated with controlled pomposity. At minute 6, a cosmic section settles in very powerfully, which eventually serves to pave the way for the climax that fills the track's last two minutes. As impressive as this first half of the album is, I must prefer the second half. "Voyage du Non-Retour" brings similar moods and textures to those from the previous track, but in my humble opinion, the integration between the various motifs is better accomplished - I also feel that its somewhat rougher approach helps to spice things up consistently. And finally, we get to the album's undisputed gem, 'Publiphobe', which emerges a storm of melody and harmony craftily sustained on a whirlwind-like bass guitars sequence and lovely jazzy drum patterns. All spaces are filled in this track, yet the band cleverly avoids saturation and ornament excess. The melancholic aura displayed in the sung interlude receives much of its drive from the exciting instrumental that preceded it: here, there is an evident tension beneath the surface, relieved by the controlled dialogues between sax and guitar that take place in the moments when the band's sound gets tighter. The playful opening motif returns for the effective coda. This sort of excellent closure is what this excellent album deserves, no less. Generally speaking, "En Regardant Passer le Temps" does not match the magical finesse soon to be delivered in "Cueille le Tour", but it sure surpasses in terms of energy and musical development. Both albums are clear indicators of the sort of progressive genius achieved by Carpe Diem, a band for the most demanding symphonic rock fan.

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 En Regardant Passer le Temps by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 73 ratings

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En Regardant Passer le Temps
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars A nice way to pass the time

This, Carpe Diem's first album, dates from the mid-1970's although the band had been around for some years prior to its release. The music of the band is probably best compared to Camel, although overall the sound is a bit harder and jazzier.

This album consists of just 4 tracks, three of which range from 10-12 minutes long. The opening Voyage du non-retour is a shorter instrumental piece which forms a sort of upbeat overture. The vocals are heard for the first time on the album's longest track, Reincarnation. Co-incidentally they are, as with Camel, the band's Achilles heel, being rather bland and ineffective. Thankfully they are kept brief, the track developing well through mainly keyboard flourishes. At times, suggestions of the more melodic side of Hawkwind drift in and out, although we never actually reach Space Rock territories.

Jeux du Siecle is the most symphonic of the tracks, with fine guitar and lush keyboards arrangements. Without wishing to labour the point, the fact that it is largely devoid of vocals (they form a brief coda to the piece) also contributes to it being (for me) the best of the bunch. The final track, Publiophobie is rather like an improvisation on the opening track. Here, the bass is more intrusive than on the rest of the album, the track also having similarities with Camel's Lunar Sea from the Moonmadness album.

In all, a decent first album which suggests the band have significant technical ability. Recommended for those who might be interested to hear what it sounds like when symphonic prog goes to Canterbury.

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 Cueille le Jour by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 51 ratings

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Cueille le Jour
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Carpe Diem's jewel, an essential French title

Carpe Diem's second album after the impressive debut "En Regardant Passer Le Temps" finds the band continuing with the "space fusion" sound, one of highly skilled compositions and perfectionist tendencies. While the first album had three tracks around 10 minutes long, here Carpe ups the ante with a juicy sidelong epic at over 21 minutes. Which album is the better one is clearly debatable. More on that later. Carpe Diem found their debut album well received and spent a good chunk of 1976 touring France in its support. In the summer the band moved from their rehearsal space in Nice to drummer Farault's barn in the country where they began to work on the compositions for their second album. Christian would begin by offering up the melodies and the others would construct and work their parts into the piece. With the good sales of the first album and their growing reputation the band was booked into Azurville Studios in Antibes. They were given 10 days this time to record the album and worked with incredibly diligence to produce such amazing stuff. The album was released in March of 1977 and did reasonably well but failed to break them in a big way. Later in the year after more gigs guitarist Abbenanti left the band wishing a more normal existence. They replaced him and soldiered on with more gigs and plans for a third release. But as the familiar story goes, punk was rising and the band became disillusioned with the lack of possibilities and promotion. Tragic really, because this was a band at the top of their game in every way and their 3rd album would have been stunning I would wager. But let's dissect this fabulous gem just a bit.

The five-part side long "Couleurs" suite is a masterpiece of French prog that is more impressive than anything on the debut. The first two minutes hint at a different approach with melodies that are the sound equivalent of birds climbing and diving through the air, followed by some hand clapping to signal the festivities at hand. Slowly the band comes to life and in the next several minutes I swear the influence is not the oft mentioned Gong or VDGG, but rather Oldfield. The sophistication and measured approach of the first album meets with more passion in this piece which is when things can get truly exciting to me. The rhythm and bass are as tight as ever but there is just a bit more color in the explorations of the guitars, sax, and keyboards. After 13 minutes there is an excellent break with a big keyboard wash followed by some fittingly smooth vocals, then it suddenly picks up and we get some very jubilant leads. It is impossible to cover the 21 minutes of twists and turns here and that's really the point. There is lots happening throughout this piece and it is quality and interesting. Love it. The shorter pieces of side two begin are "Naissance" which begins with subtle guitar tones over mellotron. Abbenanti plays some acoustic here and the bass has a bold Chris Squire feel to it. "Le Miracle de la Saint-Gaston" begins with flute and softly picked guitar. This one has nice dreamy vocals and again the singing is more about another texture, it's very peaceful and laid back. That's also the overall flavor here, one of Carpe's mellowest tracks with lots of melancholy. "Laure" has the coolest opening with the guitar work modified to an effect that is like bubbles-check it out. Bubbly also describes the rest of the track which takes an upbeat mood with flute, panned chunky chords in one part and nice electric leads in another. "Tramontane" slips back into a fusioney feel with saxophone and some intense drumming and lead guitar at times. "Divertimento" starts with just piano which is really fresh after all of the intensity, soon accompanied by lovely sax playing. Wisely the band stays away and this track becomes a piano/sax duet that is a fitting last recorded moment for Carpe Diem. The piano parts had to be recorded in but 15 minutes because the heat in the studio was causing the piano to go out of tune. The shorter tracks of side 2 suffer from not having the time to unwind and develop which one becomes enamored with after hearing the longer tracks on the two albums. What I do is sort of let them melt into one long suite in my mind, just pretend they are strung together and it works better. Hearing where this group was at makes me almost cry to think they actually recorded demos for the third album but never completed it.

Progweed's Greg Northrup notes "the trademark Carpe Diem sound is here in spades. Guitar-led flights of fancy, cosmic synthesizers, fluid woodwinds along with an incredible degree of compositional and harmonic sophistication.As should be expected, the musicianship is monstrous, the playing is tight and energetic, and the melodies veer from gorgeous to haunting.While unavoidably outshined and made less essential by Carpe Diem's magnificent debut album, Cueille le Jour nonetheless holds its own. Without presenting anything astoundingly different, or better, than anything off of En Regardent..., fans of that album will certainly find Cueille le Jour a satisfying complement." [Greg Northrup]

I disagree big time with Greg and others that the debut is better. To my ears Cueille Le Jour is the more enjoyable of their two albums and I give it 4 solid stars, perhaps 4 ½ if I'm in a good mood. The long Couleurs track is an amazing slab of symphonic prowess that holds its own against other side long epics, it has a comparable feel and importance to something like Hergest Ridge or Ommadawn. It seems less rigid and stifled than the first album to me which is why I like it a bit more. The sound feels more dynamic and spacious perhaps the result of better recording conditions or their increased experience. In any case it is essential to French prog fans and highly recommended to all symphonic, space, and fusion prog fans. The Musea CD release featured good sound quality, a detailed band history and nice photos. This is an outstanding piece of prog and a great introduction to the non-Ange part of the French scene for any newbie. You will enjoy!

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 En Regardant Passer le Temps by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 73 ratings

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En Regardant Passer le Temps
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Seize the day!

Carpe Diem are considered by many one of the best of the French prog scene of the 70s. The group spent many years slogging through clubs playing covers and dealing with personnel changes until they had built a good reputation beyond Nice. They play a style of progressive symphonic combined with space rock that is sophisticated, understated, and to some perhaps a bit dry. There is none of the ribaldry of their countrymen Ange which I miss, they perhaps fall somewhere between the likes of Pulsar and the more zesty Pentacle. I think you can make the case there is even a bit of Canterbury to their sound in the reserved perfectionist play. Carpe Diem will absolutely thrill some proggers with their tightness and composition and will disappoint others who prefer a bit more fat left on their steak. One thing for sure is that I didn't "get" the beauty of Carpe Diem on the first few spins. Their lower key style makes active listening a must and therefore this is music that takes longer to appreciate but as is often the case, it translates to bigger payoffs in the long run.

"Voyage" is a brisk intro with keys and sax taking a mysterious sound atop a tight, consistent drum/bass line. Electric guitar lead breaks in about half way through but the pace is still driving. The track feels full even though only 4 minutes long because of the minimal changes in rhythm but it still is mostly an introduction to "Reincarnation," one of the three meaty tracks that make up the album. "Reincarnation" has a classical sounding keyboard opening with delicate flute sprinkled in, very nice. Soon the vocals come in and they are modest by French standards, pleasant and downright serene compared to the likes of Christian Decamps. After this verse the band gets to work piloting the craft for orbit with tight and technical structures that build with very deliberate lead guitar and great percussion. Vocal sections come and go but they remain background to the spacious instrumental work around them. Half way through comes a break where the guitars get sparse and the pace slows for some strange robotic vocals. Slowly things build again until the energy coalesces into some beautiful leads that remind me a bit of Camel's Moonmadness phase. "Jeux du siecle" begins very softly, rising from silence with quiet guitar. Flute and synths begin to well up as the song begins to animate. Plenty of tasty runs of keyboards and guitar follow, together and separate, always conjuring rather "airy" feelings and supported by economical but interesting drum play. Last we have the succulent "Publiphobie" with its relentlessly plodding bass line and lead guitar fireworks that clearly indicate some jazz fusion influence in the mix.

Mike McLatchey at Gnosis2000 calls En Regardant "a supremely excellent example of progressive rock.on par with the greats - Atoll, Shylock's Ile De Fievre, Pulsar Halloween, Arachnoid, Terpandre, and Artcane Odyssee. spacey and atmospheric with that rare sense of professional restraint that only the classic symphonic groups had like PFM, Banco, or Ezra Winston. The result was a slightly jazzy and very spacious music of a fragile and delicate nature, yet with a sense of power that grows behind the complex musical structures. Throughout the four tracks, their melodies are very harmonically rich and refined, often with three parts from keys, sax, and guitar."

While I agree with the mountains of praise heaped upon Carpe Diem for their skill and arrangement talents, as hinted above I need more of an emotional connection to give something our highest ratings. I do find the band's music to be dry and just a bit lacking in cholesterol. Their peers in Pentacle may not be as talented as Carpe but are bursting in richness which is why they garner the higher rating from me. The Musea booklet has a great history with photos and the cover art here is spectacular. Take some time to really drink in the cover if you buy this, it works so well with the music. 3 ½ stars.

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 Cueille le Jour by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.85 | 51 ratings

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Cueille le Jour
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The mid-seventies were a great time for this band with 2 amazing albums under their belts and touring with bands like ANGE, MAGMA, MONA LISA, ATOLL etc. They actually were good friends with the guys from ATOLL and SHYLOCK.

The first track was a side long suite at over 21 minutes in length. It's called "Couleurs". The first 14 minutes really do drift along with lighter, Jazz-like sounds. This is so beautifully played. Sax, flute,bass, drums and acoustic guitar lead the way as they come and go throughout. The electric guitar is fantastic as well, just not as prominant, neither is the piano, organ and vocals but all are well done. This song is a symphonic delight to listen to. "Naissance" was a concert favourite. The sound builds slowly. Strummed guitar after a minute as drums and bass come loudly in right behind. Amazing sound. "Le Miracle De La Saint-Gaston" is a pastoral track with reserved vocals and flute with acoustic guitar. Awesome sound 1 1/2 minutes in as it gets louder with organ. I really like this track.

"Laure" starts quietly enough before becoming uptempo rather quickly. Flute and drums, and then organ and drums, and then guitar and drums. You get the picture. "Tramontane" is a cool, jazzy sounding song with percussion and bass followed by sax. Drums and organ take over. Sax is back ! Check out the drumming though. The guitar sounds great before 3 minutes. "Divertimento" opens with piano and is joined by sax. This one is mellow although the tempo does pick up 2 minutes in. "Recontro" is a bonus track with sax, organ and drums leading the way before English vocals come in. This is a previously unreleased track recorded at the same time as this album was. Excellent tune. The guitar 1 1/2 minutes in is a highlight.

Interesting that in the liner notes it says they also played with a band called METABOLISM from France, who they describe as not only being progressive, but PENTACLE-like. That's right Jim PENTACLE-like. All kidding aside I have to say that CARPE DIEM's two recordings are fantastic ! Tough to pick out which one is better really. The first one does employ a lot of spacey passages that aren't used on this one, but if I were you i'd get them both if you can. Great French band.

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 En Regardant Passer le Temps by CARPE DIEM album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 73 ratings

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En Regardant Passer le Temps
Carpe Diem Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Like SHYLOCK, CARPE DIEM are from Nice, France. They play a blend of spacey, jazzy, symphonic music that is subtle, beautiful and complex. There are some vocals, mostly on "Reincarnation" but this is mostly an instrumental album.

"Voyage Du Non-Retour" is an uptempo instrumental with light drums throughout helping to give this song a jazz feel. Sax and keys help create that great sound. There are some unique sounds that come from the keyboard of Christian Truchi as he modified it in order to produce unusual sounds like Dave Stewart and Dave Sinclair.

My favourite song is "Reincarnation". The tempo changes in this song are used to great effect. Flute and light keys to open and we hear vocals for the first time and I like them. I love the guitar melodies, the tone of the guitar is perfect for this music. Some terrific drumming and sax in this one as well. "Jeux Du Siecle" is a complex track opening with synths and flute. A tranquil and pastoral mood is created. Sax and drums eventually lead the way. Guitar comes and goes and again it sounds so good. The keys are great and vocals come into this track for the first time as flute and synths provide the melody. "Publiphobie" has some really good drumming as well as sax,piano and guitar. More vocals too.

This is an excellent record and worthy of any prog collectors collection.

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