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Aphélandra biography
One-off recording in 1976 unreleased until 2001

APHÉLANDRA is a French symphonic prog band who recorded one album in 1976 but never saw its release, due to the ridiculously low offer from their record company at the time. For the next 25 years, the tapes have gathered dust in the keyboard player's attic until Mellow Records decided to release it in cd format in 2001. The stellar line-up included PHILIPPE GRANCHER (keyboards), Pierre Videcoq (vocals, flute, tenor sax), Gérard Perret (electric guitar), Philippe Herbin (bass), Dominique Iroz (drums, percussion) and Clément Duventru (drums). Famous violinist Didier Lockwood as well as Cyrille Verdeaux (on piano and synth) also appeared as guest musicians. Except for those two, all members of APHÉLANDRA have long since left the music industry, each going their separate way.

Their self-titled album ("Aphélandra" is the name of a flower) is made up of classic French 70's prog with an interesting mix of classical sections, composed ensemble work and free-wheeling improvisation. The mainly symphonic nature of the music is interrupted now and then by solitary piano that gives their sound a distinct feel. The long instrumental passages are a welcome change from the melodramatic vocals often characteristic of early French prog bands. Not a masterpiece by any means but still worth a listen, if only for the 18-minute epic opening track.

For collectors of rare 70's symphonic prog.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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3.35 | 31 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Aphélandra by APHÉLANDRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.35 | 31 ratings

Aphélandra Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Aph'landra's sole album was recorded in 1976, right at the tail end of the golden age of prog, but was not released until over two decades later. I'll put my hand on my heart here and say that had it been released at the time, I don't think it would have succeeded that much more than it did in 2001, when at least there was a "lost, obscure album" vibe about it. It's pleasant enough symphonic prog which is competent but never excels; hardly the sort of material which would have found much of a foothold in the year when punk and New Wave were rattling their cages.

It's a pity the band didn't get to release their album closer to the time they made it, but I can't honestly say it's any great loss. There is a whole world of symphonic prog albums you should be exploring before resorting to this one, especially considering that the patchy sound quality makes it sound like barely more than a demo.

 Aphélandra by APHÉLANDRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.35 | 31 ratings

Aphélandra Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars I honestly do not know what to make out of this.

This album was recorded in the 1970s and then stored in a loft for twenty-five years before it thankfully was released. Aphélandra was a French band with a quite typical French sound. That means pretty off-beat music based in theatrical symphonic prog and avant- garde music. That Cyrille Verdeaux is guest on this album does not comes as a surprise. This album is not a million miles away from his other projects. The eighteen minutes opening song is a prime example of this.

This album is also pretty much influenced by jazz too. It has a rampant jazzy violin running through it. The keyboards and various woodwind instruments are also pretty much present here. The tempo varies from slow to mid-tempo. The music is pretty relaxed throughout.

My main gripe with this album is that pieces of immense beauty is wasted time and time over again. Yes, this album sound half-baked and half finished. That is my main gripe here. I wish the band was still present because they were onto something on this album. But it feels like it is not the finished article and that is why I am only rewarding it 3 stars. But check it out if French symphonic prog is your cup of tea.

3 stars

 Aphélandra by APHÉLANDRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.35 | 31 ratings

Aphélandra Symphonic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Moments of great beauty in an album that sounds half-finished.

The story of Aphelandra is an unfortunate one and yet a familiar one. A budding musician is allowed to make an album at the tender age of 20 and you can hear the wide-eyed enthusiasm all over this music. The musician was the French keyboardist Phillippe Grancher and he had the benefit of being friends with Clearlight's Cyrille Verdeaux who appears on this album as a special guest. Also making a guest appearance was Zao's Didier Lockwood. So Grancher records the album in the Spring of 1976 but decides that the offers made by the record companies are too low, and thus shelves the project rather than put it out. There it would sit, gathering dust, for a generation. In the years since Grancher abandoned progressive rock for blues music and with the exception of drummer Iroz, the rest of Aphelandra apparently left the prog scene as well. Grancher is said to be one of the first French musicians to employ the synthesizer and he has left us a keyboard heavy '70s prog rarity that has the exuberance of a "kid in a candy store." Mellow Records released the album on CD in 2001. The material was written by Grancher with the band members working out their own parts. The name Aphelandra was chosen by drummer Iroz who has stated that the members of the group were not exactly thrilled to have played on an album only to see it shelved, but are now very excited it finally made it to the public.

"Airs" begins with the sound of blowing winds panning nicely across the stereo. The first part features a bit of everything including acoustic guitar, piano, vocals, good bass, and fair drumming. Atop of this is the fancy violin work of Didier Lockwood. In the next part you will hear solo piano for a bit before some wonderful flute enters and the two provide a warm and inviting extended section. This is the best part of the song though so don't get your hopes up! Suddenly things get a bit darker with a tempestuous riff leading to a vocal section, accompanied by synth. A laid back jazzy interlude follows. At 13 ½ minutes the solo piano returns and the band comes back around 15 minutes with a stock beat but some nice synth colors complimenting the piano. A bit of Mellotron here in the stretch before the unremarkable fade-out ending. It's a long track that never quite achieves its promise. "Belladonne" has a feisty intro leading to a jazzy section with sax and piano, leading to an electric guitar solo. Nice percussion work. Out of a rather jerky rhythm comes a wild violin lead as the track gets even wilder, approaching King Crimson mid-70s territory. "Pat" begins with a spacey, eerie lead guitar part played over another picked guitar for about a minute until it is overtaken by a big organ wash. An extended organ section goes for a while until it changes to some playful synth. The final minute or so is given to some dissonant sax and guitar noodling. "Pat" is fun although a bit compositionally challenged, it's just a bunch of different noodles pasted together with little holding them together. The title track begins with some very pleasant organ. The band comes in about 50 seconds later and the piece shifts to an embarrassing funky romp. At this point why not? Everything else has been thrown at the wall to see what sticks! Then comes another melodic section that takes the song back from the silliness before again fading out with little accomplished. "Corinthe" features a cool echoed vocal effect over organ, quite mysterious and goth sounding. This last short piece was actually the best moment with a nice build-up that should have been further developed.

The Aphelandra album is an interesting spin for French symphonic fans but it is hardly a masterpiece. While there are some moments of beautiful performance it's a real hodge-podge of little ideas stapled together without much compositional cohesion. In my opinion this work is not even close to the quality of the better material from Ange, Arachnoid, Ripaille, or Atoll to name but a few from the French scene. Without question there is potential here, there are some very nice moments where I enjoy individual performances and sections but there is not enough consistency to the work. It may be something for keyboard and French scene fans to check out but not until you've acquired all of the acclaimed French albums. I can be quite a fan of pretentious music but it depends on how well the material supports it- good ideas that are underdeveloped or haphazard do not guarantee a great album and Aphelandra is an example of such a case. Had Grancher remained on the scene and put together a lasting band developing his ideas, strengthening the better ones and discarding the weaker stuff, he could have made a better album I'm sure. I love his enthusiasm and great cover art, but some of the music feels like it could have used another hour in the oven. 2 ¾ stars rounding up.

 Aphélandra by APHÉLANDRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.35 | 31 ratings

Aphélandra Symphonic Prog

Review by bhikkhu
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Team

5 stars Many tears have been shed over legendary bands like Änglagård, who wetted our appetite with greatness, and left us wanting for more. Well, there should also be a few sniffles for APHÉLANDRA. When everything in prog was starting to change, this French band recorded some of the most creative, and captivating classic Symphonic Prog I have ever heard. There is the definite influence of the French theatric scene, but the queues are manly taken directly from the classical music masters.

They strut their stuff right from the start, with an eighteen-minute epic. This piece has it all. "Airs" opens with the sounds of blowing wind, and then goes into a cloud parting choral, drum, and piano movement. The mood changes as it punches up-tempo, and the violin starts jamming. Then it slides into a beautiful piano segment, with an equally lovely flute accompaniment. The mood changes again with some eerie keyboards, and cryptic vocals. By the end it is in '70s prog glory, with tasty keyboards, but that fantastic piano is still very present. It's a piece that many bands could have only hoped to come close to.

The next few tracks seem to be there as demonstrations of versatility.

"Belladonne" runs through a bit of jazz, and then some space styling.

"Pat" brings out gothic church organ (The Lost Chord would die for this), and dabbles in some menacing avant territory.

The title track starts out a bit Floydian, gets more like "Airs," and then breaks into a funk (yes funk) groove.

"Corinthe" closes it with some more gothic tones, and the return of our cryptic singer.

This is a very rare gem. Recorded in 1976, and not released until 2001, there was little chance for a follow up. It is wonderful stuff, and something every Symphomaniac should seek out.

H.T. Riekels

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

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