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Caf轱ne - Nouveaux Mondes CD (album) cover

NOUVEAUX MONDES

Caf轱ne

 

Symphonic Prog

3.52 | 33 ratings

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Dreamer of Pictures
4 stars My first exposure to this fine band was a couple of sample tracks from Noveaux Mondes, included on a prog sampler created for me by a college buddy who somehow stayed in touch with new prog during the dry spell of the 90s.

I did not even know track titles, let alone the performers, on the sampler disc. He did not send that info. Strictly anonymous rock.

So I had some fun with it. I played Hubble, an instrumental, for my kids (ages 9, 11 and 13 at the time), and asked them to describe what they thought the band was trying to depict. My own thought was that there was a fire, with people trapped in upper storeys, pleading for rescue, while the fire department rushed to the site. I liked the polyrhythm at the start, very sophisticated. I wondered if this song was something new from Yes.

The other cut sent on the sampler was Voler En 蒫lat. This is a great dramatic song, with many interesting and subtile moods, vocal dynamics that convince you something important is going on, very well structured and perhaps worthy for release as a single. Not much similarity to Hubble, but enchanting. Obviously not Yes, since the lyrics are in French. But that was not especially disappointing.

I had no idea that the two were recorded by the same band. The two were my favorites on the sampler.

Ultimately I asked my friend for the details, and he supplied the track names and band info. I ordered Nouveaux Mondes ASAP. Something interesting going on here, a band with a powerful range.

I was not disappointed. Almost every tune on the disc is symphonic, in fact loaded not only with strings but with woodwinds too.

Alexandre starts with a great riff on a bassoon, imagine that! Ultimately the song ends in an extended jam that could obviously been carried on for another five minutes or so by this talented outfit without wearing out their welcome.

Cathedrale, closing the album, is the most complex vocal song, with both male and female lead vocals. It is a multiple part composition, in the same way that Starship Trooper has distinct parts, each with its own name. The band does a great job of devoting sufficient time to each mood, and there are many moods. At one point the vocals are Gregorian style chants, something I never expected to hear in prog rock, but it works well both for the overall theme of the song and in the mix with the instruments.

On my phone: Hubble, Voler en Eclat, Alexandre, My Only Quest, Cathedrale. More than half of the nine songs on the album.

I am a prog fan from the start of my high school days in 1969. This band, along with the Flower Kings (Stardust We Are) and the reunited Happy the Man, woke me up and convinced me that prog still has legs in the new millenium. Even after 10 years of owning and listening to this disc, I am delighted to hear it.

Four stars, definitely. Solid melodies, excellent arrangements, outstanding vocals from the guests for the most part. I am no fan of Christian Descamps' vocals, but that is a quibble, he uses a very familiar decades-old French vocal style on the Don Juan tune.

This disc was released in 2000. The band has been overdue for another release for some time now. They claim that the next will include English lyrics. Since the band depends on guest vocalists, I wonder if the band has been seeking Brits or Americans for that role. Sometimes the French can be picky about that issue.

Dreamer of Pictures | 4/5 |

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