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Synopsis - Gamme CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.81 | 24 ratings

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4 stars Synopsis is another forgotten French prog gem in the vein of Skryvania, Artcane, Acanthe, Shylock, Oniris and Angipatch , all emanating from the smoldering wreckage of progressive rock's 1977 demise at the hands of the media-fueled punk onslaught , an obviously worldwide phenomenon that was somewhat resisted in France , a land where prog was always well entrenched with mega acts with massive influence like Ange, Atoll and Magma. Casualties of musical wars, they remain today as iconic testaments of a glorious epoch of artistic freedom and a deliberate 'resistance' (as Bryan Ferry once so aptly quoted) against the commercial 'fad of the moment' oppressor.

Synopsis was fortunate to release 2 albums before disappearing into dust, the second of which is the tremendous 'Gamme', a lush, well-constructed and judiciously played series of symphonic prog tunes, well-heeled in the theatrical French approach, as well as a definite early Genesis that comes shining through in the luxuriant keyboards of Christian Bolze. A highly resourceful rhythm duo keep things snug and brawny, while guitarist Christian Hoff scours the horizons, looking out for new sounds and thrills. Lead vocalist Michel Bail strides forth in typical expressive French prog style, hushed as well sensual, theatrical and emotionally charged when called upon. But it's really a keyboard fest, Bolze laying down eternal ivory carpets of sound, displaying incredible talent in symphonic stylings, making this a prized possession.

Tracks such as the vibrant 'Cities'(English title, French lyrics) showcase intense use of swelling organ, swirling guitar riffs and sweltering bass and swooping drums, all ensconced in team playing for the cause, inviting the lovely melody that overtakes the harpsichord and organ 'woven arrangement, Michel Bail doing a convincing performance on the microphone. A fantastic introduction that lays down the proper premise (amazing singing, thoughtful melodies and expert playing), a constant throughout this amazing recording.

Equally thrilling is 'November' (English title, instrumental), acoustic guitar splendor announces a synth-led main theme that just weaves through the speakers, instantly captivating and famously seductive in its constantly bolstered repetition. Tony Banks certainly does come to mind, much to our pleasure.

'Tany Mena' is a vocal piece about Madagascar, that mythical island paradise that continues to inspire travelers searching for the rare experience. Bail sings his heart out within a narrow furrow of guitar riffing and melodious organ decorations, perhaps a tad more accessible than the previous symphonic pieces. But entirely enjoyable is the trembling Hoff guitar solo, with a slight slippery 'island' feel, all quite terrific and pleasantly original. This is real good music, indeed!

'Noctambule' provides a little change of pace, playful, sleepless and jaunty, adequately altering the mood and contrasting well with previous and upcoming pieces. It has that famed French vocal style that brings to mind voices like Decamps, Le Guennec and Balzer, but graced with complex parallel lines on keys, bass, guitar and drums. Short and yet quite complementary.

The epic 11 minute + 'L'Homme Fou' (French title and French lyrics) carves slowly from gentle guitar and keyboard ornamentations that weave a musical textile of sound, gilded with superlative Bail vocals complete with tremolo and perspiration. Dynamic drumming instills a Genesis meets King Crimson inspiration, terrifically impressive in propelling the music forward with effusive impunity. Like the title implies, the feverish voice threatens insanity and crazed zeal. The mood then suddenly veers into this very cool dreamy groove, boom-boom rhythms abound, quite simple but oh so effective, giving Bolze room to roam effortlessly on his battery of ivories. Sensationally smooth and imaginary, what a track!

The superb instrumental 'Prelude', (yeah, the French like to do it backwards too), ends this album and ultimately their career. Piano-driven, clanging guitar and solemn melancholia make this track a perfect au revoir, exploding into a myriad of stars at the end, a fitting send- off. Just a fabulous musical statement that deserves recognition.

This is a very tasty gem that deserves a place in any prog collection, especially your 'I want to impress you with unknown stuff' section.

4.5 French varietals

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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