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Rousseau - Retreat  CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.65 | 46 ratings

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4 stars The inclusion of vocals on Rousseau's second album is the card that trumps the band's debut. I recall reading that Rousseau is self-described as chamber rock, which is generally apt, but also means that at times they can be a bit overly mellow, and sameness and monotony can set in. By including the voice of Herbert G. Ruppik on several tracks, that trap is generally avoided.

That said, the vocals may not be to everyone's taste, and they are used in a song oriented fashion, which might ruffle prog bird feathers. I prefer to look upon it as an admission of a different instrument into the chamber, and I actually very much enjoy the suitably romantic and nostalgic lyrics, particularly on my favourite cut, "One in a Thousand". It has a timeless aspect to it, and a truly wondrous melody, with lots of flute and string like synthesizers to accentuate the dreamlike quality. It sounds like a Christmas classic not yet written.

Rousseau is instrumentally perhaps a bit more focused as well on this album, as evidenced by short and sweet tracks like "Cafe Creme" and the rollicking "China" in which the tuneful flute and lead guitars trade off like a tag team going to work on my heart. "Yago" is one of the longer pieces but chooses the route of progression rather than rapid changes to paint its portrait in guitars, sumptuous organ, and yet more flute, before the jazz tinged guitars at the end. Rousseau is often compared to Camel, and the comparison is not invalid, although it must be said that they are a softer Camel, never really rocking out, but they come close on "Windsong". The leads really soar but never get raunchy or harsh. Only the opener and closer on the album don't do much for me, so this is a real winner from Rousseau, an excellent example of mid 1980s chamber rock!

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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