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Émeraude - Geoffroy CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.13 | 40 ratings

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5 stars One of the many hidden gems in the French Progressive scene, Geoffroy is a great album by a talented band that never got the recognitnion they deserved. Written during the nights after stressful working days, it is a great testimony to what the love for music can achieve. It was not the work of young kids giving their first steps, but of mature people with everyday lifes and everyday cares for work and family. A sextet of amateur musicians related by friendship and family, Emeraude wanted to create the album as a legacy for their children. And although the album had a very limited pressing, we are fortunate enough that their kids weren't the only ones to get to hear it.

So what is this Geoffroy and why did collectors of prog-rock over the last 25 years worked hard to dig it up? Well, it is hard to pin down just one reason. The album may sound a bit dated, and the production might not be crystal (although it is quite good, considering the time and the means). Composition and playing do have an amateurish feel to it. But perhaps it is that honesty and, let's say, purity, that makes it such an irresistible piece of music. It is also hard to name just one style present on this album - you get to hear a bit of folk, a bit of space-rock, and some symphonic. Some say, and I agree, that the best way to classify it, if one must do so, is space-folk.

The album is made up of 5 songs, two long, two short and a medium-sized one, which is the first track. Boule de Plume kicks-off the space-folk extravaganza - starting off with a piano opening, it is soon complemented by acoustic guitar and keyboards. Vocals follow, sung by 8 year-old Yann Baud. We get a first glimpse of electric guitar and the spacey feel of the album, clearly influenced by Pink Floyd circa Wish You Were Here, just before the song ends in an atmospheric note. The second track, Pluie is a small but delightfully played acoustic guitar duet, taking us into the Middle Ages. The third song is the first epic, a composition sung in English named Viking. It features a greater display of keyboard work, quite similar to Richard's Wright's playing, but also reminiscent of Ange and Genesis. The tracks jump between slower and faster paced sections and sung bits and instrumental passages. Acoustic guitar adds a nice touch before a second sung section, that is complemented by a piano build-up before another faster paced section, dominated by the keyboard passages but also complemented by electric guitar this time. The same formula is repeated throughout the song, with several slow-downs before sudden build-ups, as the story of a great viking raid and journey unfolds. However, this repetition is not in any way dull, quite the oposite. The title track and greater gem of the album, Geoffroy is a near 17-minute epic. It is opened by a lovely medieval-like acoustic guitar intro, before we begin hearing Gilles Baud, this time in his native French (which suits him best than the English used on Viking). Slowly, the keyboards fade-in, progressivly gaining a bigger presence, as the drums also appear. The track follows this structure in a slow pace for a while, just before the electric guitar solo kicks in, in a very floydian tone. The song then appears to restart on the third and a half minute. The sequence is similar, however it takes a different course, and on the between the 7th and 9th minutes we begin making a musical time leap from the earthly Middle Ages to futuristic outer space, a feeling much due to the keyboards that complement the acoustic guitar driven section. Another floydian guitar solo begins then. The song's slow pace continues, but you notice a slight build-up led by the guitars (electric an acoustic) and the keyboards. These take the lead from the guitars on the 13th minute, and provide a great, moving finale after the last sung passage. Duo is another small acoustic piece, in the vein of Pluie, that ends the album beautifully on a medieval note, a sonority that characterized much of the album.

Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it original? Only if you can find originality in the mix of completely different styles. It is simply a magic piece, a beautiful set of gorgeous songs, a proof that good music comes naturally to those who set their minds to it, even if their abilities and resources are lacking. A fantastic album recomended for fans of bands like Gryphon, Malicorne, Ange, Genesis, Eloy and especially Pink Floyd.

Kotro | 5/5 |


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