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Sandrose - Sandrose CD (album) cover

SANDROSE

Sandrose

 

Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 97 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Classic early French band with female vocals

Sandrose is a legend of early French symphonic, releasing their stalwart debut in 1972 and disbanding after only a few gigs in support. A real shame given the promise of the release. It was recorded in but one week's time and released in April 1972. The group's leader and main writer was guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen. They were also noteworthy for the distinct vocals of Rose Podwojny who made their sound instantly memorable. I have read other writers claim this is one of the 10 greatest prog albums of all time which is ludicrous to me, others claim the top 100 which is more realistic but still a stretch. It is however an enormously beautiful and powerful symphonic album that builds upon good melodies first and foremost. The songwriting is not aloof or dissonant but very pleasant in the melodic sense and fills in with genuine emotion.

The Sandrose sound is both mellow and powerful.built around mellotron and organ along with a solid rhythm section. The first main weapon as mentioned is the fluid and gorgeous electric leads of Alarcen who has a very wet sound and can play fast, but more often than not delivers sensual and somewhat nostalgic moods. His style is so perfect for the peaceful mellotrons. The other weapon is the controversial vocals of Rose Podwojny. While I have really grown to love her powerful, unusual voice, I surely understand the reservations expressed by fellow reviewers. She has a very strange voice that I cannot explain, occasionally it sounds like she's off-key but I can't be sure. Sometimes she reminds me a little bit of Laura Nyro with a French accept, that may be as close as I can get to a comparison. She is capable of really pushing the tracks to another level with her energy. The 11-minute "Underground Session-Chorea" is the centerpiece of the album with both symphonic and jazzy elements. Alarcen has some spirited electric guitar solos here over the keyboards at a mid pace and Garella returns the favor with some organ noodling. It features a repeating falling melody line that is very pleasant and lots of mellotron. But the real heart of the album resides in the dreamy passages to the middle two tracks "Old Dom Is Dead" and "To Take Him Away" which feature rather traditional sounding pieces adorned with aching vocals, dreamy trons and guitars. I would suggest to French prog lovers who can handle a somewhat contentious vocalist, and also to mellotron fans who will find oodles here. The Musea issue features a bio and great black/white photographs taken from one of their rare live appearances.

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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