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Seven Reizh - L'Albatros CD (album) cover

L'ALBATROS

Seven Reizh

 

Symphonic Prog

3.94 | 88 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars The only other Seven Reizh album I've heard is 2001's Strinkadenn Ys--one of my five favorite albums from that year. As the band and its composers did so well on that album, there is an attempt to merge and blend the musical traditions of different cultures and ethnicities--here more toward West-East, Celtic and Arabic. Apparently, I've just learned, the four Seven Reizh musical releases--Strinkadenn Ys, Samsara, La Barque Ail'e, and L'albatross--are meant to be a "quadrilogy," four album releases intended to musically convey the story as told in an accompanying fantasy novel--one that tells the "history" of the adventures of a 19th Century Bretagnais world-traveling sailor named Jean-Marie Le Bris who is also imagining and aspiring to invent an "aerial ship" (the "barque aill'e"). I love the fact that composer Claude Mignon and novelist-production designer G'rard Le Dortz show the esteem in which they hold their contributing vocalists (who are all wonderful) by listing them first among their credited contributors. As you listen to any of the Seven Reizh albums you'll understand why: These albums are unique in the way they are telling the story--the novel--in a kind of conversational/narrational format with all vocalists making appearances over the course of each and every song--and using multiple languages and many, many ethnic music traditions, to do so.

1. "Le Pavillon Chinois" (3:59) The title says it all: music stylized Chinese. Could be a travel video soundtrack. The takeover of the main melody from Chinese flutes to Celtic Uilleann pipes at 2:30 is interesting--and then German vocals! (8.5/10)

2. "Brizh" (14:48) slow, cinematic music plods beneath violin and English vocals of Laur'ne Bourvon. The synth "Strings" lead that follows the first verse sounds a little dated, but the breathy, vulnerable vocal (not unlike KOOP/LITTLE DRAGON's Yukimi Nagano) is awesome. At :00 the singer and language of choice change. I'm not much of a fan of saxophone, so the long Dick Parry-like solo in the sixth and seventh minutes is not for me. The ensuing lull of orchestral nuances is gorgeous--great, emotional melody. More delicate female vocalists appear, wafting in and out, until at the 13:00 mark an explosion of sound unleashes more Dick Parry-like sax and some slide guitar co-soloing to the finish. Overall, a great song; a veritable classic prog epic. (9.5/10)

3. "Tiqit Weman" (5:52) opens with strings to support the Kabyle singing of Farid A't Siameur (who sounds a bit like older PETER GABRIEL). In the second minute the lead vocal switches to a female singing in a different language. Back and forth the two go; this is a conversation. The operatic voice of this lead singer is quite beautiful--and a great contrast to the raspy voice of A't Siameur. The underlying music is quite like a stage or cinematic musical--could be a Disney love song. It's beautiful. (9/10)

4. "Dalc'h Mad" (6:55) Farid A't Siameur bursts out from the opening note in his Kabyle tongue, isnging in a forceful, devotional way. Laur'ne Bourvon's English singing comes next over some incongruously heavy rock music. Again, a theatric conversation style of lyrical presentation unfolds as the two protagonists and their choral support seem to be expressing anguish and longing. Another great song that could belong in a Disney or Cirque du Soleil presentation. (9/10)

5. "Klasker-bara" (4:40) the most subdued and sad of the Celtic-Arabic blends on the album, here the exceptionally emotional vocal performances are perfectly matched and integreted with the music--much of which is orchestral acoustic. (9.5/10)

6. "Kriz" (9:27) electronically clipped drum with delicately played steel-string guitar and woodwinds opens this song for the first gentle, sleepy two minutes. Then Laur'ne and Farid continue their conversation. I am so engaged in this conversation, this story, I just wish I knew what it was about (in detail)! There is a major song shift at the three minute mark into a kind of Buddha Lounge oriental fantasy song. It's extremely pretty! Lyrics are sung in French. Some cool drumming at the end of the fifth minute to signal another shift--one in which Farid enters and sings on multiple tracks with electric guitar power chords counter-balancing the Chinese erhu and then the English lyrics sung by Laur'ne. Nice guitar solo in the seventh/eighth minutes (especially its climactic section flwoing into the ninth minute). Oriental themes return and are woven among the continued soloing of the electric guitar to the end. Brilliant creation! (9.25/10)

7. "Lostmarc'h" (9:59) despite an unspectacular opening section--calm and desert-beautiful, sung in English--this one carries an incredibly touching emotional quality within both the multi-voice vocal performances and the instrumental fabric supporting it all. The musical foundation becomes more compelling with the entry of operatic voice of one of the women (Stefanie or Bleunwenn, I know not which). The conversational aspect of storytelling is quite apparent in this one as Laur'ne, Farid, and Stefanie/Bleunwenn take turns in the lead position. Eventually, the song finishes with some more wonderful acoustic and electric guitar soloing. In the end, this is truly a gorgeous song regardless of whether or not it ever develops or evolves into something surprising or unexpected. I'm just so glad someone is doing this kind of music. (9.25/10)

8. "Er Lein" (9:30) all-out Celtic rock (despite Farid's Kabyle vocals). After the opening three minutes, this song is amped up to full power all the way through until the final 30 seconds. The female vocals are awesome from start to finish--from the scrambled, almost mumbled openers into the thrum-supported doubled-up verses to the operatic Gaelic ones before Farid's entrance. Brilliant! The deep pulse of bass, drums, and keys balanced by the celtic cimbalom (zither/autoharp), celtic pipes and horns and guitar are so well done! Truly an awesome song! (9.5/10)

I greatly admire the successful melding of Celtic and Arabic traditions; perhaps there is a larger social-political statement being made here. Now knowing the continuous story line that this one concludes I will go back and add the middle two releases ((2006's Samsara and 2015's La barque aill'e) that I have yet to hear. Also, I must comment on the drastically improved sound production Messers. Mignon and Le Dortz have achieved since Strinkadenn Ys: it doesn't get much better than this.

Five stars; a masterpiece of cross-cultural storytelling progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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