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Motis - L'Homme-Loup CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.22 | 25 ratings

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5 stars I always wondered why I seem to relate to all things medieval, fascinated by the couture, the castles, the heraldry and those magical "chansons de geste" that permeated my musical and historical upbringing, a bleak time when chivalry, honor and hopeless passion collided with stark brutality, disease and endless blood letting. Perhaps because I can relate to my own family's 7o0 years of gentrified Hungarian existence and like some childlike fantasy, the inquisitive mind travels back to those "Dark Ages" with fascination. While always a prog rocker, I was still a devout sucker for lute, mandolin, zither, cimbalom, krumhorn, oboe, bassoon, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy and various pipes. My first read literary works were Rabelais, Chaucer, Chrétien de Troyes, Dante and Villon, where the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Chanson de Roland and the Canterbury Tales whetted my alarmed curiosity. So it should come as no surprise that everything from Malicorne, Gentle Giant, Gryphon, Loreena McKennitt, Dao Dezi, Alan Stivell, Runrig to Iona, Shine Dion and Seven Reizh always manages to capture my imagination. Recently albums by The Morrigan, Gian Castello, Bededeum and even Blackmore's Night have provided unlimited hours of audio pleasure. Of course, understanding the French lyrics go only so far as the language holds no mysteries for me, forever enchanted by the slippery pronunciations. Perhaps the shut-eyed images of misty forts, towering turrets, jongleurs, troubadours and raconteurs, torch-lit banquets where wine, hydromel and roasted meats are what overpower the senses. A definition of medieval prog is perhaps necessary here: "Troubadour is the generic term for poets and minstrels who flourished in southern France and in Northern Italy from the 11th through the 13th centuries. Called trouvères in northern France and meistersingers in Germany, these artists elevated storytelling as an art, and often entertained huge crowds at fairs, weddings and other medieval celebrations. During this time, works from medieval monks had become tired. The public wasn't as interested in hymns, chronicles and treatises penned in Medieval Latin. These new stories were sang, while music was played on strange, new musical instruments, brought back to Western Europe from the Crusades. Verses became quite complex in style and ranged in topics from satire, love, and politics, to debates, laments and spinning songs. French lords wanted to hear tales of bravery about their own countrymen, and ladies were being swept away with epic love poems, as they practiced the rituals of Courtly Love. Professional singers who performed work penned by a troubadour were called jongleurs, and they might be accompanied by ioculators (jesters) and ystriones (actors). Minstrels were found in every social class, with wealthy or noble troubadours traveling like royalty from town to town. "(Quote taken from Motis (Emmanuel Tissot) is a one-man, one name virtuoso handling passionate vocals like a sprightly minstrel, highly skilled on both guitar and an assortment of keyboards including mellotron and synthesizer while helped out by drummer Rémy Diaz, a deft percussor who keeps things bubbly at all times and Florent Tissot on flute, vocals and electric guitar. Their second album "L'Homme Loup" is a fantastic voyage through time, kicking off with the rollicking spirited romp "Isengrin", a tale carpeted with mellotron washes flowing through the dramatic vocals that certainly recall the master, Christian Decamps of Ange. You can almost here the werewolf ("Garolou") howling in the bog, a spooky voyage into the gloomy past. P'Tit Louis" is a highlight track here, full of ribald cockiness, veering towards lewdly sexual intonations that recall Ange's more explicit lyrics ("Reveille-Toi" on Guet-Apens), conducted by a sprightly mandolin caressed by soft waves of mellotron and ticky-tock percussions while Motis intones carnal pleasures vividly expressed = "She said that life was beautiful just before biting the pillows" . "L'Ermite"(the Hermit) is another classic piece that has a dreamy epic qualities reinforced by the subtle keyboard work, a cool organ expression that breathes even more when the slithering synthesizer enters the fray, stamping solid symphonic credentials on the proceedings. The fabulous "La Dame et le Dragon"(The Lady & the Dragon) is straight out of Middle Ages tradition, a slow lumbering medieval dirge that recounts Teutonic knights with clanging armor, hapless damsels in distress and a raging dragon that knows no fear. Flute and passionate vocals lead the courageous charge into the beast's fire. "Les Normands" is a bouncy organ-led affair that recounts the brutal history of the Norse conquerors of France and later Britain, a story of bellicose warriors who feared no one in their path of conquest. Earth, wind and fire in musical form, as if a minstrel was entertaining at a banquet. The grandiose "La Trahison" (Duplicity) is the 7 minute medieval epic that is guided by a supremely adroit tale evoking the cruelty of hypocrisy, perfidy and guile. The magical flute waves the flag of serenity in mortal combat with the blaring trumpet of despair, while Motis emotes in that classic theatrical French prog style some of us adore (obviously knowledge of the tongue helps). The raspy organ makes a stunning introduction, egging the forlorn trumpet solo along in a true moment of magic with the drummer filling in supremely. "L'Enchanteur" recalls that famed personage Merlin, a prime source of progressive inspiration, the magician/wizard/alchemist remains a mystery that still fuels passions today. Motis proves that his emotional vocal delivery is world class, a mellifluous storyteller that emotes, evokes and chokes whenever the lyrics call for some depth and emotion. His ability to sugarcoat the arrangements with classic keyboard ornamentations make the whole even more palatable to the progfan. "Allons mes Compagnons"(Hey my Companions) is an anti- war ditty that underlines the savagery of warfare especially at a time when it was bloodiest, where slicing, spearing, decapitating and eviscerating were the norm. The rolling drums, the mandolin and the shrieking violin all conspire here to strike a painful chord. "L'Artaban" is another major highlight, a disturbing expedition into the medieval depictions of the devil (another major star in those heady times), a breathtaking scream for help as the horned beast infuses dread and fear in all those whom he faces. "Madrigal" has a shrewd violin leading the way, a somewhat pastoral musical journey from fort to fort, as the jovial troubadour hones his craft, encountering pagan lords and orgiastic feasts, serenading the moon with tales of indecent love, hopeless bravery and devious plots. The subtle use of inspired violin underlines the theme, breathing life into the mist of history. The title track (the Man-Wolf) concludes this masterpiece of medieval prog on a lugubrious note, an eerie foray into the frightening world of mystical trances and spells, where brave princes can be cast into horrible monsters, half men, half beast by the witchy lady of the woods. From the Motis website, it is apparent that their live concerts are amazing affairs, where costumes, ancient instruments and evocative stories are the norm, an escape into the dark past, a bloodthirsty era that also knew romance, chivalry and nobility. We still have the evil tendencies but where have the honorable ones gone? An absolute must for progfolk fans. 5 Windswept Avalons
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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