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The Box - D'Après Le Horla De Maupassant CD (album) cover

D'APRÈS LE HORLA DE MAUPASSANT

The Box

 

Crossover Prog

4.18 | 57 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars What a magnificent album to sneak out of Québec! Too bad it's taken 18 months to climb into ProgArchives' ranks and garner a little of its much deserved attention.

1. "The Overture" (9/10) is everything a prog song should be: using unusual folk instruments, shifting back and forth from delicate to power, changing tempos, complicated vocal harmonies, awesomely clear lead vocals (in their own native language!)

2. "Incubus" (10/10) sucks you into its web with the first strands of its foundational alternating guitar arpeggios and deep, full-front bass notes. What a simple but captivating and fluid lead! Then you're hit upside the head with the spoken voice of the amazing Jean-Marc Pisapia. He's got one of those voices that commands attention--no, worship! The journey this song takes one into--like a ride through the countryside in an opened-up convertible sports car--only we're driving behind the old Iron Curtain, say, in 1969 in Czechoslovakia. Joy ride, open air but ever on edge, ever hypervigilent. An amazing song with absolutely refreshing music and vocals, tempo and mood shifts, outstanding composition and musicianship. Prog music does not get better than this! EVER! Arabian musical influences sneak in at the 5:45 mark.

3. "L'eau, le lait, le vin . . . " (7/10) Lacks a little melody hook-line (perhaps the French lyrics are intended to be the true focus of this part of the song) before a sudden shift from light, whispery to heavy LED ZEPPELIN "In Through the Out Door" drumming at the 3:15 mark takes one by surprise--followed by a Canterbury sounding organ (Wurlitzer?) at the 4:30 mark. Fades out with street accordian.

4. "Mont St. Michel" (7/10) has a church feel to it--organ and chant-like harmonized vocals--before briefly shifting attention to piano. 4:30 sees a shift to a more acoustic prog orientation like MOON SAFARI, THE MOODY BLUES, BEACH BOYS, and early PETER GABRIEL. GENESIS-like heaviness beginning at the 7:10 mark brings a real mood shift to the song?especially with a great electric guitar solo with support passage. An interesting, entertaining song that would probably be rendered higher marks were I in on the lyrical content. (Future project: brush up on my old French.) Winds down with full PINK FLOYD sound à la "Eclipse."

5. "Le chat noir" (8/10) is a little ditty that starts and ends with SATIE-esque slow, jazzy, emotional solo piano. Nearly as interesting and unpredictable as the original works of the young master.

6. "Un unpénétrable mystère" (8/10) seems to feed off of the momentum of the previous song, beginning with treated piano chords and playful cymbol play before the poetic sing-speaking voice of M. Pisapia begins a upbeat monotone 'rap' over a rather jazzy, almost STYLE COUNCIL-like music. But watch out: these guys don't let you get bored or hypnotized; at 3:10 organ and true Gregorian chant-like choir takes over the singing of the lyrics. Then the sound drops out at 5:00 mark for a brief uncertainty before picking up the previous melodies on bass, b vox, and background upper register male voice. Then it stops, only to fade the last 30 seconds in a very trip hop way.

7. "À Bougival" (8/10) begins (and ends) with (what turns out to be) a constantly repeating four-note guitar arpeggios, two pairs of alternating piano chords and male voice before a kind of support soft-jazz combo joins in. This formula continues to cycle back and forth several times with the occasional rise and disappearance of near-Buddhist nasal voice intonations and a fully jazz- oriented section at about the 3:30 mark. Fascinating, unpredictable, and fresh!

8. "Sous hypnose" (7/10) introduces from the opening notes a harder, heavier side of THE BOX--again with a very LED ZEPPELIN foundation to it. Enter a harmonized lead vocal followed by a bridge of an (intentionally?) 'cheezy' organ solo, repeat formula, provide a different bridge to the electric (doubled, shadowed, or midied?) guitar solo, and you have a pretty standard rock constructed song. Until a C part begins at the 4:39 mark when you have wavering keyboard, jazz electric guitar solo and vocal "ha's" accompanying the eternally playful drummer's cymbol play. Return to beginning-style heaviness for outro.

9. "J'ai vu" (7/10) begins right where "sous hypnos" did: with another familiar-feeling LED ZEPPELIN "When the Levee Breaks"- like riff until it settles down to make way for repeating guitar arpeggios and harmonized 'spoken-sung' lead vocals. Heavy bass notes enter the play at the 3:00 minute mark as the piano gives us a little one-time jazz riff. Re-eneter the L ZEP riff at 5:00, this time with harmonized vocals accompanying/singing over to great effect?which only gets better as the song builds and progresses. The last 1:40 of the song play out in the sown-tempo 'B' mode.

10. "Super 61" (8/10) begins with female chorus reciting the title while a kind of BURT BACHARACH bassa nova back beat establishes itself. French-style vocal scatting familiar to all who heard Francis Lai's theme to the 1966 classic, "Un homme et une femme." In the Francis Lai traditioin, this is a pretty upbeat, light song with some catchy melodies (and perhaps lyrics!?).

Overall a delightful listening experience--one that is so different, so interesting and yet melodic and of superior construction, that I will come back many times to hear many more of the subtle shifts, instrument uses, and other nuances to be found herein. Excellent addition to any prog lovers music collection. 4.5 stars, really!

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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