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Stevegane Project - When the Time Is a Present CD (album) cover


Stevegane Project


Crossover Prog

3.30 | 20 ratings

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4 stars Pascal Stevegane is a French guitarist that has seemingly a vast collection of prog guitarists as influences, mostly the usual suspects (Gilmour, Latimer, Howe etc) but the Steve he relies on the most is Hillage, circa Fish Rising/You! This appears quite striking from the onset, where one almost expects an 'Uncle Salomon Salmon Song' exhortation to hit you between the ears! Spacey, dreamy, atmospheric, structured and introspective, the fluid guitar leads reverb upon a bed of liquid rhythms, fueled by vaporous keys, firm bass and drum programming that doesn't sound plastic or contrived. It took a few spins before I found the correct receptive groove and the appeal became rather obvious from then on.

The opener "Through the Stones" is a gigantic 18 minute musical voyage that lays down a foundation for Pascal to jam to his heart's content, throngs of note-bending and pedal/bar effects are spread liberally throughout. The Hillage-isms are palpable towards the end, the cascading riffs jangling with the leads in typical fashion.

The title track is another whopper, clocking in at over 22 minutes and pretty much follows a matching course where suave synths introduce a stinging guitar lead that forages deeply into loftier expanses, searching out new sonic horizons and appropriate techniques (little wah-wah sprinkles in the background). Things die down a tad only to reveal a gloriously looping solo that soars majestically with restraint and that Gilmourian feel. The constant ebb and flow provides aural variety that flirts with electronic shadings such as the ping- ponging synths that only add to the charisma. The pace evolves into an exalted flare out with synth-drums bashing away and the silky leads showing some welcome fury and rage.

"The Green Eyes" is where Pascal takes a detour into more pastoral I daresay almost Celtic directions, the piece that ultimately won me over to his unique craft. Delicate acoustic guitars, sweeping string synths and a supreme melody is all you need to attract my attention but when the lead shoots in, its bliss baby time! The length of this masterpiece, you ask? Nearly 18 minutes, I retort! Most definitely highlight reel material, perhaps closer to Latimer/Hackett/Phillips than the manic Gongster. The mid-section in particular is sheer brilliance, with a sweetly repetitive rock riff that has that unmistakable hint of Ritchie before then blasting off into Floydian spaces. The amazing track is absolutely spellbinding and deserves a captivating prog audience to cheer him on.

Just when you expect another colossal track, Pascal unveils the 3 minute "Lady of the Lake" (strangely rare title, LOL), just to keep one guessing and typical of French humor. In a way it succeeds in condensing his craft within the smallest of prog snippets and using it to market his work, correctly so. First slight hint of Oldfield.

It ends with a dozen minutes of "Sly Return 11 march 2011", a soundscape where special effects rule at first (water streams, birds, Japanese koto) and blooms into a massive axe ooze that infuses a fair amount of wah-wah shades and various tonal colorations.

Obviously, the all-instrumental approach precludes any sentiment aimed at "songs", preferring sonic landscapes that emote on a spiritual level without being new-age. That would be kind of odd with credits thanking Rainbow, Blackmore, Cozy, Airey, Lifeson, Beck, Gilmour, Vander and good old JS Bach (not the Skid Row guy!). Funny that there is no mention of Hillage or his protégé Christian Boulé! The music can be ideal background for a get-together (an electric BBQ?) or late-night cuddling but only if the volume is cranked. Even though his axe style is totally different, fans of extended Mike Oldfield may find pleasure in this experience as well as all you guitar freaks. On a humorous note, his website pictures make him look like a young Frank Sinatra! That's prog for you!

4 Tick-Tocks

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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