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Renaissance - Azure d'Or CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.03 | 225 ratings

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3 stars Azur d'Or is the sound of a band in transition as it searches for a future, and the last from the classic 1970s line-up. It is something of a hybrid, combining familiar elements from the band's past with some that would define their future, mixed with a sizeable dollop of post-Gabriel Genesis courtesy of David Henschel who once again produces. Immediately apparent is the lack of any longer tracks, the absence of an orchestra for the first time since Prologue and a preponderance of electronic keyboards. More subtle is the increased use of electric guitar, an absence of those rich group harmonies of old, and a liberal sprinkling of poor songs.

It is tempting to relate the march of songwriting mediocrity to the relentless growth in stature of Jon Camp, but that would be an over-simplification as the other songwriters are not blameless. Good and bad abound in fairly equal measure - excellent songs like Golden Key, with its beautiful melody and performance worthy of the band at their height, are counter-balanced by mediocre clones of Northern Lights - eg Jekyll And Hyde - or songs with poor tunes like Secret Mission. In all cases, though, song structures are simple and unchallenging as the band consciously strived to attract a new audience. The result is an album of soft-rock AOR tinged with some pop melodies.

Despite my pervasive negativity there is much to admire here, often little touches providing a lift such as the Mellotron choir on Flood At Lyons or Annie's soft harmonies and pretty melody of Friends. Azur d'Or is an enjoyable and pleasant experience from a talented group of musicians who continue to perform at a very high personal level. Collectively, though, the magic that created such masterpieces as The Song Of Scheherazade has eluded them. Good, but inessential!

Joolz | 3/5 |


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