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Audio'm - Audio'm CD (album) cover

AUDIO'M

Audio'm

 

Crossover Prog

3.97 | 49 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars AUDIO'M is somewhat of an obscure albeit contemporary French progressive rock band that comes from the extreme southwestern coastal town of Banyul-sur-Mer which is straddled on the Spanish border and is probably best known for performing at several prog festivals such as the Prog Sud opening for Telescope Road and BARAKA8 as well as at the 2016 Crescendo Festival where they opened for IO Earth. AUDIO'M remains a bit of a mystery as there's not much info out there even in this years of 2020 about them. So far this band has released this one eponymously titled album which came out in 2016.

What gives this band a rather unique edge is the fact that the six tracks that clock in at over 61 minutes of playing time were originally composed for piano and the viola da gamba in traditional classical forms and then expanded to included several other instruments and vocalists. This is a fairly large ensemble with the following nine members: Marco Fabbri (drums), Michel Cayuela (keyboards), Mathieu Havart (keyboards), Simon Segura (bass), Gary Haguenauer (guitar), Dominique Olmo (guitar), Emma Boudeau (viola), Lyse Mathieu (flute), Emannuelle Olmo-Cayuela (vocals).

This is fairly intricate prog with meandering piano led compositions that engage in all the progressive rock complexities with all but one track running over the nine minute mark. All the members are French except for the Italian drummer Marco Fabbri who is fairly well known in his homeland. The music is somewhat of a composite of styles in which the cello, viola and flute generate a classical music underpinning while the rock instrumentation adds a more bombastic heft. The lyrics are exclusively in English although heavily steeped in French philosophies and sounding a bit exotic as this band is clearly from a non-English speaking land graced by the feminine charm of singer Emannuelle Olmo-Cayuela although her vocal style is on the lower register and reminds me of a more refined and tamed Catherine Ribeiro.

The music is quite original as it not only provides the classical blueprints but engages in a veritable roller coaster ride of heavier prog rock workouts as well as some jazzier interludes and even a touch of local Occitan folk. The focus on the harmonic tapestries and complex rhythms gives the entire album a very classic 70s retro prog feel which is exactly what the band was aiming for. The album opens with the near 15 minute "Stolen Love Bite" and wends and winds its way through the album to the near 9 minute closer "Friend-Less-R." The diversity of the musical styles keeps the album quite entertaining with everything from Anglagard heavy prog workouts to more gypsy folk infused segments with symphonic prog bombast. Although performed in English, AUDIO'M never strays far from its French sensual sensibilities and the music evokes the Mediterranean musical scene in nuanced ways even if the band excels at checking off the list of prog characteristics.

Despite nine musicians on board, this album never feels overbloated, overweening or that anyone needs to hog the show. This music is seamlessly blended to create a vast ensemble type of sound where intricate riffs are nurtured by the team of atmospheric construction workers and although the melodic flow of the vocals keeps an accessible underpinning to the music the instrumental workouts can induce in extremely convoluted hairpin turns and check off all the requirements to qualify as difficult listening music. This is actually a really invigorating album as it balances the lush dreamier passages perfectly with the more ambitious angular bursts of energy. This may be one that requires a few spins to understand its logic but in the end i find this to be an engaging and original slice of southern French prog. Hopefully this band will craft a second coming of sort since this debut demonstrates some serious talent.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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