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Clearlight - Impressionist Symphony CD (album) cover

IMPRESSIONIST SYMPHONY

Clearlight

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars I would like an explosion of musical magic, a symphonic masterpiece from 2014. Does that excist somewhere? Yes it does. I have never heard anything from the french symphonic band Clearlight before but now did I listen two times at one time at the band's twentieth studio album "Improssionist Symphony". This album is close to perfection. I didn't thought music like this was being produced nowadys. Such wonderful pretentions and such a lovely result. Clearlight seems to shift between a Cyrille Verdeaux solo project and a full scale rock orchestra. This is an example of the last. Besides Verdeaux who plays piano and synthesizers there is Didier Malherbe (wind instruments), Craig Fry(violin), Vincent Thomas Penny(guitars), Paul Sears(drums & percussion), Linda Cushma(bass), Chris Kovacks(synthesizers), Remy Tran(synthesizers), Steve Hillage(guitars) and Tim Blake(xils synth and theremin). The record they have made must end up as one of (if not the) best albums of 2014. The entire record is instrumental and every track is inspired by impressionist paintors of the early 1900th such as Renoir, Monet, Pissaro, Degas, Van Gogh, Gaughin and Toulouse Lautrec. The music has strong impressionist connection but it is truely romantic too.

Perhaps you could say Clearlight has taken classical music into rock music without playing real classical music but real progressive rock. The cover shows a lot of birds in different sizes, biggest of them is a white swan. It's strange how few have reviewed this record when it is so good comparing with music of today. I have hard to pick the best tracks here for you because the album should be enjoyed as full but I think "Renoir En Coulour", "Pissarro King", "Gaughin Dans L'Autre" and "Lautrec Too Loose" are those I like most. Every aspect here is marvelous: the fantastic instruments, the guitar which sounds like Mike Oldfield at his best moments, the wind instruments, the crazu violin flying around and the massive wall of keyboards. This record is bright shining everywhere and I like you to get to know it you too. This is totally new to me but it reminds me of a lot of great music such as the Spanich group "Los Canarios" or "Harmonium" and some others. To argue about this could be hard but this record stands out. I recommend it warmly and I will return here very soon. Five stars!

Report this review (#1285611)
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I originally reviewed this album in the bygone Finnish prog magazine Colossus in 2014, and I wonder why I never happened to write the only collab review right here, until now. CLEARLIGHT is a French, mostly instrumental symph act led by keyboardist and composer Cyrille Verdeaux. The debut album Clearlight Symphony (recorded in 1974, released by Virgin Records) remains as his best known work. The later Clearlight albums seem to be too forgotten, as one can see from the lack of reviews for this latest one.

The inspiration for Impressionist Symphony sparkled already in 2004 at the French Embassy where Verdeaux was giving a solo piano concert. The ambassador described his style as impressionistic. "I love Ravel, Debussy, Chopin and Satie, so I thought this impressionist style was part of the 'French touch' cultural heritage, since most of the impressionist painters were also French." Thus came the idea to compose music to glorify that art movement.

The 64-minute instrumental album features several co-musicians such as guitarist Steve Hillage, synth wiz Tim Blake and saxophonist Didier Malherbe, all members of GONG who appeared also on Clearlight Symphony. Graig Fry adds his violin, and on drums is excellent Paul Sears. In the booklet the eight pieces are accompanied by paintings of e.g. Renoir, Monet, Degas and Van Gogh - such a nice idea!

The music flows brightly and dynamically and indeed it captures the sense of mpressionism, the spur of the moment. Some listeners may find the compositions a bit too ambivalent, but all in al this is a fine, gorgeously produced prog album made with pure passion and dedication. The booklet even contains album covers and brief introductions to the Clearlight discography. This pleasant extra makes me round my 4,5 stars upwards. Where are you, Clearlight fans??

Report this review (#2415640)
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2020 | Review Permalink

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