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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Review edited in 2014 in the light of the then-recent reissues Or The Fear Of Number 13, most likely a reference to Trigaux's old group Univers Zero's debut album called 1313. Actually Present started as an offshoot project of Univers Zero with both Roger Trigaux and Daniel Denis, but Trigaux was not to return to back to the mother group. The vast majority of the album is written by Roger Trigaux (who oscillates constantly between the piano to a searing guitar) and therefore one should not really expect the same kind of music than on a UZ album, despite the same kind of sombre ambiance.

Just three tracks on this album, one of which is simply the most representative track of Present's Oeuvre: the side-long 19 min+ Promenade Au Fond D'Un Canal. With an incredibly ever changing rhythm pattern but constantly sinister and metronomic-quality (almost repetitive to be minimalist, but this would be misleading) groove and helped out tremendously by Rochette's piano, this track is riveting, tense from beginning to end. The 15 min+ Quatre-vingt Douze is based much on the same pattern but reminds you of John Cale and Terry Riley's superb album Church Of Anthrax. Last but not least is a short Repulsion (a collaboration between Trigaux, Denis and bassist Genet) that has problems finding its place next to the other two "epics", but is highly atmospheric.

The recent reissues of Present's first two albums boast bonus tracks and in this case, it is two live tracks from the mythic Halles De Schaerbeek back in 81. The first track is a shorter version of UZ's Dense (from the then-upcoming Ceux Du Dehors) with a much more electric feel. A very interesting bonus track that could've fitted on an early UZ album as well. The 10-mins Vous Le Saurez En Temps Voulu reflects well the paranoiac feel induced by the title (you'll know when it suits US) with its sinister pedestrian pace that goes crescendo. Both tracks are essential and high-valued additions to the original album. AAMOF, if you didn't know of the original album's initial form, you'd swear the bonus tracks are part of it. The expanded booklet provides a few pictures and the first-part history of the band's first era, courtesy of Aymeric Leroy. The remastering of the album and bonus tracks was handled by the great Udi Kooran.

Certainly one of the darkest Oeuvre written back then, there are not that many albums that have topped it in that regard, since. I cannot easily recommend this album to everybody, because this dark sinister music is not easily approachable (and not suited to getting romantic with the girlfriend unless she enjoys doing it in a coffin ;-) and is at best an acquired taste. But if you are reading this review, one can say that ź of the way is done.

Report this review (#27664)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This CD is very well done. I was very impressed. This leans more towards "Orchestrated" prog than it does "Band" prog. It sounds like there should be a mad conductor standing at the front of the studio, flailing his arms in the air while dressed in satanic garb. Much like Tool asks us to do in Schism, we have to "Find beauty in the dissonance" for the most part. If this CD had been more recent, I'd think it was a Mike Patton side project. That aside, if you can get past the somewhat creepy outer shell, what is left is a well made CD that praises complexity though amazing instrumentation. It is as technical as it is long, although there are some periods where little or no deviation is present from a certain pattern. For those with interests in darker, less melodic fusion jazz, or even those who like dark prog metal like TOOL or Pain of Salvation, it's worth a listen.
Report this review (#27665)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Triskaidekaphobie - a brief search on the internet gave the answer to the question about the meaning of the album name: fear from the number 13. Well, fear is one of the emotions that pass through the music, but not the only one. Here there are three compositions, two of them written by Roger Trigaux, leader and guitarist, along with Alain Rochette, one of the two piano players, in this Belgian RIO group. The first composition 'Promenade' is developed in the style of minimalism, where all of its advantages are achieved, without falling into its traps: repeated patterns, hypnotic and ecstatic, with minor changes, dissolves into the next pattern, in various moods and atmospheres. The overall style is an aggressive rock, with rock grooves and feeling. The finale is a good example for that: The pianos are "knocking" (in a good manner), plodding the first theme, drums and bass repeating constantly on the previous pattern, and Trigaux's guitar is yelling and howling with feedbacks and distortions. A great finale to an excellent composition.

Although all players are incredible, I would like to mention here the significant contribution of drummer Daniel Denis to the construction of each pattern. Each hitting is meaningful, the overall drumming is precise and clear, and yet there are lot of unexpected appearances and syncopation that push the music forward.

The other 2 compositions which originally appeared on side 2 of the vinyl (my review is based on the CD that contains their first two albums) are quite different: 'Le Poison' is a very intriguing composition. As opposed to the first composition, there is almost no minimalism here. The development is very grave and strict, almost classical, with each note bearing a deep thought. But somehow, for me, the overall feeling is too didactic, academic. To give a point of reference, Karn evil 9 by ELP, the 2nd impression, comes to mind here, but 'Le Poison' is less furious and virtuosic.

The 3rd composition 'Repulsion' by all members is one repetitive theme, played slowly, in a haunting way, ornamented with percussions such as a gong and cymbals, by fabulous drummer Daniel Dennis.

I've mentioned Daniel Dennis twice, but In fact the whole band sounds great. The bass playing by Christian Genet is very clear, powered and rhythmic; the brilliant pianos, played mainly by Rochette and also by Trigaux are performed with high technical skills; finally, the guitar playing by Trigaux adds its flavors to the whole atmosphere. All together they sound very tight and in full control, like a Swiss clock. (Or a Belgian one, in this case).

By the way, while writing this review I've realized that this is my 13th written review. Quite frightening isn't it?

Highly recommended.

Report this review (#135669)
Posted Saturday, September 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars 4.5 stars. Quite appropriate that PRESENT's first album would be called "Triskaidekaphobie" (fear of the number 13). As Sean Trane points out it's sort of a nod to UNIVERS ZERO who's debut was called "1313". Three of the four members of PRESENT are from UNIVERS ZERO including UNIVERS ZERO's leader, drummer and percussionist Daniel Denis. While Daniel and bass player Christian Genet would go back to UNIVERS ZERO after this recording to create "Ceux Du Hors", Roger Trigaux wouldn't, their former guitarist would continue with PRESENT as it's leader. In fact this project was his vehicle all along as a way to express his musical dreams or should I say nightmares. The music here is similar in style to UNIVERS ZERO without the classical instruments and with more of a focus on the guitar and piano. By the way Daniel Denis would return to play on PRESENT's second album after UNIVERS ZERO recorded "Uzed".

We begin with my favourite song on the album "Promenade Au Fond D'Un Canal" a 19 minute classic. It opens with piano and percussion and is dark and reserved. It kicks in at the 2 minute mark with piano, drums, guitar, bass and percussion. It sounds great ! So much intensity ! It slows back down 4 minutes in but still has that incredible sound. Scorching guitar 7 minutes in, and the bass that comes and goes is prominant. It all stops before 10 minutes except for the piano. Percussion and guitar join in before a heavy beat arrives.The piano becomes very prominant again. 15 minutes in the guitar starts to slowly rip it up until that's all you hear right to the end of the song. Nice.

"Quatre-Vingt Douze" is another long track at over 15 minutes. A fairly energetic intro is replaced by gentle piano. It becomes uptempo again 2 1/2 minutes in with percussion and piano leadng the way. It calms down again 6 1/2 minutes in with gentle piano as this theme is repeated. The song stops 10 1/2 minutes in and returns slower and darker with eerie piano melodies. The pace picks up 14 minutes with some great bass as the mood brightens. "Repulsion" is the final track and is very repetitive with a piano note being methodically pressed every 3 seconds while percussion is used in the same way. The sound slowly increases.

Like with the music of UNIVERS ZERO this album is not for everyone. If you like that style though you have to check this one out.

Report this review (#149791)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Present was the brainchild of Univers Zero guitarist Roger Trigaux, showing his compositional skills outside that band teamed up with UZ drummer Daniel Denis, bassist Christian Genet and the relatively unknown Alain Rochette on the keyboards. Trigaux's ideas for Present notably shows the differences from his work with UZ with a more repetitive and hypnotic approach to the music, but while still being dark and gloomy - sometimes even scary. Triskaidekaphobie was their debut album and proves these facts spot on, and remains one of my most favoured RIO recordings to be released at that time. The music is dark and atmospheric, hypnotic and repetitive, but never boring to the listener. Another difference between UZ and Present is that this album moves away from the chamber influences and uses electric instruments instead, but the material here is no less interesting and it is in fact very reminiscent of UZ's 80's albums stylistically. The opening cut, "Promenade au fond D'un Canal", is the best piece here and sets the album mood perfectly with it's gloomy opening before turning into frantic and challenging Avant-Prog delights until it finally slips into darkness and goes through a multiple of sections before returning to it's opening theme promoted with a blistering and intense guitar solo by Trigaux. It's a composition that has to be heard to appreciate properly but it's definitely one of the genres finest songs. The next cut, titled Quatre-Vingt Douze, is more varied and goes through even more sections, although it's more on the minimalist side of the album at times. Again, it displays blistering complexity both in terms of musicianship and compositionally seen, although it's not as strong as the opening cut. Not easy listening by any means, but along with the previous cut it have a lot to offer and stands out as perhaps the most interesting part of the album.

The final piece is a very gloomy and dark closer that gives the listener a chance to chill, but with goosebumps and a chance to think what the hell he just went through the last 35 minutes. Again a very odd track, but still it might be the most normal piece here. Throughout the album, the musicians provide some excellent playing. Daniel Denis in particular does some really creative drumming on all tracks and spices the arrangements up even further. His unique style displayed with both Present and UZ definitely makes him one of my most preferred drummers in rock. Christian Genet's bass playing isn't as notable but he backs up the music very well and provides excellent techniques when required. As with his bandmates, he is a very unique player that suits this band perfectly. Alain Rochette takes the main role in most of the songs with his sharp and precise playing on the keyboards and he easily manages to boost Trigaux's arrangements up a few notches, making the songs more clear and understandable. Trigaux himself textures the music with long, soaring guitar notes for most of the time, but backs up the rest of the band excellently when needed. All in all, the playing from the band and compositions featured here is nothing but admirable, and it all works extremely well. This is not easy listening by any means, but surely a must have if you like this kind of music. You might look on it as a masterpiece, or maybe not, but I think this album is the best in Present's discography. Their next album is no worse so check out that one as well, in fact Cuneiform Records released both of them on one CD in the late 80's so pick it up if you are interested. A complete meltdown of wonderful insane, beyond brilliant stuff! 5/5

Report this review (#162352)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let me first of all add that I am not an avant-garde expert. I have never heard anything by Univers Zero either. But most importantly, I am not even a nuclear fission engineer. This is a review written by a humble IT guru and an open minded soul. For the experts, see the other reviews.

This is Present's debut album and contains two big pieces and a shorter track. The two big pieces clocks in at just below twenty minutes each. They are based on some medium complex rhythm patterns produced by bass, drums and most importantly; piano. The piano is both used as the second bass in this music ensemble and as a melody texture creator. Some of it atonal as in zeuhl. The solos is mainly done by the electric guitars......... and we are not talking Apache by The Shadows here. The guitars are distorted and sometimes atonal.

The music........ The opener Promenade Au Fond D'un Canal is a bit hesitant before it ends up in a claustrophobic duel between repetitive pianos and discorded electric guitars. A very good tune. The second track Quatre-vingt Douze is much more open which some times also closes in on claustrophobia. It also have a good jazz and zeuhl feel waking over it's eighteen minutes. The final song Repulsion is more an epitaph than a piece of music.

Although this album has it's great moments, I am too hesitant to call it a great album. There is too much which does not work here. Half of the two long tracks, to be precise. The final song does not work too well either. But it is still an album well worth checking out. It is a good album and I am eager to explore the rest of Present's albums.

3 stars

Report this review (#296406)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIE is the birth of a band called Present that sounds a lot like (and shares members with) RIO legends Univers Zero. Yet, it is fairly obvious that Present has its own sound that distinguishes it from UZ. An interesting paradox, yet it's so hard to explain exactly why the two bands differ. You almost have to have heard both groups to get the idea in your head, and it's still hard to explain.

Whatever dark, macabre horrorifics that UZ employed (speaking from their debut, they got more electric later on), Present sound much less acoustic. The main strengths of the band are the pianos, the drums (Daniel Denis; no surprises there) and just the intensity of the music. Both big epics have that last quality in spades; if you're a fan of avant-prog, that hair-tickling feeling of the sharpness of the music will rub off on you in the best way. That's how best to really describe why Present and TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIE work within the avant-prog scene. It's well worth putting an ear to if you can find it.

Report this review (#751171)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Present's debut is such a well rounded album. Granted it has only two songs and an outro, the songs themselves are intense from start to finish, leaving very little to complain about. I find myself shifting between this album and Univers Zero's Heresie depending on my mood, but at the moment I'll take Present's debut simply because Trigaux' guitar make this a rockier affair (and I mean 'rockier' in that it sounds more like a band than just an ensemble, as oppose to U.Z.'s first three albums.) Genet's bass is unrelenting too; it's as pummeling as anything found on Magma's discography.

Fans of those aforementioned bands should check these guys out.

Report this review (#921487)
Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 | Review Permalink

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