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Mona Lisa - Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard CD (album) cover


Mona Lisa

Symphonic Prog

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3 stars Their best for me.Several songs are by the better kind as 'Avant qu'il ne soit pas trop tard' which started softly in a very clear spoken french voice and ends in a complete climax.'Tripot','Lena' are very nice too.For people which just start to discover Mona Lisa you've to buy this one as a starter.
Report this review (#4890)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is my favourite Mona Lisa album (and I know most of them): I have no problem in giving the highest rate to 'Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard', since I consider it a definite highlight of Frech progressive tradition. Mona Lisa continues to explore its own theatrical over-dramatic symph prog, based on the colourful use of keyboards, the amazing solos on guitar (Jordan feels at home, though he'd just entered the band one year ago) and synth (Pierson at his most confident), the foundation of a solid, undefatigable rhythm section, and the amazingly expressionist vocal style proudly exhibited by Le Guennec. The title track opens the album in the shape of a somber manifesto which gradually grows into delirious exaltation, on the basis of minimalistic layers of synths, to which guitar riffs, tympani, bells are added until a final blow on a gong. This impressive entry gives way to the hard-rocking 'La Peste', which includes another manifesto in the interlude - this time on a stacatto tempo, and with a clear air of ugent protest. The energetic interaction bwteen the lead guitar and the synth main lines makes a major asset in Mona Lisa's instrumental input - this track is one of the most notable epitomes of this. 'Souvenirs de Naufrageurs' is the first symphonic suite of the album, where the intensity is more balanced along the various passages (acoutic/serene, electric/agressive). 'Tripot' is ML at its cacthiest, building attractive melodic lines on a 7/8 tempo, while 'Lena' comes later as an effective exercise on folkish driven sounds - the rhythm section, to which the acoustic guitar is added, paves the way for the flute and synth lines in the interlude and the synth solo in the last section. The sense of bucolic easy-going fun is wickedly disrupted by the final, brief laugh. The three-part closing suite is the greatest musical gem ever created by the band: retaking some of the agressiveness of most of the previous tracks, the first two parts display a fluid transit from the contemplative stage to the energy of anger (not unlike 'La Peste'). The final four minutes are worth mentioning here - using a basis minimal series of chords on synth, a bunch of other instruments (other synths, guitar, bass, bass pedals, vibes, glockenspiel, bells, mellotron) wander in and out in order to create a surreal, zombiesque ambience... makes me feel like I'm trapped in the middle of a cathartic circus of marionettes. Such a great closing for such a great prog masterpiece!
Report this review (#4892)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the albums that proves my point that the prog rock scene from France is not like any other prog rock scene.

Bands like Ange, Atoll and Mona Lisa took Peter Gabriel's theatrics a couple of stages further down the theatrical and operatic path. It is on this Theatrical Symphonic Prog path we find this album. The both spoken and operatic vocals is pretty much in the front of the mix and is pretty dominating. The music is a mix of opera, classical music, baroque and folk music. The spirit of Edit Piaf can also be found in the mix. The instrumentation is tangents, electric guitars and flutes. The music is in general overstated and very much in your face. This is French theatrical symphonic prog rock.

This is by no means a criticism of this album or this brand of symphonic prog. I quite like the French adaptation of what the guys in Genesis, Yes and Camel did on the other side of the British Channel. Some would even call this an improvement. Well, some may say. The quality of the material on this album is great throughout. Songs like La Peste, the title track and Lena has some great melody lines. The deliverance is excellent although I am not too fond of the vocals being too much in the front of the mix. But in the case of this album, it is a good thing.

I think this is a great album and a good introduction to Atoll, Mona Lisa and Ange's brand of symphonic prog. The art work is excellent too and gives this album an extra attraction. But please give this album some time. This album will slowly, but surely creeps upon you. It did that with me. Hence, it comes with my recommondation.

4 stars

Report this review (#286189)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the last of the classic "Mona Lisa" album. And as usual, the music featured is quite good and belongs to the best of the French prog genre. One needs indeed to be open minded while listening to this album and it is obvious that the formidable influence from "Ange" sits at every corner of this very good album.

The excellent and dark opening track sets the pace: it is somber, scary (both music as well as lyrics) and develops the feel that is available throughout this work. This album belongs to the best of the theatric French style. Each song is meant to be a piece of art. As I have mentioned during prior reviews, the lyrics are not as saucy as some of "Ange" ones, but they are quite well performed and they can be categorized as a good representation of the so special French style.

It is true to say that if you don't master the French language, you would probably miss a whole lot of the ingredients featured on this album. Once you have surpassed this difficulty, songs as "La Peste" or "Souvenirs de Naufrageurs" are such a pleasure to listen to that one needs to accept this French substance.

It is true that vocals are somewhat invading the music ("Lena") but this is the genuine "Mona Lisa" style. The best combination between lyrics and music is achieved during the epic "Créature Sur La Steppe" even if the closing part lacks of bombastic feel.

Three live bonus tracks from this studio album are featured on the CD release and are quite enjoyable as well. I guess that it all adds to my feel of not having had a live experience from this band.

Four stars.

Report this review (#307890)
Posted Monday, November 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This album and MONA LISA's previous one are both classics as far as i'm concerned.The title of this album means "Before It's Too Late". Apparently the concerts in support of both of these albums were very elaborate and theatrical much like GENESIS were in the early days.

"Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard" opens with the synths rolling in as some heaviness joins in rather quickly. Spoken words replace the heaviness then a beat arrives before 2 1/2 minutes as the spoken words get more theatrical. It's building here. "La Peste" is uptempo with synths, bass and drums but it settles back some quickly.Vocals before a minute. Check out the fast paced vocals and sound 2 minutes in that really remind me of MAGMA. Great sound ! They stop after 3 1/2 minutes as it slows back down then the vocals return. "Souvenirs De Naufrageurs" opens with atmosphere as spoken words join in.The flute replaces the words as the atmosphere continues. Piano after 2 minutes as the mood brightens some.Vocals join in as the tempo picks up. Guitar comes to the fore after 5 1/2 minutes.We even get some mellotron late on this one.

"Tripot" is uptempo with vocals.Guitar a minute in when the vocals stop but the vocals return quickly. "Lena" opens with acoustic guitar as reserved vocals join in. It does build some then it picks up after 2 minutes.The flute joins in when the vocals stop.Vocals are back 3 1/2 minutes in. It turns instrumental again.Some crazy laughter ends it. "Creature Sur La Steppe" is mellow to start in fact spacey might be the word. Reserved vocals with bass, gentle guitar and a beat take over. I like the melancholic synths that follow. It turns heavier after 3 minutes and the guitar joins in briefly.The vocals return as well. Spacey synths come in as it settles from before 6 minutes to the end.

Just a great album for Prog fans who don't mind a little theatrics here and there.

Report this review (#400520)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars French theatrical symphonic progrock at its best! This is the best album of this French group and my most favourite from them (i have Le Petit Violon... too). Simply said, i really like this album. It has so much great melodies and catchy vocals, that some are really staying in my head a long time after hearing of this album.

Yes, this is some sort of Genesis influenced progrock, but i think most reviewers are forgeting to add, that this group together with Ange is at least so or much than with Genesis and Gabriel- like singing influenced with French chanson music and their old musical traditions. French are very proud of their country, their culture and their language and we can see it (or hear actually) on these albums. Perhaps for British or American progrock fans are the vocals too theatrical and affected, but this is really French as it can be.

The music on this album is very synth heavy, pompous and often a bit dark too (darker than on their predecessor). I simply like this kind of late 70s tone (a bit different than from early 70s), production and big amount of analogue synths. Sometimes we can find here a nice and melodic guitar solo from Pascal Jordan too, coupled with omnipresent punchy and growling bass. Despite of some musical simplicity, some 70s cliché and perhaps for some proggers rythmical minimalism, the music slowly absorbs you.

My most favourite tracks are first three and the last one. Especially second and third track have really great and interesting vocals like for example on "La Peste" song, where the singer Le Guennec growls some staccato phrases like he was possessed or threatened of something. Really efective... Another interesting moment is the finale of the last and longest song, which ends in sort of avantgarde and electronic way, which could remind you some sort of weird marionette theater. Interesting and fairly original album ending.

The tone on my Japan SHM Belle Antique reissue is lush, colorful and bold. Overall, its great and must have album for all 70s French progrock lovers or for 70s symphonic progrock afficionados too. 4 stars easily...

Report this review (#837897)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

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