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Fractale Live Suranné album cover
3.66 | 40 ratings | 18 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Partie XV (2:57)
2. Partie VI (2:04)
3. Partie V (5:09)
4. Partie XVI (4:31)
5. Partie XVIII (2:45)
6. Sans papiers - Live at the Sunset (4:32) *
7. Clémentine (5:22) *

Total Time 27:20

* bonus tracks

Line-up / Musicians

- Julian Julien / alto saxophone
- Vivien Philippot / tenor saxophone
- Patrice Cazeneuve / trumpet
- Jennifer Quillet / trumpet
- Jon Lopez de Vicuna / electrified baryton saxophone
- Lorenz Steinmueller / electrified tuba
- Benjamin Vairon / drums

Releases information

A bout de son digital CD
Partie XV-XVIII Recorded live in 2008 at Zčbre de Belleville, Paris

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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FRACTALE Live Suranné ratings distribution

(40 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(62%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

FRACTALE Live Suranné reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fractale is a one man project (Julian Julien) and a collective musical ensemble on stage. From a geometry-philosophical angle, the Fractale concept allows flourishing, proliferating particles / flux which can seriously be associated with the explosive multi-directional musical identity of this new Julian Julien project. Julian Julien already made a name on the underground psychout jazzy scene with a handful of official CDs releases such as Tuperware et bibelot (1998), Terre (2006) and Strange (2007). This new release entitled Suranné delivers a sonorous and cosmidelica trip through semi-improvised sessions largely devoted to brass sequences / soloing parts. The music is sustained by a dynamic-pulsating rockin accompaniment: great mention to the bass / drum sections as well to the textured moving electronics. Recorded live this album enables to appreciate the intuitive intensity and the musical communion between the musicians. The album starts with a tense-super catchy brass hymn, admitting some punchy "dramatic" / "spleen" alike grooves. The style is not so far from a few German acid jazzy rock combos despite that the influence comes from classic-highly acclaimed bands. The album carries on with a nebulous-spiralling synthesized / heavy-fuzzing brass dialogue, intriguing and enigmatic at the same time, always very groovy with a spacious cosmic electronic approach. Just before to listen to the two bonus tracks, this improvised session is closed with a superb cinematic-retro-ish musical "march", quite languorous and emotive. A pleasant listening experience and way recommended for fans of Soft Machine, Sun Ra (?) and those who are into the perpetual jamming heavy psych-jazz of Et Cetera, Alcatraz and more recently the Japanese of Ghost.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Review originally posted at

This is a short but wonderful EP that can be easily loved by any progressive rock fan.

And it is not common that I start with a phrase like that, actually I would finish my review with it, but this time I did it the other way around because I have truly enjoyed this album every single time I've listened to it, and believe me, there have been at least 10 so far. Fractale is the project of French sax player Julian Julien, who with the help of some friends and of course high-quality musicians have created a wonderful mixture of rock fusion with spacey textures.

This EP entitled "Suranné" consists of five live pieces which does not really have a name, and two bonus tracks. Actually, and it is worth mentioning, this is like a taste of Fractale's sound, since Julien have created a bunch of songs that can (and should) be listened in a row, without any distraction, in order to have the feeling of being reading a book or watching a movie, I mean, the images created by the music are countless, all depends on the listener.

"Suranné" sadly is pretty short, I always have that empty space where I am asking for more, but as I said, this is only a taste of their sound, and what a taste! It opens with "Partie XV", and since the fist seconds we will listen to that jazz oriented sound, with lots of wind instruments, percussion and synthesizers. The music is really friendly; it will put a smile on you, and surely will make you move your body. I cannot help but enjoying it.

"Partie VI" has a slower rhythm, but it is full of atmospheres and spacey effects that in moments remind me of Daevid Allen's Gong. This also sounds like an improvisation, and it is the shortest piece of the album. "Partie V" is wonderful, with a rich blend of winds and electronic elements that together create new images, atmospheres and nuances. The different trumpets and saxophones do not really sound jammed, them all sound clean and clear, one can easily recognize each one of them. This is one of my favorite tracks!

With "Partie XVI" the band follows the same line, but this time they have quite an addictive sound. The name of Gong springs to my mind once again, which does not mean I am comparing them, not at all, but they might have been an influence. You will have four minutes of addiction, of craziness and adventure, but the sad thing is that it all of a sudden finishes, when you are totally caught by its sound.

The concert part finishes with "Partie XVIII" which is another cool song, but with a slower and more melancholic sound, like announcing the end. I would have really loved to hear more of this bunch of live parts, it would be a complete trip. The last two additional songs are "Sans Papiers" and "Clementine" which together make the final ten minutes of this EP. The road is practically the same, cool and addictive rhythms, excellent blend of jazz with space and electronic elements; wonderful winds and constant drums.

What a pity it ends so soon, but well, the only thing I can do is waiting for a full-length release and why not, to see them live someday. Highly recommendable! Four stars, easily.

Enjoy it!

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Jazz Fusion in Outer Space

Fractale's "Live Suranne" is a very accomplished musical concert experience that focuses on an extreme jazz fusion style merged with spacey effects. It was recorded in 2008 at Zčbre de Belleville, Paris. The line up of the band is impressive in itself with virtuoso musicians that have a dynamic sound. Julian Julien, the key founder for the group, is a revelation on alto sax, Jon Lopez de Vicuna plays Electrified baryton sax, Vivien Philippot is on tenor sax, and together they generate a mesmirising quirky psych prog sound. The sax and violence of the jazz dominates throughout the concert and reminded me of fractured versions of early Van der Graaf Generator's Banton, and Mahavishnu Orchestra in places. On the trumpets are Patrice Cazeneuve and Jennifer Quillet who create a storm of brass atmospherics. There are some innovative sounds made on the Electrified Tuba from Lorenz Steinmueller and it is all capped off by some outstanding percussion from Benjamin Vairon.

The concert has a unique soundscape from beginning to end, the ruptured rhythms are brutally shattered across spacey Hawkwind like effects. At track three I was impressed with this spaceyness, it tends to build as the concert progresses. Some straight forward jazziness is really treated with a heavy hand as the trumpets blast out polyrhythmic notes, similar to Soft Machine. Staccato jabs of sax are intense, and especially the drumming metrical patterns that form anti-rhythmical shapes. The dark textures of the duel saxophones is as good as I have heard and as weird as Gong in places.

It is difficult music to get into at times due to the high emphasis of splintered cadence but it is compelling music nonetheless. I would like to hear a whole album rather than an EP, and perhaps some more structured music rather than improvisation. Soft Machine is not a band I can get into but I think Fractale have more to offer as far as the music is concerned. I am not a massive fan of this style of improvisational music, it is okay as a diversion from structured music, but I can appreciate the ferociously original approach, similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra or Gong. This one will definitely please the Zeuhl prog connoisseur and it is a delight to hear a different form of jazz played with passion and totally out of the box.

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Julian Julien composes and plays music with his band, Fractale. Here he releases a live album (which I presume is his first Fractale release), called "Surann'", which was recorded in Paris at "Zebre de Belleville". Aside from shows in Paris, Julian says they travelled in the USA in 2009 (Baltimore, NYC, Chicago and Atlanta).

This release is quite short and to the point. The music is upbeat, jolly and accessible. Though uncredited, there are small embellishments of electronic sounds that add a mysterious flavour to the music. The sound is pretty good for a live show, particularly on the first 5 tracks. The last two tracks are of lower sound quality.

To give you an idea about the music, here's the instrumentation:

First 5 tracks lineup: 3 saxophones (alto, tenor and baritone), 2 trumpets, 1 tuba and drums.

Last two track lineup: 4 saxophones (alto, soprano and two baritones), 2 trumpets, 1 clarinet, 1 tuba and drums.

While I dislike making comparisons to other bands and stating influences, I have to say that the minute I started listening to this, I was reminded of Miriodor's sound and style. That frisky and humorous brand of music that also incorporates saxophone, trumpet and trombone. Julian states their influences to be Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, John Surman. As I'm only familiar with the first two, I can only say that I don't hear their influences in the music on this album. This sounds like a brass big-band playing lively tunes. There are two pieces that are without drums and include electronic sounds that are more abstract in nature, though the saxophone leads the way, preventing the melody from losing focus. Those are nice interludes and experimentations that contrast nicely the vibe of the other compositions. Partie V is a nice combination of the two sides of the band; the brass-dominated aggressive side and the spacier and electronics-dominated element. This is a direction I'd like to hear Fractale take and develop.

This is a self-released and limited live release and so considering this, I think this is a good product. But I hope Julian can get to record another release with more tracks and consistent sound quality.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This short album is a live recording of sax player Jilian Julien and his band of horns and drums. The recording quality is a bit choppy, but the music more than makes up for it. I can't wait to hear what this band can do in a studio.

The songs are all rhythmically based, with the horns playing sort of in a marching band style. Except what they play would never be heard from a marching band. Wild leads, that sound similar to Ian Underwood's solos with Uncle Meat era Mothers Of Invention, fly over electronically treated trumpets, saxes and tubas. The result is like nothing I've ever heard before.

But I love it!

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Since when I have listened to the short samples provided when this band was suggested for inclusion I have liked them. Later the band founder Julian Julien sent me a link to the whole album and what? Its only defect is the length. It's an EP recorded live and I'm really impressed by the skill demonstrated by the players.

First of all this is an orchestral ensemble, look at the lineup. Then think to how the music is arranged to supply to the absence of bass and more traditional "rock" instruments. Let me say that I don't think that bass, guitar and keyboards are a must, but when a band sounds "rock" without using them it means that the arrangement work is excellent. I have to say that specially the opener made me think to the Italian avant band Quintorigo, but this is effectively pure Zeuhl.

Julian has mentioned Magma, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd as influencers. I have to say that I have immediately thought to Magma (otherwise this wouldn't be Zeuhl....), I can find even a bit of Soft Machine, but I have struggled a bit to find any Pink Floyd. Well, listen to "Partie XVI" and "Partie XVIII" and probably they are hidden there.

A bravo to Fractale who have just used those influences to create (good) new music. My favorite track is probably the easiest, "Partie V", because it contains spacey elements that add a touch of psychedelia to an environment that's midway between classical and jazz. I really agree with the applauses at the end of this track.

The two bonus tracks are not part of the same performance and the recording is less good than on the rest of the album, but it's not that poor. "Sans Papier" (Witout Papers, a phrase which is referred to clandestine immigrants) is more jazzy and dramatic. It's a very good track which would have been better served by different recording devices. As counterpart, it has that "live" sound that makes it a good listening experience in any case.

The second bonus "Clementine" has more Avantgarde characteristics, specially because of the intro, but this doesn't mean that it's difficult for the listener. The rhythmic part played by the tuba and probably the baritone sax (I'm not so expert tho understand exactly which is the instrument which provides this sound) together with the percussions make a sort of "tarantella" and the minor chords on which the melody is based have a very Mediterranean flavor.

It's a 4 stars for me. I hope that a full length album is released soon as this is very promising. As I have written, it's a pity that it's so short. When it finishes I'd like to have more. I think that I'll give a spin to MDK now.

Review by VanVanVan
4 stars When bandleader Julian Julien contacted me asking if I would be interested in doing a review, he described his music as influenced by Magma, Genesis, and Zappa. That's enough to intrigue any prog fan, and Fractale's "Live Suranne" certainly lives up to its influences. While Magma definitely comes through the most (to my ears at least) this is such a dynamic and sonically diverse album that I hesitate to even call it pure Zeuhl. This is some kind of avant-spaced out jazz fusion, and if that's not an interesting combination of genres then I don't know what is. Rambling aside, this live album is a great listen and certainly one of the more interesting things I've heard in a while.

"Partie XV" starts the album off on an energetic note, with some excellent horn work that reminds a bit of a smoother Magma; much less percussive and militaristic sounding but no less compelling. Fractale has a very unique sound that is really highlighted on this track; so much that I struggle to find comparison. Sections almost have a big-band sound to them, but the whole thing has such a zeuhl mentality that the end product here is really quite unlike much that I've ever heard.

"Partie VI" is a bit of a more psychedelic track, a bit like a much trippier Magma with some spacey effects thrown in for good measure. It's much more languid than "Partie XV," but no less compelling, as it's two minutes sound very melodic but also completely avant-garde and "out-there." My only complaint with this one is that I wish it was longer!

"Partie V" starts off on yet another note, with some very cool synth-sounding atmospheres starting off the track before a rather dark horn line enters. This track feels to me like it could serve very well as the background music to an extraterrestrial film noir (how's that for a comparison?), as the whole track has a very dark, jazzy feel to it that feels very alien at the same time. This track I think highlights one of Fractale's greatest strength's, which is their ability to play incredibly "out-there" music while not losing one whit of musical cohesiveness or completeness of idea. The backing notes (I think it's a keyboard, but I don't see one listed in the credits so I'm not sure how the sound is made) really help to differentiate Fractale's brand of Avant-Space-Jazz from the harsh, punctuated zeuhl sound of a lot of other groups. One of my favorite tracks on the album.

"Partie XVI" has a heavier sound that really highlights the variety of sound that these players are able to get from their instruments. "Partie XVI" features a very cool low rhythm line from what I'm assuming must be the electrified tuba, and as with all these tracks features some very dynamic, expression filled soloing on top. This is one of the more uptempo tracks and it's very impressive how tight the band sounds considering that this is a live album. These guys and gals are clearly very talented and very disciplined players.

"Partie XVIII" is a much slower, more somber track, almost having the feel of a funeral dirge. The main melodic line almost has a spaghetti-western type feel to it, though the very interesting textures backing it up give it a totally unique and interesting sound. The track's pacing is very good, and despite its brevity it's a great conclusion for the main sequence of tracks on the album.

There's more though, as the bonus tracks are excellent as well. "Sans Papiers" almost has a flamenco flavor to it, which combined with the obvious Zeuhl influences make this an incredibly compelling track to listen to. There's some very jazzy soloing toward the end as well. The recording on this bonus track doesn't sound as pristine as the main sequence of the album but it certainly doesn't detract from the sound and, in my opinion, actually adds to the atmosphere.

"Clementine" is the other bonus track provided here. It starts with some distorted horn sounds before transitioning into a horn melody that reminds me of, of all things, Tchaikovsky. It has a very "eastern-folk" feel to it, which really highlights the astounding range of influence on this album. "Clementine" is a bit sparser and more repetition based than the other tracks on the album, but it's definitely still an engaging listen and a fun track to end on.

Overall, this live album from Fractale is an excellent (if a bit short) offering and one that I would highly recommend. I really haven't heard anything this diverse in quite some time and I tremendously look forward to hopefully hearing more from this group.


Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars « And how little remains of each individual in time, useless as slippery snow, how little trace remains of anything, and how much of that little is never talked about, and, afterwards, one remembers only a tiny fraction of what was said, and then only briefly?»

Extract from « Tomorrow in the battle think on me » by Javier Marias. These words are written in the liner notes, and to a guy like me, it really gets my imagination firing.

Fractalé is what I´d call a philosophical sonic rendition of time and how slippery this sucker is. The spaces between spaces, and the creation of music in a place that´s indifferent to the perception of time. Like other reviewers have commented on, the only thing about this release relegated to time, is perhaps the lack of minutes. I personally want more of this stuff!

This work is almost entirely made up of wind instruments. 3 saxophones, 2 trumpets and a tuba! Add to this enchanting image, some drums and the odd percussive snaps, and if I´m not mistaken some underlying synthesizers bubbling beautifully from underneath.

This album took me completely off guard! I was expecting some Teutonic Magmaesque flavoured fusion, and much to my surprise I was met by what truly sounds like Duke Ellington on shrooms playing Zeuhl!

The piece Fractalé was written by Julian Julien, who also handles the alto saxophone. There´s a sneaky facet to the way these wind instruments are handled, and at times they sound like some mischievous back alley soundtrack - tiptoeing elegantly through dark and brooding streets like a black cat dancing ballet with Lucifer himself.

Going through different pastures of tempers, ranging from some rather esoteric electronic landscapes with the synths forming like small swampy puddles on the base of the music, and these old school big band sweeps of jazzy flavourings - to the towering creatures of sound created by those very same instruments, now snarling and buzzing like gigantic humming bees shouting out in alternating choirs. The whole feel of this live serving by Fractalé strikes me as an unbelievably original take on the theme from Top Cat mixed up with some spacey evil sounding flutters of psychedelic oscillations.

It could be an epilogue of time itself - encapsulating the final chapter of this rather unfathomable concept, which in itself should be quite a handful, but to these ears - Live Suranné stands like a masterly conducted piece of revitalized big band music - played in a way that would make good old Duke soil himself.

Like I said: I want more!!!

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Now for something a little different... Suranne is the debut live EP of French saxophonist Julian Julien's group Fractale. He has released some solo studio albums previously but this is the first release of his new group. Julian studied classical music before discovering Jazz and, later, progressive rock. This project was originally inspired by the Javier Marias book "Tomorrow In Battle, Think Of Me." There is in fact a lot of inspiration from books and film on the music of Fractale. Some of the musical ideas were taken from background music in some films for example.

The music of Fractale is entirely instrumental and features just wind instruments (sax, trumpet, tuba, etc.) and drums. However, the baritone sax and tuba are electric and put through effects pedals. In addition, Julian has pre-programmed sounds playing from his laptop while the band plays in time to those sounds. If this wasn't a live recording you might be fooled into thinking it was somebody playing a synth. The music itself is generally lively and is maybe too jazz to be considered rock and too rock to be considered jazz. The laptop adds a welcome spacey element to the proceedings. The rhythm is more of a rock or funk type most of the time. The wind instruments make great interplay with each other but rarely solo as such.

This music is tightly composed and leaves little room for improvisation; that is one of the things it has in common with Zeuhl. The rhythms are fairly Magma-esque, but unlike the majority of Zeuhl, vocals and bass guitar have no place here. Stated influences include Miles Davis, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and Genesis. Now the last two throw people off, but I detect some influence from the horn-heavy Atom Heart Mother. The spacey vibes puts the music more in a Gong vein. For a jazz-rock oriented group they tend to stick to a groove, as opposed to many fusion groups who try to be as technical as possible. The sound is decent but not crystal clear; this music must be more powerful being in the audience.

The first five tracks were recorded in 2008, I'm not sure when the other two were. The last two tracks are sonically inferior to the main five tracks. Those five do not have a title and are presented not in any kind of numerical order. On Youtube there are also videos of the group performing numbered pieces not on this EP. The two recording dates contain slightly different line-ups and instrumentation. "Partie VI" is the shortest track and may be more improv oriented. "Partie V" is the longest track of the main five and is probably the highlight of the whole EP. A little bit more spacey than the other tracks.

The first bonus track "Sans papiers" is a highlight and is generally a very upbeat and happy sounding song for the most part. Some actual soloing here. "Clementine" is more chamber-prog sounding compared to the rest of the EP. Great guitar-like solo from I don't know which instrument. The electronics here benefit the song. This is a mix of Zeuhl (both the darker, rhythm heavy as well as the lighter, soulful variety), spacey electronics, jazz-rock and a little bit of avant-prog. I really like the cover and pictures of fractals in general. I enjoyed this music very much and hope they record a proper studio album in the near future. A studio recording will not improve the performance but will give the music clarity and an extra punch. Recommended to Zeuhl fans, although don't expect any vocals or roaring bass. 4 stars.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars I'll be honest, because I'm an honest fellow; upon being summoned by this group, Fractale, to listen to and review this album, I was not expecting anything special at all and had low hopes (I'm typically the pessimist type). To my great surprise, Suranne turned out to be an absolutely wonderful listen and has started off this new year with a positive note (though this isn't a 2012 recording).

I'm usually not so satisfied with the noisy and super-active post-bop or avant-garde jazz improv artists that are very popular because it only comes off as just that: noisy improvisation. Improvisation obviously works great with jazz, and being able to improvise well says a lot about the musicians, but I mostly have a taste for song-based jazz that sticks to a memorable riff and has tasteful and sparse improvisation as an additive. On Suranne, Fractale play a very memorable, dark, forceful, and somehow very smooth type of jazz that is very reminiscent of the earlier French jazz-rock style of zeuhl, but eshews the imperialistic chanting or operatic vocals and instead focuses on the jazz aspect. Though the tracks themselves are memorable and relatively simple, the tasteful and reserved improvisation is obvious, and the fact that these musicians are able to play in such a reserved style while still proving that their musicianship is impeccable really speaks to me as a listener and shows that these musicians are definitely highly skilled in their craft.

To compare the music on Suranne to other artists or albums, I'd have to say that the music here has a similar tone and infectious grooving tendency as Weidorje's only album albeit less distorted and with more emphasis on horns. There is also a considerable touch of kosmische electronic music that really adds to the overall dark, unearthly mysteriousness of this album. I'm definitely no expert on trumpet, but the tone and overall playing of the trumpets present here almost sound comparable to a much more energetic Mathias Eick, which is a huge compliment. In comparison to other style of jazz: this album sounds like equal parts zeuhl, jazz-fusion, and nu-jazz.

The only problem that I have with this album is that it is too short (just over 27 minutes), but this isn't entirely bad; the short length has me craving more, and I'll be willing to jump instantly at the chance to listen to Fractale's next release. Very well done, very impressive jazz.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Live Suranné' - Fractale (6/10)

While most bands wait at least until they have a studio album out before they release a live concert recording, French jazz group Fractale have jumped right into the fray. For music of this style, playing all together at once has some tasteful benefits, but can fall apart quickly if the musicians aren't tight enough. Fractale are certainly a skilled bunch, and their chemistry as players shows. This is a strange performance for jazz, with many of the sounds making me wonder which instrument they are actually coming from. The compositions of this band are inventive and complex, and well worth several listens. However, despite being a live demonstration of skilled musicianship, there's something about 'Suranné' that feels more mechanical than it should.

Fractale are often labelled as a Zeuhl outfit, and this is fair to say; they have that odd apocalyptic tinge to their jazz fusion sound. Fractale's music is not conventionally happy or sad, but rather eerie and unsettling. There are many members participating in Fractale, but it is largely the project of Julian Julien, a man who obviously has a distinct idea of what he wants with the music. Unlike alot of jazz I'm used to, the musicians here rarely seem to improvise, nor do they ever get energetic with the compositions. Instead, their musical skill is represented through the way they are able to perform complex, sometimes polyrhythmic passages without breaking a sweat. 'Suranné' is filled with moments where the saxophones will be building on an idea, while the tuba and trumpets will be doing something that grinds against it. The result is not at all catchy, but it is interesting, and quite enjoyable if you're in the proper mindset.

Although 'Suranné' is labelled as a live album, there was something about the recording that didn't feel right to me while I was listening to it. Sure, these compositions may have benefited from a few extra hooks and dynamic in relation to the pace and tempo, but the biggest issue I have with 'Suranné' is that the production sounds mechanical and contrived, sometimes to the point where it actually helps the music to become eerier. Although the warmth of the individual instruments translates into the recording somewhat, I could not stop thinking that, for a live audience, there was very little background ambiance. That is, until the musicians finished, and immediately there would be a monotonous wave of applause. In fact, only on the bonus track (and highlight) 'Sans-Papiers' is there any indication that humans are listening to the performance. Perhaps it's just me being used to hearing the audience element of a live album, but the crowd reaction is possibly the most jarring and frightening aspect of this performance.

The compositions on 'Suranné' sport some impressive complexity to them, although in terms of execution, Fractale are a little rough around the edges. It will be very interesting to hear how these songs translate onto a studio recording, and while the music itself is intriguing, the band does not use the live setting to their advantage as much as they should have.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Julian Julien of Fractale contacted me along with several other progarchives reviewers to solicit our opinions on this debut release by the band. For my part, I'm favourably impressed (and I'm not just saying that because they flattered me with the invitation to review their music - Nurkostam were the last group who asked me to review their stuff and I was far from positive about their output). When the opening track started I thought this had been misfiled - the musical style presented sounded to me a lot like straight jazz. But as the composition progressed I noted a mysterious, dark presence lurking in the composition, as well as a few foreboding rhythms that put me in mind of Magma. The second track, with its psychedelic freakout opening, cemented the connection still further.

What the band have accomplished is to produce a hybrid progressive fusion/Zeuhl style of music based almost entirely on brass instruments; whilst some synthesisers can be heard here and there, at other times the only accompaniment to the six (!) brass players the band brings to bear is drummer Benjamin Vairon. But with six different varieties of brass instruments being played by a range of talented performers, the sound of the group is a lot more diverse and versatile than one might expect. This brief live EP is a fun listen which has made me appreciate just what is possible with the approach Fractale have chosen, and I eagerly await more from this innovative and novel grouping.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This terse live album offers a quirky blend of instrumental big band and psychedelic effects. The first piece is the most accessible, and reminds me of a high school band at a pep rally (I assure the reader that I do not mean this derogatorily- I have many fond experiences of such ensembles). The second piece is far more bizarre, with strange psychedelic noises not unlike those found in Genesis' "The Waiting Room." The third blends both into an exercise of experimental yet structured jazz. The fourth part is more straightforward power jazz with layers of brass. Up next is a more plodding, darker tune that borrows a bit from Latin music. The first bonus track has a backing riff that in tone reminds me of ELO, while the soloing over it is more traditional funk. The second will appeal to those who enjoy Henry Cow. "Partie XV" is the best of the bunch for me.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Julian Julien's group based on large brass ensemble supported by drums whip out their release debut as live recording. The stands as a great way of presenting new music, giving a very convincing first impression on the performers, and allowing to hear the real interaction of players.

The music has quite clear themes, multiple harmonies in structured and controlled musical entity, pulsing on tunnel of rhythmic groove, and enriched by myriad details of instrumental solo decorations. More traditional jazzy tones merge to cosmic electronics, introduced on the spacey second track, and later hovering around the compositions as a fully adopted aural element. The Suranné suite evolves from the upright start and ethereal celestial moment towards more anticipating feelings, both cosmological surroundings and earthbound lead themes circling each other. The intense growth of composition is honored with fine tight arrangements, and sharp concentrated playing.

Though the cover picture and group's name gave me some chaotic association, the music is very coherent, improvised variations bursting as logical branches supporting the main compositions. I actually studied the booklet quite much before starting to listen, and I think this affected my experience and thoughts on the album decisively. The pictures within seem as glimpses of life, and the theoretic time qualities of fractal mathematics and contemplations of Javier Marias were declared as philosophic basis of this music. Forming my own understanding to this, which might deviate from the artists intentions, the song chapters and their musical progression started to appear following the logics of human lifespan; most early chapters like memories of childhood missing, and the last movements growing longer, stagnant, and separate from the most concentrated and intense middle sections... So I thought the word "Live" on the album title could have another larger semiotic meaning for this release, in addition of describing the recording method on stage. From the quotes of the book mentioned as inspiration, I found some correlations with essays of cosmological and quantum physic writes, referring to reductionism as quality of consciousness observing the information from human senses. I have found all kinds of approaches to metaphysics as interesting attempts to try reach answers for the fundamental questions of life's true essence, and I recognize art as one of the most interesting channels to this quest man almost seems to be made of. From the void of energy fields ghostly flickering shapes emerge, these fusing together, creating units and functions which meaning might be only a creation in minds of performer and listeners; however these sensations are factual to the entities in the world, and though man's created fractures in time might not be infinite like the theoretical mathematic forms of chaos, they are permanent on human life scale, like this pleasant evening on Suranné caught to the tapes.

The two bonus tracks outside this concept have slightly different lineup, and the sound quality on these earlier captures from Paris aren't as good as on the main tracks. However stylistically being quite similar, these pleasant brass lounging colored by the electronic aural illuminations document the progress of this fine French cosmic brass rock group.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars From reading the English translations of the liner notes and hearing the selections from Fractale's one album (so far), I think that saxophonist/composer Julian Julien (catchy name) wanted to create an experience that is ''irregular''. The live cut SURANNE certainly does that.

Instead of a standard rock ensemble, Fractale is comprised of a miniature jazz-band of sorts of which only the drummer isn't playing a brass-made instrument. Anything that might sound like a bassline comes from an electric tuba. The music the band plays can best be described as acid psych-jazz with slight traces of Zeuhl. The electric brass instruments give Fractale a bit of character, but something else.

All throughout the live cuts, that looming presence of the electric bari sax (I assume through a phlange effect) sounds like a cool gimmick on the surface. After two songs hearing that sound constantly, it gets on my nerves fast. The worst part is that it takes away from the trumpet/alto sax interplay, psychedelic soundscapes and jazz fusion constructs, all of which could be fantastic should the band ever put out a studio album. That's why the two bonus tracks are instantly the best off the album as that piercing sax effect is toned down to non-existent. The final track ''Clementine'' justifies the band's Zeuhl tendencies with the march-style of the bass clarinet solo at the beginning.

Fractale is a band that has plenty of potential in the Zeuhl world, particularly with their unique construction and music philosophy. If the sax effects are gone, the band could potentially have a masterpiece up their sleeve in the near future.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Well, I too, have received a PM from someone representing Fractale and inviting my attention to their works. My comments here are based on a combination of checking out this person's private preferences via his ratings of other works and the three very short YouTube links available on PA. I ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#881078) | Posted by BORA | Monday, December 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Some time ago I was asked by french musician Julian Julien if I would like to listen to the new album of his progressive jazz band named Fractale. The name of the album is "Surann' - Live", and as it's said in the title, the whole album is recorded while live performances. I have to say t ... (read more)

Report this review (#622883) | Posted by Paleoprog | Monday, January 30, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Julian Julien introducing his new venture Fractale..... Actions speaks louder than words. In particular in the music business which is rich on hype and poor on substance and action. I believe Julian Julien has understood this by releasing a live album with his new band instead of just hyping it ... (read more)

Report this review (#591282) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, December 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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