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Daniel Gauthier

Altitude 16425

Review by Gary Hill

Over the course of reviewing three different albums from Daniel Gauthier, I've come to the conclusion that there is one constant to his work. You can count on it being quality progressive rock. There is a good deal of range from album to album (and sometimes song to song) within that one constant. This album is pretty much all set in a melodic, but at times really rocking, soundscape. I should not that all the lyrics on this album are in French, but even though I don't speak French, that never takes away from the experience. This is a great set no matter the language. In fact, this might just be my favorite of his albums I've heard.

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Track by Track Review
Le vieillard
Dramatic, symphonic, melodic prog serves as the background for spoken vocals. This might be a short, introductory piece, but it is definitely not any kind of throw-away.
Le seuil
Piano starts this and it rises upward from there in a very gradual way. It eventually gets fairly intense, but then it peaks. It drops down and seems to be reinvented. There are some voices as sort of sound-bites and this works through a number of changes from there. Eventually a dramatic vibe serves as the backdrop for vocals. This keeps changing and evolves, and is quite a powerful piece of music. Parts of it make me think of yes to some degree. The short keyboard solo really brings something special to the track.
Ainsi va la vie
The sounds of children playing outside are heard as this gets going. The track comes out from there, working through various sections in a pure prog arrangement as it does so.  At over twelve-minutes of music, this is an epic piece. Gauthier makes good use of all that space. Speaking of space, there is an almost space rock jam later that gives way to a cool guitar showcase movement that calls to mind Yes (or at least Steve Howe) quite a bit. The children can be heard again on this after the music fades down at the end.
Derrière le masque
Fusion meets prog in a fast-paced jam that gets this number underway. It eventually works to a still intricate, but mellower mode for the entrance of the vocals. This has quite a bit of dynamic range. It has a number of different movements and flavors. It really feels tied to old school prog of acts ranging from Gentle Giant to Yes and more.
Le sablier
Another fine example of classy melodic progressive rock music, this is quite a strong tune. It has some particularly potent jamming at points, notably later in the piece.
This might be my favorite piece. On the one hand, it has some of the most crazed fusion jamming of the whole disc. Yet, there are also catchy vocal hooks. Of course, those are just two aspects of this powerhouse piece. There is plenty of dramatic and more traditional symphonic prog on display. This has some decidedly Chris Squire-like bass work along quite a bit of its musical path. The percussion showcase later is exceptional. Let me frame that by saying that I am not a drum person. I generally dislike drum solos. The sound of the drums on this one is just so good, though, that it's not possible for me to feel that way about it.
Le sentier
While not a big change, this is another powerful melodic prog cut. It has a number of shifts and changes along the road. That said, it makes its way into something a bit like twisted carnival music for a short time mid-track before powering out into a killer fusion-like jam.


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