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JJ Chardeau

Ombres And Lumières

Review by Gary Hill

This is the second album from this artist I've reviewed. I loved the other one, and I think I like this one even more. That's probably because that one had a bit more musical theater built into the sound, and I'm not a huge fan of that type of thing. This is progressive rock, but it encompasses plenty of folk music, world sound, classical and more. Not all the songs have vocals, and not all the vocals are in English, but some are.

There are quite a few interesting guest appearances on the disc. The names include: Danny Seraphine and Jason Schef (Chicago), Mark Andes (Spirit), John McFee (Doobie Brothers), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra), John Jorgensen (Hellcasters), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) and Dave Gregory (INXS).

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2024  Volume 1 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Donibane Lohitzue
Piano starts the album. Other instruments join in a bouncy sort of arrangement that has a jazzy element to it. The track turns toward classical music as it continues. It makes a number of changes as they move it forward. This is a prog powerhouse that has some more boogie oriented rock jamming later.
There is plenty of folk music and world sound built into this thing as it gets underway. This instrumental piece is a killer that gets more rocking as it continues. Yet it still manages to retain many of its earlier leanings.
Iceland & Fire
Many of the same leanings and we heard on the previous track get this one underway and hold it at first. Then it shifts to a full classical treatment to continue. This instrumental eventually works back out to a folky rocking number from there.
Classical elements get things underway here, and the track begins to grow from there. The instrumental track works out to an ever changing arrangement that encompasses folk rock, jazz and pure prog. It's another exceptional piece. Around the halfway mark this explodes out into a frantic progressive rock jam that is absolutely on fire. That doesn't hold it for long, though, Instead, it peaks, and we're brought back into mellow zones. Some fusion that makes me think of Jean-Luc Ponty takes over from there. The evolution of this continues as it gets into more classical zones/ Eventually, mellower prog takes over, but then it powers out into another rocking progressive rock jam.
Sur Le Dam
Trippier, spacey, mellow sounds are on display as this works forward. This has a whispered voice on it. There is a dreamy quality to this piece. This works through some unusual changes and covers a lot of intriguing territory.
Over The Channel
This is the first song with vocals in English. While it's definitely proggy, this is the most "song-like" thing we've heard to this point. It makes me think of acts ranging from ELO to Alan Parsons Project. It has lots of classic melodic prog sound built into it.
Belux Concerto
Piano and violin get this underway. This instrumental has plenty of classical music along with some prog tendencies at play.
Swing Heil
There is a rocking groove to this. It has some jazz and more pure prog in the mix. The non-English vocal performance has some unusual elements at play at times. There is a full jazz prog jam later in the track. It turns toward some bouncy, bombastic, classically-tinged stuff further down the road.
Tyrol Canon Snow Dance
This come in with a melodic rocking jam that has some hints of classical music built into it. The track shifts to more dramatic prog from there. It keeps changing as this continues. Parts of it are more classically based, while others turn more toward the jazz end of things. All of the track lands in progressive rock zones. This has some great female lead vocals.
Cliché Suisse
Slow moving and melodic, this instrumental includes plenty of classical and jazz reference points.
Lisbonne is Dying
The opening on this has plenty of jazz built into the prog arrangement. This works out to more of a mainstream rocker for the entrance of the vocals. This has some great twists and turns. It has some of the most dramatic music of the disc at times.
There is plenty of both world music and classical built into this thing. It turns quite jazzy at times, too. Yet, overall it's pure progressive rock. It has plenty of twists and turns with different instruments and sounds dominating different sections of the track. This instrumental is such a cool powerhouse with so many great musical things represented. It's one of the highlights of the set.
At more than 11 minutes long, this is the epic of the disc. It comes in with a folk prog styled mellower arrangement. Some vocals (in French, I think) come over the top as the track evolves gradually. This continues to grow from there. At times it's a bit more rocking. There are some female vocals that have an almost angelic feeling to them at a couple later points, too. More mainstream male sung vocals are heard further down the road. There are some really powerhouse moments built into this thing as it continues to grow.
Edossa Fakelaki
Intricate world music based concepts are at play as this gets going. This instrumental is playful, energetic and fun. It has plenty of progressive rock in the mix, but it's more of the folk prog variety.
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