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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Traces d'Illusions

Après la colline

Review by Gary Hill

This French outfit has produced an intriguing instrumental album here. It seems to live within some sort of zone that's part fusion, part classical music and part progressive rock. Everything here is solid, with the pieces shifting and changing in very satisfying ways. While it leans toward the sedate end of the spectrum, they are not afraid of rocking out at times.

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Track by Track Review

Percussion leads things out on this track. Wood wind type instruments begin to dance over the top. Other instruments rise upward and we're out into sort of a fusion type arrangement from there. As the electric guitar begins to rise upward, it starts to shift more toward progressive rock. There is some pretty amazing musical exploration as this thing drives onward, shifting this way and that. The mix of progressive rock and fusion is pretty well balanced as this continues. I love some of the guitar work on this thing. There is some awesome keyboard work, too. There are places where it just keeps driving forward and upward in such a powerful progression. There is a full on jazz romp later in the piece before it shifts to a mellower movement to continue.

Phare des poulains
A burst of fusion intensity opens this. The cut drops to the sedate to continue from there. It works through building gradually in melodic fashion. Eventually some rocking guitar brings the hints of more progressive rock based stuff instead of fusion. The central musical theme remains, though, that guitar dropping away for a while. Then some electric guitar joins with some fills, feeling a bit like David Gilmour to me. World music, fusion and more seem to merge as this continues on its musical journey.
Absence de vision

The opening section on this is frantic progressive rock jamming that's purely on fire. It crescendoes around the 40 second mark, but then shifts to even harder rocking stuff. Wind instruments play over the top as this drives forward. The effect is like a jazz coating on a heavy metal sound. After the minute and a half mark it reaches a peaks and drops to ambience. Textural things hold it for a time. Then piano rises up from there. Other musical oddities begin to surface as it works forward. This piece makes its way through various strange elements, remaining mostly on the mellow side of the spectrum. It starts to gain some cohesiveness around the half way point when some guitar solos overhead. Then they work it through some different sections in a building process from there. There is some really intense stuff as this keeps evolving. It crescendoes around the seven and a half minute mark and we're taken into more sedate strangeness for a short time. Then a new fast paced jam threatens to take over before finally doing so. It's a driving, progressive rock powerhouse section. That ends, and they drop things way down. A cool jazz meets prog jam takes control. That movement eventually ends the piece.

Après la colline

Piano starts this in sedate ways. As it grows outward and other instruments join, there are classical elements, but also jazz ones. This remains in generally sedate territory, though, not rising up the level of rock music, or even driving jazz. The piano is the main factor throughout this piece. While it remains sedate music that's more classical than anything, it isn't anything like New Age music. There are a lot of intriguing melodic excursions here.

Un monde meilleur

Flamenco styled classical guitar begins this number and holds it at the start. After the one minute mark the focus shifts to a full jazz treatment with other instruments added to the mix. It works forward into more of the type of melodic fusion that makes up a lot of this set. That intensifies around the four minute mark before dropping back for a mellower jazz exploration. This grows outward and makes its way through some pretty killer movements, shifting and changing along the road. Different instruments take control at different times.

Infinie bienveillance

Starting sedate and quite classical, this very slowly builds upward from there. It eventually makes it way toward a melodic fusion groove to carry forward. Late in the track it makes its way to some hard edged prog rocking stuff for a while. A driving, heavy guitar based section serves as the backdrop, while those jazzy elements are heard over the top. The cut shifts to mellower stuff beyond that for a while before some rocking guitar soloing brings back the prog. That guitar soloing gets powerful and intense. It serves for a potent prog rock closing to the piece.

Première neige

A mellow and pretty sound opens this. It moves forward in intricate classical music ways. It starts to rise up after the two and a half minute mark. It turns toward harder rocking stuff after the three and a half minute mark, pounding forward in killer prog rock styles. There are definitely some moments of hard rocking guitar soloing later, but then it drops way down further down the road. Some unaccompanied piano soloing takes it for a while later in the particularly mellow parts of the song. The cut and album remain in the sedate zone to the end.

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