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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Frédéric L’Épée

The Empty Room

Review by Gary Hill

Frédéric L’Épée  is probably best known as part of the bands Shylock, Philharmonie and Yang. We've reviewed a couple of those acts here at MSJ in the past. This is his latest solo album. It's rich, instrumental and quite intriguing. There is a good variety here. This is unique, not really resembling anything else. Yet there are things here that call to mind some other acts to a small degree. If you like intriguing, classy and intelligent instrumental music, give this a try.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Melodic strummed acoustic guitar opens the album. The cut grows in dramatic ways as other sonic elements emerge over the top. There are some electric guitar things built into this that make me think of King Crimson to some small degree. The cut continues to evolve as it drives forward. It gets more rocking and even turns toward heavy and dangerous sounding material further down the musical road.
Inévitable traversée (unavoidable crossing)
This comes in more melodic and rather pretty. Some fusion merges with progressive rock and folk rock elements here. The number has a bit of a dream-like quality. It also has some soaring guitar soloing.
Descending the Slow River (en descendant la rivière lente)
Starting tentative and sparse, there is a dark sort of lonely vibe to the cut. It has spacey elements as it works its way forward very slowly. Sounds like chiming bells eventually take over, bringing Asian world music to the mix as the intensity grows.
Amour et dissolution
A sort of chiming element brings this into being. As it grows some tasty guitar solos over the top after a time, lending a different flavor to the piece. It works through some intriguing territory, but manages to stay reasonably constant.
This piece conveys a sense of movement. A more rocking insistency enters the fray after a while. King Crimson-like elements are heard after a time. The guitar gets into some pretty intense territory as it carries the track over new soundscapes.
Hymne aux Ancêtres 1
Coming in tentatively with a sparse arrangement, this grows very slowly. It gets more involved, but never rises to the level of some of the other in terms of volume or intensity.
Treasured Wounds (blessures précieuses)
Mellow, pretty, rather echoey musical elements start this, and the cut grows outward from there. Louder guitar rises up with a bit of a Crimson-like element as the number works forward.
Mist (brume)
I love the rich melodic textures that open this. There is an echoey kind of vibe to the cut that serves it well. It drops down after a time and new melodies emerge over the top in an intriguing sonic tapestry. It grows outward as the arrangement fills in well. It reaches a peak after the two-minute mark and then drops back for the song to be reborn. It builds outward again in fine style.
Parle-moi encore (keep talking to me)
Piano chordings serves as the backdrop for some tasty guitar soloing as the concept of this piece. I really love the guitar work on this thing.
Souvenirs de Traversée (memories of crossing)
There is some cool synthesizer, particularly at the start, on this number. The piece has a great progressive rock vibe to it. Some world music emerges later. The piece has a powerful arrangement and strong melodies.
Hymne aux Ancêtres 2.
A fretless guitar solo is at the heart of this piece. In fact, that's what this is entirely. It is low enough in register that it almost sounds like a bass solo.
Wegschippernd (Sailing Away - Voguant au Loin)

This cut is short, pretty and quite lush.


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