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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

JPL

Sapiens, chapitre 3/3 : Actum

Review by Gary Hill

JPL stands for Jean Pierre Louveton. He is the guitarist for the prog band NEMO, and this is his third solo album. The music here is stunning prog rock with a lot of classical music, some jazz and more in the mix. The lyrics are all in his native French, but you don't need to understand what is being sung to appreciate this music. This album is just a stellar ride from start to finish. It has modern prog, the classic variety, fusion and more all mixed into an original and satisfying sonic tapestry. The set opens with some individual tracks and is closed by a five part suite.  I would say that when the end of the year comes around this will be a contender to make my "best of 2022" list.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Paradis perdu
The introduction on this brings an understated promise that turns to a burst of nearly metal sound. That gives way to a new fast paced jam with a lot of fusion in the mix. This song works through a number of shifts and changes. It's well past the halfway mark before the vocals come in. The track is a real powerhouse with pure prog, fusion and some hard rocking textures all joining together.
Mon cercueil
Coming in mellower at the start, the vocals are heard right at the beginning here. This keeps a fairly stripped back arrangement, and the guitar brings some tasty riffing for a short solo early. This cut keeps building and driving as it continues. There are some particularly dramatic moments on this.
Alias (La machineĀ²)
The section that brings this into being reminds me a bit of Dream Theater. The cut has some fusion with plenty of pure prog rock in the mix. It's up-tempo and so classy. It's also ever evolving and changing.
Dansez maintenant
There is a more prominent percussive element on this number. The track has a rather jazzy drama to it in the early sections, too. It powers out into more purely rocking zones (of the prog variety, of course) further down the road. This has some killer twists and turns and some particularly power prog sections.
Memento mori
                          
a.) Marche vers l'inconnu

This is a cut with a lot of classical music built into it. It's bouncy and playful and so tasty. This instrumental piece does turn more dramatic and a little ominous later. It' gets some driving intensity and tasty electric guitar sound as it continues. There is some neo-classical metallic guitar work that leads to heavier ending that serves to transition into the next movement.

b.) Tempus fugit
The symphonic meets progressive rock vibe on this is classy. We get more of that powerhouse electric guitar further down the road on this. In fact, this one drives into some pretty hard rocking zones later.
c.) La mort du roi
The rocking elements are really in the driver's seat on this number. While the last two movements have been instrumental, this one has vocals. The first of those are in an almost whispered delivery over the top of an arrangement that consists mostly of just the rhythm section. We get into more of a full prog rock arrangement as the track continues, and there are some sung vocals to accompany that. This still manages some classical elements, but overall is more pure prog rock with some hints of fusion in the mix. There is a drop back later to just a rhythm section groove. Some killer guitar solos over the top of that as it continues. That guitar soloing gets quite involved and dramatic before it's over. The tune drives out to a triumphant sounding prog section beyond that solo.
d.) Paria
This comes out of the previous movement with an up-tempo jam that has plenty of classical elements along with the prog. Piano is prominent early. A horn solo brings some real jazz vibes. This works through quite a few shifts and ends with a particularly dramatic segment.
e.) Acta fabula
Intricate acoustic guitar brings this into being. Other elements including tuned percussion help to fill out the arrangement. This works out to some really powerhouse prog jamming as it continues. The sound is dense, rich and layered. It seems like it might be over around the four-minute mark. Instead a new prog segments rises up largely via guitar soloing of the guitar-hero variety. The number continues to evolve from there, turning to driving neo-classical prog goodness as it works forward. It continues building before a powerful closing movement ends the set in dramatic style.
 
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