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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Arnaud Quevedo & Friends

Electric Tales

Review by Gary Hill

The music on this 2020 release is pure magic. It's a near perfect combination of progressive rock and fusion. There are multiple layers of vocals. At points that aspect doesn't work as well for me as the musical arrangements and performances do. This is a particularly strong release from start to finish, though, and that's a mostly mild quibble for me.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Electric Overture
Drums start the album. They launch out into a killer arrangement that features plenty of prog rock and fusion sounds from there. After a more powered up movement, it drops to mellower, slower zones to continue in fine fashion. This short (less than a minute-and-a-half) piece serves as an introduction and segues directly into the next song.
The Dark Jester
More energized, this cut includes plenty of progressive rock and fusion in the mix. The vocal arrangement is unusual, and the tune really has a lot of passion and charm. It works through a number of twists and turns along the road. The instrumental break later really has plenty of fusion in it. It features some flute playing and makes me think of artists ranging from Al Di Meola to Weather Report. That section speeds up and intensifies as it continues. It twists toward some freakiness that has hints of Frank Zappa along with more trippy things. As we're taken back into vocal zones this gets even more avante garde and freaky. The vocal arrangement in particular is unique. So are the instrumental movements, though. A section later featuring funky bass and fierce guitar work is on fire.
Electric Princess Part 1
Starting more stripped back, this gradually moves out of there into more of a full arrangement. This thing works out into some particularly powerful sounds. It has some killer twists and turns along the road. It does a great job of merging jazz prog and fusion. I really love some of the guitar work on this so much. It drops to some tuned percussion or perhaps synthesizer later in the track and begins building upward gradually from there. The keyboards take command and move the track forward from there. It uses keys and/or tuned percussion to segue into the next number.
Electric Princess Part 2
The elements that ended the last movement bring this into being. Some killer bass work climbs upward to drive it onward as this develops. Symphonic strings rise up to paint the melody lines as it continues. It continues to evolve and grow. There is a killer guitar solo that emerges later. It's so melodic and downright tasty. Eventually vocals return. The piece keeps growing in a great hybrid prog and fusion arrangement.
Entering ... (Impro)
This comes in mellower and a bit tentative. It works forward on that general basis with the bass creating a lot of the drama of the number. In fact, the bass is the one of the primary instruments on the number. The guitar also gets the spotlight.
Mushi's Forest
This melodic piece is another that does a stellar job of walking the fence between progressive rock and fusion. I like the vocal arrangement on this a lot, but then again, everything about this number works well. It's a real powerhouse with some intriguing twists and turns. The drums get a chance at the spotlight on the tune. The whole number works out into some killer fusion jamming further down the road.
Flower Fields (impro)
A flute based number, this is mellow and quite alluring.
The Hypothetical Knight
This feels like it jumps right out of the previous tune with some killer funky bass taking control early. The number has a great fusion groove to it. As the vocals enter it gets more of a unique prog rock sound at play. That funky bass keeps holding it all together with style. This gets pretty crazed and powered up further down the musical road. The closing jam is a real screamer.
Hope
This comes in with some of the power from the last number, but then it shifts to a much mellower, dropped back movement to continue. This works out to more powered up fusion jamming as it continues to drive forward. The guitar soloing around the half-way mark is so powerful and incendiary. The whole instrumental movement has some particularly potent passages.
Electric Dreamer
An up-tempo number, this cut is really cool. It's more mainstream than some of the others. The vocal arrangement, though, has some issues for me. I really dig the guitar soloing on this thing.
 
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