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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

Vantomme is named for its founder Dominique Vantomme. He is a keyboardist, producer and more. Here he's joined by Tony Levin on bass and Chapman stick, Michel Deville on guitar and Maxime Lenssens on drums. The music they create defies boundaries and labels, moving deftly from freeform Rock In Opposition type stuff to fusion, space music and more. It's steadily morphing and evolving. It's adventurous and unique instrumental fare that is always interesting.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Double Down
Working up gradually, this has a lot of space music with fusion laced into it. It's a cool groove that steadily grows and intensifies. There is some noise based space sound in the mix. Around the four minute mark the keyboards put in some classy soloing. There is some intense drumming further down the road.
Equal Minds
The sounds that bring this into being have both classic rock textures and fusion elements. While a bit more on the melodic end of the spectrum and less intense than the opener, this is no less cool. I love some of the trippy keyboard type sounds on this. As it approaches the five and a half minute mark it drops to some mellower, but quite trippy, electronic sounds to continue. As it builds outward the weirdness is retained, but it turns pretty loud and raucous. That is until around the nine minute mark where it switches to mellower noise driven stuff.
There is a cool spacey groove to the start of this piece. It works out with some intriguing musical elements. Before the two minute mark it shifts to some harder rocking stuff that's quite classy. There are some freaky keyboard elements that come across as this continues to evolve. It really intensifies beyond that point, driving forward in style. Freaky freeform stuff takes over from there, and it drops to more spacey stuff. Then percussion becomes the only remaining musical element for a short time. Rocking guitar rises up, and eventually the other instruments join in a freeform styled jam with a seriously hard edge to it. Some trippy melodic stuff takes over later with some great keyboard sounds.
Playing Chess with Barney Rubble
The bass line that opens this is trademark Levin. The cut has a cool, mean, jazz meets rock kind of groove to it as it works outward. This piece works through a number of changes, but overall is one of the more cohesive and mainstream cuts here. There are some definite fusion sections in the mix. Some noisier jamming does enter later in the piece, taking it in still different directions. It drops back to a more rhythm section based jam as it approaches the end of the piece.
The Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone
More a melodic fusion groove begins this killer cut. Levin's bass work is again prominent amidst a keyboard driven movement. It builds upward getting quite intense after a time. Then it drops to spacier sounds for a short time. Then they revisit the earlier themes of the piece. It moves way down from there for a while to some nearly ambient stuff. It eventually works into noisier guitar based territory after a time, shifting toward more freeform stuff as it continues its exploration. Some echoey keyboard textures around the nine minute mark are a cool touch. Intensification returns as the rhythm section drives it forward further down the road. There is a shift toward more melodic fusion beyond there as the piece makes its way toward its conclusion.
The sounds that open this are very trippy and weird. The cut moves with a freeform kind of thing underway for a while. Eventually it makes it way to a more cohesive, but still suitably strange, arrangement to continue. It drops down near the end to atmospherics with percussion. This is the shortest track on the disc.
Agent Orange
Trippy melodic elements open this in atmospheric ways. The bass threatens to take over after a short time. In fact, the bass work does lead the cut for quite a time. That takes it through a couple changes in trademark Levin ways. Around the three and a half minute mark the guitar and other elements rise up to create some a fuller arrangement as the groove persists. The keyboards lend some space textures at points along this part of the journey. Eventually it makes its way to fast paced, trippy kinds of jamming that unite space rock and fusion in intriguing ways. It gets quite intense before it ends.
Coming in mellower and more melodic, the opening segment works through and then drops away. A more stripped back freeform section rises up from there. It works upward to some strange stuff as it continues. This continues to evolve, working through a number of changes.  A cool droning type groove takes it near the end and holds it in varying ways until the closing.
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