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(48:34 / Carbon-7 Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Malamwe 3:55 2. Emoi 5:11 3. Et La 4:21 4. J'Aimerais 2:50 5. Stabat Mater 5:43 6. Maranatha Je Te Donne 2:48 7. QI 3:41 8. Ave 3:28 9. La Valse des Mots 3:25 10. Voyou-Voyou 4:55 11. Irreelles 4:19 12. Pas Bo 3:52 LINEUP: Ann Gaytan - vocals; guitar; MIDI; programming Thierry Vassias - bass, guitar, bouzouki; sax Fred Van Lieff - violin Renaud Lhoest - violin Roman Borkovskyy - viola Sigrid Vandenbogaerde - cello Chris Joris - percussion With: Several more musicians and singers
Prolusion. Ann GAYTAN, from the Belgian city of Brussels, is a singer (classically trained), musician and songwriter with a nearly 20-year scenic experience behind her and is more than a merely known person in your motherland. She has been giving concerts since 1989, but "Emoi" is only her first material documented on a CD (a Carbon-7 Records production).
Analysis. While probably not a complete ignoramus as regards the music on this disc, I am not an expert in it either, far from that, so to anybody reading this review I bring in advance my apologies for any wrong conclusions etc that I may make here. I think the twelve tracks on "Emoi", despite any differences in their sound, all have French Chanson in their basis, even though quite a few of them find Ann Gaytan to be the only provider of the aesthetic. The point is that in the majority of cases (deducting the two concluding tracks, to be more precise), her vocals take almost total precedence in the music, but while the instrumental interludes on each of the first ten tracks are usually brief, the songs' overall palette is almost always lush and diverse alike, due to the resourcefulness of, say, supporting players who, as you can see above, represent a small chamber ensemble with a complete violin section. Not counting the shortest cut, Maranatha Je Te Donne, representing a spoken verse with occasional violin pizzicatos, the disc's opener, Malamwe, would be the simplest tune here, the only one strictly following the traditions of French Chanson, somewhat reminiscent of Edit Piaf, perhaps due to the strong accordion presence. The two songs that follow the opener, Emoi and Et La, both seem to be the most unusual in the set, but are in many ways astonishing, regardless of their relative similarity with Michelle Farmer's work. I wouldn't dare to define these otherwise than as a modern take on Chanson, though the title track is also richly flavored with oriental tunes. The music is basically groovy, but there are three differently vectored percussion lines in the foundation of each. Overtop of that quite intricate rhythmic base, bass, sax and violins provide amazingly inventive patterns that, besides making the music sound lush and sophisticated, surprisingly intensify a feeling of its structural solidity, whilst the acoustic guitar solo that runs almost all through each provides a sense of fragility. Voyou-Voyou is also a modern-sounding piece, but nevertheless it reminds me more of a cross between romance and chanson than a contemporary ballad, perhaps because it doesn't contain any percussion. The remainder embrace more than half of the tracks, seven in number, on all those the group playing entirely acoustically, giving them an almost genuine chamber music feel. The only two pieces performed up-tempo, J'Aimerais and Irreelles, are both highly expressive, both standing out for their bright bouzouki and conga leads, but the latter is more diverse, additionally revealing elements of Arabic music and Opera, as well as some unexpected transitions. My favorite track here, it is the richest in purely instrumental maneuvers and is generally the most complicated opus on the disc. Of the remaining five songs, Stabat Mater, QI, Ave, La Valse des Mots and Pas Bo, none features percussion, the last of these in all senses following in the footsteps of the winner, manifesting some distinct moves towards complexity as well.
Conclusion. For any advanced prog-lover this music won't be a hard nut to crack it, most of it being instantly accessible in fact. What makes it listenable (an understatement) is above all Ann's wonderful, very emotive singing. It affords a kind of zest and magic to her creation, giving the music its spell and thus making it attractive probably for anyone, regardless of his or her basic preferences in this kind of art.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: December 22, 2007
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