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Aquaserge - 2011 - "Ce Tres Cher Serge"

(39:33, Musea / Gazul Records)


****+
                 

TRACK LIST:   

1.  La Genese 1:14
2.  Un Soir De Tempete 3:46
3.  Errance 4:38
4.  Ce Cher Serge Est Perdu 2:43
5.  Un Monde Englouti 3:28
6.  Tombe Dans la Selve 3:50
7.  Es Algues 2:25
8.  Vers le Neant 3:24
9.  Visions 11:00
10. Retrouvailles 3:05

LINEUP:

Julien Gasc – keyboards; guitar; vocals
Benjamin Gilbert – bass, guitar 
Julien Barbagallo – drums
With:
Buni Lenski – viola
Christelle Lassort – violin
Sebastien Cirotteau – trumpet
Manon Gilbert – clarinets
Benoit Rault – flute
Thomas Terrien – organ
Makoto Kawabata – guitar
Muriel Fourcade – vocals
Lisa Gilbert – vocals

Prolusion. Here is “Ce Tres Cher Serge”, a recording by the French trio AQUASERGE, comprised of ten tracks. I have no idea whether this is its first release or not, as there is no info on matter in the CD press kit or anywhere else (meaning on the internet), at least in English.

Analysis. I didn’t expect anything remarkably progressive from an album with an average track length clocking at about 4 minutes before I listened to it. Although the band’s entry on the Musea Records website says “The music of Aquaserge is extravagant, combining progressive Jazz-Fusion and Chamber Rock in the vein of Soft Machine, King Crimson and Zappa”, there is almost nothing of the kind here. The recording’s overall lineup looks very promising too, but of the nine guest musicians only the singers have notably (heavily in fact) contributed to it, whereas the others each only played on two pieces on average. In short, singing isn’t something the album is lacking in. Its ‘frontier’ tracks, La Genese and Retrouvailles, are both vocals-based throughout, and while the first of them (consisting exclusively of vocals) is acceptable, at least as a brief acapella intro, the latter isn’t, since it’s a jovial pop song, straightforward like a monorail. The three pieces that follow the disc opener, Un Soir De Tempete, Errance and Ce Cher Serge Est Perdu, are fairly original tunes, moving in a melodic jazz-rock vein. On the other hand, all of them are rather groovy, either mono- or bi-thematic pieces, displaying pretty straightforward songcraft that marries fusionesque instrumental textures to traditional (albeit often harmony) vocals in French. The other tracks are better, though. Visions, Un Monde Englouti, Tombe Dans la Selve and Es Algues all come with a certain vintage vibe, harking back to the time when psychedelic Space Rock and Jazz-Fusion have for the first time strongly ‘embraced’ each other. Exceeding 10 minutes in length, the former composition has quite a distinct epic magnitude and is rich in parts with chamber instruments – my favorite track on the disc. Musically, it brings to mind something between Pink Floyd’s “A Saucerful of Secrets”, “Atom Heart Mother” and “Dark Side of the Moon” (at one point instantly evoking Us & Them), only with different vocals. As theme providers, especially notable here are bassist/guitarist Benjamin Gilbert and keyboardist Julien Gasc, both of whom, though, get a lot of the solo time too, Julien revealing quite a sophisticated approach to playing piano and synthesizer. As regards the epic’s first half, however, it’s Buni Lenski and Christelle Lassort’s violin leads that are crucial to its sound, at least overall. The other three compositions are Space Fusion of the first water on their instrumental level, albeit the last of them is free of vocals at all. Most of the time the music is reminiscent of Gong circa “Angel’s Egg”, though there are also heavier moments on both Tombe Dans la Selve and Es Algues, those on the former piece in the vein of Soft Machine’s “Bundles”. Un Monde Englouti is a simpler thing. Its next-to-last movement finds a rhythm section playing all alone, and when Sebastien Cirotteau appears on trumpet (in its finale) he goes no further than soloing in unison with all the other musicians. Thankfully, the piece is countervailed by the largely acoustic (and instrumental as well) Vers le Neant, which is the best new-age piece I’ve heard in years.

Conclusion. The recording’s first three full-fledged tracks really have a lot in common between them, but aren’t separated from each other by pauses, which makes the music sound the same all over its first third, most of the following pieces quite uniform in style too. Obviously, the album would have been more varied in appearance as well as impressive if the indicated categories of tracks had been intermixed between themselves, especially since most of its last two thirds are more interesting musically.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: June 1, 2012
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Musea Records
Aquaserge


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