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1. Paris c'est fini 5:54 (Balzer, Gozzo, Taillet) 2. Les Dieux meme 7:31 (Taillet, Thillot, Gozzo) 3. Gae lowe 4:46 (Balzer, Thillot, Gozzo) 4. Le cerf-volant 5:41 (Balzer, Taillet) 5. Tunnel-I 5:46 (Beya, Thillot) 6. Tunnel-II 8:09 (=) All lyrics: by Balzer. Line-up: Christian Beya - guitars Michel Taillet - keyboards Andre Balzer - vocals Jean-Luc Thillot - bass Alain Gozzo - drums Guest vocalizes by: Lisa Deluxe & Stella Vander (on 2 & 6) Arranged & produced by Atoll. Recorded & mixed by Jehol Van Bay & Jean-Pierre Janiaud at "Studio Gang", Paris.
Prologue. Two weeks ago I received from Bernard Gueffier, the manager of Musea Records, a few of those legendary albums of French Progressive that I was eager to listen to since 1997, when I discovered such a wonderful source as the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock. These are: Carpe Diem's "En Regardant Passer le Temps", "Shekina" by Zao, "Halloween" by Pulsar, Halloween's "Le Festin" (this time, I decided to choose their latest album instead of "Merlin"), and the hero of this review, the third Atoll album "Tertio". While I am at least a little acquainted with the creation of most of the said bands (the only exception being Carpe Diem), I did not have the opportunity to hear these very albums by them before. (Next week, I'll return to reviewing the new CD releases by Musea.)
The Album. . Overall, "Tertio" can be regarded as an album of a unified stylistic concept, which, on the whole, is about Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. The contents of only two tracks on it, Gae lowe (3) and Tunnels-II (6), not completely conform to the laws of genre. Since I am going to begin describing the album with its weak spots, I'll return to Tunnels-II later. The arrangements that are featured on the aforementioned Gae lowe are typical for Neo rather than Classic Progressive. The repetition of the parts of vocal, all of which are here enormously optimistic, and very simple arrangements that support them, make Gae lowe a rather uninteresting song. Also, there is only one instrumental part on it. The repetitions are also noticeable on the album's opening track, Paris c'est fini. However, instrumental arrangements are intensive throughout this song, which, by the way, is the only track on the album where both the vocal and instrumental arrangements are of a dramatic character. For all the other tracks on the album are typical various shades of emotion. Le cerf-volant (4) is a very good song, the vocal and instrumental parts of which are balanced well. Both of the Tunnels (5 & 6) are, in fact, the parts of the same Tunnel, as there is no open space between them. Musically, the first half of Tunnel is much in the vein of the song that I described just before getting into it. Instead of the parts of vocal (of course, lyrics are in French), Part II features male and female vocalizes, the latter of which are very beautiful (kind of angelic). The classic Art-Rock arrangements appear closer to the end of this piece, while the first two thirds of its length covers nothing else but a real Symphonic Space Rock jam. Doubtless, Tunnels is a great and very impressive composition, though there is only one track on "Tertio" which, IMHO, is a real masterwork. This is Les Dieux meme (2), filled with original, diverse, and complex arrangements from the first to the last note. This song contains the largest number of such specific progressive features as the stop-to-play movements and unusual time signatures. Also, this is the only track on "Tertio" that the piano passages are present on. The main soloing instruments on the album are an electric guitar and synthesizers, as well as the rhythm section, of course. All four of the band's instrumentalists are real virtuosos, though they demonstrate their technical mastery not that often.
Summary. Well, well, I see I once again became the victim of alien opinions, and another overrated album has fallen into my hands. Of course, I've chosen this CD because of all the reviews of "Tertio" that I read were completely positive and panegyric. Being familiar with such gems as the eponymous Arachnoid album, Gong's "You", "Shekina" by Zao, "En Regardant Passer le Temps" by Carpe Diem, Ange's "Emile Jacotey", I would never rank "Tertio" as one of the classic albums of French Progressive. Taking into account the general state of Progressive Rock in the second half of the 1970s, "Tertio" can be rated as an excellent album. Nevertheless, it is by no means a masterpiece.
VM. August 5, 2002
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