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TRACK LIST: 1. Ilian 3:31 2. La route est ailleurs 5:32 3. Au secours de vos jours 4:18 4. Comme lui 0:52 5. Je voudrais etre 3:48 6. La legende de la foret 4:15 7. Comme s'ecoule un fleuve 7:49 8. J'entends gronder la terre 4:20 9. Un nouveau depart 5:17 10. Le miroir de tes yeux I 0:59 11. Le miroir de tes yeux II 5:43 12. Quand le monde se met a chanter 4:14 13. Galeana I 2:52 14. Galeana II 4:55 All music: by Beya. All lyrics: Leininger, except 4: Beya; & 13: Beya, Altmayer. Produced & engineered by Beya. LINE-UP: Chris Beya - guitars; keyboards; programming Raoul Leininger - lead & backing vocals Michel Altmayer - drums Niko Wege - drums Yannick Riznar - bass Vincent Nolot - bass With: Jean Dene - violin Michael Kadi - flute Julien Petit - saxophone Caroline Crozat - backing vocals
Prolusion. One may consider "Ilian" the first solo album by Chris Beya, while I have no doubts about its placement within the Atoll discography. After all, the band's previous, fifth, studio album "L'Ocean" (1989) was penned by Beya as well and was released under the original Atoll moniker, despite the fact that Chris was the only original band member in the lineup. Two more Atoll-related reviews are >here and here.
Synopsis. Musically, "Ilian" does not resemble any of the preceding albums by the band (which is just great, of course) and is, in my honest opinion, better than any of them. Supplemented by extraordinary, highly impressive vocals of Raoul Leininger, the music is outstandingly original and fresh and is very, very interesting. While most of the songs on the album are relatively short, each of them contains a wide variety of different themes and arrangements, all of which are surprisingly diverse and complex, though those on the longer tracks (2, 7, 9, 11, & 14) are especially large-scaled, of course. The music on ten out of the fourteen tracks: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, and 14 (I won't list each of those long track titles in French, OK?) represent a remarkably original Symphonic Art-Rock with, often, pronounced elements of both of Prog-Metal and the classical chamber music of Baroque, the latter of which are usually provided by the parts of piano, string ensemble, acoustic guitar, flute, and violin. One of the songs: Comme s'ecoule un fleuve (7) is notable also for flavors of the music of the East and the bits of Jazz-Fusion. This is the only track on the album that features saxophone. Apart from intensive arrangements, most of the songs contain mild, almost purely acoustic textures with beautiful interplay between passages of piano and string ensemble, those of classical guitar, and solos of flute, evoking associations with the music of Baroque, which, in its turn, is what La legende de la foret and Le miroir de tes yeux II (6 & 11) are about in their entirety. Both of the shortest tracks, Comme lui and Le miroir de tes yeux I (4 & 10), are the pieces based on solos and passages of classical guitar. Chris Beya showcases himself as an amazingly masterful keyboard and guitar player and, what's most important, as an excellent and very inventive composer with his own conception of progressive music.
Conclusion. "Ilian" is one of those Symphonic Progressive albums from the last year that made an especially deep impression on me. With such an original approach to music as is presented on this recording, Chris Beya's Atoll (rather, just Atoll) can bravely look to the future. The album very well suits my vision of Art-Rock of the XXI century.
VM: March 9, 2004
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