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(42:08, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Presto 4:20 2. Southside Sky 2:37 3. Salamander 3:40 4. Between the Gates 3:31 5. On 2:48 6. The Edge 1:57 7. Morning Light 4:49 8. Fallen Angels 3:35 9. Eden 2:27 10. Yours 2:42 11. Heimat 5:36 12. Lilith 4:06 SOLO PILOT Marc Devidal – keyboards, programming
Prolusion. BACKYARDS is the moniker used by French composer and keyboardist Marc Devidal (formerly of Morrigan) for his solo releases. He made his solo debut in 2011 with "Horizon", while his second and most recent effort "2eden" was released in the summer of 2012. As with his first CD this most recent effort was issued by Musea Records on their Musea Parallele imprint.
Analysis. There are some albums that make a positive impression despite certain defining elements, and "2eden" is among those, at least to my ears. Occasional use of early 90's sounding synth effects, cold and clinical, aren't high on my list of enticing features, and what sounds very much like mid 80's drum machines is pretty far down on my list of positive elements in any given context too. And despite the fact that the latter is used extensively on this disc, it is a production that I find to be both enticing and intriguing, which presumably says a lot about Devidal's skills as a composer. The musical universe he explores on this occasion is one that resides within the progressive electronic universe. The accessible parts of Tangerine Dream's back catalogue should be a suitable point of reference; on a couple of occasions pointers in the direction of Harold Faltermeyer will be an appropriate comparison. The latter mainly limited to the brief number On, and with a specific reference to Faltermeyer's megahit Axel F in terms of sound as well as expression. Otherwise this is a production filled with fairly accessible music. The themes tend to be catchy and hummable, the dominant motifs melodic and easy on the ears, and challenging features as such are rather uncommon. But while not being the most adventurous music around, most of these compositions are fairly refined in character and composition alike, albeit more so in terms of arrangement than structure. Contrasting keyboard layers add a nice and effective tension to the proceedings, with one lighter toned and one darker toned motif a general feature throughout. Most often with the former given the dominant role and the latter a subservient one as a fluctuating backdrop or a brooding undercurrent. There are usually one or more additional keyboard layers in action, supplementing either the dominant or the subservient motif, and fairly often both will have this additional underlying dimension creating a fairly nuanced theme in total. In terms of structure we're mostly dealing with dual themed pieces, pairing off a richly layered majestic theme with one with a more sparse expression, in the shape of gentler sequences without rhythm enhancements, a reduction in keyboard layers utilized or with dampened constructions of an ambient or cinematic nature. The end result, while perhaps not terribly advanced or groundbreaking either, is still a compelling one. Devidal has a good ear for engaging melodies, and the futuristic sounds frequently employed will of course always be of interest to someone like this writer who has a taste for science fiction and futuristic sounding endeavors in general.
Conclusion. Instrumental progressive music residing in the electronic part of the art rock universe is what French artist Backyards provides on his latest production "2eden". Consisting of the seven-part suite Eden and five standalone pieces, this is a disc that should find its main audience among those who enjoy artists like Tangerine Dream at their most accessible, as long as they aren't dead set against drum machines and early 90's synth effects that is.
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