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Tracklist: 1. Voyage du non-retoir 3:48 (Abbenanti, Truchi) 2. Reincarnation 12:50 (Truchi / Yeu) 3. Jeux du siecle 10:10 (David / Truchi) 4. Publiphobie 9:54 (Faraut / Berge) Line-up: Christian Truchi - keyboards; vocals Gilbert Abbenanti - electric & acoustic guitars Claude-Marius David - saxophone & flute; percussion Alain Faraut - drums & percussion Alain Berge - bass guitar Produced by Carpe Diem. Recorded & mixed: by Jean-Pierre Massiera & Bernard Belan at "Antibes-Azurville" studio, France.
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: Atoll's "Tertio", "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 first Carpe Diem album "En Regardant Passer le Temps". 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. . In the reviews of Carpe Diem's debut album that I read their music always subjects to various comparisons, though it's not a secret that a passion for comparisons is kind of an idee fixe (Fr., which is a 'healthy counterpart' of a fixed idea) of many progressive reviewers. Such definitions (just stamps, in my opinion) of the band's style as "Camel-like version of Space-Fusion", "Prog-Fusion similar to Soft Machine", "Gong-influenced Space Rock without ambient elements, yet, with a jazzy spirit reminiscent of Moving Gelatine Plates" frequently catch my eye. Fortunately, these pages can allow me to express my own vision of the music that is presented on one of the two albums by Carpe Diem, "En Regardant Passer le Temps". Above all, only the album's opening track, Voyage du non-retoir, is about Classic Space Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion and Symphonic Progressive. Yes, overall, this instrumental piece represents nothing else but a real, intensive and energetic, Space Rock jam. However, while I can agree that a few stylistic (only) parallels can be drawn between Voyage du non-retoir and the music of Moving Gelatine Plates, I don't find any traces of Gong on this composition, as well as throughout the album. IMHO, Carpe Diem's main 'comparative' object (Gong), along with Soft Machine and even MGP, though, are completely out of play. As I said, Voyage du non-retoir is the only Space Rock composition here. Also, this is the only track on the album that features elements of Jazz-Fusion. Whereas two long tracks on the album, Reincarnation and Jeux du siecle (2 & 3), both of which contain few vocals of a dramatic character (lyrics are in French), entirely consist of structures that are typical for Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and nothing else. There are elements (just elements) of Space Rock on another instrumental composition on the album, Publiphobie (4), while its dominant stylistics is Classic Symphonic Progressive as well. The album's closing track is an original and in many ways unique piece, as well as Jeux du siecle (3) and the aforementioned Voyage du non-retoir (1). As for Camel, they never played such a complex, diverse, and hard-edged Progressive that is present at least on the first two of the said compositions (i.e. on tracks 4 & 3). The only track on the album, some of the contents of which are really comparable, is Reincarnation (2). Listen to it attentively, and you'll find there a couple of the themes that were unobtrusively borrowed (yeah) from Firth of Fifth from Genesis's "Selling England By the Pound" and from the final overture of "The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table" by Rick Wakeman. Nevertheless, on the whole, Reincarnation is also an original, complex, and very impressive song.
Summary. All five of the band members are not only very talented composers and arrangers, but also amazingly virtuosi musicians. Doubtless, Carpe Diem's "En Regardant Passer le Temps" is one of the most complex, original, and interesting albums of 1975 and one of the brightest representatives of France's Progressive Rock output as well. It's a real classic for the future.
VM. August 6, 2002
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