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Edhels (Monaco)
Overall View

Discography:

1981/2001 - "The Bursting"
*****

1985 - "Oriental Christmas"
*****

1988 - "Still Dream"
*****+

1991 - "Astro Logical"
******

1997 - "Angel's Promise"
****+

1998 - "Universal"
******

2004 - "Saltimbanques"
******


1981/2001 - "The Bursting"
(53 min, self-released)
*****


Tracklist:
Russian Puzzle  17:39
Sandrine  4:22
Laure - Concerto No 1  7:05
L'Etrange Quete  3:35
Edhels - Symphony No 1  9:48
Maleak - Symphony No 2  11:04

All tracks by Marc Ceccotti.
Produced by Laure Caillaud.

Line-up:
Marc Ceccotti - lead electric & acoustic guitars,
                keyboards, percussion;
Noel Damon - keyboards, bass pedals,
             drums (on 3) & percussion;
Jean-Louis Suzzoni - lead & rhythm electric guitars.

With:
Sandrine Brisson - violin (on 2);
Philippe Peratonnere - lead keyboards (on 4);
Jacky Rosati - additional keyboards (on 4).

It's turned out that Edhels's very first recording finally saw the light of day only in the beginning of 2001. Composed, performed and recorded precisely twenty years ago "The Bursting", however, doesn't sound like an archaic work. Musically, this highly original work is as different from the Edhels albums to follow as each of them from the others, and such a phenomenon is typical for the most creative artists only. Despite the fact that Edhels's music isn't too complex, while moderately complex, the band led by Marc Ceccotti was able to discover new musical horizons with each new album during the two decades of its existence. Any experienced Prog-lover should appreciate such a unique creative way. Entirely instrumental, like the first three Edhels albums released officially, the band's real debut album "The Bursting" compositionally is on par at least with the band's first official work "Oriental Christmas". However, I haven't heard on the band's following albums such a mind-blowing, virtuosic and tasteful playing of the acoustic guitar that Marc did on Russian Puzzle (why have you stopped doing so in the future, Marc?). Believe it or not, but I think that even the two Mighty Steves (Hackett & Howe) were always proud of themselves when they demonstrated such guitar acrobatics. All the three tracks with the hints to Classical Music in their titles really contain the motives of European Symphonism in their structures and Edhels (Symphony No 1) is especially filled with them. This is probably the only track on the album with a total domination of keyboards throughout, whereas other compositions present as the main solo instruments either both guitars and keyboards (tracks 2,3,4,6) or just various guitars - with keyboards playing mainly chords (a 'side-long' Russian Puzzle). Guest keyboardist Philippe Peratonnere shows miracles of soloing on L'Etrange Quete. Imagine instrumental pieces of The Alan Parsons Project being composed, arranged and performed on a higher level of complexity and musicianship and you'll have an idea of what this (fourth) track is about. As well as in case with the latest Edhels album of 1998 (see the review below), I am sure that it is necessary to release officially such a unique document taken from an era of the decadence of Progressive as "The Bursting". If properly distributed, this, one of the strongest progressive albums of the beginning of the 'dark decade' of the 1980's would be a real discovery for thousands Prog-lovers from all around the word. And I myself feel happy to have a possibility to review the albums of Edhels and many other underrated or unnoticed bands instead of routine praising (even) the excellent yet already far-famous performers.

VM. May 5, 2001


1985 - "Oriental Christmas"
*****
(48 min, "Musea")

Tracklist:
Ragtag Baby  3:17
Spring Road  4:48
Tepid Wind  4:35
Ca...Li...Vi...Sco  3:47
Oriental Christmas  4:20
F...D...Smile  5:30
Imaginary Dance  4:15
Souvenir76  3:35
Absynthe  3:57
Agatha  4:00
Nan Madol  5:48

Line-up:
Marc Ceccotti - guitars, keyboards, bass;
Noel Damon - keyboards;
Jacky Rosati - drums, keyboards;
Jean-Louis Suzzoni - guitars

I am probably the only reviewer who feels so tired of comparisons and who especially doesn't like when someone uses some doubtful comparisons just to describe some opus the easiest way. I am not sure at all that lovers of comparisons think of their readers seriously (if ever). Maybe this way they're just trying to simplify a reader's (purchaser's) problem in choosing a CD he's looking for? But listing the performers (sometimes up to 10 in number) a certain band has similarities with, don't they think they just spoil a reader's (purchaser's) game this way? Also, there's no need to use comparisons in descriptions of bands whose music is extremely complex (RIO, for example). Because none of prog-beginners is likely to read an article (review) devoted to a RIO band and all the other with the same or nearly the same level of complexity. And beginners are the only category of listeners (readers, buyers) that most often really need comparisons in our reviews, but these should not be made up comparisons, but correct and valid, otherwise it's sometimes like a lottery what we offer our readers. In one review, devoted to the latest album of Jose Ledesma Q (who is a musician working within the RIO genre) I've found no less than 12 "comparable" bands, whereas I myself consider this album one of the most unique in general. (I am now looking at that review once again and find that I still wonder why these 12 performers are listed there?). It is practically the same story with the Edhels (officially) debut album. The majority of the reviews devoted to "Oriental Christmas" I've read conclude that this one is nothing but an obvious King Crimson influenced album. While listening to it repeatedly, I don't hear any obvious influences at all. I can just assume Edhels were inspired by the early King Crimson work on the "Oriental Christmas" album, which, on the whole, is as original (and different from any other Edhels album) as all others in the band's discography. The most "rockish" among the other Edhels works (except their latest "Universal"), "Oriental Christmas" is not too notably yet slightly more accessible album than both following Edhel's aces ("Still Dream" and especially "Astrological"). Yes, the music of Edhels is not extremely complex on the whole (though, at least the music on "Astrological" has more than just a moderate level of complexity), but bearing in mind the way a Prog-lover goes developing his comprehension of increasingly more complex progressive structures, this band's discography is the closest step to comprehend the music of the Titans of Classic Progressive Rock. In some ways there is a way leading to the development of the listener's taste for more complex music - step by step - already within the band's discography. Because, beginning with the Edhels (real) debut album and concluding with the fourth one "Astrological", each their new album is more complex than the previous. Back to "Oriental Christmas", this album clearly shows how mature Edhels became just three years after the band had been formed by a few very young musicians.

VM. April 12, 2001


1988 - "Still Dream"
*****+
(60 min, "Musea")

Criminally underrated the only Progressive Rock diamond to come out from Monaco. "Still Dream" is the second Edhels' album, which, together with "Astrological" (1991, read the "Astrological" detailed review soon), is one of the most significant works quite not only within the frame of their own creation. As I love to say, the main "trump" of any serious artist is Originality. And any band who have their own specific originality is already a real Bringer of fresh and innovative musical ideas that help to keep the music scene of planet Earth alive and honest. Absolutely all the works ever created by Edhels are to begin with exceptionally original, and all of these are different one from another. Musically "Still Dream" can be described as an all instrumental album, full of quite unusual sophicticated music with excellent complex arrangements and wonderful solos from varied keyboards and guitars. I think, on the whole, "Still Dream" was created under the flag of Classic Art (Symphonic) Rock, though some elements of two other "chief" genres of Progressive Rock (Jazz Fusion and Prog Metal) can be found on this extraordinary album too. In my strongest opinion, "Still Dream" is one of the few real Progressive Rock Hallmarks all over the '80s. Read on Progressor also: the "Astrological" (1991, their best) detailed review (soon).


1991 - "Astro Logical"
******
(61 min, "Musea")

Tracklist:
1. Aries       4:54
2. Taurus      4:21
3. Gemini      4:44
4. The Crab    5:06
5. Leo         4:50
6. Virgo       4:41
7. Libra       4:54
8. Scorpio     6:25
9. Sagittarius 3:15
10. Capricorn  5:09
11. Aquarius   9:02
12. Pisces     3:29

Line-up:
Marc Ceccotti - guitars, keyboards, percussions
Noel Damon - keyboards, percussions
Jacky Rosaty - drums, percussions
Jean-Louis Suzzoni - guitars

Recorded at Les Mouchettes studio

This is the third album from the unique Edhels. Needless to say, "Astro-logical" is one of the strongest efforts (imho) released by (their) Premier World Progressive Rock Label "Musea". It was hard to imagine that somebody could reproduce the characteristics of the signs of Zodiac musically (to descript them with sounds-made-of-notes) that would more or less correspond with their made-of-paper descriptions. As I read astrological books seriously and attentively, I am amazed at what I hear on "Astro Logical", at how Logically Edhels rendered all these so specific things musicallly. This album seems to be openly keyboard based, and you must have some really good experience to separate as if hidden wonderful guitar arrangements (lots of them here!) from the (excellent) Logically connected complexity. Each instrument from the album's "equipment" is involved into the creation of this Astro-Complexity, but of course, varied keyboards and guitars play the prominent roles in arrangement. Now I must say some very important words. Musicians turned to be able to show the feminine Beauty of Virgo, the surprising Contradictions of Scorpio, the touching Indecision of Cancer, as well as all the very special peculiarity of the other signs. If you don't find on this album some fast solos or interplays, listening to it a dozen of times you'll find its serious (and Logical) complexity anyway. It lies within the very special Edhels' structures, within the very special, very original Edhels' way in composing. Finally you will find this album much more interesting than a lot of pseudo complex albums, whose creators are mostly concerned with the idea of making their work complex whatever it takes. And then you'll have to admit that Edhels is a criminally underrated band.

VM. March 2, 2000


1997 - "Angel's Promise"
****+
(73 min, "Musea")

There are twelve compositions on the fourth Edhels' album, and four of them feature vocals. Each instrumental piece on "Angel's Promise", in spite of their structures becoming more accessible, contains some wonderful, magic, really innovative arrangements, apart from the traditional Edhels' originality. Each vocals based composition also contains some interesting instrumental parts, but on the whole, the basic (vocal) themes are quite simple there, and that's the main thing, each of these four songs features different (male and female) vocalists (read: very different styles of singing). So, for the first time in the history of Edhels their excellent compositional unity was destroyed. All these four songs "have just eaten" my fifth rating star. However, this is my "private" opinion, whereas most of the lovers of original moderately complex Progressive Rock would be pleasantly amazed with this album as a whole.

Musea Records


1998/2005 - "Universal"


2004 - "Saltimbanques"
******
(51 min, Mellow)

Tracklist:

1. Saltimbanques 4:07
2. Legende-III 5:37
3. Schizo-Scherzo 3:03
4. Rever avec toi 4:09
5. Avignon 3:57
6. Bruxelles 4:07
7. Paradoxical Intentions 5:04
8. Nomad's Joke 3:12
9. Eternelle 3:33
10. Siena 2:27
11. Mare Temporis 11:22

All tracks: by Marc Ceccotti.

Line-up:

Marc Ceccotti - electric & acoustic guitars 
Jean-Luis Suzzoni - electric & bass guitars 
Jean-Marc Bastianelly - keyboards; programming

Engineered & produced by Marc Ceccotti.

Synopsis. Finally, the new EDHELS album has been officially released by Mellow Records. So, here is the reprise-review of it:-). Although "Saltimbanques" is the first Edhels output for the last five years, judging by the contents of the album, these years weren't uneventful, to say the least. Running ahead, I'll say that this is the most innovative, complex, and intriguing album by the band to date. Here, Edhels decided to return to the all-instrumental music typical for their most famous albums: "Still Dream" and "Astrological". However, it would be pointless to search for comparisons between "Saltimbanques" and any of the other albums by the band, as well as anything else existing under the sun of progressive music. A marvelously cohesive union of complexity and beauty is the main (and the most amazing, of course) aspect of this album. And while the arrangements here are always in the state of constant development, at the same time they are full of both mystery and lucidity and are wonderfully imaginative. Before giving you an idea of the stylistic picture of "Saltimbanques", I'd like to note that listening with headphones is the best way to comprehend the album and experience all the magic that it's just filled with. Also, it needs to be said that the role-playing by the passages and solos of acoustic and classical guitar and the parts of light percussion is as significant here as that of all the other instruments. The contents of the album's title track, Schizo-Scherzo, Avignon, and Siena (1, 3, 5, & 10) represent a guitar-based Art-Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock and those of music of the East, and the interplay between solos of acoustic guitar and those of percussion are here especially impressive. Legende-III and Rever avec toi (2 & 4) are about the same style overall, though these also contain the bits of Prog-Metal. A confluence of Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion is presented on Bruxelles, Paradoxical Intentions, Nomad's Joke, and Eternelle (6 to 9). The last and the longest track on the album: Mare Temporis (11) is a piece of Classical Music. It was not only composed by the laws of Classical Music, but was also enriched with sounds of varied string and chamber instruments. All of this makes it the biggest gem in the crown of this fantastic album or, to be more objective, somewhat of the pearl of all pearls, as all of the other compositions here are also masterpieces.

VM: April 26, 2004


Related Links:

Musea Records
Edhels
Mellow Records


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