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Edition Speciale - 1977/2004 - "Aliquante"

(58 min, Musea)


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TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Vedra 6:35
2.  A la Source du Reve 7:45
3.  So Deep Inside 5:45
4.  Le Temps d'Un Solo 5:43
5.  La Ville en Beton 5:00
6.  La Fille du Ruisseau 6:45
7.  Alone Completely Unknown 6:55
Bonus tracks:
8.  Camara 9:24
9.  Aurore 4:45

All tracks: by Edition Speciale.
Produced by Edition Speciale.
Engineered by P. Cramer.

LINE-UP:

Ann Ballester - keyboards; vocals
Mimi Lorenzini - guitars; vocals
Josquin Turenne - basses; vocals
Alain Gouillard - drums

Prolusion. Edition Speciale is one of the most remarkable bands formed in the second half of the '70s, though we only begin exploring its legacy and comprehending its significance in the history of France's Progressive Rock movement and in general. (The proverb "Not in the winning, but in the taking part lies a glory" sounds really topical in this case.) Both of their first albums were originally released through the major RCA label. The CD reissue of "Aliquante" also features bonus tracks, but unlike those on the band's debut, "Allee des Tilleuls", none of them were published before. The lineup changes are limited by the appearance of Alain Gouillard, who replaced original drummer Jean-Francois Bouchet.

Analysis. No genuine Prog lover will ever be amazed at the capability of the genre's vintage representatives for putting magic in their music and the ease with which they achieved it. In my honest opinion, it's something from on High. Of course, here is just such an instance. There is a rather huge difference between the first two albums by Edition Speciale, and even though the second one seems to be not as exceptionally original as its predecessor, I like it better. Definitely. The traces of influences of Brand X and Manfred Mann's Earth Band are present in the music, but the quantity of them is too little to make it sound derivative. While regarding the composition, and especially the performance mastery, the band just surpassed itself. On "Aliquante", they have exceeded the bounds of Art-Rock and entered those of classic Jazz-Fusion, as a result of which they got a highly efficient confluence of these genres, with the slight predominance of the latter. Overall, all nine of the tracks are entities of a unified compositionally stylistic concept, but most of the songs have some distinctions, and not only because they contain vocals. Vice versa about instrumental pieces, of course. These take the first four positions in the album's track list and the last. Well, Ann Ballester sings on So Deep Inside, but only one quatrain, in the very beginning, practically out of the context of the principal musical events. With the exception of the separately standing Aurore, which closes the album, the instrumental compositions are notable for intensive, mostly up-tempo arrangements with plenty of acoustic textures. The parts (mostly solos, all being exceptionally original and masterful) of acoustic guitar play a highly important role on each of them, especially on A la Source du Reve, which doesn't contain those of electric guitar. But although Brand X and (highly underrated, IMHO) Manfred Mann's Earth Band never laid special emphasis on solos of acoustic guitar, the number of artifacts of their legacy is larger exactly in the instrumental pieces. Specifically, they can be found in some parts of electric guitar and those of Moog, respectively. Those two songs that are titled in English are with English lyrics, and the others are in French. Ann does lead vocals either alone or along with Mimi (who's a man, at least physiologically:-), though there is also an excellent three-voice choir in addition. The album is excellent throughout, so it would be wrong to say that the songs are better than the instrumentals. Nevertheless, they are more original, while one of them: Alone Completely Unknown features a rather long instrumental part, which is just filled with magic. I am deeply impressed by that song: nearly as much as I was by Genesis's Firth of Fifth when I've heard it for the first time.

Conclusion. This band possessed a multifaceted talent. It was on par with most of their contemporary Jazz-Fusion congeners and is probably the best female-led band of all time. Their "Aliquante" is not an easy album to get into, but then, it offers me new surprises with every listen, which is just all I needed. Bravely join the cohort of the listeners if you consider the structured European Jazz-Fusion. Top-1977

VM: January 17, 2005


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