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(48:19 / Dreaming Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Aube 3:48 2. L'Odalisque 3:47 3. Memphis Dream 4:35 4. Midi 4:08 5. Autoroutes 6:47 6. Apres-Midi 6:31 7. Circulation 5:10 8. Corpuscule 5:31 9. Guitars 3:01 10. Nuit 4:08 SOLO PILOT: Eric Minen - guitars, bass; keyboards; programming
Prolusion. Previously a member of the Zappa tribute band Le Bocal, French musician Eric MINEN presented his first solo album "Melodies Urbaines", i.e. "Urban Melodies" of course.
Analysis. I normally just do short reviews of CDs that come out from the precincts of Dreaming (which is a division of Musea Records), since most, if not the majority of those represent synthesizer stuff in the style of electronic space music, but this is not such a case. There are few keyboard patterns to be found on "Melodies Urbaines", so this recording appears to be a kind of black sheep in that herd - in a positive meaning for sure. Furthermore, this is generally both a rather unusual and impressive album, whose ten instrumentals are all built around guitar patterns. Erik does not abuse the studio possibilities on any of the tracks, though precisely half of them have only two guitars in the arrangement. One of those, L'Odalisque, doesn't blend with urban scenery at all. It is totally acoustic and is very imaginative, portraying two men, a Spaniard and a Turk, who sit opposite each other somewhere in the desert sometime at the sundown, and while each plays firmly in his native style, the entire picture appears to be exceptionally coherent and just unique, one of the guitars sounding very much like Saz (a string instrument widespread in Middle East and Central Asian countries). This is my favorite cut on the disc, and although I like all the other tracks too, I slightly regret it's the only one on which Erik deploys folk tunes. The other four pieces from the said category, Memphis Dream, Autoroutes, Circulation and Guitars, all represent a finely developing interaction between acoustic guitar and its electric counterpart. The former is basically symphonic, with only occasional semi-improvisations. The other three all can be viewed as quasi jazz-fusion creations - well, as long as we only take their most essential performance aspects, while their rather unhurried thematic evolution evokes associations with New Age, all these remarks and definitions being relevant with regard to the remaining five cuts as well. On each of those Erik additionally utilizes programmed drums, which thankfully never sound abrasively obtrusive. Aube, Corpuscule and Nuit all have a certain common ground with some of Pat Metheny's '80s and '90s solo creations (not to be confused with those of Pat Metheny Group), just without Lyle Mays on board:-), since keyboards are used very sparingly plus exclusively as a background. Midi and Apres-Midi are both inspired by Allan Holdsworth's work or, rather, that musician's technique.
Conclusion. Well conceived thematically, performed with taste and elegance alike, Eric's debut offering is a rather pleasing listening experience. Recommended to fans of light electro acoustical Jazz-Fusion.
VM: May 31, 2007
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