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(52:24, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Un Point sur l’Infini 5:34 2. L’Horloge Suspendue 2:53 3. La Boite a Musique 8:25 4. A Gift 2:34 5. La Ballerine 4:55 6. Lullaby Road 1:41 7. Del l’Autre Cote du Vent 5:19 8. Graines de Beaute 3:24 9. Fluers Nocturnes 3:37 10. Le Sculpteur de Sable 3:58 11. Quiet Christmas 2:48 12. La Boite de Pandore 7:44 SOLO-PILOT: Jean-Pascal Boffo – acoustic guitar
Prolusion. Jean-Pascal BOFFO is one of those French musicians who entered the pantheon of living legends of Progressive Rock already in the heyday of the genre. As a solo performer he has been working since the mid-‘80s, “La Boite a Musique” being the tenth studio album released under his own name.
Analysis. Since Jean-Pascal appears as a solo pilot (to Prog) this time around, it should be safe to mention that he masterly navigates these twelve instrumental pieces for acoustic guitar, all being original creations, meaning penned by himself. The tracks strongly vary in length, ranging from one and a half to 8+ minutes, but all of them, without exception, are complete, painstakingly considered compositions, with not even a tiny hint of sketchiness, though it would certainly be strange to expect anything like that from this musician. We are all aware that Boffo is a technically proficient guitar player, but there are no rapid leads here, since everything is played by fingering (though some downright finger-picking seems to be done with the fullest-possible speed), with the emphasis on composition. While listening to this disc I am only reminded of Steve Hackett (“Bay of Kings” and “Momentum” of course) and – to a lesser degree – some of Anthony Phillips’s as well as Steve Howe’s creations, and while I’ve heard many other artists working in the field of acoustic guitar music, none of them comes to mind in the current context, because all the pieces alluded to above belong exclusively to the classical guitar school, which supposes (perhaps even insures) a certain connection with Classical music proper, but excludes such stylistic components as jazz, funk, country and so on. Most of the compositions have a distinct dramatic quality to them, and only three of them, Graines de Beaute, La Boite de Pandore and Lullaby Road, reveal in places, say, more life-asserting emotions, besides those coming across as a light sorrow with a glimpse of hope. If Jean-Pascal would have presented, now, something in the style of his previous effort, “Infinitude” (2004), it might have appeared as a sign of stagnation in his work. While what we get here are sophisticated, heartfelt and moving pieces, which moreover are done in a style that we don’t hear much in this new century.
Conclusion. Excellent within its genre category, this is a very enjoyable and pleasant recording of purely acoustic guitar music with no less than five pieces being real gems. “La Boite a Musique” comes highly recommended above all to those who, as I do, like both the named and implied creations by the above-said former members of Genesis and Yes. Those in Jean-Pascal’s traditional fan base don’t need any additional recommendations, I’m sure.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 12, 2008
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