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TRACK LIST: 1. Schizarium Odyssey-1 7:11 2. Neptuna 21:25 3. On the Edge 7:43 4. Mister Mend 15:31 5. ? 2:32 6. Sunset Smile 7:17 7. Schizarium Odyssey-2 9:57 LINEUP: Kevin Toussaint vocals; guitars Quentin Rousseau keyboards Lancelot Carre drums Theo Ladouce bass With: Elodie Laaziz vocals Marie Moreau vocals Caroline Gault vocals Anne Isambert vocals
Prolusion. The French outfit JUKE was formed back in 2011 by four musicians sharing an affection for 70s progressive and psychedelic rock, with bands such as Pink Floyd, King Crimson and The Doors mentioned as influential. They released an initial EP towards the end of 2012, and just under two years later they were ready with their full-length debut album "Chimera's Tale". As is increasingly more common these days, the band opted to self release the CD.
Analysis. Among the many names mentioned as sources of inspiration by this French band, the most obvious of them that you'll hear in their music is Pink Floyd. On a further note, I'll also add that my main associations for this band actually is towards a rather different band entirely, and as that band isn't mentioned at all by the members of Juke in their official blurbs, this may be one of the rare cases of incidental similarities. We do get quite a few Pink Floydian moments here. Those with an affection for the later parts of that band's repertoire will find the darker, solemn guitar and organ passages on this album familiar, and the flightier, more heavily psychedelic and cosmic-tinged excursions will most likely feel familiar to those with an affection also for the somewhat older material by this progressive rock institution. My main impressions about Juke as a band is in a rather different direction however. The tight, melodic bass motifs, that is a central and characteristic feature throughout, gives me a distinct association to the German symphonic space rock masters Eloy, and then especially in the phase of that band's existence when they produced classic albums such as Dawn and Ocean. Juke's use of keyboard textures in what may broadly be described as symphonic space rock arrangements further adds to this impression for me, especially the longest compositions on this album have elongated sequences that sound uncannily like Eloy's material from those albums on numerous levels. Up to and including the elongated, subtle build up of these songs, following an initial introduction phase. Juke does add psychedelic details and cosmic effects to the proceedings, and while the similarities are distinct, it's not a case of replication either, to my ears. It's more a case of applying similar principles, I guess, the end result a sound and a mood that are similar and comparable, and then more likely than not as accidental rather than planned features. Juke also heads out into territories that Eloy never ventured into, just to add that fact as well. The atmospheric, forlorn mood in the cosmic excursion simply named ?, the more distinct acoustic guitar driven, folk-tinged psychedelia of Sunset Smile and the subtly jazz-tinged details that appears a bit in on concluding piece Schizarium Odyssey-2 are all examples of that. If I should summarize this album, then I think I'll describe the disc as one that features mainly elongated compositions firmly placed inside a symphonic space rock context, and mainly alternates between Pink Floydian passages and sequences with a stronger similarity to Eloy, with liberal amounts of psychedelic guitars, keyboards and effects, flavoring soundscapes that generally come across as warm and organic sounding. Or, as some might describe it, more of a vintage, 70s-oriented general mood and atmosphere.
Conclusion. Good, old-fashioned symphonic space rock with a distinct 70s mood and atmosphere is what Juke delivers on their debut album "Chimera's Tale". Mainly subtle developments and careful alterations are the order of the day, with few dramatic impulses in what appears to be well thought-out compositions throughout. Associations towards the likes of Pink Floyd and Eloy are firm throughout, at least to my ears, and I suspect that those who like both of those bands should be a key audience for this album due to that.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 19, 2015
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