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Keravel - 2010 - "Must"

(62:22, 'Keravel')

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  C-U C-Me 4:06
2.  War Dogs 3:49
3.  Love Me 3:08
4.  A Quiet Moment 4:25
5.  Walk with Us 4:12
6.  Seven Clouds 3:37
7.  Stranger's Beat 4:24
8.  A Wish or Two 4:38
9.  Bounced Off 4:11
10. Soul Mates 4:12
11. For Keeps 4:08
12. Do I Know You 4:32
13. Rumbling 4:14
14. Mysterious Analogies 4:52
15. Blue Agenda 3:54


Serge Keravel  all instruments; programming
Pierre Messier  additional programming

Prolusion. Canadian composer and keyboardist Serge KERAVEL made his debut as a solo artist in 2006 with the album "Moods", and in 2008 the follow-up effort "Next" was released. "Must" is his third CD, and was issued in the spring of 2010.

Analysis. A lot can be said about this third CD by Keravel, but the most important aspect is probably that we're not dealing with an album exploring progressive rock. Gentle, relaxing compositions in various flavors and guises are the sole contents, and I assume many would describe it as belonging to the New Age category of music. Personally I think that might be a tiny bit misleading. Most of the pieces presented do fit that stylistic expression well enough, but there are aspects of this excursion that add a bit of finesse to the proceedings, features somewhat more elaborate than what you might expect on such a venture. Mellow symphonic backdrops and fluctuating space-inspired textures are common features throughout, even if not present on all tracks. Unlike the more cliched varieties of relaxing music, these elements have more of a subservient role on this album, rarely if ever given dominating roles. Wandering piano motifs are a more prominent feature, with synths in various guises providing soloing or themes for the individual passages sharing that role, the latter often emulating other instruments, with accordion, guitars and harp as some of the instruments given a synthesized voice. The drawback of utilizing emulated instruments is that they rarely sound exactly like the real ones. On this occasion some come across better than others, but the overall sound is less organic and vibrant than it would have been with real instruments. And while the programmed drums have been given an extra shine in the mix, this is an issue for that part of the instrumentation as well, albeit a lesser one. Contrasting textures, subtle disharmonies and careful dissonances are effects the avid listener will find quite a few of on "Must". Indeed, the arrangements are rather intriguing at times, with a few more dimensions to them due to the variety of instrumental voices and the use of effects somewhat uncommon amongst music categorized as new age. But despite these somewhat sophisticated features the compositions remain within the realm of unobtrusive relaxing music. The songs as such are made to sound relaxing, and I have to admit that they succeed perfectly in being just that. In fact, it was impossible to listen to this disc in a concentrated manner towards the end of the day or in other situations when I was even slightly tired. The melodies and themes are brilliant in terms of causing the mind to drift, and at least in my case I didn't even notice that it happened before I had at least one foot inside the realm of Morpheus.

Conclusion. Relaxing, meditative compositions made to induce a tranquil state of mind in the listener are a type of music that is generally scorned by music enthusiasts. Not so much for the level of musicianship as such, but more due to the extensive level of unassuming, sugercoated releases produced within the category of music many refer to as New Age. Keravel has crafted a well-made specimen of the sort though, with a degree of sophistication that does make it stand out a bit from the crowd, despite the shortcomings his choice of instrumentation gives these pieces. In short, if you'd like to add a New Age album to your collection and you'd prefer it contain an above average level of sophistication, Keravel's "Must" might just be the CD you're looking for.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 6, 2010
The Rating Room

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