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(48 min, Musea-Parallele)
TRACK LIST: 1. Une Voix 5:00 2. Methode Coue 3:32 3. We Need You 3:54 4. Le Plus Beau Jour De Votre Vie 6:16 5. Deconnexion 7:19 6. HAL 9000 10:05 7. Apres Tout 5:46 8. Le Mec 6:57 LINEUP: Aurelien Bourgeout - drums; vocals Florian Bourgeout - keyboards Maxime Courant - bass Fabien Le Berre - guitar
Prolusion. The eponymous KOROVA MILK BAR (KMB hereinafter) album is definitely the debut release of this band, which hails from France. Korova is a Russian word meaning Cow, though this remark is destined not for New-Yorkers, who have their own Korova Milk Bar (known far outside NYC, by the way).
Analysis. Apart from the four musicians mentioned in the lineup above, Florian Bourgeout playing exclusively vintage organs and pianos, this album features the performance of saxophonist Julien Come. Unfortunately Julien is present only on the first track, Une Voix, while it's just thanks to him that this composition turns out to be the richest in sound and the best track in general. During the first minute the picture is vintage-like, yet original-sounding Hard Rock with vocals, whereas the rest of the piece is purely instrumental stuff steering somewhere between RIO and Jazz-Fusion where the guitar, bass and drums follow notated lines, while the organ, piano and sax provide improvisations. The subsequent seven tracks are all remarkable too, some being excellent in every respect, but none seems to be a complete masterwork like Une Voix, due to the absence of such an essential voice as a saxophone. Anyway, I am not one of those asserting there is something pagan:-), if not just heretical in the approach of a traditional Rock / Prog quartet's performing RIO without any brass or string instrument in the folder, which in turn is the essence of this creation, even though the idiom more often manifests itself latently than openly. That being said, without Julien KMB don't flirt with jazz harmonies, producing only composed improvisations, besides which the number of such never exceeds that of the solos done strictly in a symphonic vein. Apart from Une Voix, the highlights include the longest three tracks, HAL 9000, Deconnexion and Le Mec, the former being the only vocal-free piece, and the others largely instrumental. Each is full of effective contrasts and sudden transitions, but while the group still tends to RIO, this time around they much more carefully blend this style with others (here Symphonic Progressive, there Hard Rock or quasi Jazz-Fusion), not accenting the dissonances and atonalities, but instead camouflaging them, trying to distance the matter from the genre's canonical emanation as far as possible, which cannot go unnoticed or remain without approval either. By the way, the music is aesthetically beautiful and surprisingly imaginative, despite its singularity and complexity. Structurally, Le Plus Beau Jour De Votre Vie has much common ground with the said three, although it's almost free of edgy textures, revealing elements of French chanson instead. But inasmuch as this is the only piece that is rich in vocals it should've been used as an opener. Unlike any of the other songs, which are in French, We Need You features English lyrics, though they are narrated rather than sung. This is a dark and brooding composition combining heavy RIO and Minimalist music, and is very picturesque as well. Apres Tout and Methode Coue are, respectively, the most atmospheric and the heaviest tracks on the CD. There are no angular constructions on these at all, but nevertheless the spirit of the band's favorite genre seems to be hovering here as well.
Conclusion. I view most of this album as a sort of apocryphal RIO, though perhaps Post-RIO would be a better definition for it. In any event, the music is pronouncedly innovative, revealing more and more interesting nuances with each successive listen. Those always looking for something unusual in Prog should be the first to taste this dish offered by Korova Milk Bar.
VM: October 19, 2006
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