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Maybe - 2009 - "L'Automate"

(60:36, 'Maybe')

TRACK LIST:                   

1.  Ouverture 6:38
2.  Eclair du Temps 8:53
3.  Des Etres Nouveaux Nous Habitent 10:18
4.  Tranche de Folklore 12:57
5.  Nostalgie du Passe Futur 10:45
6.  L'Automate 11:05	


Serge Escusa – guitars 
Bob Esture – bass 
Patrick Dellai – drums 
Xavier Meunier – keyboards 
Patricia Capdevielle – vocals 

Prolusion. The French act MAYBE was formed in the mid ‘70s, at that time a trio consisting of guitarist Escusa, bassist Esture and drummer Dellai. They built a reputation as a fine live act back then, but never got around to actually recording any material. As punk and new wave took over the wavelengths at the very end of the decade the band eventually disbanded. The members kept in touch though, and in 2005 they decided to reform the band. Vocalist Capdevielle and keyboardist Meunier were added to the line-up, and their old songs partially rewritten to suit this expanded version of the band. Two years of work followed, and in 2007 Maybe issued their debut album “L'Automate”.

Analysis. It doesn't take much to notice that long songs are a specialty of this act, as the average length of the compositions on this venture is just over 10 minutes long. And from the sound of it, many of their compositions, if not all of them, were originally instrumental excursions. In fact, I was often reminded of acts like Wishbone Ash and the Allman Brothers Band when listening to this production. Not that their sound is highly comparable with either band as such, but due to the fact that like these two outfits Maybe is another example of an act highly capable of creating long instrumental passages with the right amount of subtle textures to keep an elongated theme interesting to listen to despite being fairly repetitive as far as the dominating elements of the individual passages go. Wandering bass lines and steady drum patterns with subtle alterations and some rather neat and insistent basic melodies as far as the bass guitar goes underline a dominating guitar that switches back and forth between soloing, wandering undistorted themes and riff patterns of various ilks. Low-key alterations in the individual instruments' output as well as smaller collective changes keep the themes and sequences played out captivating or at the very least counteract some of the repetitive aspects of any given excursion. I have no doubts about this act being a pretty interesting live band back in yesteryear; music like this is very well suited to a live setting – arguably better in that setting than on a studio production. To enhance their compositions and their sound the band has opted to expand their line-up, and the keyboards in particular add textures and elements to the proceedings which at least partially makes some of the ventures more interesting overall. The addition of vocals, at least in the manner provided here, will most certainly limit this act's scope and appeal. Capdevielle isn't a vocalist as such - her role is to either deliver a spoken voice wedged in between the soloing and the rhythmic backdrop or to partially to provide atmospheric backing vocals. And the latter in particular is an acquired taste, theatrical in a manner only the French are able to make it as well as semi-operatic and, as far as I could gather, mostly non-verbal.

Conclusion. It's easy to understand how this act gained a reputation back in the latter part of the seventies – the basic foundations of their musical endeavors are highly suited to live performances and they excel in creating long yet appealing soloing passages and sequences. While the addition of keyboards does add some neat features to their escapades the vocals do narrow the appeal of this act. If a symphonic-tinged variety of Wishbone Ash with spoken voice passages and female operatic backing vocals with a strong theatrical expression sounds interesting, this production should be well worth checking out though, while those wary of the latter part of the description might want to check out this album a bit more prior to a decision to purchase.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 12, 2009
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