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Menam - 2004 - "Aesthetics"
(54 min, Brennus)

TRACK LIST:                             
1.  Wanderings 5:55
2.  La Nation Hybride 5:48
3.  Ciao Phraya 10:41
4.  Anakrousis 4:51
5.  Eclat de Lumiere 14:58
6.  Sundown Tears 3:41
7.  Life of a Dream 8:54

All music: by Menam. All lyrics: by Moussion.
Produced by Menam. Engineered by B. Brionne.


Matthieu Metois - guitars
Benjamin Bossone - keyboards 
Nicolas Metois - bass
Francis Libera - drums
David Moussion - vocals

Prolusion. The French band MENAM was formed in 1999. The lineup has become stabilized in 2000 and didn't change since then. "Aesthetics" is their debut official output following a demo album from 2001, which was distributed exclusively in their native land.

Analysis. France's role in the development of our beloved music can't be undervalued. The only genre where French workers of the progressive labor still don't shine with really solid achievements is Prog-Metal (which, though, does not concern their Canadian congeners). Menam's debut outing might vastly change this situation. I am rather well acquainted with Brennus's production and I must admit I didn't expect that the album of such a high progressive quality would appear within the precincts of this label. I can't imagine what kinds of music and its particular performers these young men listened to before they themselves became a band, because there is not even the faintest hint on "Aesthetics" that would indicate the source(s) of their inspiration. However, the virtues of this album aren't limited by the band's independence in compositional thinking. This is a truly serious music, which is not a traditional Prog-Metal and, in some cases, is a different story altogether. The only instrumental piece: Anakrousis is located right in the middle of the album, and among the six songs that surround it two are with lyrics in French: La Nation Hybride and Eclat de Lumiere. The others, Ciao Phraya included, are in English. The music completely grasped my attention from the very beginning. The 6-minute opening number Wanderings contains so many different themes that I had to revisit it a few times to get a more or less vivid picture of its morphology. This is an outstandingly original combination of Prog-Metal and both, guitar and symphonic, kinds of Art-Rock with elements of quasi Jazz-Fusion. The next three tracks are kindred to Wanderings, but each of the following ones features the less quantity of heavy textures and more of those of quasi Jazz-Fusion, which, though, is a bassist's exclusive department. Generally, it looks like each of the band members is responsible for a separate direction: a keyboardist works exclusively with symphonic textures, etc, with only a vocalist being as if on his own, hovering over all this amazing merging of genres like an exterior observer, telling a story of what he see by the poetic language of singing. As a result, the music exists in a few dimensions at once. The parts of acoustic guitar, piano and string ensemble appear on the second song to slowly, yet, steadily widen their domain in the future, which will finally lead to the formation of massive symphonic arrangements. Each of the remaining three tracks is notable for the presence of Classical music and related forms. While on the long tracks, Eclat de Lumiere and Life of a Dream, the band continues developing their primary style, Sundown Tears was performed without the rhythm section and is free of any heaviness at all.

Conclusion. It would be hard to invent any other title that would so neatly and comprehensively reflect the essence of this album as "Aesthetics". These young men can teach their more mature brothers in arms in this discipline. One of the most profound and interesting Prog-Metal-related efforts in recent years, this CD might be the best Christmas gift to all the profound and open-minded connoisseurs of the genre and beyond. But they shouldn't wait until Santa Claus will deliver it to them. (Top-20)

VM: December 6, 2004

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