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(53 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Removing 2:34 2. Like a Flower 6:18 3. Enigme 4:54 4. Comme Avant 4:17 5. Breakdown 6:31 6. Nico 6:15 7. Bellidor 7:12 8. Waiting for the Rain 3:47 9. Theo 8:44 LINEUP: Didier Thibault - bass; vocals Maxime Goetz - guitars Stephane Lemaire - keyboards Julien Taupin - violin; trumpet Anton Yakovleff - cello; trombone Jean Rubert - sax, flute Eric Herve - drums
Prolusion. "Removing" is only the fourth offering from French ensemble MOVING GELATINE PLATES (MGP hereafter), being their first release in 26 years, which some may perceive as the comeback of an obscure band, but not I. Their eponymous debut LP (1971) and its follow-up "The World of Genius Hans" (1972) take very high places in my personal version of the scale of the Progressive Rock rank, so I feel now I am witnessing the rebirth of a Legend whose early work was far ahead of its time. Musea Records reissued both albums on CD in the mid-nineties, the several bonus tracks included in each of the CDs being those that, in total, form the content of the group's third LP "Moving" (1980).
Analysis. The connoisseurs of Jazz-Fusion, Chamber Rock lovers, those into Zeuhl and fans of serious Symphonic Prog - unite and rejoice: your common day has come! Why, of course, I will try to explain. Unlike "Moving", on which MGP flirt with some of the then-new-fangled musical trends, the band's new recording displays no objectionable departures from their unique initial style. For me, it sounds just as a follow-up to "The World of Genius Hans" should have sounded had it been created and released in 1973 or 1974. So, what I hear on "Removing" is for the most part still vintage-sounding dynamic and complex music with a certain improvisational sense and many unusual harmonies, which yet, is totally intelligible and instantly attractive. The point is that there is nothing accidental, say, in the scores of MGP. All the fundamental themes, all the joint maneuvers involving each of this seven-piece and the many separate solos on the album are strictly composed, this remark remaining relevant regarding even the dissonant movements and angular harmonic structures, though such can rarely be found, manifesting themselves even less often than genuine improvisations. Yes, there are little impromptus here in general, while four of the nine compositions present are nearly free of such. These are Removing, Breakdown, Waiting for the Rain and Like a Flower, the latter three being songs (with English lyrics, as usual). It was wise of the band to use the title track as an opening number. This is an impressive lyrical canvas, beautiful, melodically pronounced. Nevertheless, while the piece is quite short, the ensemble had time to demonstrate some of their remarkable executive techniques, such as their ability to subtly accelerate their pace or to provide some unexpected turns in direction (though to be fair, I must note that all the subsequent tracks are much richer in the like, and many other amazing progressive features). Breakdown and Waiting for the Rain have much common ground between them, both quite strongly resembling classic Gentle Giant - from the vocal lines to most of the general harmonic constructions. That said, although excellent in every respect, these two are something I didn't expect from such musical trendsetters as MGP, whose debut album had in many ways served as a prototype for Zao's "Z=7L", but especially for "Smile a While" by Brainstorm. In contrast, the remaining song, Like a Flower, is filled with innovative features, some being atypical of the group, as they never played as heavy as they do here. A pure magic is this kind of chamber Prog-Metal with elements of Zeuhl and some certain symphonic tendencies as well. There are plenty of various interactions between bass, electric guitar, piano, mini-Moog, drums, violin, cello, flute and various brass, all reflecting the ensemble's common intellectual refinement, and no sections for a single lead instrument at the fore (which is typical of most of the album). This song, the said Breakdown, and all the so-far-unnamed tracks are undoubtedly masterpieces - seven out of nine! Comme Avant, Nico and Theo each is a container of the four genres that are listed in the first sentence of this paragraph, the symphonic and semi-improvisational textures more often alternating with each other than being intermixed, which is especially brightly evinced on Comme Avant - the only track abundant in acoustic guitar solos. The music is highly multifarious, the band having no fear in undertaking sudden stylistic 'jumps' within the same composition. Only Enigme and Bellidor are relatively rich in genuine improvisations, both steering towards '70s classic Jazz Rock in the vein of The Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return To Forever, still being notable for the excellent texturally-dense work of the entire ensemble, which is indeed a hallmark of this output.
Conclusion. "Removing" is a splendid musical production, equally efficient in its design and in its final accomplishment. I am sure the largest part of the folder's beauties will be heard and recognized by anybody whose Progressive Rock horizon is not confined within the cage of Neo (no offense intended regarding this style itself). Highest recommendations.
VM: September 18, 2006
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