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(66:40, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ordinary Madness 9:57 2. Nothing Stops Me 12:40 3. Compulsion 11:27 4. Heads Up 10:23 5. When I Play-I 1:12 6. I Saw You 6:17 7. The Girl with the Sun in Her Hair 2:07 8. Blue Pill 4:36 9. When I Play-II 8:01 LINEUP: Stephan Forner guitars; vocals Joe Mondon drums; ac. guitar Agnes Forner flute; b/v Cyrille Forner bass; b/v Philipe Duplessy keyboards; kazoo; b/v
Prolusion. The French act MIRAGE was formed in 1996 and with "Borderline" they have issued their third album since that formation, released on the French specialist progressive rock label Musea Records, just as with their first two creations.
Analysis. When reading up on this act, it was no big surprise to find out that all the band members are fans of the classic UK group Camel, the choice of the band name alone indicating that (Mirage being the name of Peter Barden's outfit after Camel). That this outfit's first two releases apparently were rather similar to this fine band in style and sound makes perfect sense too. What was somewhat surprising was to discover the music offered on this latest release of theirs, though. 70s progressive rock is a dominant influence on this production as a whole. However, my knowledge of music from this era makes it hard for me to pinpoint dominant influences on the sound explored here. Traces of Camel are still very much present, but not to the extent that I'd say they are the sole or even the dominant influence this time around. Rush, Kansas and Jethro Tull were other acts that came to my mind when going through this one, even Genesis at times but as I regard this production, there are mostly traces and elements of these bands rather than replication of their style and the final output defies a general categorization in terms of influence apart from having a distinct 70s touch to it. Many fans of progressive rock will probably take an interest in the fact that this production basically is one long composition, divided into 9 parts. In other words, its a true epic, lasting for more than one hour. The different parts are naturally divided though, as each of them investigates its own themes and sound to quite a large extent, with a few red threads coming in now and then to strengthen the impression of this being one long song. As for the musical style explored, Mirage seems to have as its specialty mixing acoustic guitars and electric guitars, one dominating and the other underscoring is often the name of the game. Keyboards in the shape of piano and organ are utilized mainly as secondary instruments fleshing out the melodies to add nuances; the piano gets a more prominent role in the mellow passages - usually accompanied by an acoustic guitar there, while the organ gets a few solo spots throughout. But this is mainly a guitar dominated piece of work with melodic themes and dampened riffs mixed with acoustic licks and mostly atmospheric guitar soloing. The general style is, as stated, 70s-tinged progressive rock, with some brief excursions into jazz-rock territory. An additional element used now and then is the flute, adding carefully crafted mood-filled melodic elements in a Camel-like manner, and sound effects are added in places to create some original touches too. This creation is less about style and more about execution. Apart from the specialties in the musical department, the manner in which the compositions evolve is worth noting. Mirage has a plethora of changes in pace and style and is highly skilled in executing those. The individual parts flow into each other in a very smooth and natural manner; one of the better examples I've come across in some time of such a high degree of craftsmanship in that department. The band do utilize breaks as a tool for implementing style and sound changes at times too, but then mostly to add a certain dramatic tinge to the composition as I hear it. Overall a strong release this one, with no real weak spots and a few moments of pure brilliance.
Conclusion. Follower's of 70s prog rock with a taste for guitar-dominated rather than keyboard-oriented music should find this release to be interesting, especially if skillfully made and performed long epics are regarded as a positive experience. There's nothing really new being offered here, but the composition is well made and the performance skilled in all departments.
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