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Motis - 2004 - "Prince des Hauters"

(46 min, Parallele@Musea)

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Roman de Renard 3:56
2.  Chanson a Boire 3:25
3.  Prince des Hauteurs 4:36
4.  Sorcellerie 6:48
5.  Le Rire Et l'Epee 3:57
6.  Le Temps 3:35
7.  Les Damnes 5:16
8.  Dans dix Jours 3:25
9.  Les Sirenes 4:49
10. L'Eveil des Carcouilles 4:18
11. Cornemuse 2:28

All music: E Tissot & Diaz. 
All lyrics: E Tissot. Produced by Motis.


Emmanuel Tissot - vocals; acoustic guitars; keyboards; bass pedals
Florent Tissot - electric guitar; flute
Remy Diaz - drums & percussion

Prolusion. "Prince des Hauteurs" is the second album by French trio MOTIS, which is the nickname of its founder, multi-instrumentalist Emmanuel Tissot. Their first album, "A Chacun Son Graal", was released in 2000.

Analysis. It has been proven by scientists that distant offspring of Celts live in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany, which is France's province. I don't know whether these guys are from Brittany or not, but it does not matter, just as in the case of Minimum Vital for instance. Their music certainly has a Celtic feel, almost everywhere on the album, and the fact that it mostly appears in latent form (unobtrusively, never flashy), just emphasizes the album's solidity. In this respect, the only exception would be the first track, Roman de Renard, kind of a Rock Chanson with beautiful vocal lines, but with lots of repetitions and, on the other hand, too little memorable instrumental parts. It could've been a good hit single if it were released some 30 years ago. The last track, Cornemuse, is very good, but it's just Gaelic music, with distinctive dancing-like solos of bagpipe and mandolin. So it was really wise of the band to place those two songs at the album's poles. The other nine tracks are both unique and very interesting, in every respect. Five of them: Chanson a Boire, Le Rire Et l'Epee, Le Temps, Les Damnes and Les Sirenes are made up of mixed electro acoustic textures with the slight prevalence of the latter. The music abounds in changes of theme and tempo and is an amazingly fresh sounding, somewhat theatrical Folk / Celtic Rock, though Les Damnes features also elements of Oriental music. Acoustic guitar, mandolin and flute play the first violin in the arrangements, electric guitar joins them from time to time, while Mellotron and drums are responsible for a background palette. Leader Emmanuel Tissot is the adept in singing, equally at ease using the high and low registers, while the instrumental parts, Emmanuel's very own solos on acoustic guitar included, make a fitting contrast with his voice. By the way, Mellotron is the cardinal keyboard on the album, and it needs to be heard to understand how excellently it suits this music, especially in combination with acoustic instruments. The remaining four songs: the title track, Sorcellerie, Dans dix Jours and L'Eveil des Carcouilles are structurally denser and are noticeably heavier, with guitar riffs supporting most of the basic themes. However, it's not the case to talk about Folk Metal, as acoustic instruments and Mellotron are still important parts of the music. It's rather a blend of symphonic Art-Rock and Celtic Folk with elements of Cathedral Metal; at least I see it just so. The products of genuine inspiration, all nine of the core tracks shine with originality and possess a strong attractive power. So the largely instrumental Sorcellerie, Les Damnes and Les Sirenes can be considered only minor hallmarks. What makes this album especially successful is the band's ability to bring the listener into their world.

Conclusion. There's hardly anything I can aptly compare this music to. Only with great reserve, some parallels can be drawn between Skyclad and the heavier tracks, between Minimum Vital and most of the others. I was a bit puzzled when I saw this CD was released on Parallele, one of the jazz-related divisions of Musea Records. There's nothing about jazz here. In my view, Motis's "Prince des Hauteurs" is nearly on par with "Atlas" and is of the same commercial potential. In any case, this is an excellent Folk Rock album that should change the minds of those who doubt that this style can be progressive.

VM: February 18, 2005

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