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(53:35 / Musea-Parallele Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Isengrin 5:07 2. P'tit Louis 4:26 3. L'Ermite 5:17 4. Le Dame Et le Dragon 5:42 5. Les Normands 3:58 6. La Trahison 7:03 7. L'Enchanteur 4:00 8. Allons Mes Companons 4:00 9. L'Artaban 4:39 10. Madrigal 5:25 11. L'Homme-Loup 3:45 LINEUP: Emmanuel Tissot - vocals; bass, ac. guitar, mandolin, bouzouki; keyboards Florent Tissot - flute; backing vocals Remy Diaz - drums & percussion With: Alan Daniel - violin Guillaume Grenard - trumpet
Prolusion. French outfit MOTIS (which is the nickname of its founder, multi-instrumentalist Emmanuel Tissot) are back with their second official release "L'Homme-Loup" - a successor to "Prince des Hauteurs" from three years ago, which in turn is a follow-up to their debut demo album "A Chacun Son Graal". There are no instrumentals among the eleven tracks that this 53-minute CD is made up of. Apart from the musicians whom I mention in the lineup above, the booklet also lists three guest female singers. However their kind of blitz appearance on only two of the songs adds nothing to the recording's piggy bank of virtues.
Analysis. While never strongly digressing from the approach that hallmarks their previous album "Prince des Hauteurs", this time around Motis arrive with a collection of songs, meaning every piece on this their new offering is formatted towards 'the song'. This is not to say there are no purely instrumental maneuvers here. Instrumental interludes can be found on each of the tracks, but they are much more often brief than otherwise and are never bombastic, let alone adventurous. For instance the opening number, Isengrin, features only three vocal themes which so insignificantly differ from each other that I've lost count how many times they are repeated. Nevertheless you are mistaken if, while digesting what you've just read, you think this was going to be a negative review. The fact is that all the other songs without exception possess some salt, even though some of them are just prog-tinged at the very best, and others aren't free of outside elements. Continuing to compare "L'Homme-Loup" to its predecessor, I also must note that while analog keyboards (Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, Rhodes piano and Mellotron) are still widely used, the electric guitar is no longer part of the group's sound. Formerly a guitarist, Florent Tissot appears unexpectedly as a flute player this time around. All in all, this recording has a unique acoustically vintage sound, which is at times additionally updated with distinct chamber and brass colorations, since guest musicians: violinist Alan Daniel and trumpet player Guillaume Grenard are present on nearly half the tracks. Folk Rock, with symphonic and medieval influences, is an attribute of almost the entire recording, so the songs usually differ from each other mainly just in the degree of their originality. Jehtro Tull's "Aqualung" and "Atlas" by Minimum Vital both are obvious influences on Isengrin, L'Ermite and Allons Mes Companons, the relative points of comparison including "Oui le Avant-garde a Chance" by Skyclad and The Morrigan's "Spirit of the Soup" (even though there are no drums on the latter album). You see, each of the four examples I've just listed widely deploys elements of medieval music, so Iona could've been named as a reference too. However the work of that English ensemble is always linked with Celtic music, whilst in this particular case only one song, the title track, is rich in Gael tunes. L'Enchanteur and Madrigal are both musically similar to the three songs described first, but are noticeably more original. Despite its compositional simplicity and rather repetitive nature as well, Le Dame Et le Dragon is a very impressive thing and is innovative in its own way, arousing a picture of a festival taking place in the palace of some medieval king. The remaining three songs, Normands, L'Artaban and La Trahison, all are unique in every respect. Each features some genuine art-rock-like movements, the latter being especially rich in these.
Conclusion. A kind of modern troubadour band, Motis offers something that reminds me of a neo take on progressive Folk Rock with their latest release. Of course, the adherents of large-scaled musical structures will frown on the song format adopted by Motis this time around, but anyway many might be affected by this very accessible yet very soulful music.
VM: May 10, 2007
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