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TRACK LIST: 1. One of Ben's Mind Games 8:00 2. Here Comes the Chopper 4:44 3. Un Dimanche 1:50 4. Manhattan Man 4:37 5. Sem Sem 4:20 6. Pluviose 5:51 7. Borderline 4:42 8. Walk on Mars 3:35 9. Plume 0:59 10. Seven Snakes & a Half 4:33 11. Nehen Nehefi 7:49 12. Beyond the Silver Rainbow 3:12 LINEUP: Olivier Feuillerat – guitars; keyboards, synth bass; programming Stephane Gassin - keyboards, piano With: Marco Machera – bass (1, 4, 5) Jean Denis Rivaleau – drums (1, 4, 5, 7)
Prolusion. Olivier FEUILLERAT is a French composer and multi-instrumentalist. In 2006 he decided to start writing and recording music for an album, with subsequent recording sessions taking place during 2007 and 2008. Partaking in most of these sessions were musical friends Stephane Gassin, Marco Machera and Jean Denis Rivaleau, adding their expertise to Olivier's repertoire. Early in 2009 the album was issued, named “Stories for an Open Mind”.
Analysis. Exploring this debut effort from Feuillerat is a bit like opening Pandora's Box – you're never quite sure about what you will find and you'll have to be prepared for the unexpected. In other words, this effort is a pretty diverse collection of tunes, covering if not a multitude of different stylistic expressions then at least a plethora of variations of a subset of the progressive rock genre. When reading up on this artist I soon discovered that he is a pretty eager fan of Alan Holdsworth. Personally I have yet to explore the works of this renowned artist, but I suspect that those who enjoy his works will find familiar sounding excursions on this effort. And yes, like what is probably one of his most major influences, Feuillerat also has his musical base in fusion or at least a form of music with stronger elements of jazz and jazz rock to it than other stylistic expressions. The guitar is the main instrument for most of these ventures: clean, undistorted wandering passages and energetic soloing are the two main components of the instrument, and quite often we're treated to layered guitars too. The odd riff pattern and drawn out, echoing riffs are utilized more as effects than as central musical elements as such, while synthesizers and keyboards often flesh out the soundscapes as well as contrasting with the darker varieties of the guitar sound. Drums or rhythms form the foundation in most passages, while the bass guitar either strengthens the rhythmic elements or partakes in the often intricate landscapes created by the other instruments. The compositions are, with a couple of exceptions on the shorter tracks, pretty much on the challenging side. Feuillerat is fond of dissonances and disharmonies and utilizes both effects with a subtle finesse to create works demanding close attention by the listener to catch all the details. A careful feeling of "wrongness" seems to be a specialty of this artist; even when not listening closely you'll sense that something is amiss and you'll try to figure out why. And whether it's done in the spacey and eastern-tinged atmosphere of opening number One of Ben's Mind Games, in the more traditional fusion number Manhattan Man or in the adventurous piano and electronic dominated excursion Pluviose, the effects are utilized in pretty much the same manner, with care, and hardly ever up front and dominating. Spacey textures are an often used effect on this recording. Especially in the opening passages of the songs, samples and noises are woven together into pretty intriguing soundscapes. This aspect of Feuillerat's compositional skills is explored mostly towards the end of this effort, with the piece Nehen Nehefi, which basically is a sound collage made up of such textures, while the closing track Beyond the Silver Rainbow merges an ambient variety of these textures with a distinct jazzy bass line – a pretty original piece.
Conclusion. “Stories for an Open Mind” is a pretty aptly named debut effort from French artist Olivier Feuillerat. With fusion as a musical base he ventures forth into rather challenging musical territories and serves up an eclectic and challenging mix of numbers covering this stylistic expression. I presume followers of Allan Holdsworth would want to check out this effort, and those who might fancy an eclectic and subtly intricate take on modern fusion might also want to explore this effort more closely. All in all, it’s a fine outing by a talented musician and composer.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 17, 2009
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