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(68:18, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Intro 0:27 2. Dialog with a Selfish 7:27 3. Memories from the Future 10:17 4. The Solitude of a Winter 7:56 5. Desperate Anger 12:24 6. Talion 6:59 7. Progression by Failure 22:44 SOLO PILOT: Nicolas Piveteau – all instruments
Prolusion. PROGRESSION BY FAILURE is the moniker chosen by young French composer and multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Piveteau for his solo productions. So far he has created one such album, and this self-titled effort was issued by Musea Records in the first half of 2009, on their sub-label Musea Parallele.
Analysis. The advent of the internet and affordable, powerful personal computers has seen a rise in the formation of so-called one-man bands. Artists writing their own music, playing all the instruments themselves and utilizing emulated versions of the ones they don't master or don't feel they master well enough personally. And while few of them manage to make albums that belie the fact that there's only one musician involved, quite a few of them manage to produce strong efforts despite handling everything themselves. A common feature of such recordings is that some major flaws will be present. Mix and production are pretty common weaknesses, another is that one or more instruments are performed less than perfectly, and here is just such a case. The drums in particular come across as weak and the bass guitar leaves quite a bit to be desired as well. But on the good side, the various forms of tangents used – keyboards, synths and organ - are excellent. Which is a good thing, as this album first and foremost is all about those instruments. Art rock of the symphonic variety is the name of the game here, in as many shapes and forms as fans of this particular stylistic expression can desire to encounter on one CD. The piano takes the center stage in most of these ventures, with one or more wandering motifs as a central core throughout the individual creation. The multi-segmented works then either gradually evolve or shift pace and mood throughout, with lush multi-layered textures supporting the piano, surging keyboard-based soloing ventures put on top, or haunting synth or organ themes given dominating placement in the mix when needed. The songs tend to be somewhat repetitive, but with subtle elements coming and going providing just the right amount of variation to keep the individual themes and passages interesting – often conjuring up sequences with strong hypnotic qualities that will enthrall many listeners with a passion for keyboard-dominated symphonic undertakings. The compositions come across as well-developed affairs with good flow and logical developments, and while dissonant and disharmonic effects aren't utilized too often they do appear from time to time, so that those who desire some more challenging numbers will find at least some passages more interesting than others as well. Personally I found the track containing most of these effects, Desperate Anger, to be the most successful effort on this production: an excursion containing several darker and brooding moments and from what I understand an effort inspired by the works of Opeth. A central theme for this disc is the fact that all the songs, according to Piveteau, are ventures inspired by one or more specific artists. Spock's Beard is heralded as the inspiration for Memories of the Future, while Transatlantic is named in the same role for the solid, epic length title track finishing this album, which may or may not be of interest to fans of these artists.
Conclusion. "Progression by Failure" is an interesting venture as far as a one-man band production goes. While it shares some common weaknesses with efforts of this kind, the strength of the compositions as well as the tangents-dominated efforts make this a more than worthwhile album to become familiar with, at least if instrumental art rock of the symphonic variety is to your liking. A good and promising effort by this young French artist, although I do hope that he gets a drummer and bassist on board for his next album. As long as he continues creating material as good as what's offered on this disc, his future endeavors should be interesting affairs anyhow.
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