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Philippe Cauvin (USA) - 1982/2004 - "Climage"
TRACK LIST: 1. Rocktypicovin 2:51 2. Bagarelle 3:30 3. Boucle 2:35 4. Petite Etude I 2:20 5. Fantaisie Bordelaise 1:52 6. Vertiges 8:09 7. Balade Imaginaire 4:10 8. Voyage 4:21 9. Petite Etude II 1:43 10. Lolita 5:05 11. Para las Senoritas 2:46 12. A l'Infini 3:08 13. Chanson d'Amour 3:14 14. Vocalises 4:04 15. Paradoxe No-2 1:29 16. La Libellule 2:56 17. Deux Divertissemento 4:20 All tracks: by Cauvin. Produced & engineered by Cauvin. SOLO PILOT: Philippe Cauvin - guitars; vocals With: Some other musicians (on a few tracks)
Prolusion. Philippe CAUVIN is perhaps more known as the primary mastermind behind the remarkable French avant-garde band Uppsala, whose most active period lies between 1976 and 1986. During the first half of the '70s, this guitar virtuoso studied Baroque and contemporary Classical music, which is brightly reflected in his solo creation. "Climage" was released on LP in 1982, and officially, it is considered Cauvin's first solo album. In fact, however, his real first solo album was recorded in 1980, but never saw the light of day, as the tapes have been lost. To learn more details of Philippe's creation and life, please read the preface to the review of >"Uppsala".
Synopsis. It may seem to be an overstatement, but "Climage" has much in common with Steve Hackett's first acoustic album "Bay of Kings", which was released more than a year later, although Philippe's style of playing a classical guitar is different, and about a half of the tracks contain vocals in addition. This is not all, however. Philippe's other solo effort is titled "Memento", and it was released on LP in 1984, four years before Hackett's "Momentum", and these are kindred works, too! Is this merely a coincidence? Maybe. Back to "Climage", I'd like to note that, nevertheless, the music is more diverse and complex than any of Hackett's acoustic albums, and not only those. Even compositionally it is closer to classical academic forms (with baroque and some folksy colors here and there) than to a traditional acoustic guitar Progressive, at least in most cases. Most of the tracks consist either exclusively of passages and solos of classical guitar or of those and vocals with lyrics in the language, which is unknown to me. Some light synthesizer passages and effects can be heard on a few instrumentals, but their role is insignificant. Whereas solos of electric guitar and bass that, respectively, are available on the songs Chanson d'Amour and Deux Divertissemento (13 & 17) are more than just noticeable. The most unexpected in sound are the longer tracks: Vertiges and Lolita (6 & 10). Apart from the parts of acoustic guitar and vocals, there are those of organ, electric bass, acoustic drums and percussion. The music is a unique Symphonic Art-Rock with, still, classical tendencies rather than anything else. Philippe possesses an original operatic voice (counter-tenor), though in timbre, it reminds me of the cross between Sally Oldfield, who, as you might know, participated on Hackett's debut album, and Jon Anderson. A few songs at the end of the album are notable not only for high-pitched, but also other types of vocals, which shows that Philippe is a chameleon singer actually. By the way, this well integrated album was excellently produced with special emphasis laid on the coherence of the location of compositions with different structural parameters et al.
Conclusion. As I've mentioned above, this music is more and, sometimes, much more complex than "Bay of Kings", "Momentum", and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Steve Hackett. Nevertheless, I am sure that the lovers of these and similar works will form the main listening audience of "Climage". The connoisseurs of Classical music are more than welcome, but they may be perplexed with the albums' specific sound, the absence of string and chamber instruments. In any case, this is a masterpiece, IMHO.
VM: August 17, 2004
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