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(62 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Chanson Facile d"Amour 2. Comme un Miroir d'Echo 3. Coeur 4. Jeu d'Enfant 5. Transe en Danse 6. Pour un Recueillement 7. Air d'Elle 8. Autumne 9. Plusieurs Regards 10. Les Yeux du Ciel 11. Oremus Pour Toi 12. Coeur a Coeur 13. Tankanan All tracks: by Cauvin. Engineered by Ravon. Produced by N Delgado. LINEUP: Philippe Cauvin - classical guitar; guitar synth; vocals Serge Korjanevsky - keyboards; percussion With: Philippe Ravon - triangle (8)
Prolusion. "Memento" is the second solo album by French guitarist and composer Philippe CAUVIN. To learn more of Philippe's creation, please click here.
Analysis. Two distinct elements come together in "Memento": acoustic guitar solos and voice. The vocal work is a combination of wordless vocalization and lyrics, which are not always of a language known to anyone but the composer. At his vocal best, Cauvin could be described as a French Jon Anderson, with a sweet falsetto. At his worst, his vocals become a comic wailing, a grotesque caricature of Thijs van Leer's comic yodeling and vocalizing with Focus. My first reaction to this "singing" was confusion, an uncertainty whether to laugh or feel insulted by it. Roughly half the album contains vocals. As to the guitar work, it is beautiful. Although one might be tempted to compare Cauvin's "Memento" with Steve Hackett's "Momentum", "Memento" is a much more adventurous outing, while Hackett's "Momentum" (though performed beautifully) becomes rather tedious and academic. Cauvin's "Memento" is anything but that. The compositions are full of life and certainly the vocals are daring. The most notable compositions on the album are Coeur (Heart) and the 22-minute Autumne. Coeur begins with the clang of a bell, followed by a very moody synthesizer introduction, sounding ominous and foreboding. Then come the multi-layered vocals, which sound so mournful. This is the one piece, which does not feature guitar. It is less than two minutes, leaving this listener wishing for more, wondering where it might have gone had it been longer. Autumne opens with multi-layered vocalization sounding like what might be monks chanting in an abbey on another planet. The guitar is first used as accompaniment for the vocals, which come forward from their echoing hall to the foreground. Cauvin, by the use of multi-track recording sings several parts, creating his own small vocal group. Autumne displays some of the best of his vocal ideas, but also some that are rather irritating. If only we could see the ballet for which this was written!
Conclusion. Philippe Cauvin's "Memento" is an adventurous exploration in acoustic guitar work. I prefer the instrumental tracks, but confess my personal attitude toward his vocals softened with multiple listens. Potential listeners need to know that this is not just an acoustic guitar album, though, and Cauvin's use of his voice is somewhat avant-garde and may be at times somewhat distracting from the beauty of his music.
KW: May 31, 2005
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