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Priam (France) - 2001 - "Diffraction"
(68 min, "Musea")


****+

Tracklist:

1. Diffraction 14:48

2. Congruatic Boulevard 5:43

3. Granito Rosa del Oeste 12:53

4. Chrysalid Square 10:30

5. Stella 5:30

6. In Pace 7:04

7. Lakeside 7:30 am 4:20

8. Feel Diffract 6:53



All compositions by Chris Casagrande,

except 7: by Laurent Lacombe.



Line-up:

Chris Casagrande - guitars, synthesizers

Laurent Lacombe - keyboards

Bertrand Bertaud - bass

Emma M. - drums



Guest musicians:

Yannick Dams - soprano, alto, tenor,

 & baritone saxophones (on track 2)

Jean-Vincent Oland - clarinet (on 2)

Slim Lazari - electric violin (on 3)

David Beaufour - percussion, voice (on 3)

Erik Ferrigutti - percussion (on 5) 

Gilles Sandoz - bass (on 6)



And:

Choir of the Toulouse University (on 5)

Female vocal quartet (on 6)



Produced by Priam.

Recorded, mixed, & mastered by Philippe Auriac

at "Elixir" studio, Toulouse, France.

Prologue. Most likely, Priam is the new band on the international Progressive Rock scene. I have never heard of them before. In that way, I think it would be correct to regard "Diffraction" as their debut album.

The Album. Already after my initial exposure to Priam's "Diffraction" it becomes clear that, musically, the album consists of three parts, all of which are distinctly different from among themselves. The first one, which is the largest and best of them, includes all four of the first tracks on the album and also Lakeside 7:30 a. m. (track 7). Taken together, these five tracks last more than 45 minutes, which is the normal time of a full-fledged album. All of them were composed within the frame of a unified stylistics and represent a rather innovative manifestation of Classic Art-Rock. Relatively and only with regard to the overall musical atmosphere, some parallels can be drawn between (let's call those tracks) "Diffraction, part 1" and such albums as Uppsala's self-titled (1983) and Djam Karet's "Burning the Hard City" (1991). However, unlike both of those albums, the role of keyboards in Priam's music is as significant as that of an electric guitar. All five of the said best tracks on the album are filled with very diverse, hard-edged, and often atonal interplay between solos of an electric guitar and various keyboards, including at least a couple of synthesizers. Congruatic Boulevard (track 2) is, in addition, featured by wild solos of two saxophones and the clarinet. While Granito Rosa del Oeste (track 3) contains the excellent 'extra' solo of an electric violin. The guitar parts range from fluid and slow passages to rather heavy riffs and high-speed virtuosi solos. The chords, solos and passages of keyboards and synthesizers are for the most part of a purely symphonic character - regardless whether they're slow or fast. Frequent changes of tempo and mood, complex time signatures, and already the said uniqueness of the band's music in general, - all these details are also typical for this 'album within the album'. The second part includes In Pace and Feel Diffract (tracks 6 & 8). Both of them are featured by spacey and kind of avant-garde solos and interplay between various synthesizers and very diverse male and female vocalizes. Though, unlike In Pace, there are no percussion instruments on Feel Diffract. The remaining third part is, as a matter of fact, just a one-track part. Stella is kind of a short opera sung beautifully and very diversely by the mixed female and male choir with the accompaniment of the magic sounds of bells, but without any musical instruments.

Summary. What is interesting is that the intros to all compositions that are featured on the "Diffraction" album are full of various sound effects, including 'flying' ghostly sounds of synthesizers. This way, they're rather similar among themselves, which, undoubtedly, the band did especially. However, these intros can't help the album as a whole. Not the absence of a unified style, but a very distinct stylistic difference between the contents of the first and second halves of the album makes it slightly obscure on the whole. It's a pity that the order of the tracks had not been placed on the album a bit differently. In order to have a 'logical' musical picture of this album, program your CD player in the following track order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 5, 6, and 8. Though, quite frankly, if there were only those five best tracks that last more than 45 minutes on "Diffraction", I'd rated it as an excellent album.

VM. February 22, 2002


Related Links:

Priam website: http://www.parallax.ca.tc/

"Musea Records" online: http://www.musearecords.com/


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