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TRACK LIST: 1. The Harryman’s Dream 9:34 2. First Foundation 8:41 3. Brave New World 5:43 4. Ubik 9:97 5. The Rediscovery of Man 7:30 6. Solaris 3:44 7. Goodbye 1984 18:51 LINEUP: PY Marani – guitars, bass; keyboards Xavier Richard – drums With: Serge Servant – saxophone (6) Derek Sherinian – keyboard solo (4)
Prolusion. “Outline” is the debut release by French musician and composer Pierre-Yves MARANI, who plays most of the instruments credited: namely organ, synthesizers, electric, acoustic and bass guitars. Backing him up is Xavier Richard on drums. There are also two guest musicians: see lineup above for details or, better, keep on reading.
Analysis. There are seven compositions here (with an average track length exceeding 9 minutes), and, judging by the titles of such as Ubik, Solaris and Goodbye 1984, each of which instantly evokes the name of Philip Dick, Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell respectively, their creator is additionally a lover of science fiction (as I am too). The music, however, is all-instrumental and has some fusion slant to it, so it is not impossible that the man has formal training in jazz guitar. On the other hand, while the fusion elements are present, few of those belong to genuinely improvised music (such as the bass solo in one of the mid-sections of Ubik, which does), besides which they are in most cases more than offset by the hard-edged rock approach to Marani’s playing that recalls ‘guitar heroes’ like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. All of this is typical of the following tracks: First Foundation, Brave New World, The Rediscovery of Man and Ubik, to which Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion, formerly of Dream Theater, et al.) has somehow contributed a synthesizer solo. That said, Marani himself quite masterfully handles all of his instruments, but it’s his guitar that is crucial to the sound of these four pieces (unlike most of the others, where the guitar and keyboards play equally important roles as lead instruments). In all cases, drummer Xavier Richard matches Pierre-Yves for dexterity and the ability to look into guitar pyrotechnics, though there is also some good use of dynamic contrasts with consonant melodies within the softer passages, offsetting those histrionics. When the multi-instrumentalist takes his performance into symphonic space rock terrain, such as he does throughout The Harryman’s Dream, he immediately evokes David Gilmour (or Richard Wright – when switching over to organ), so it is no surprise that the music itself is there strongly reminiscent of Pink Floyd, circa 1975. The album finishes with the 19-minute Goodbye 1984. From time to time, the piece reveals features that typify the first four of the described tracks, but most of it brings to mind something halfway between Pink Floyd at its most reflective and Tangerine Dream, Pierre-Yves quite actively deploying electronic devices here – besides playing organ and synthesizers in particular. Nonetheless, the epic sounds fine within its first half, reaching its culmination as a set of blistering, flamenco-inspired, acoustic guitar solos (my favorite episode on the entire album). Later on, however, it is way less interesting, full of e-music-evoking landscapes, and the duo at times seems to be unable to built intensity. The remaining track, Solaris, features another guest, Serge Servant on saxophone, and is slightly reminiscent of one of Alan Parsons’ instrumentals, albeit it uses programmed drums instead of real ones. What is more, it strictly alternates the guitar and sax-driven sections, never bringing the two instruments together for joint soloing.
Conclusion. Pierre-Yves Marani is a technically skilled player and is a musician of fairly wide artistic scope. However, there is not too much on his debut outing that will please progressive rock lovers, particularly advanced ones. I believe it is evident, as is clear from the review, who might be interested in it most of all.
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