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(44:59, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Images D'Enfance 3.57 2. Le Voyage De L'Espoir 6.37 3. Errance 5.09 4. Milena 5.45 5. Feerique Utopie 7.07 6. Court Terme 3.02 7. Le Temps Des Mages 4.15 8. Presage 7.41 9. Impressions Fugaces 2.46 LINEUP: Jean-Marc Tesorio – vocals Thierry Locatelli – guitar Franck Foussard – keyboards Bruno Vente – bass Simon Tardif – drums
Prolusion. A quintet hailing from Sceaux (France), QANTUM originated from the fusion of two French progressive rock bands, Ultime Atome and Lapsus Linguae. “Les Temps Oubli?s” is their debut album.
Analysis. When looking at the cover of “Les Temps Oublies”, Qantum’s debut album, first-time listeners will be forgiven for thinking they are faced with yet another prog-metal release. Indeed, the juxtaposition between the futuristic images of a city in the background and the angel-with-castle in the foreground seems to be more typical of the numerous fantasy-based prog metal outfits than of a typical Neo Symphonic prog band. However, this is exactly what Qantum are – a band sounding most of the time more like Marillion than Marillion themselves, with a pinch of French drama thrown in for good measure. “Les Temps Oublies” is an album similar to so many others that get released every week on the progressive rock ‘market’: competently played by a group of musicians who know what they are about, but basically devoid of anything resembling really personal ideas. At times sounding more like a melodic pop album with lush keyboard arrangements, it has everything to please fans of the more conservative (and accessible) varieties of prog, and equally everything to drive off those who look for genuinely innovative elements in their music of choice. While the French lyrics and distinctive singing style (clearly modelled on Ange’s Christian Descamps and his ilk, even more so than on Neo-Prog icon Fish) add a pinch of exotic flavour, there is not a lot to distinguish this disc from dozens of other releases in a similar vein. Besides Marillion, the strongest and most evident influence on Qantum’s sound are Genesis, though mainly their two Hackett/Collins-era albums (which were seminal for the development of the whole Neo movement). There are also a couple of nods to the more melodic, mainstream-oriented instances of Pink Floyd – like Le Temps Des Mages, which reminded me of Any Colour You Like from “Dark Side of the Moon”. As previously hinted, Jean-Marc Tesorio’s vocals can be an acquired taste, at times coming across as distinctly overwrought, though rather suited to the often dramatic nature of the keyboard parts. The two short instrumental tracks therefore offer some respite to those who find Tesorio’s vocals a tad on the tiresome side. The acoustic guitar piece Court Terme bears more than a passing resemblance to the intro to Genesis’ Blood on the Rooftops, while the piano-based Impressions Fugaces closes the album in a rather undistinguished way. Classical touches, such as pizzicato strings and harpsichord, surface in the textbook-Marillion workout that is Le Voyage De L’Espoir, while Errance introduces some harder-edged flavour in the mostly Hackett/Rothery-inspired guitar work. Presage features instead a surprise jazzy passage, punctuated by an almost funky bass line, though the song is mostly a standard Neo composition. One of the positive aspects of “Les Temps Oublies” is its reasonable running time – at around 45 minutes, it prevents the music from seriously overstaying its welcome. As things are, I found the album somewhat hard to get through (though luckily not as painful as some other discs I have had to review) - as it lacks any real punch, and ends up fading in the background even when trying to listen to it in a more focused manner. Even if I would not call it a really ‘bad’ album, this is mainly one for Neo Symphonic Prog completists.
Conclusion. Though “Les Temps Oubli?s” might appeal to fans of progressive rock with mainstream tendencies, it is ultimately a rather unexciting album, sounding similar to a great many other releases, and very derivative as well. Is to be hoped that Qantum, for their next recording effort, will try to find a more personal approach to songwriting.
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