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4/3 De Trio (USA) - 2004 - "Ersatz"
TRACK LIST: 1. Solmhinarm 5:38 (Gayral) 2. Ersatz 8:09 (Fenoy) 3. Bleu Cerise 7:35 (=) 4. Ayahusca 6:09 (Gayral) 5. Oceane 4:10 (Fenoy) 6. Kossmokardak 16:32 (Gramond) 7. La Blonde 7:52 (Fenoy) Bonus tracks: 8. D Dar-I 6:33 (Pegeron) 9. D Dar-III 7:22 (=) LINE-UP: Guillame Fenoy - guitars; piano; vocals Sebastien Gramond - keyboards; guitars; violin Romain Gayral - bass; trombone Didier Pegeron - drums; guitars With: Raphael Cartellier - sax & flute (3) Elsa Krajnberg - vocals (7) &: Nicolas Janot's Violin Octet (1) Produced by Quarta Trais De Trio. Engineered by Cartellier.
Prolusion. "Ersatz" is the second album by the young Frenchmen 4/3 DE TRIO. The recording sessions started about a year after their debut >"Faiblesse" was released, but ceased due to the death of drummer Didier Pegeron in a car accident in October 2001, at the age of 26. Since then the band doesn't exist actually. However, inasmuch as all the drum tracks have been recorded (due to the particularities of studio work these must be recorded first), the remaining members decided to finish the album and dedicate it to the memory of their untimely passed friend. They did it.
Synopsis. The band's debut is definitely a masterwork, but here is something marvelous. Having compared all the recording data of both of the band's albums before listening to "Ersatz", I arrived at the idea that there should be a huge difference between them. The new album features several guest musicians, the band members appear as multi-instrumentalists, and the compositions are longer, but this is not all. In short, I didn't err in my presupposition. Already the first track Solmhinarm meets the enlightened listener with a highly unexpected sound. A violin octet rules throughout, and although the band joined it in the second half of the composition, the primary essence of the music didn't change. This is a piece of serious Classical Music with a typically Bach major-key coda. On most of the further tracks the piano and strings are out, but the Hammond organ is in, taking the lead along with the other instruments practically everywhere, though there is also the Mellotron on La Blonde. Generally, academic classicism has become an integral part of the band's sound, which is in many ways due to the wider use of keyboards and, properly, symphonic textures. A combination of Symphonic Progressive and Classical Music, just performed by dints of Art-Rock and Prog-Metal, lies in the basis of the album's title track, Ayahusca, and Kossmokardak. The latter epic, moving through the tremendous number of different sections and mood, can be considered the centerpiece of the album. Nevertheless, I wouldn't say that I like it better than the other instrumental compositions, all of which are exceptionally interesting as well. The arrangements are highly diverse and eclectic, so from time to time they may sound a bit like an RIO, but this is a seeming resemblance. There are neither dissonances nor any other distinctive features of Dodecaphony and related avant-garde directions in Rock music alike. Which, however, doesn't mean that the lovers of RIO won't like the album. They will too! Bleu Cerise contains two episodes with jazzy interplay between a few brass instruments and bass. Overall, however, this composition is much in the same vein and is hardly richer in elements of Jazz-Fusion than the described tracks. Only the album's closing number (7) has in places a more or less distinct improvisational-like feel to it, especially in the parts of acoustic guitar. Unlike most of its predecessors, La Blonde is free of heaviness and elements of Classical music, too. Also, there are vocals (in French) performed by a guest female singer alone and in choir with Fenoy. Oceane presents constantly developing interplay between solos and passages of classical guitar, some of which have been overdubbed. Both of the bonus tracks, D Dar's parts 1 & 3, were composed by Pegeron and were performed by him alone. It's very likely that they've been intended for Didier's solo album of the same title, "D Dar". The style is one of the most progressive manifestations of Cathedral Metal I've ever heard, and I've heard plenty. Well, the music is different, but with regard to composition and performance, the pieces are in many ways on par with those from the album, showing that Pegeron had really versatile talent in everything, which concerns music.
Conclusion. Such releases reaffirm the potential of Progressive and its virtually cult status. The presence of highly intricate and eclectic arrangements on most of the tracks won't prevent the connoisseurs of Classic Symphonic Progressive to rather quickly get into the music and comprehend that this is just their music, profoundly regretting about the band's break-up. However, I believe any true lover of true music will fall in love with 4/3 De Trio's "Ersatz" after hearing it. One of the genre's best representatives is knocking at the doors of your mind. Please let it in. (>Top-20)
VM: August 25, 2004
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