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TRACK LIST: 1. Skymind 9:52 2. Yellow Garden 7:17 3. Blind Child 6:11 4. The Purple Queen's Lips 9:48 5. The Egg-shaped Moon 9:07 6. Stratus 13:24 All music: by Gabard/ Bernardeau/ Dosnon/ Constant, except 1 & 6: by Taal. All lyrics: by Bernardeau. LINE-UP: Anthony Gabard - electric guitars (+acoustic guitar - on 3) Loic Bernardeau - acoustic drums; vocals David Stuart Dosnon - basses Sebastien Constant - keyboards Igor Polisset - electronic & acoustic drums Helene Sonnet - flute (+ vocals - on 3) Manu Fournier - violin (+ saxophone - on 1 & 6) Gaelle Deblonde - violin Manue Bouriaud - viola Mehdi Rossignol - cello Produced by Taal. Engineered by Taal & Dosnon at Igor's home.
Preamble. "Skymind" is the second album by the French band Taal. To read the review of the band's debut, click > here.
The Album. There are many differences between "Skymind" and the debut Taal album, "Mr. Green", and the most significant of them concerns the band's style. Some of those who have already listened to "Skymind" may say that while the transformation of Taal's original stylistics is really notable on this album, it's not that striking, with which I wouldn't agree: it's more than merely evident! "Skymind" is much heavier and is stylistically much more uniform than its predecessor. Furthermore, while the debut Taal album features only one song, "Skymind" consists exclusively of songs, and it's quite another matter that the vocally instrumental arrangements cover, on average, no more than one fourth of each of them. There are six compositions on the album in all, and five of them: Skymind, The Egg-shaped Moon, Stratus, Yellow Garden, and The Purple Queen's Lips (tracks 1, 5, 6, 2, & 4 respectively) are about a unique, highly innovative fusion of Prog-Metal and Classical Academic Music with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. The second and the third of them contain in addition the elements of music of the East, and both of the latter songs those of Space Rock. On the whole, the arrangements on each of these songs are really heavy, even though the guitar riffs are for the most part accompanied by passages of violins, etc. At the same time however, everything here is in the state of constant development, and it would be too long to list all of the progressive features that are available in this very intricate, diverse, and contrasting music. What's especially interesting however is that apart from the aggressive riffs of electric guitar, all the other constituents of the arrangements on the album are of a dramatic character. The music on the remaining track: Blind Child (3) represents a blend of Symphonic Art-Rock and Classical Music with the bits of Prog-Metal. Unlike all five of the aforementioned songs, this one features both of the male and female vocals. Also, this is the only composition on the album that was performed not by the entire band, and the main soloing instruments here are all (four) violins, an acoustic guitar, and piano. By the way, the band's frontman Loic Bernardeau is a chameleon singer and some of his vocals are quite rough. The accented vocals (especially those of Helene Sonnet - on Blind Child) are quite all right with this reviewer, which is probably due to the fact that English is the second language of him, too.
Summary. Although the music presented on the second Taal album is genuinely original, some stylistic parallels can be drawn between it and "Visions Fugitives" (1994) by the brilliant German Prog-Metal band > Mekong Delta. And by the way, the hero of this review is in many ways better than that album. As a matter of fact, this is a complete masterpiece, to say the least. Those both profound and open-minded shouldn't pass over this pearl.
VM: April 10, 2003
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