[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(51:00, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Morning Melody 1.44 2. Casted Memories 5.53 3. Sad Time 4.32 4. Glamorous 4.41 5. Lipstick 4.09 6. An Afternoon on the Moon 3.48 7. Lovely People 3.32 8. Travelling Astral 4.44 9. Save Our Souls 4.02 10. Paradise 3.51 11. Softly 5.22 12. My Lady X 4.42 LINEUP: Cedric Beaude – keyboards; vocals; drum machine Christophe Andres – bass Jean-Marc Mota – guitar Rogier Van Der Wal – saxophone, flute
Prolusion. THEMBI are a virtual band, whose four members (all based in France) met on the Internet and exchanged files in order to produce an album together. “Morning Melody”, their debut effort, was released in late 2009 on the Dreaming subdivision of Musea Records.
Analysis. “Morning Melody” is not the typical album that ends up on the desks of ProgressoR reviewers. In fact, if it had not been released by Musea Records, we would have probably never heard of it, since it has actually very little to do with progressive music (rock or otherwise) - unless for the fact that is based on a concept of sorts. The musician themselves list a number of influences that are, in most cases, quite unrelated to prog, or even simply to rock. Though “Morning Melody” is a concept album – subtitled as “A Day in a Life of Modern Man – it is very different from what we have come to associate with the ‘traditional’ concepts of progressive rock. The song subtitles outlining the story suggest that the ‘modern man’ in question works in the fashion industry rather than in an office like so many of us, and is trying to deal with the aftermath of a break-up. He seems to get over it rather quickly anyway, as – during a photo shoot, no less - he meets another woman and falls in love with her. To be perfectly honest, when I first heard the album, my initial impression was that it sounded like the soundtrack to a late Seventies soft-core movie – an impression compounded by some of the titles and the clearly erotic subtext of some of the tracks. If one was hard pressed to put a label on the album, it would be ‘smooth jazz’ - which is very often seen as somewhat derogatory by ‘real’ jazz fans, as it refers to a watered-down, easy-listening form of the music. In fact, there is very little in “Morning Melody” to suggest the intricacy and brilliance of jazz-fusion at its best, but rather the more commercial ventures of protagonists of the genre such as Jeff Beck or Carlos Santana. Describing any individual tracks in detail is next to impossible, and not just because they are meant to be seen as a whole. The main problem is that most of them sound practically alike, further deprived of variety by the relentless beat of the drum machine. The only two tracks that display elements of some interest are Casted Memories, with its Gilmourian guitar solo, and An Afternoon on the Moon, with its spacey sound effects and recorded radio broadcast. The rest of the album is completely forgettable from a progressive rock point of view, with a couple of tracks harking back to Seventies-style soul-disco, and the others being little more than sonic wallpaper. Rating an album such as “Morning Melody” is far from easy. A low rating may seem overly harsh, and might imply that the album is badly played or produced (or both), which is not the case here. The four members of Thembi know their business, and the result of their rather unconventional alliance is pleasant and relaxing. However, therein lies the problem: the music showcased on this album is the polar opposite of the progressive concept. Smooth, polished and uncomplicated, it does not challenge the listener at all, and seems to have been made purposely for fading into the background when one is engaged in other activities. Bluntly put, this is not what this site is about – though it should also be obvious that there is nothing to prevent a dedicated prog lover from enjoying such an album.
Conclusion. Unlike most of the albums I usually review, “Morning Melody” is likely appeal to a much wider audience, on account of its smoothness and easily digestible nature. However, it has very little (if anything) to do with progressive music of any kind, as the influences listed by the ‘band’ on their website should make it abundantly clear. Though the technical aspect of it cannot be faulted, this is nothing more than glorified elevator music, and therefore very unlikely to please anyone looking for real prog.
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]