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TRACK LIST: 1. Constellation Monoceros 7:28 2. Le Tout de Rien 4:08 3. La Sourde Oreille 5:00 4. Les Couloirs de l'Amer Etonnant 5:10 5. Abstrait d'Union 5:05 6. Les Graines de Milet 7:02 7. Que Restera-t-il 4:38 8. Candide 4:16 9. La Pomme 3:29 10. L'Ethernudite 5:11 11. Nouveau Ne 4:55 12. Vois Comme il Est Haut 6:56 13. Poisson de Mars 6:10 14. Bonsoir Lily 2:08 All music: by Crusem, except 3 & 14. All lyrics: by Crusem, except 13 & 14. All arrangements: by Crusem and the band. LINE-UP: Thierry Crusem - guitars; bass; keyboards; vocals Frederic Kempf - bass Felix Paci - drums David Metzner - drums & percussion Frederic Bechtold - piano; backing vocals With: a few guest musicians Produced by Crusem. Engineered by Paci J. P. Boffo at "Amper".
Prolusion. It seems the young multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer Thierry Crusem is not falsely considered one of the brightest hopes of France's Progressive in the new millennium. The line-up on Thierry's debut output "Les Couloirs de l'Amer Etonnant" consists of well-known French musicians, and the album itself represents a superb digipack.
Synopsis. Most of the songs on this 71-minute CD (no instrumentals here) sound fresh, contain innovative ideas, and are interesting almost in every respect. However, "most" is not "all". Like it often occurs on the albums, the duration of which exceeds a 'classic' framework of 40-50 minutes, the presence of a few tracks on "Les Couloirs de l'Amer Etonnant" is unnecessary, at least. The album is not only excessively diverse in stylistics, but also features four ballads, none of which, unlike the other songs here, is notable for diversity, as well as a high originality. Two of them: L'Ethernudite and Nouveau Ne (10 & 11) have the mellow, symphonic passages of piano and synthesizer in the basis of the arrangements; the album's title track (4) is a guitar Art-Rock ballad, and Bonsoir Lily (14) features only the electric piano solo and some female vocals and vocalizes and sounds like a nursery rhyme. Consequently, Thierry's vocals on the first three of the said tracks aren't as impressive as usual. Well, it's time to describe the remaining ten songs, and giving them their due, I have to say that all of them not only have rather a unique sound, but are also filled with very diverse and intriguing arrangements. Le Tout de Rien, Abstrait d'Union, and Les Graines de Milet (2, 5, & 7) consist almost exclusively of dense structures and represent a blend of Prog-Metal and both of the symphonic and guitar kinds of Art-Rock. The arrangements on Constellation Monoceros, La Sourde Oreille, Candide, and Poisson de Mars (1, 3, 8, & 13) are for the most part also harsh and intensive, but I wouldn't refer the basic stylistics of these four to Prog-Metal. This is quite an original manifestation of guitar Art-Rock (not without elements of Symphonic Art-Rock, though), the most distinguished feature of which is the heaviness of sound, which, yet, is most often provided without the use of guitar riffs. Each of these, and also the aforementioned three songs (2, 5, & 7), i.e. precisely half of the tracks on the album, contains a few amazingly original and diverse instrumental parts, and not only. What make them especially attractive are Thierry's vocals. This guy is one the most expressive vocalists entered the Progressive Rock movement in the new millennium. Crusem's emotional, on the verge of screaming, singing is much to my taste. Unlike the people at Musea Records, I would not have compared him to Ange's Christian Decamps or anyone else. In this case, comparisons are possible only regarding the emotional aspect of singing, but even then, perhaps only Peter Hammill may come to mind. The remaining four songs: Les Graines de Milet, La Pomme, and Vois Comme il Est Haut (6, 9, & 12) sound also interesting, but contain the lesser number of purely instrumental arrangements. Nevertheless, these are good songs. Stylistically, they represent a blend of symphonic and guitar Art-Rock with some elements of Prog-Metal, though the latter of them has also a slight jazzy feel to it, 'provided' by the solo of saxophone.
Conclusion. If I were in the shoes of Thierry, I would have engaged an experienced person to producing the album instead of doing it on my own. Nevertheless, taken together, the best ten songs on the CD run about 53 minutes. I am sure "Les Couloirs de l'Amer Etonnant" will have a great success without my recommendations.
VM: January 14, 2004
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