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(69:18, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. L’Instant 1:13 2. Odyssee 15:46 3. Les Pas du Temps 13:02 4. Dune 7:33 5. De l’Autre Cote 13:39 6. En Attendant la Pluie 9:37 7. La Mille Et Deux 8:47 LINEUP: Christian Brendel – vocals Christine Maffets – flute Didier Paupe – guitars Eric Varache – drums Claude Thiebault – bass Thierry Collin – vibraphones; toy piano
Prolusion. According to the press kit for this release, the French avant-rock band La Zombie Et Ses Bisons has shortened its name to ZOMB when working on “La Peuple Des Songes” (“People of Dreams”, if I’m not mistaken) – their third recording in general and the first with comedian Christian BRENDEL as a singer. King Crimson, Magma, Gong and Frank Zappa are listed as points of comparisons.
Analysis. As I haven’t heard any of Zomb’s previous outings, I can only conjecture whether those are indeed avant-garde rock creations, while this one has little to do with that genre. There is no real singing here, but there are theatric narrations, all in French, which ‘cover’ approximately half of each of the seven tracks presented and seem to have been added to those after they were already completed, even though each includes some instrumental parts that sound like platforms or rather backdrops for the comedian. (Curiously, his narrations never suggest something humorous, bearing either a distinctly dramatic or an overtly dark character.) The very short opening cut, the atmospheric L’Instant, fluidly flows into its follow-up and so can hardly be taken otherwise than as an intro to that piece. All six of the longer tracks appear as group efforts, at least for the most part, although one of the longest of those, Les Pas du Temps, is an almost totally slow, kind of lazy, piece (the bass line being especially or rather extremely monotonous: throughout), and even the somewhat aggressive narrative doesn’t break its serenity. Its sole virtue is that – as almost everywhere on the disc – the drummer has a bent for odd rhythms, although this factor doesn’t improve the overall grooviness of this opus. Ambient is the word. De l’Autre Cote and En Attendant la Pluie are built in a similar manner and yet are arranged with a less straightforward approach, revealing more and much more variety to their sound, respectively. Overall, the music is a mix of purely symphonic and quasi-improvisational elements with a jazzier feel coming with the part of the vibes. Both have some pleasing jam-like sections and are fairly decent pieces in general, yet only the latter ravishes with abrupt turns as well as theme and pace shifts – when transforming into a fast-paced romp in its finale. Evolving and altering most of the time, the longest track, Odyssee, is overall a remarkable composition and would’ve been the winner if one of its middle segments – one with quietly marching drums, pulsing bass and whispers in the arrangement – had not lasted for almost 5 minutes without changing its outlines. Otherwise the music alternates between killer riffing-based, doom-metal-stylized, movements (with a slightly eccentric bias) and more atmospheric, yet still darkly-colored as well as somewhat mesmerizing, landscapes. If you can imagine a crossover between You Won’t Change Me from Black Sabbath’s “Technical Ecstasy”, the title track of King Crimson’s “Red” and Elohim's Voyage by the French one-shot Wejdorie (note: think only its main, zeuhl-ish, component and omit any true improvisations) you’ll have a quite close idea of the epic’s architectonics. Dune begins with Jimmy Page-style acoustic guitar patterns which are quickly followed by a full-blown, Oriental music-inflected theme reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir (their best thing – according to them themselves, also: from “Physical Graffiti”), and while otherwise or rather overall it is in many ways similar to Odyssee, it’s easy to take it as a kind of perfect reincarnation of that track. Another standout, La Mille Et Deux, in its turn comes across as in all senses a thorough embodiment of the style the band tried out in the finale of En Attendant la Pluie. Twisting and turning from its first note to the last, full of swirling, spiraling and so on solos, this composition is a stream of original and captivating ideas where the symphonic and fusionesque, okay, tendencies are juxtaposed in a mostly intense and always interesting manner. Allusions are indistinct: perhaps Jethro Tull’s “A Passion Play” with ‘elements’ of late ‘70s Gong and classic Focus.
Conclusion. Since “La Peuple Des Songes” is already Zomb’s third release, I’m not sure whether I can recommend anything else of the band's, but anyhow I personally would prefer that they balance their different stylistic influences in the future (by frequently blending those among themselves), since here they don't too often display a true variety in style – not only in style, though. Nonetheless, bearing in mind that more than half of this long recording is, generally speaking, an interesting listening experience, I with a light heart award it the status of a very good effort – overall. To those who share my vision of progressive rock music and to omnivorous fans of the genre I recommend this CD with and without reservations, respectively.
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