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(58:23, Great Winds/Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Aladdin 7:43 2. Bayou Billy 6:06 3. Bow Shock 2:22 4. Carnival 5:27 5. Emergency Chocolate 7:35 6. Finished 4:06 7. Les Invasions 8:22 8. Moleskine 5:41 9. Unsound Horse 11:02 LINEUP: Emmanuel Calary – guitar Franck Lantignac – drums Eddie Remazeille – bass
Prolusion. The 58-minute “Lame Horses” is the first full-length outing by the French band Z-UKR, a trio of guitar, bass and drums. It’s made up of eleven tracks, all of which are instrumentals.
Analysis. The album was released by Great Winds, a jazz rock-oriented division of Musea Records (which is still the largest of existing prog labels, a sort of progressive rock supermarket). Contrary to what one might expect from the fact, however, it has almost nothing to do with that genre, only occasionally revealing what can be labeled quasi jazz-fusion features – at best, I must add. On each of the first three tracks here, Aladdin, Bayou Billy and Bow Shock, and also on Moleskine, the music is accessible, yet still to some degree progressive Hard Rock/Metal with elements of guitar Art-Rock, faithful to bands like Rush (think mainly their 2002 “Vapor Trails” album, on which they have mixed their classic style with Alternative), Radiohead and occasionally Primus – only without vocals and keyboards, of course. The musicianship is flawless, but the pieces themselves aren’t varied enough to arouse a desire for playing them again and again. Fairly repetitive and therefore hypnotic in nature, they bring to mind the idea that the less attention you pay to them when listening the more you hear, all of which is relevant to the entire album, though. Three more compositions, the ones that follow the first three, Emergency Chocolate, Carnival and Finished, all find the band blending the above idiom with a-la ‘90s Hawkwind space rock tapestries (enhanced by what is most likely a guitar synthesizer), in the latter case in a rather simplistic manner. The album’s longest two tracks, Les Invasions and Unsound Horse, run for almost 20 minutes, but are even more boring than the previously named one. Within the first half of each of them we get fluid guitar noodling over a monotonous female monolog and a male/female dialog respectively, after which the music in both cases suggests something halfway between traditional and electronic Space Rock, still somewhere in the manner of late Hawkwind, using repetitive rhythms, effects-laden guitar, and so on. All in all, while some of its contents are impressive, the recording is stamped with signs of the notorious debut syndrome.
Conclusion. The album (which is properly titled in some ways) didn’t really grab me after I’ve listened to it for the second time either. On the other hand, I realize that the music is well crafted overall, and so those who’re mainly into proto Prog, as well as neophytes, will likely find it worthy of their attention, to put it succinctly.
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