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(55:13, Fading / Altrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. La Suspension Ethereenne 10:29 2. Pas a Pas 6:42 3. Induction Magnetique 9:06 4. La Danse du Pantin 7:38 5. Escamotage 12:14 6. Judith Coupeuse de Tete 9:04 LINEUP: Fabrice Chouette – keyboards; guitars; recorders; vocals Patrick Dufour – keyboards, programming With: Thierry Payssan (of Minimum Vital) – vintage keyboards Jacob Holm Lupo (of White Willow) – guitars Archimede Martini – violin
Prolusion. The French band ALCO FRISBASS was formed in 2013; it represents the dual partnership of Fabrice Chouette and Patrick Dufour: a modern studio based entity that doesn't have any plans to expand this project beyond the recording studio, at least at the moment. They released their self-titled debut album through Altrock Records’ sublabel Fading in 2015.
Analysis. My experience with the Italian recording company Altrock is that they use their main label to release material of a more challenging nature, while the sublabel Fading tends to be used for material that is of a more accessible general character. This album follows my expectation in that respect, as Alco Frisbass’ debut album is one that, relatively speaking, should find a fairly broad appealamong fans of progressive rock. The main limitation may be that this is, a few nonverbal details aside, an instrumental affair. As such ventures go, this one resides solidly inside the symphonic part of the progressive rock realm, and in terns of general sound, mood and atmosphere a word like vintage will not be out of place. The twosome use a vast array of keyboards throughout, mainly vintage-sounding ones, supplemented by piano, organ and Mellotron when appropriate. Layered arrangements and frail interludes go hand in hand here, jubilant soaring sequences tend to dominate, but with room for the occasional darker sounds to be applied, adding depth, intensity and variation. On a few occasions some cosmic vibes are added in for good measure, although more as an interesting minor detail than as a dimension expanding the stylistic canvas of this recording as such. What does expand the canvas a bit more is the inclusion of jazz-tinged elements. Most prominently delivered by the bass and drums, but also by way of wandering piano sequences or, on a few occasions, the organ, the greater majority of this album comes across as a blend of symphonic art rock and jazz fusion. The former dominates most of the time, but also with room for individual sequences with more of a distinct jazz-oriented nature to them. This element is blended into a totality that doesn't demand a taste for jazz or jazz rock to appreciate them however, and as such this aspect of the album should appeal also to those, who normally do not like the inclusion of jazzy elements in the music they listen to. It is a distinct detail of this production, but in a good way, no matter what stance you have to this type of music. Concluding piece Judith Coupeuse De Tete also adds a nice little touch of folk-oriented details to the blend, and while that aspect is only briefly explored before the band hits out into a home stretch, adhering to the approach outlined earlier, this opening adds a further charming dimension to this well-made production, and may perhaps indicate that this fairly recent band will have even more going for them as they develop their craft.
Conclusion. The French duo Alco Frisbass and their selected guest musicians have produced quite a charming affair with their self-titled debut album. A nice flowing, instrumental production with layers of vintage keyboards, a more careful guitar presence and a firm rhythm foundation that blends symphonic progressive and jazz rock together in a warm, engaging manner. The symphonic elements dominate though, and I'd recommend this CD to those with a general taste for vintage-oriented symphonic progressive rock, and then in particular to those, who prefer music of this type to be instrumental and with a focus on vintage-sounding keyboards of various kinds.
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