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This is the second album from Grandval, a project brought together by Henri Vaugrand (vocals, bass, guitars, programming). On the debut he called himself Grandval, but now is using his real name, no more hiding behind a pseudonym. He has also doubled the line-up as Olivier Bonneau (keyboards, vocal harmonies, bass pedals and guitars) has joined as a full member, with the rest of the musicians listed as guests. Colin Tench (I still cannot believe he is no longer with us) contributed to the debut album, as did Jean Pierre Louveton (JPL, Nemo, Wolfspring), and the latter has returned again this time around, but instead of just providing guitars on a few tracks he is now far more involved throughout and also provides mellotrons and keyboards. He also brought along bandmate Jean-Baptiste Itier so there are proper drums on this release. The drums are a real highlight for me, as they cut across and through music which is very layered and structured. The bass provides the consistent melody, while guitars are often providing single notes as opposed to riffing chords and the keyboards are multiple and quite intense. The approach feels modern and light, yet in many ways this is looking back to classic Pink Floyd and Eloy. There is only one instrumental on the album, but it is not unusual for the band to have extended instrumental passages. All vocals are in French, and they show a clear understanding of where they come from in that there is a cover song at the very end, Atoll’s “La Maison De Men-Taa”. Fresh crossover progressive rock with symphonic elements, this is an interesting album which feels both familiar yet quite different to what is currently out there and is certainly worthy of further investigation.
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