ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Madlen Keys - 2023 - "Time Machine"

(34:54; Madlen Keys)


There are times when an album just seems to slip out and instead of being rightly heralded as a wonderful piece of art just sits there on a dark corner of the largest library in the world waiting to be discovered. Fortunately for me, I have been around long enough to have some guides and when this was sent my way I was in sheer awe of its beauty, depth and lightness of touch. I do have some difficulty in believing these guys are French, but if that really is the case then they have been particularly influenced by multiple British acts Kate Bush, Enya and Clannad, Russian duo iamthemorning while I am also reminded of New Zealand act French For Rabbits. Here we have dream pop/crossover prog where the focus is kept firmly on the wonderful vocals of Caroline Calen. However, that is not fair on the rest of the band as it is the arrangements which allows her to shine and all power to Yann Pousset (drums, percussion), Antoine Geremia (keyboards), Baptiste Mottais (electric guitars) and Gregoire Lozach (bass) as they rarely allow themselves to take centre stage (although there are times in “Flaming Tree” when they do just that). Here we have an album which is all about atmosphere and depth, yet somehow that depth is created by layers of gossamer as there is a fragility which is only rarely cast aside in favour of a strident neo-prog guitar. There are plenty of acapella vocals, as well as some lush harmonies, yet they understand there needs to be an edge at times so the softness does not get lost in a cloud of marshmallows. Caroline is full of the confidence which only comes from countless hours performing, allowing her voice to fade away at times or stay on lengthy notes with no issue, knowing the guys will always be there to provide just the right level of support. This is very much an album which rewards being played on headphones, as it is only then that clear focus can be maintained, and one can be drawn deep into their world. It is an old-style album in that it will happily fit on one side of a TDK D-90 at 39 minutes, but one never feels short-changed as everything here is such a delight. So much so that the only thing to really do is play it again. Prog, dream pop, folk, ambient, there is a great deal going on here and so much to be discovered. There may not be many reviews of this so far, but everyone who has come across it is saying great things about it, and I’m one of them. Indispensable.

Progtector: February 2024

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Madlen Keys


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