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(46 min, Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Overture 2:10 2. Cats 2:39 3. The Stack 2:19 4. Don't Sleep I 8:10 5. Who We Are 3:40 6. Farewell 2:17 7. Fly Away 2:53 8. Don't Sleep II 3:15 9. Hold Out Your Hand 4:38 10. Island 2:18 11. Fairy Tales 2:42 12. Negative Zone 8:42 LINEUP: Manuel Santiago - lead guitars; keyboards Cedric Cartaut - vocals; rhythm guitars Bruno Ramousse - bass; flute; vocals Fabrice Dimondo - drums With: Siciane Forner - acoustic guitar Pascal Schwalm - backing vocals &: Caroline Cartaut - violin (12)
Prolusion. The young French band NEGATIVE ZONE presenting their eponymous debut CD.
Analysis. Well, another one album with no pauses between tracks, third in this review series, and another quasi suite, ten out of the twelve sections being songs with English lyrics. The first two, Overture and Cats, are vastly different from the others, beginning and developing as the French chanson-based Rock and, later on, flowing into one of Art-Rock's channels. Both are rather beautiful, but are vocal heavy, in all senses, as there are many more choral parts than solo singing, these tricks to be rarely repeated on the further tracks, thankfully. Then follows the first of the two instrumental pieces, The Stack. Hardly something weightier than a set of random spacey effects and more sensible psychedelic sounds, it, however, stands in the right place, separating two different parts of the album like a demarcation strip. The real movie:-) begins with the fourth track and lasts all over the remaining 40 minutes. All the further content correspond to the concept of a true suite, whose overall construction can be viewed on the example of any of the long sections, Don't Sleep-I and Negative Zone. Each represents symphonic Space Rock and is notable for the alternation of atmospheric textures with the strong involvement of acoustic guitar and those having a full-band sound accentuated by the powerful rhythm section, though the former are more widespread. That said, the intermediate events unfold much in the same sequence, and the only significant exception from the rule is that the textures of a different density are normally placed on different tracks. The transparent Farewell springs from the intricate Who We Are; the intense Fly Away and Don't Sleep-II give way to the acoustically symphonic Hold Out Your Hand and Island, etc. Much of the music is quite original, but it's hard to avoid any influences while stepping the path leading right to the realm of a vintage Progressive. The echoes of Eloy and Pink Floyd are here and there probably on each of the tracks from the primary stuff, save Fairy Tales, which is reminiscent exclusively of the latter band.
Conclusion. Counting all the pros and cons of "Negative Zone", I can't set aside the fact that most of the music is full of some extraordinary charm. Overall, this is more than a merely good debut effort, which might satisfy anybody considering Space Rock at its most symphonic.
VM: December 24, 2005
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