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(53:28; Grain(s) de Riz)
TRACK LIST: 1. Collapse 3:19 2. Cello Man 5:53 3. Dark Water Falls 7:54 4. Fractales - Ouvertures 6:03 5. La Fabrique du Trouble - Fractales 2 3:12 6. Reflets sur l'eau qui dort - Fractales 3 4:00 7. Dying Stars Suicide Club 7:36 8. Eyjafjallajokull 7:23 9. Moonfall 8:08 LINEUP: Robin Jolivet - guitars Jerome Masco - saxophones, clarinets Alexandre Aguilera - flutes Alexis Cadeillan - bass Nicolas Girardi - drums
Prolusion. French band ROBIN & THE WOODS have a history that goes back to 2017 or thereabouts. They released their debut EP "Dark Water Falls" in 2019, and this year it was time for the band's proper debut album, "Moonfall", which was released through French label Grain(s) de Riz (the label division of Manag'Art) in the spring of 2021.
Analysis. It doesn't take all that long to be able to place Robin & the Woods inside a progressive rock context. Jazzrock is what this band is all about, it's just as easy as that. Instrumental jazzrock to be more precise, and a variety of the style that is accessible and dynamic but that also manage to be expressive and demanding. A fine balancing act that it is most charming to encounter. While jazzrock is the running red thread here, one of the aspects that makes this particular take on the style accessible is that the band openly and willingly include elements and details with additional flavoring. Long running saxophone and flute solo runs as well as standalone solo runs from both instruments are defining traits of this production, and with the flute we get a natural inclusion of folk music elements. An aspect of this music that on this album fits in perfectly. The guitar also has a prominent role, but in a slightly different manner, something that has a lot to do with how the band develop their songs. Many of the songs here have a fairly careful and gentle opening, gradually building, changing and developing along the way. The guitar usually has a more supporting role in the early stages, with delicate plucked guitar notes often being the order of the day. Quite a few of the songs open more up for a guitar presence as they progress though, with harder toned guitar riffs adding a harder edge, depth and darkness to the proceedings. Occasionally taking the song in more of a hard progressive rock direction too, although rarely staying put in those landscapes for an elongated time period: The jazz-tinged tends to return in some form or other before a song reaches its conclusion. There are also some fine solo slots for the guitar, and on the at times stunning 'Eyjafjallajokull' we are treated to a good example of how the acoustic guitar can be used to add a harder edge to a song as well. Robin & the Woods have their expressive sides too, and they tend to appear in the final third or so of the songs when present. Sometimes by way of one or two instruments being given the freedom to have a more free role in the proceedings, on other occasions with the whole band being more creative and expressive in surges, shorter sections and on rare occasions for a bit more of an elongated time too. The band will rarely go anywhere near a free form execution though, but distorted sounds and the occasional forays into a more disharmonious mode of expression are present, and in a manner that is both appealing and logical for the song in question too.
Conclusion. Robin & the Woods have created a fine album that should appeal to a majority of those who tend to like jazzrock in general and instrumental jazzrock in particular. Open and accessible compositions is a specialty of the band, and they are adept at adding more demanding details and ear candy the more attentive listeners will enjoy too. Up to and including careful use and inclusion of more expressive instrument and composition details in a smart, efficient and compelling manner. A band and an album easy to recommend to those who like instrumental jazzrock.
Progmessor: August 2021
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