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Tracklist: 1. Orient Song 3:33 2. Barok Song 6:47 3. Mandoline Noire 3:32 4. East Song 7:57 5. Naja 8:35 6. Une remarque insideuse 5:44 7. In Strum Mental 6:39 All compositions: by Jean-Paul & Michel Dedieu-s. Line-up: Jean-Paul Dedieu - keyboards, bass- & drum-programming Michel Dedieu - guitars Pim Focken - electronic percussion With: Charly Berna - drums (on track 3) Recorded, mixed, & produced by Sombre Reptile at "Studio Episode", Bordeaux, France (2001). Overdubbing & mastering by Chris Birkett.
Prologue. Since I have never heard of this band until now, I don't have any concrete words to say about them. So I am forced to use empty *words, all of which are collected in this and both of the next sentences. (*By the way, in Russian, that means to pour water into a bucket full of holes.) Oh, almost forgot! The name of the band is Sombre Reptile, and their album, which I am going to review, is called "In Strum Mental".
The Album. It was clear to me that "In Strum Mental" is an all-instrumental album before I listened to it. However, the music by the trio Sombre Reptiles has nothing to do with the somber musical colors. Quite the contrary, it is on the whole light. Musically, "In Strum Mental" is a rather original album, though there is nothing truly innovative in its contents. All three of the most interesting (i.e. best) compositions on the album have the Eastern feel to them. Two of them were even called respectively: Orient Song and East Song (tracks 1 & 4). However, the first of them and the album's title track (8) are richer in these colors than East Song, on which they aren't as lush as on both of those compositions. Stylistically, these songs represent a blend of Classic and Neo Symphonic Art-Rock. Naja and Une remarque insideuse (tracks 5 & 6) are also very good compositions. However, apart from structures that are typical for both of the said manifestations of Symphonic Progressive, the elements of Space Rock are also notable there. The arrangements of all five of the said pieces consist mainly of diverse interplay between solos of electric guitar and a few synthesizers. The frequent changes of themes and moods are also typical for them. However, while the parts of electronic bass are OK, a drum-machine works in the same tempo throughout each of the songs on the album. Which, though, is the only major drawback of "In Strum Mental". As for the parts of electronic percussion, they are heard not that often. Also, they are featured by no means on all of the tracks on the album. Both of the remaining pieces: Barok Song and Mandoline Noire (tracks 2 & 3) are kind of the instrumental ballads with the melodious and accessible arrangements, all of which are typical for a typical (sorry, for the average-statistical) instrumental Neo Progressive.
Summary. Overall, "In Strum Mental" is a nice album. There are only two tracks on it that are just merely satisfactory. If the Dedieu brothers avoid the simplistic structures and get a real bassist and a drummer, they will greatly enlarge their audience. The compositional and performing possibilities of the band are very promising. All in all, I think that the debut Sombre Reptile album will be liked by most of the lovers of a moderately complex instrumental Prog.
VM. April 12, 2002
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