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(73:00, Musea / Poseidon Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Through the Stones 18:00 2. When the Time Is a Present 22:14 3. The Green Eyes 17:42 4. Lady of the Lake 3:02 5. Sly Return 11.03.2011 12:02 SOLO PILOT: Pascal Stevegane – guitars, bass’ keyboards, programming
Prolusion. The French outfit STEVEGANE PROJECT is the creative vehicle of composer and instrumentalist Pascal Stevegane, an artist that doesn't reveal too much about his musical past, but it would appear that he has been involved in some capacity with Blackmore's Night if the album notes are to be trusted. "When the Time Is a Present" is the debut album by Stevegane Project, and was released by Musea Records in the fall of 2011.
Analysis. To enjoy this CD you'll need to enjoy the guitar. But when that is said, this isn't a guitar album. A fascination for cosmic sounds and music in the vein of Pink Floyd and Camel will also come in handy if you're to enjoy this production, although the music itself doesn't belong to psychedelic/space rock; nor is it a creation that will be categorized as symphonic in character. And at last, an appreciation of artists like Gandalf and Kitaro might be useful to comprehend this production, even if the music explored isn't keyboards driven nor is it of a new age expression. An initial description I surmise will leave most readers in a mild state of confusion, but sort of an appropriate summary of the music on this disc too, or rather a summary of what these compositions don't represent. The dominant feature here is the guitar. Careful resonating guitar details lightly resonate throughout, gentle acoustic and undistorted electric guitar motifs are an almost ever-present part of the arrangements, alongside slowly soaring, emotional guitar solo passages, the latter of a kind and character related to the likes of David Gilmour, and to a lesser extent Andrew Latimer and Steve Hackett. The likeness in expression and delivery is closest to Gilmour, but with occasional points of familiarity for the latter two as well: emotional, haunting guitar solo sequences, at times stunningly beautiful. The recurring theme of title track When the Time Is a Present is among the most beautiful guitar-driven constructions I've encountered this year. Adding variation to these excursions are gentler passages, some of them of a distinct ambient nature, and in these parts the otherwise subservient symphonic backdrop is given more of a prominent spot. These are gentle symphonic oriented constructions, however, and closer to the likes of Gandalf than to symphonic progressive rock as such, careful and gentle, with nuances rather than contrasts as defining features. And that is a description that sums up the compositions in general too. There's hardly any contrasts to speak of, even when the compositions head off into a different direction it is without any dramatic effects. There aren't any disharmonic elements to speak of, dissonance is an effect nowhere to be found, and just about the only instance of a contrasting feature can be found on The Green Eyes, in the form of darker toned guitar riffs utilized for one specific passage. Otherwise this is music that sticks profoundly to a harmonic, melodic and smooth approach. Where details and nuances are explored and presented for appreciation by the right audience. There are two notable exceptions at hand though, but neither of them stray too far off this path. Lady of the Lake is a brief excursion that sticks to the ambient delivery, with guitar soloing on top of a slightly more elaborate and majestic keyboards arrangement, perhaps the closest this artist will ever get from entering the realms of new age music. And final piece Sly Return, dedicated to the people of Japan following the disaster in March 2011, opens and ends with Asian-tinged soundscapes pretty close to Kitaro in expression, with an elongated feature in between that appears to be a less developed version of the opening three compositions, with guitar soloing and backing just as distinct as on the rest of the CD, but with less sophisticated rhythms and a simpler symphonic backdrop. This ultimately leads to an album that will be too one-dimensional for some, a brilliant shining diamond for others, and most likely a pleasant experience for most.
Conclusion. "When the Time Is a Present" is a disc that most likely will have a finite target audience. People who deeply admire the emotional guitar excursions of instrumentalists like David Gilmour and Andrew Latimer, who tend to enjoy slow paced music emphasizing harmonic details and melodic arrangements, and who appreciate music that explores musical beauty without utilizing distinctly contrasting effects or sharper edges. Presumably an item that should be treasured by those who have albums by Gandalf, Mike Oldfield and Pink Floyd side by side in their music collection.
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