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Traces d'Illusions - 2017 - "Apres La Colline"

(60:23; Traces d'Illusions)


TRACK LIST: 1. Apprendre 9:23 2. Phare Des Poulains 8:16 3. Absence De Vision 9:56 4. Apres La Colline 5:58 5. Un Monde Meilleur 8:58 6. Infinie Bienveillance 9:01 7. Premiere Neige 8:51 LINE UP : Laurent Terrie - flutes, whistles, piano Alain Clodet - saxophone, ewi Nico Aneme - saxophones, clarinet Frederic Boivin - piano Stephane Coubray - keyboards Alex Breard - guitars Yann Lambotte - acoustic guitar, bass Stephane Lambotte - drums, percussion with: Emmanuelle Charbonnier - violin Marion Sombrun - piano Anne Raffard - harp

Prolusion. French band Traces d'Illusions have been around probably since sometime prior to 2006, as it was in 2006 that they released their debut album "Traced d'Illusion". Following a lengthy spell of inactivity as a recording band they returned with their second album "Apres La Colline" in 2017, a production that was self released by the band.

Analysis. The biography of Traces d'Illusion states that the band members are trained musicians that come from a fairly wide variety of different backgrounds, but that the realm of what they describe as rock-jazz is something of a meeting point for the members here. Stated influences are the big fusion jazzrock bands from the 1970's and 80's, and the self description states the the band have something of an emphasis on the rock elements when they create their music. As I haven't listened to this band's debut album I cannot comment if that was the case on that production, but in the case of this second album from this band my impression is just a little bit different from what the band have stated. Just where I want to place this music in terms of style remains an open question for me still, but the sheer number of alterations and developments present in just about all of the compositions makes it fairly easy to state that this is progressive music. I do find that a lot of the playtime here goes towards arrangements that mix and blend elements from classical music and jazz in some form or other, perhaps with a slight dominance on what I'd describe as classical music features. The landscapes explored tend to be flowing, delicate and smooth in character, with a word like polished coming to mind too, and more often than not with a minor multitude of layers and elements present. The band can tone it down too of course, with some passages featuring woodwinds and keyboards or standalone piano movements approaching ambient music landscapes. But we also get a few more dramatic displays that on an occasion or two sound closer to brass rock due to some dark and aggressive saxophone displays. And that brings us to the rock music elements, and they are present too, especially in the earlier parts of the album. Not always in elongated sequences, and rarely as a dominant part of the proceedings, but we get sequences at more or less regular intervals with flowing or fiery electric guitar solo runs, some tight riffs or electric guitar effects chimes in to add impact and we have some tighter and more vibrant runs too. The good, old organ find's its way into a few songs as well, used both for atmospheric laden purposes and as a more dramatic, rock music oriented effect. That this is an album with a liberal flute content of the kind that comes with some automatic folk music associations in addition to solid nods in the classical music department probably merits mentioning too, and that we get some world music and possibly flamenco inspired details from the acoustic guitar is another detail of note here. Trying to describe, define and write a more concentrated impression about the material we are presented with here is a tad challenging though. This is an album production that explores a wide canvas covering multiple styles and traditions. As such it is an example of boundary-breaking music of course, and you can't really get more progressive than that, at least in spirit and approach. That the execution of it all also brings to life landscapes that are easy to listen to and perhaps not all that challenging is a strength in itself of course, and I dare say that a broader use of challenging details might have made this an album with a very limited and niche appeal indeed.

Conclusion. It is easy to hear that the musicians that make up Traces d'Illusions are quality performers, and the craftsmanship in the songwriting department has a quality just as impressive. How interesting the end result will be depends very much on the listener, with jazz, classical music, folk music, jazzrock and arguably ambient music all covered to some extent, with the majority of the compositions using elements from multiple of these traditions and probably a few beyond these forms and their main variations too. Those with an interest in boundary-breaking music made with a distinct progressive spirit and approach should find a lot to enjoy here, especially if unconventional music explored in an easy to listen to but hard to decode type of music is a subject matter of particular interest.

Progmessor: February 2023
The Rating Room

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