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A Sparrow Grass Hunt : Le Journal Du Dormeur

Neo classical music is alive and well and doing pretty well in France according to this triumvirate who formed in 2003. Featuring lots of lilting voices, wafted notes from minimalistic piano, plaintive violin, disconnected themes and some acoustic guitar in some sections, music of this persuasion can be a difficult listen when things are in your favour and downright awkward when they're not.

It is not until the 5th track that we see the first signs of any percussion and it becomes a very welcome relief from what was becoming a rather tedious beginning to this unusual album. It is also the first song that makes any real attempt at being structurally coherent as the basic combination of violin, drums, keyboards and some rather emotive and pleading vocals resembles what Secret Garden may have done if given a microphone and an open easel upon which to paint their masterpiece.

Using a plethora of very atmospheric and ethereal sounding notes, the attempt to tie things together is only achieved in a few places as there are quite a few sections that simply amble along without giving any indication as to where this journey will ultimately take us. Some may call it self indulgence, others may find it more than challenging while the majority may dismiss it as music from another planet altogether. Some of the songs are sung entirely in French while others make a rather feeble attempt at sounding like a legitimate English accent but fail rather miserably. To be honest, French must be the most difficult accent to disguise vocally so for those who don't enjoy the French language, there may be some disappointment. Not being a cunning linguist, I have no idea as to what they are singing about but then again, it hardly matters. The vocals add little to the overall enjoyment or appreciation of this offering. Generally, I find it much easier to absorb those incredibly appealing tracks sung by the more accessible folk / rock artists such as Malicorne, Dan Ar Bras, Gabrielle Yacoub or Tri Yann. Although their music is also sung in French, the infectious nature of their songs is hard to ignore. Call it more pedestrian if you will, but quite simply, music of that ilk is a lot more palatable to the masses if it is comprised of a more measurable and definitive beat, melody and overall integrity of song structure. As to which target audience the music on this album is directed, however, is a bit of a mystery to me as I would feel very few people could sit comfortably with something so ambiguous, introspective and unusually different.

With any music of this nature, one has to be mindful that you would be spending your money on something you either love or hate. It is certainly not for the masses, and is very introspective so don't expect anything that will make you warm and fuzzy inside. This is melancholy and rather sombre while not delivering very much in the way of recognizable song compositions. You have been warned.

Track Listing:

1. Overture
2. Crespuscule (Le Fleuve 1)
3. The Architect
4. Le Dement (Les Crocodiles Gris 1)
5. Hyperdelic
6. Sarbacane
7. Le Marbre (La Bete & Le Marbre)
8. The Mermaid
9. China Dream
10. Les Crocodiles Gris (Reprise)
11. Le Silence sous les Fondations
12. La Bete (La Bete & Le Marbre -2)
13. La Voleuse de Champignons
14. Constellations (Le Fleuve)
15. Les Eaux Sombres (Les Crocodiles Gris -2)
16. Le Demi-Dieu
17. Sarbacane (Reprise)
18. Eveil

Added: June 28th 2004
Reviewer: Greg Cummins
Related Link: Band's Web Site
Hits: 2543
Language: english

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