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Existence: Live In Montreal

When I rediscovered progressive rock over a decade ago I must have overlooked this Quebec band. The good thing is it's never too late to hear good music and I have to say I feel fortunate to have finally delved into their work.

Existence formed way back 1991 by Alan Charles (piano, guitar, vocals) and is joined by Gérard Lévèque (drums), Éric Martin (bass), Gaston Gagnon (guitar) and Francois Beaugard (violin). Charles had been working on a concept album and Existence was the vehicle he would use to present his ideas in a live setting. The band split in 1996 but Charles reformed the band shortly thereafter and released their second album Small People, Short Story, Little Crime.

This disc was recorded at the Cabaret nightclub in 1999. According to the liner notes it was recorded by a Sony MiniDisc player but at the time the band set this live document aside. Charles recently revisited the recording and was impressed enough to give it a bit of love and the result is Live In Montreal. For a live album the sound is very good.

Five of eight tracks are taken from the band's sophomore effort Small People, Short Story, Little Crime. The music borders between hard rock and prog and the musicianship is excellent between all five members. Some excellent prog rock workouts can be heard in the dynamic "Rebirth", a very powerful track whereas "Autumn Brain" starts mellow with tranquil piano and vocals before heavier riffs and dramatic builds enhance the soundscape. Gagnon's guitar work is sublime here and a definite album highlight. "The Journey" is mostly instrumental, save for some wordless 'ohs' and 'ahs', with a dense arrangement of repeating guitar riffs and wonderful violin work outs.

The album includes two epics; "The Last Battle" and "In The Kingdom Of Madness". Both tunes highlight exceptional musicianship with standout guitar, both acoustic and electric, dramatic builds and transitions between pastoral atmospheres and heavier rocking prog. Over thirty-six minutes of dramatic progressive rock.

I urge all prog fans to give Live In Montreal a listen. It will be time well spent.

Track Listing:
1. No Hero (4:35)
2. The Journey (4:08)
3. Autumn Brain (8:23)
4. Rebirth (7:31)
5. The Last Battle (15:29)
6. Business As Usual (5:21)
7. In The Kingdom Of Madness (20:44)
8. Another Fine Day Of… (7:16)

Added: May 18th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 2760
Language: english

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