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Keller, Gabriel: Clair Obscur

Gabriel Keller is a French musician from Lyon. His debut album is titled Clair Obscur (meaning: the artistic distribution of light and dark masses in a picture). It’s a fitting title for the 10-track release which has two distinct sections. The first of which is made up of folky, mellow pop style prog compositions, and the second which has a darker, heavier edge.

Whilst Gabriel Keller is the primary composer and instrumentalist, he has a large group of contributors on the album. Emi B, Charlotte Gagnor, Maïté, Marine Poirier, Clément Barou & Charlie Henry are all cited as key contributors on the various tracks. Many of these names are female vocalists; all of which do a great job and give the release a distinctive sound.

The album gets underway with the instrumental track "Tumulte" that features Charlie Henry on lead Guitar. This is a nice opener, with a grandiose compositional style that is well complimented by the lead guitar work from Charlie Henry.

Although I consider myself primarily a fan of heavy music, I’m surprised to find that the mellow first half of the album to be stronger than the latter half. Perhaps it’s that the vocal delivery of Emi B is my favourite of the guest vocalists, but these songs sound more polished than some of the latter tracks. "Time", "Train to Resolution", & "Open Arms" are very strong pieces and are particularly cohesive as an opening section to the release. Once Emi B departs, I do find that the album as a whole loses some cohesion- perhaps this isn’t surprising given the distinctly darker tone to the 2nd half of the release (its supposed to be a stark light/dark juxtaposition), and the fact that three more vocalists contribute to the album after track 4. That’s the thing about having multiple guest vocalists on an album; it can start to sound unintentionally like an Ayreon album with all of the different vocalists bringing different flavours to the songs. But don’t misinterpret the loss of cohesion for a loss of quality though because the album still has enough to offer in the second half to make it worth your while. Clair Obscur is closed out with the mellow instrumental "Accalmie" which is a soulful piece that brings the album to a fitting conclusion.

From a production perspective the album sounds great- the choice of Guitar and keyboard tones lend themselves to modern prog compositions. Whilst the Female vocalists make it difficult for me to draw direct comparisons to another single band’s sound, I do hear some Porcupine Tree influences on this album.

As a debut release Clair Obscur is a very strong effort. Gabriel Keller (and his contributors) should be proud of what they have achieved with this release. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with in the future.

    Track List
  1. Tumulte (Feat.Charlie Henry)
  2. Time (Feat. Emi B)
  3. Train To Resolution (Feat. Emi B)
  4. Open Arms (Feat. Emi B)
  5. Melancholia (Feat. Charlotte Gagnor)
  6. Sonate Au Clair Obscur (Feat. Clément Barou)
  7. Nothing Human (Feat. Maïté Merlin)
  8. Out Of My Life (Feat. Maïté Merlin)
  9. Honey (Feat. Marine Poirier)
  10. Accalmie

Added: March 21st 2022
Reviewer: Chris Reid
Related Link: Artist Instagram Page
Hits: 984
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Keller, Gabriel: Clair Obscur
Posted by Gabriel Keller on 2022-03-25 11:24:51
My Score:

Many thanks for this review !!

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