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JPL: Retrospections Volume 1

Jeanne Pierre Louveton is a founder member of French band Nemo and has in parallel produced 3 studio albums prior to this compilation of guitar-led instrumentals (one track does have vocals) which didn't quite make it onto the earlier releases. Jeanne Pierre's influences include Michael Schenker, Steve Vai and David Gilmour and his aim is to focus more on the emotional melodic side of composition than the pyrotechnics of power-rock. On this album, he is joined by Olivier Soumaire on drums, Manu Defaÿ on bass and Guillaume Fontaine on keys.

A blistering opening foray announces the album with a song title idea borrowed perhaps off fellow Frenchmen Halloween (silence au dernier rang). This is Steve Vai territory with free flowing guitar lines over a steady rock beat, assuming a number of guises during tempo variations. Frequent climactic rises and falls feature and a rip back to a fuzzy jam with the keyboard player give it an exciting edgy feel and closing flourish. I don't quite hear the suggested historical context of the next track's title but this one has a good driving rhythm, a solid hook and neat interplays with the bass and keyboard parts. "My first death" starts acoustically with ethereal synths providing atmosphere. Bass kicks in, shortly joined by drums and the song then develops with JP switching to sustained electric guitar. An intricate structure to this composition, less easy to follow than its predecessor but perhaps more interesting for that. The big drum break in the middle and accompanying style change is impressive too. This is a feature of JPL's writing – he is never stuck with one idiom for long but seeks to experiment and stretch the boundaries of each song from rock into jazz and funk.

A short, pretty interlude separates us from "Winter Sun", a gentle, double tracked electrified acoustic guitar reminding me a little of Gordon Giltrap providing elaborate backing for the first of the sparse (French) vocals, delivered here by JP in a breathy style. String synths and bass join the guitar later in the song in a more orchestral stage but drop off for the final verse. Gregorian chants and a dark bass, piano and semitonal guitar ensemble introduce "Cathedrals", a gothic tempered piece with JPL finding a couple of memorable guitar and symphonic keyboard figures to drive the theme along. There's a chance for a short but flashy guitar solo and touch of jazz in one of the guitar parts, possibly delivered by Pat Macia who guests on the album. A smoochy languorous guitar is juxtaposed by a nervous itchiness in the other tracked parts in the following piece, "Planet in sight" (or possibly "with a view"). "The edge" by contrast is very laid back, with a contemplative feel to the piano and subdued guitar and orchestral effects.

The Spanish text for the next piece perhaps evokes a more excitable festive nature with its funky wah-wah guitar making the song jump about like its on tequila. Perhaps not quite as fast or technical as the other JP (John Petrucci) but it's breezy enough for me. The pace is maintained into the next track which moves well into fusion territory, highlighted by a number of turn on a dime changes and biting solo blitzes. The attached song tones things down into a slightly latino feel interspersed with a rock format and long climaxing guitar notes. "At a glance" sees JPL return to singing at which he is competent at best but he doesn't test his talents too far in this gentle ballad. "Forever Goodbye" (a Genesis hint there from Trespass?) closes this pleasing and nicely varied compilation.

Track Listing
1. Silence dans la salle
2. Du temps de Louis
3. Ma première mort
4. Loins
5. Soleil d'hiver
6. Cathedrales
7. Planète en vue
8. L'orée
9. No comprendo
10. Extrême stress / Décompression
11. En un clin d'oeil
12. Au revoir, à jamais

Added: September 2nd 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: Artist MySpace Page
Hits: 2033
Language: english

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