Minimum Vital - Esprit D'Amor

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4209 AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:59:00

I have been impressed with Minimum Vital since I first picked up their first release Envol Triangles/Les Saisons Marines (actually a twofer re-release on Musea). With Esprit D'Amor that opinion hasn't changed.

This French progressive jazz rock band have released another album of sparkling arrangements - each track bristles with energy, even the gentle acoustic instrumental track "Prélude Aux Oiseaux Tristes."

Given the album's title, it isn't suprising that these tracks evoke a Romantic mood - that's Romantic not only in terms of ... well, amor but also and mostly in the same sense of 19th Century poets like Keats, Wordsworth, et al (on the English side, of course). The connections would be easier [for me] to make were the lyrics in English or if I understood French. If there is one [rather minor] complaint it is that there isn't a translation included in the booklet. But, I suspect [though perhaps wrongly] that Minimum Vital's audience is mostly French speaking, and it is a bit arrogant for [those of us who are] Americans to always expect things to be made easier for us.

But, on yet another hand, it isn't really all that important because the album can be enjoyed anyway. Sonia Nedelic, the lead female vocalist who appears on a Minimum Vital album for the first time, has just the right voice for the music, lilting but not ethereal or breathy. The lead male vocalist is J.B. Ferraci, who also appears for the first time. Both voices blend together well, their timbres closely matched enough that sometimes it sounds like one voice, though much richer than a single voice can be.

On the track "Song A Cinq" Nedelic's vocals made me briefly think of Marilyn McCoo singing "Age of Aquarius." So, if I had to put a sounds like here for her vocals, that would be it, but don't let that put you off. It's only vaque, only for a moment, and only on that track.

Jean-Luc Payssan has clear, crisp guitar style, which is very expressive and allows the range of his playing to shine through.

"Les Voyages de Costley" is very rock oriented tune, keyboard led, with Ferraci on lead vocal. This track has a very 70's like sound without a lot of the excesses of that era.

I like too many of the tracks to pick favourites or standouts - each has something - so as a whole, I heartily recommend it (along with their previous albums).

[Author's addendum - 8/01: It was pointed out to me some time ago that paragraph 3 ends with some rather arrogant statements, which I tried to clarify in a lengthy addendum (later excised). I wouldn't say arrogant, just inarticulate. Words in brackets [] are my recent attempts to clarify, but short of a rewrite (which seems dishonest), it will remain awkward still.]

Esprit d'Amor (5:35) / Brazilian Light (6:43) / Modern Trad' (8:04) / L'Invitation (6:55) / Les Voyages De Costey (3:56) / Song A Cinq (6:37) / Danse Pour La Nouvelle Alliance (6:04) / Prelude Aux Oiseaux Tristes (1:23) / Au Cercle De Pierre, J'Ai Danse... (8:02)

Sonia Nedelec - lead vocals
Jean-Luc Payssan - guitars, backing vocals
Thierry Payssan - piano, synths, Hammond, backing vocals
Eric Rebeyrol - Noguera bass
Charly Berna - drums
Jean-Baptiste Ferracci - lead vocals
Peter Acock, Richard Ducros, and Joel Versavaud - saxophones
Freddy Buson and David Raymond - trumpets
Jean-Marc Paboeuf - oboe

Envol Triangles/Les Saisons Marines (1985/1987)
Sarabandes (1990)
La Source (1993)
Esprit d'Amor (1997)
Au Cercle de Pierre (1998)
Atlas (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin FR

Added: August 11th 1998
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 844
Language: english


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