Tulipe Noire, La - Faded Leaves

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4453.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:02:00

Okay, let's get past the obvious here. La Tulipe Noire still sound like vintage Marillion on Faded Leaves, in as much that it seems they have taken inspiration from the transitions on Clutching At Straws and specifically that at the end of "Warm Wet Circles" leading into "That Time Of The Night" ? both the haunting keyboards of Mark Kelly, the gentle throbbing bass of Trewavas, and the aching guitar lines of Steve Rothery (You have to know, by the way, given my fondness for Rothery as a guitarist, that this is greatly welcomed by me). So, keep those fixed in your mind, those very moments, because they are a recurring motif here on Faded Leaves (If you aren't familiar with the Clutching? album, I recommend it you here, but read my review). Lyrically, you won't find any Fishisms here, other than Hyde and Alix have a poetic way of writing. Getting nitpicky though, we could find a few phrases here and there that echo some Fish lyric without copping it. But forget all that about Marillion because if you focus too much on that, you miss the details here?

Vocalist Ima, who I've ascertained since I last reviewed this band is a woman (not that that's significant of anything except that there are few women in this field, so it's nice to see/hear that we can prog with the best of 'em), sounds a bit like Jon Anderson. In fact, Ima could give a few tips to the vocalist of Synthology - also reviewed - since they are both tenors of the Andersonian variety, and Ima does so much more with her voice (and seemingly on key). There is a strange fluttering to her voice at times, however, that is? unusual, but not annoying. Actually, she's one of two women in the band, the second being Alix.

There is a pattern to the music, where we get soft and mellow intros that slowly build (like Marillion) though there are few that diverge from the MC factor. In fact, it begins with the classical, soft church-organ (shades of Yes, actually) of "Silence." When sharp keyboards take over, joined by stabs of bass and guitar and authoritative percussion, we get something quite powerful, the ending of this track quite cathartic as Ima belts out the final lines.

Delicate, piano-like keyboard notes feature in "Castles On The Sand" over a leisurely paced, deep-toned bass (Pink Floydy at times), while lovely Rothery/Gilmour-esque guitar leads weaves in and out. Until I looked at the lyrics, I thought the lyric was "Castles On The Sun," which does indicate some odd pronunciations, but this the only case that alters meaning. "Lost Souls Ballad" is a tragic vignette about a prostitute, with sadly crying guitar leads that just underscore the despair in this piece. As happens sometimes, one encounters a violent john, and this is the fate that befalls this character. In "Carnival in Venice" Hyde's bass is far more prominent in the mix, still playing a leisurely throbbing bass line. Rather than Marillion on this piece, however, it is The Wall period Pink Floyd that come to mind with the addition of tinkling piano-like notes.

"A Beggar's Tale" does something different, however, beginning with a lot more movement, keyboards and drums more at the forefront, playing in a much more energetic way (early to mid-period Galahad come to mind, actually). "Le Fond Du Ciel" is a churning rocker (bass and drums and keys) with Kontakis playing some screaming guitar leads. The subject here, the citizenry fighting back against the legions of Caesar (or a Caesar at least), and an encounter between Abel and Cain (and, as you know, Cain slew Abel). "A Memory Picture" is an upbeat (comparatively) musically, Ima delivery much more in a sing-song manner, almost happy. There does seem to be a positive outlook in this piece ? maybe the message is life is short so be happy and don't worry about it? I don't know. The upbeat nature of this piece actually made me think of some groovy 60s piece, only the darker toned music (despite those ever present light piano notes) suggests nothing quite that chirpy (and, just on theme alone, the Monkees' "Laugh" comes to mind).

There's a lot to like about La Tulipe Noire's Faded Leaves (unless you hate "neo-prog," of course). It might over all be a little gloomy and minor chord, I suppose, not unlike some of the dark metal coming from our northern climes. I happen to dig that moment on Clutching?, but maybe LTN rely on it just a little too much. Good release, and maybe, ultimately, more satisfying than their last, which was very Marillion influenced.

Silence (7:29) / Castle On The Sand (8:27) / Winter In Your Heart (8:19) / Lost Souls Ballad (5:39) / Carnival In Venice (7:49) / A Beggar's Tale (4:15) / Le Fond Du Ciel (8:13) / Wanderer (9:05) / A Memory Picture (8:42)

Ima ? vocals
Alix ? keyboards
S. Kontakis ? guitars
Hyde ? bass
Nick Kassavetis ? drums


Kostas Savvides ? guitars

In The Gates Of Dream (1997)
Shattered Image (2000)
Faded Leaves (2002)
Nostimon Hemar (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin GR

Added: February 9th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.latulipenoire.gr
Hits: 1963
Language: english


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