Minimum Vital - Atlas

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Musea Records
Catalog Number: FGBG 4533.AR
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:35:00

It is not because the brothers Jean-Luc and Thierry Payssan devoted a lot of their time to their "solo" escapade Vital Duo that the actual band Minimum Vital had ceased to exist. In fact, because every single musician of that band has other musical activities outside of the band it enables Minimum Vital to take a decent time off. So it's with great pleasure that we welcome the full band again with tons of newly found energy based around the same musical spirit that often contains lyrics sung in a self-invented language. As with Magma, this language mainly has to sound well, rather than contain words that have to be understood.

It has been years since I've seen the band live, but I do think I already saw them perform the opening track of this new studio album, "Saltarello," during one of those rare performances. Especially the superb interaction between the male vocals of Jean-Baptiste Ferracci together with the female vocals of Sonia Nedelec is out of this world. These really are two fantastic singers whose vocal range blends ever so well within the music of Minimum Vital that it has become unthinkable to ever replace both singers within the nucleus of this band. Just listen to the absolutely wonderful playful vocal interlude halfway through "Louez Son Nom" as proof of their unrivalled quality! From a musical perspective, of course, there are influences from the Vital Duo period as well, although it most certainly "rocks" much more. I think it's the high-pitched synth parts of Thierry that deliver kind of the typical trademark. Other highlights in "Volubilis" are both the classical guitar as well as the powerful dynamics of the church organ. The intro for the rhythmic title track reminds me of the lesser known new wave group Landscape who scored a minor hit with "Einstein A Go Go" years ago, whilst you could also put forward the name of Yellow Magic Orchestra if you like. But that's only where the rhythmic parts are concerned, as of course this keyboard driven track also includes some pure prog delights which has Thierry's keyboards almost sound like Kit Watkins. Over the years Jean-Luc Payssan has also created a very unique sound on his guitar which makes his inclusion in the band's music very prominent. In a way, you can compare his slightly distorted sound with that of Mike Oldfield, whilst very often this sound is also backed by church organ as during the more rocking final track "Icarus."

In a way, I have to be honest and say that nothing has changed, that Minimum Vital today sounds as unique and captivating as during their Sarabande period. Of course a lot has changed from a production perspective, as the sound is much more polished whilst the arrangements are more elaborate. However, the spirit of Minimum Vital has not been changed, the use of their own language, the combination of male and female vocals, the unique input of the brothers Payssan and certainly not to be forgotten the firm backbone of bass and drums, it all sounds absolutely right. With Atlas maybe the authentic medieval elements have been left behind in favour of a more rock approach. But, whatever you try to say about this album, it is and will always remain a true Minimum Vital masterpiece, which has to be heard to be believed.

Saltarello (3:49) / Volubilis (7:01) / Louez Son Nom (7:35) / Voyage I (7:31) / Deux Amis (6:55) / La Ribote (3:15) / Atlas (6:41) / Icarus (6:04)

Jean-Baptiste Ferracci - vocals
Sonia Nedelec?- vocals
Didier Ottaviani?- drums, percussion
Jean-Luc Payssan?- guitars, mandolin, vocals, percussion
Thierry Payssan?- organ, synths, vocals, percussion
Eric Hebeyrol?- bass

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: June 7th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english


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