Lac Placide - Away

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:59:00

It's kind of hard to pin down Lac Placide. Their name and the album's artwork might suggest a work of wispy yet lush melodies found on new age releases; and listening to the running water and atmospheres of the first track "Away: Intro Percussivo" (which does include drums) you just might think that indeed that is what is on offer. But then we segue into track two "A.E.O." and we get a wall-of-guitars that will immediately recall classic Big Country, though not quite as bagpipe-y. But even these give way to a swell of lush keys and gently strummed guitar all over pulsating bass, drums... for a moment, you're back in the 80s (early U2 also popped into mind)... but then we get the layered vocals of R?deur Renaud and Sa Majest? Roy... resulting in something else again. And in "Fairies & Tales" the band range in to jazz territory with some nice piano figures. You will also hear a metal element to the band's music... and hard rock in the epic length "Heaven Knows"...

... I should point out, as I introduce you to the rest of the band, that none use their given names in the credits, and none can be found on the website either - which is beautifully done in Flash... (and all in French, as Lac Placide hails from France). So on bass we have Archiviste Demurger, on guitars S?n?chal Morin (the band's founding members), Bourgmestre Ville on keyboards and Rebouleux on drums. Away is the full-length debut, though they released in 2000 an ep called Welcome...You're Not...

... If I were to make a general comparison it would be to Persephone's Dream, as Roy, whose voice is very much the vocal focal point, has one of those female voices that can sound both innocent and sweet and also quite rich and earthy. Renaud's voice is good, but in comparison to Roy's, seems too pleasant, too ... not weak exactly, but one expects a voice with a stronger presence. Actually, he reminds me of Jens Van Der Stempel, who once fronted Edgon Heath, though Renaud is not as prominent in the mix. But, as I said, it is Roy's that is the focal point, so on the other hand it reinforces that dynamic. Some times the pair sing in harmony, at others they sing in counterpoint, she mainly in English, he mainly in French. On "Transition" it is Renaud who takes the lead on a track that will make you think vaguely of a litany of progressive rock artists but yet none quite capture it... it is on this track that you do wish Renaud's voice had a stronger presence (as it does on the punchy "Too Real"). But "Transition" is catchy and memorable and features some highlight performances.

Musically, the band's music falls somewhere between progressive rock and progressive metal, borrowing what it needs from each to get the message across. The "Away" interludes (8 in all) provide a ... ahem ... placid and calming contrast to the other tracks. Especially the very abstract, staccato rhythms that recur in "Fairies & Tales" and the raw magnetism in "Too Real." Oh this latter track, the bass/guitar lines are little muddled, sounding more like the angry buzz trapped bees than the acid and raw sound I think they were going for, but the rest of the track more than makes up for this.

Morin is a great guitarist, playing interesting and attractive leads that are mix of metal and rock conventions. I can't name one single guitarist who he reminds me of, which is good and bad, bad only from the point of a reviewer. Good because it gives this band a fresh sound. My favorite track, but not by much (the album is that good) is the darker, moodier "Growing Circle." There's an air of mystery, and Sa Majest?s vocals are darker and richer here, hitting you right there in the gut (just as PD's Karen Nicely does, and, may I say, she reminds me of Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie And The Banshees) a bit, too... and on "Heaven Knows" of Martha Davis (Motels)).

Ville's keyboards provide much of the different atmospheres, as they function more as special effects than the traditional lush beds of keys. They shimmer and glisten within and behind the arrangements. And they are always present in the mix (and too much strangely so in "Away: Poco Curto"); in fact, the mix is so crystal clear it often seems too bright. If it weren't for the vocals, it might seem just a tad cold; but not so much that one finds it is really a problem. And though vocals are the focus, there is quite a bit going on behind them instrumentally speaking, giving the arrangements a dense... well, 3D like feel. And in the case of "Heaven Knows" there is a chaotic ferocity that also just seems plain busy... overly busy...

The closing piece is the 18-plus minute "Away: Outroppo - Molto Variato Con Flamenco (Un Poco Malsano)." Following on from the atmospheric interludes, this is sparse, beginning with a lovely flamenco guitar solo, with percussion that sounds like chittering crickets. When this section ends, you might think the piece is over (and it would provide a fitting end to the album), but we segue into a rhythmic percussion piece, and some more experimental territory of found percussion, voices, noises, and crashes. It's arty, but a stark contrast to not only the other interludes and how this piece started, but to the denser main tracks. Well, then we get a groovy (fat bass, noodle-y guitar solos) section that becomes a dark and churning rocker, and the most wholly direct track from the band, and the production is thicker here, too. (Maybe live?)

Even given the busy arrangements ("Heaven Knows" isn't the only one), there is something very appealing about Lac Placide. And you have to give them credit in that they are trying to blend their various interests into one work, but perhaps a little too much at times in one piece. That aside, Away is a stunning debut that gives the band many avenues for growth. It's a CD that is too good to miss hearing and surely deserves a space in your collection and some time on your player...

Away: Intro Percussivo (1:20) / A.E.O (6:42) / Away: Andante - Un Poco Medievo (1:05) / Fairies And Tales (7:40) / Away: Allegretto Con Fuego (0:34) / Transition (6:11) / Away: Tranquillo (Ma Non Troppo) (0:41) / Growing Circles (6:36) / Away: Tempo Di Cailluto (0:38) / Too Real (5:12) / Away: Nostalgico Assai E Diavolo (0:57) / I Prayers (6:51) including Away: Poco Curto / II Heaven Knows (9:18) / Away: Outroppo - Molto Variato Con Flamenco (Un Poco Malsano) (18:08)

Sa Majest? Roy - vocals
R?deur Renaud - vocals
Archiviste Demurger - bass
S?n?chal Morin - guitar
Bourgmestre Ville - keyboards
Rebouleux - drums

Welcome ... You're Not (ep) (2000)
Away (2003)
Freedom From Their Hands (ep) (2005)
Concert Au Triton (2005)
Closer (2006)
L'Apicultrice (ep) (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin FR

Added: November 28th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 959
Language: english


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