Clearlight - Symphony

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Clearlight 888 Music
Catalog Number: C8M 001
Format: CD
Total Time: 41:17:00

As implied by the album's title, Symphony, the music on Clearlight's first disc is symphonic. But not just symphonic, as on "1st Movement" there are a host of other sounds and effects. Clearlight is Cyrille Verdeaux, who composed and arranged the album's two movements, along with Christian Boule, Gilbert Artmann, Martin Isaacs, Steve Hillage, Didier Malherbe, and Tim Blake (the latter three members of Gong at the time). This CD re-release by Clearlight 888 Music restores the album's intended sequence by reversing the vinyl version's side one and side two movements, as detailed in the liner notes.

"1st Movement" begins with subtle, atmospheric keyboards, some of which parp, others that swirl - throughout the piece Verdeaux employs grand piano, organ, mellotron and synthesizers. I thought of Camel's "Rain Dances" during this first movement, though the track slowly builds, adding in those odd bleats and honks that made me think more of?well, electronica. But that is before it drifts back into atmospherics, as Boule's searing electric guitar lead rises up to take the lead, Verdeaux's piano right there along side for the ride. What can be said is that each movement contains submovements, each with their own character, and yet all seeming to hang together under the main theme's umbrella.

I am impressed with Verdeaux both an as composer and as an instrumentalist. I do hear hints of other progressive artists in his sound. I'm not suggesting influence, but just whom I am brought to mind of. Aside from Camel, I thought of Rick Wakeman, Steve Roach, Tangerine Dream, ? Hermetic Science ? the liner notes mention Debussy - if so, I've a classical composer to check out as well.

"2nd Movement" is rockier, bringing to mind Emerson Lake and Palmer during the opening keyboard notes (organ?), which are quite dark. Whereas "1st Movement" was often light an airy, this track is its counterpoint. Richer tones, the percussion more noticeable, yet here it must be synthesized as there's no drummer. Verdeaux's keys shimmer, and I think his organ of choice is the Hammond (it has that ring of familiarity to me). This movement is most aptly described as jazz-rock, but it's hard to say which side the emphasis should lie - Malherbe's sax would make me say jazz, but then you get the keys and it's back to rock, albeit symphonic. And Hillage's guitar could go either way - I've heard great things said about Hillage and listening to his playing here, I have to say that they are right. This is truly beautiful, emotional playing?guess I'll be seeking out Hillage as well.

There are some dark piano tones that Verdeaux uses here in the latter half or so of "2nd" that seem oh so very familiar?it took a moment, but I know what I was thinking of and I'm certain it's coincidence? Queen on the Flash Gordon soundtrack ? don't remember the exact track, of course ? but if you're not into Queen or dislike that soundtrack, don't let this comparison put you off Clearlight. Maybe both have dipped from a similar well and the reference goes back further (Debussy perhaps?).

The music is quite beautiful and quite contrasted; I am enjoying listening to it the more and more I play it. The different sides of me like the different sides of Clearlight, which makes this, for me, a very satisfying album.

1st Movement (20:37) / 2nd Movement (20:40)

Cyrille Verdeaux - grand piano, organ, mellotrons, synthesizers
Christian Boule - electric guitar (1)
Gilbert Artmann - drums, vibraphone (1)
Martin Isaacs - electric bass (1)
Steve Hillage - electric guitar (2)
Didier Malherbe - saxophone (2)
Tim Blake - synthesizer VCS3, tibetan bowl (2)

Symphony (1973)
Forever Blowing Bubbles (1975)
Delired Cameleon Family (1974)
Les Contes De Singe Fou (1977)
Clearlight Visions (1978)
Offrandes (1980)
Nocturnes Digitales (1980)
Prophecy (1981)
Flowers From Heaven (1983)
Piano For The Third Ear (1983)
Journey To Tantraland (1984/1999/2001)
Complete Kundalini Opera Box Set (1984) (6 cassettes)
Messenger Of The Son (1985)
Rhapsody For The Blue Planet (1988)
Symphony II (1990)
In Your Hands (Les Contes De Singe Fou) (re-recording, 1994)
Impressionist Musique (1995)
Tribal Hybrid Concept (1998, w/Menestreyl)
Ethnicolours (1998, w/Menestreyl)
Best Of Rainbow (1999) (sampler of box set below)
Complete Rainbow Box Set (1999) (6 CDs)
Aerobix 99 (1998)
Best Of Kundalini Opera (1999) (sampler of box set below)
Complete Kundalini Opera Box Set (1999) (7 CDs)
Infinite Symphony (2003)
Impressionist Musique (tba)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin FR

Added: May 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1050
Language: english


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