Tulipe Noire, La - In The Gates Of Dream

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Europa Records
Catalog Number: CD 103
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:03:00

In The Gates Of Dream is the first release by the Grecian band La Tulipe Noire. Musically, it is not quite as strongly Marillion-esque as their most recent, Shattered Image. The vocalist, Lena, might be termed Anderson-esque, as in Jon Anderson. She has a high, but flat, voice ? but then maybe I've been spoiled by gutsier female vocalists (Bush, Haslem, Bouchelle, ? Nicks). There are sections here and there where I do like her vocals, but overall they do not impress me. If she had more often gone for the ethereal rather than the dry, monotone this would have been a much more overall enjoyable release.

It isn't a bad record, though it doesn't really break into new territory. The instrumental pieces owe as much to some Italian progressive as it does to neo-prog, the balance being more less of the former and more of the latter on this disk. But, even so, quite a bit of both). It is the keys (piano, organ, and synth) of Alix that give it that neo-feel (or, more specifically, that Mark Kelly-like neo feel; though sometimes I think of Clive Nolan).

"Through The Gates" has vague Emerson, Lake and Palmer references here and there?circa Brain Salad Surgery. It is the keys that lead this track, though percussion (George F.) gets it small share of the spotlight. There are a few hints of guitar (either Barkoulas or Condakis) about a third of the way through, but more as accent than as lead instrument.

If I were handing out points, they'd get high marks for musicianship, but rather middling marks for originality. For example, you might think that when "The Sign Of The Dragon" first starts that they're going to break into "Market Square Heroes," but very quickly it changes direction. The vocal pattern is a line sung at normal pitch ? well, lower in this case, ending at a higher pitch. Or higher to lower. I've been trying to figure out where I'd heard that device before, outside of Genesis and Marillion. And then it hit me - "Words" by Missing Persons ("Do you hear me, do you care?"). Here you'll also get a few bars that echo, without exactly mimicking, Genesis' "Watcher Of The Skies."

Hear how the first section "Orange Flames" follows a similar pattern to Marillion's "She Chameleon" ? heavily percussive, understated vocals? There is a beautiful acoustic guitar section during the closing moments of "The Burst," which is, I'm tempted to say, Howe-esque.

As you might expect, especially by the title, this is a concept album. Parts of the concept seem lifted from ideas of other songs - I'm no stranger to that, of course, as I wrote a scene in my (yet unfinished) novel using a section of a Marillion song to get the feel and beats. So, to go back to "The Sign of The Dragon," the imagery of a "shouting mob," "marchers"? also reference the track, perhaps coincidentally, but I was struck by it. The whole concept is a fantasy epic set in, yup, the land of dreams. (Or would that be a reference to Yes' "Gates of Delirium"?)

This isn't a great album, but it is good. It is played well and can sustain repeated listenings. Where they went from here was toward stronger vocals (by a different vocalist) but also a stronger reliance on their influences. Hopefully, they'll back off from the influences and let their own muses takes the lead for their next album.

Oblivion (9:05) / Through The Gates (4:22) / In The Haunted Forest (6:06) / The Sign Of The Dragon (5:39) / Orange Flames (7:04) / The Messenger (5:48) / Gateway (4:35) / The Burst (6:44)

Lena - voice
Alix - piano, organ, synthesizers, backing vocals
Berkoulas - guitars
Condakis - guitars
Hyde - bass, additional keyboards
George F. - drums

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

Genre: Neo Prog

Origin GR

Added: July 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.latulipenoire.gr
Hits: 1363
Language: english


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