Mike McLatchey 13-September-2002 Overview

The two albums by keys player Francois Breant could easily be considered Zeuhl just by the line ups involved. Just a ways into Sons Optique's opening track you get a huge violin solo by Didier Lockwood and that's only the beginning of the story. Breant generally surrounds himself with excellent musicians, and his solo albums are actually quite a bit similar to those of Jean Phillipe Goude and Benoit Widemann of the time where personnel is concerned. Musically, Breant's albums are generally of the same ilk as well, keyboard-centric albums with occasional fusion, classical and Zeuhl touches.

Sons Optique is generally a keyboard (as opposed to electronic) work, although the addition of Lockwood and bassist Guy Delacroix definitely brings in some Magma touches. Other than one, nearly ten-minute piece towards the end of the album, the songs are generally three to four minutes in length and have an impressionist feel, setting up a mood, often by piano, and letting the guests fill in the dots. It gives an impression of being a well-thought out, carefully crafted album, while at the same time, not hopping out and grabbing you by the ears like most Zeuhl-related works are prone to do. In fact, the Zeuhl tendencies here are only related on the melodic level, again, similar to contemporary works by other Zeuhl family keyboard players. It rarely ever moves into band work per se and seems the work of several sessions with different musicians. It's not an extremely compelling piece of work overall in terms of excitement, but in terms of compositional experimentation, it's of mild interest.

Lockwood, bassist Pascal Arroyo, and Alpha Ralpha drummer Emmanuel Lacordaire were the only musicians who followed Breant to his second solo album, however Breant chose to expand his accompaniment further with the addition of Magma vocalists Klaus Blasquiz, Stella Vander, and Lisa Deluxe for a cameo as well as guitarists Mick Martin and Jean Michel Kajdan and keys players Felix Blanchard and Guy Khalifa. This second effort, Voyeur Extra-Lucide, definitely sounds more like a band (and sometimes big band) outfit at times, and subsequently also sounds a bit closer to familiar Zeuhl territories, opening with a piece not far from what Magma was doing in the late 70s/early 80s. Of course, by this time it seems like the disco era had affected even Zeuhl music, and rather than being strengthened by such a powerful line up, Breant's backups seemed to water down his considerable compositional skills. This is particularly evident on a couple pieces similar in style to those on the first album, but here there are drum beats and extra keyboards added, arranging that arguably detracts from the sound. It's almost like Breant decided to go for a full band effect but only got about half way there. Perhaps this is one of those albums that takes repetition to fully appreciate. Either that or it's one of those albums which all the session giants in the world can't save. I'm about a 50/50 split.

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