Mike McLatchey 23-August-2002 L'Ile ou Vivent Les Loups

Probably the most heralded item on the rare Canadian label Tamanoir, L'Engoulevent's L'Ile ou Vivent les Loups is one of the best examples of a blend of folk and symphonic rock. In Canada, there is an established tradition of electrified folk-pop music of which albums of the sort often come up under the rubric of progressive rock when it's often far from the truth. However, this one can be considered to be a piece of music that lives up to its billing. There is a minimum of percussion (in fact, a kit only comes in later in the album), and generally the richly symphonic music is led by piano, ensemble vocal choirs and strings in a overtly melodic style informed by folk while not having any of its clear elements. In fact, this album might be too pretty for some as it's certainly a bit on the sweet side for me, exacerbated by one of the melodies on side 1 sounding almost exactly like the chorus from Derek & The Dominos Layla. In fact, when I mention that L'Engoulevent seems like a cross between folk and symphonic rock, the emphasis is on the symphonic because this album rarely approaches rock in any way. Yes, this is prog your mom will like as it steers well away from any dangerous territory, and bathes the listener in a pastoral, pristine vision of great beauty. This is the sort of album that those who don't mind the purely romantic will like, while those into more complex and angular forms of prog will probably find a bit too pretty. Whatever your inclination, this is an extraordinarily well done piece of music performed with class and restraint.

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