Dan Casey    19-March-2001 Gialorgues

Shylock - Gialorgues (Musea FGBG 4105.AR, 1977/1994, CD)

Most prog bands that came out of France in the 70's had something stylistically in common: a minimalist approach. Not minimalist in the sense of Philip Glass, say, but rather a profound thematic understatement that gave them a confident, but not arrogant, air. Gialorgues, the first of two albums from this three-piece, lives up to that generalization. The music is almost textbook symphonic. All the elements are here: soaring guitar leads, lyrical melodies (while always instrumental), rich chord voicings, and the quasi-classical musings of the adventurous ensemble. The album proper is comprised of two lengthy pieces with a short, march-like interlude between them. The second of the longer works is much more experimental than the first, with its improv percussion and guitar effects over a simple ostinato keyboard line. Recalling King Crimson, it's interesting but it drags on for far too long. The remaining five cuts on the disc are bonus tracks from 1981, when the band had dwindled to a duo after the drummer left. These keyboard/guitar duets are mildly amusing, but of lesser substance than the album itself. Musea (as usual) have provided excellent liner notes. Shylock are probably as popular as they've ever been, with Anglagard constantly citing them as a major influence, and until their classic second album Ile de Fievre is released on disc, this offering will certainly suffice [Ed. - Ile de Fievre is currently available on CD]

(Originally published in Exposť #3, p. 17)

Mac Beaulieu 26-April-2001 Ile De Fievre

Justly revered for its 13-minute introductory masterpiece, many consider this album a must-have, if only for that one track. Indeed, "Ile de Fievre" in an amazing mix of virtuoso showmanship and symphonic grandeur. Opening with a very busy, very tightly wound multi-keyboard intro, the band joins in while guitarist Frederic L' Epee introduces the first theme: a soaring, inspiring flight backed by mellotron strings and Andre Fisichella's light, but very busy drums. This is followed by the second theme which alternates with the first: keyboardist Didier Lustig's solo Hammond B3, sounding much like a church organ, plays a rolling line, backed by a very majestic chord progression. The first detour follows with a thrilling guitar and piano interplay, leading to some fairly wacked out synth soloing. And so the track takes a number of purposeful changes and detours, all played with amazing dexterity. It's split midway by an unaccompanied guitar solo that is jarringly interupted by the full band, blanketed by mellotron strings recalling early Genesis. After another brief detour, Lustig's majestic Hammond theme returns, this time replete with a mellotron choir and bells. Finishing with the original keyboard intro, it's no wonder the rest of the album receives such short shrift: what can possibly follow such an incomparable adventure?

My solution is to listen to the first track last. This way the rest of the disc's strengths stand out much more clearly. The next track begins with short bursts of improv before the guitar introduces a rhythmic theme, which is eventually picked up by the rest of the band and toyed with. Certainly less melodic and more abstract, with some raw Frippian angles from L'Epee. "Choral" is short and symphonic, dominated by mellotron with a Pulsar-like drama. "Himogene" is decidedly funky with its clavinet and bouncing bass line, getting a bit 'edgey' when the guitar comes in. The tuned percussion break and warped tape effects lend it an air of experimentation. "Lierre d' aujourd'hui" is a bit warped and otherworldly, with some freeform experimenting which is tied together by Andre Fisichella's rapid snare rolls and cymbal taps. Speaking of which, Fisichella's speedy, deft touch is another standout element of this entire album. The 10-minute "Laocksetal" closes the disc with a bit of a mix of previous styles: it sticks heavily to the experimental ethos of most of the disc, while it manages to occasionally reach a comparable intensity to the title track. Despite its lack of "Ile de Fievre's" immediacy (or perhaps because of that), this is just as enjoyable. It finishes with a mellotron-rich, Pulsar-like space section.

Links for further information