Peter Thelen    15-July-2001 Le Tresor De Valliesres

Versailles - "Le Tresor De Valliesres"
(Musea FGBG 4013.AR, 1994, CD)

The French four-piece Versailles takes the spirit of the classic French symphonics (Ange, Mona Lisa, etc.) and dresses it in a modern suit of heavy armor. Vocalist Guillaume de la Piliere links the present to the past, and although his voice is a bit more gravelly and uncontrolled than Christian Decamps (of Ange), it's still quite evident that there is a major influence here. Lyrics are all in French.

Guillaume is also the guitarist and flautist, and on the longer tracks he and the rest of the band stretch out and show what they are made of: a powerful symphonic based rock with a very French feel, dramatic and emotional. They do an excellent job on these instrumental passages, and nobly attempt to do some very complex licks, yet at times I get the feeling they are in a little over their heads. At their instrumental best (eg. the twenty minute "Une Saint Barthélémy Dévote" or the thirteen minute "Dégénérescence obsessionelle") they can call in all the powers and deliver a powerful rock based opus with a complex edge and gripping solos. Shorter tracks like "Exquisite Betise," "Avec Tous Mes Hommages" and "Viendra L'heure" call up the spirit of the past a bit more, due to their high degree of vocal content - yet the inclusion of both keeps the album from weighing down or becoming too lofty and poetic. An acoustic guitar instrumental "Jadis" flows nicely in the mix as well.

One complaint is of the sound quality, of concern only when everyone is playing at once - but which is probably when a listener wants to hear the most. The clarity suffers a bit at some of these power points, yet still it's not as bad as the original mix of Deus Ex Machina's Gladium Caeli. Overall, this is a winner, one I'm certain that most listeners would enjoy.

(Originally published in Exposé # 4, p.16 , Edited for Gnosis 7/15/01)

Mike McLatchey    11-April-2001 Le Tresor de Valliesres

Versailles - Le Tresor De Valliesres (Musea FGBG 4013.AR, 1994, CD)

It's amazing how opinions on bands, even one or two, can sway you. This is French group Versailles' third album and by the reports of their first album Le Cathedrale Du Temps, I was led to stay far away. This opinion also affected my decision to originally pass on Don Giovanni which was declared by some as a big step up. Their third album is certainly one of the better retro-symphonic prog albums of the 90's. The band's first obvious influence is Ange, which is also evident by their contribution to the A Propos D'Ange compilation. Vocalist Guillaume De La Pilliere sounds quite a bit like Christian Decamps at times, yet not quite as strong or gifted. In fact some of the narration reminds me of the style on the Emile Jacotey album. Instrumentally, the music is excellent with a good mix of digital and analog (the mellotron is extremely effective here) keys, in a restrained powerful style comparable to Pink Floyd circa "Meddle" (parts of it are practically plagiaristic - check out the David Gilmour guitar lines a la "Echoes" in "Une Saint Barthelemy Devote" ) or classic Pulsar (Strands or Halloween). The music is dynamic, melodic, and well-constructed with diverse use of sounds and textures. By the time you get to the incredible 20 minute "Une Saint Barthelemy Devote", I'm sure most fans of 70's symphonic will be under its spell.

(Originally published in Exposé #4, p. 17, Edited for Gnosis 4/6/01)

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