Monday, April 8, 2019

Atoll - 1979 - Rock Puzzle

Rock Puzzle

01. L'Age D'or (dans 8000 Ans) (5:58)
02. L'Ultime Rock (4:08)
03. Kaelka (2:54)
04. Smarto Kitschy (7:51)
05. Eau (H20) (5:53)
06. Garces De Femmes (4:11)
07. La Maison De Men-Taa (4:10)
08. Puzzle (8:07)

Bonus Tracks on 1993 & 1999 CD releases:
09. L'Ultime Rock (Studio Z Version) (3:50)
10. Puzzle (Studio Z Version) (7:40)
11. Atari That's A Game! (Smarto Kitschy - American mix) (8:00)
12. Here Comes The Feeling (4:30)
13. No Reply (4:05)
14. Eye To Eye (5:20)

- André Balzer / lead vocals
- Christian Béya / lead, acoustic & 12-string guitars, backing vocals
- Michel Taillet / piano, Fender electric piano, synths (Eminent 310, Korg, Prophet), Clavinet D6, percussion, backing vocals
- Jean-Luc Thillot / bass, Moog bass pedals, acoustic & 12-string guitars, backing vocals
- Alain Gozzo / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Romain Didier / string & horn arrangements (1-4,8)
- Lisa Deluxe / backing vocals (1,4,8,11)
- Stella Vander / backing vocals (1,4,8,11)
- John Wetton / lead vocals & bass (12-14)
- Jean-Jacques Flety / guitar (12-14)

Atoll is an amazing band. I guess that it is the only one to bring me so frequently from heaven down to earth (or even hell) and back again to heaven. This feeling is fully present during the opening number "L' Âge D'Or". Rocking with average success it will turn out fully symphonic and brilliant. Rather strange.
Actually, I already made this comment in my review of their third album "Tertio" : at this stage of their career, "Atoll" preceeds "Ange" by a year or two. Almost pure French rock with "L'Ultime Rock" : it sounds all but normal, right ? "Ange" will also go in this direction with the album "Vu D'un Chien" (released in 1980 and pretty weak).

"Atoll" will also produce some pure symphonic tracks here, as "Kaelka". Gorgeous keyboards and somptuous guitar are fabulous. It is of course not an essential song in their repertoire but still a very pleasant prog moment. What else can we ask ? Another symphonic but simple song ? You'll get it with "La Maison de Men-Taa".

A song like "Smarto Kitchy" is again fully rock-oriented : incredible rhythm and great guitar. Very funny mood : truely festive. When you listen to this one, you know where a band like "Rita Mitsouko" (another French band) found their inspiration for "Marcia Baila" (a great song released in ... 1984). It is true that it sounds a bit disco; but the hypnotic rhythm is just superb. This song has of course nothing to do with the classic "Atoll" repertoire (but do they really have a classic repertoire ?). I like it very much, but be open-minded while listening to it...I see it as a highlight, but I understand that most of the progheads just won't be able to listen to this song in its entirety (eight minutes).

"Eau" is again a very pleasant symphonic track. Nice acoustic guitar and grandiose keyboards to support André Balzer on the lead vocals. Guitar is just fantastic. Another highlight. Followed by one of the weakest number of this album : "Garces De Femmes". An uninspired rock song only saved by a wonderful work from Christian Beya (but he is really outstanding throughout this release).

The closing number is fully in-line with the album. Great rock music and superb guitar + keyboards again. A nice piece to finish the puzzle.

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