We have to go back in time, to the first year of progVisions (2000) when Alfonso Algora wrote his review about the Ange album “La voiture à eau”. The years after that progVisions never got their hands on promo copies of Ange albums. As Ange fan it was also difficult to buy Ange albums outside of France. But the internet has opened new worlds for us. The band Ange, who has a world-famous status in France, is for more than 40 years on the road now. In 2002 the band gave a fantastic gig in Zoetermeer, Holland ... I have sweet memories of that evening. You can read my review here on progVisions. So I'm delighted to tell you that progVisions is about to review two new albums of Ange. The band released on the Art-Disto label a fantastic CD/DVD set entitled “Escale à Ch'tiland” and a brand new studio album entitled “Moyen-Âge”.
Tristan Décamps - keyboards, piano, vocals, vocal harmonies; Hassan Hajdi - guitars; Thierry Sidhoum - bass; Benoit Cazzulini - drums, percussion; Christian Décamps - vocals, guitars, several keyboards
The first thing you will notice about the line-up is that Caroline Crozat left the band. But all the other competent musicians are still there. The last years the line-up was steady and the band has build up a magnificent live reputation (the CD/DVD set “Escale à Ch'tiland” will confirm that). But first my review of the new studio album “Moyen-Âge”.
The album consists out of four songs and a long suite called “Moyen-Âge” (The Middle Ages) which is divided into eight parts. The album opens with the up-tempo song “Tueuse à gages (4:03). Christian Décamps is in top form on this album and he brings his famous theatrical vocals as only he can. More interesting is the beautiful ballad “Le premier arrivé attend l'autre” (4:23). In this song Tristan Décamps creates with his keyboards a magical atmosphere and Hassan Hajdi plays his first melodic guitar solo. The combination of the delicate sung vocals of father Christian and the delicious keyboard carpets of son Tristan works very well ... it creates pure magic. The next song is called “Opéra-bouffe ou la Quête du Gras” (5:31). The first vocal lines are sung by Christian Décamps but the second verse is sung by Tristan Décamps who has a beautiful voice. Hassan Hajdi shows in this song that he is an all-round guitar player who has the technique to play different styles. “Les mots simples” (3:30) is an airy song with catchy vocal refrains and nice keyboard orchestrations.
The suite “Moyen-Âge” opens with the song “Un goût de pain perdu” (9:00) which has a slow and mysterious atmosphere with theatrical vocals (Christian and Tristan) and orchestral keyboards. The repetitive ending abruptly goes into the short song “Camelote” (2:51), a song with beautiful vocal harmonies and atmospheric keyboards. “Le cri du samouraï” (3:42) is an up-tempo song with an aggressive sounding Hassan Hajdi (guitar) that gives a nice contrast with the melodic vocals and keyboard parts. The longest part of the “Moyen-Âge” suite is called “A la cour du Roi Nombril” (10:28). For me this is the highlight of the album. The instrumental orchestral opening is overwhelming and magnificent. The middle section of this part has delicate vocals that are sung with a lot of passion. The keyboards of Tristan are sounding mysterious and orchestral. Tristan is a very talented guy and is for me one of the forces behind this Ange. He deserves the same amount of attention as his father Christian does... he has the passion of his father, but he also shows sensitivity in his keyboard playing and vocal parts. This passionate composition, and highlight of the album, is of course written by Tristan Décamps and Christian Décamps together. “Les clés du harem” (3:49) is a short song with some nice orchestral keyboard parts that brings a classical atmosphere to the song. The longer song “Je ne suis pas de ce monde” (8:24) is a diverse track with up-tempo guitar parts, slow passionate vocals, a melodic guitar solo and beautiful keyboard strings. You can find beautiful melodies in this track. In the instrumental opening of “Entre les gouttes” (7:30) the tension of the music is slowly building up. The contrast with the following vocal part (beautifully sung by Tristan) is high. This Tristan Décamps/Christian Décamps composition is another highlight of this great album. In the following instrumental part the tension of the music is again building up towards a climax. You can find mysterious keyboard parts and great drum parts (Benoit Cazzulini) in this song. In the closing part “Abracadabra” (6:10) Christian Décamps is also building up the tension with his passionate vocals. The song ends with a nice melodic instrumental part.
Can you believe that Ange is more then 40 years active in the progscene? And that the band has released more than 30 albums if you also count the many live albums? “Moyen-Âge” the brand new studio album is one of their best recordings of the last years. However Caroline Crozat left Ange, the band has a stable line-up for years now. You can hear this on this album or if you have the chance to see the band in concert. The suite “Moyen-Âge” with highlights “A la cour du Roi Nombril” and “Entre les gouttes” (both Tristan Décamps/Christian Décamps compositions) is impressive. I would like to mention Tristan Décamps who with his varied and magical keyboard parts and sensitive vocal parts steals the show on this very good prog album. If you like progressive rock with theatrical and passionate sung vocals and magical keyboard sounds this Ange album is for you!