Here is the eagerly awaited reissue of EDITION SPECIALE’s second album ! This wonderful french band of the seventies, featuring Ann Ballester (keyboards and vocals) and Mimi lorenzini (guitars and vocals) released “Aliquante” in 1977. Nine concise, explosive pieces and songs (two bonus tracks, demos of the third album) , in a vein near Weather Report, Return to Forever,…”Aliquante” means: “That is not included an exact number of times in a whole”, an illustration of the complex rhythms the band loves. Josquin Turenne Des Près (bass) and Alain Gouillard (drums) complete this bunch of increduble virtuosos, for a melodious, impressive and warmful music, worked-out and inspired: an absolute masterpiece!………………
The case of a group coming of age: between L'Allée des Tilleuls and Aliquante, Edition Speciale found its own sound, its own identity, and managed to get rid of all the irritating aspects found on their debut LP and produce one of the best French albums of fusion progressive rock, making it a must-have item for the fan of complex, intelligent side of prog and a true classic of the French school. References to the Canterbury scene are in order – especially Caravan’s mid-period and Hatfield and the North and National Health’s first LPs – along with Sloche’s Stadaconé. The balance has shifted in favor of instrumentals over vocal tracks, which also means that the quaintest melodies are gone and the focus is more on intricate melodic lines. Side one is an all-instrumental affair, side two features lyrics in French and English. The writing is very impressive and the playing among the most virtuosic in French rock history. “Vedra” and “So Deep Inside” have the light touch typical of the Canterbury scene: a light jazzy rhythm section and poppish melodies grounded by the dense arrangements and complex songwriting they attempt to hide. “A la Source du Rêve” rocks more resolutely, so does “Le Temps d'un Solo,” a frantic showcase for guitarist Mimi Lorenzini, who by now had developed his own approach to the jazz-rock guitar. The album contains numerous highlights, but “La Fille du Ruisseau” still stands out. First, it features an irresistible groove, fast-paced and shifting. Second, it sports a catchy melody that has a nice Brian Auger feel. And third, it ends with some fantastic solo trades between Lorenzini and keyboardist Ann Ballester. The original album closer “Alone Completely Unknown” is not to be left out either, even though the English singing is less convincing (and the falsetto a bit unnerving). Originally released by RCA in 1977, Aliquante has been reissued by Musea in 2004 with two bonus tracks, demo versions of two songs that would appear on the group’s next album Horizon Digital. Highly recommended. ….by François Couture……….
Edition Speciale is one of the most remarkable bands formed in the second half of the ‘70s, though we only begin exploring its legacy and comprehending its significance in the history of France’s Progressive Rock movement and in general. (The proverb “Not in the winning, but in the taking part lies a glory” sounds really topical in this case.) Both of their first albums were originally released through the major RCA label. The CD reissue of “Aliquante” also features bonus tracks, but unlike those on the band’s debut, “Allee des Tilleuls”, none of them were published before. The lineup changes are limited by the appearance of Alain Gouillard, who replaced original drummer Jean-Francois Bouchet.
Analysis. No genuine Prog lover will ever be amazed at the capability of the genre’s vintage representatives for putting magic in their music and the ease with which they achieved it. In my honest opinion, it’s something from on High. Of course, here is just such an instance. There is a rather huge difference between the first two albums by Edition Speciale, and even though the second one seems to be not as exceptionally original as its predecessor, I like it better. Definitely. The traces of influences of Brand X and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band are present in the music, but the quantity of them is too little to make it sound derivative. While regarding the composition, and especially the performance mastery, the band just surpassed itself. On “Aliquante”, they have exceeded the bounds of Art-Rock and entered those of classic Jazz-Fusion, as a result of which they got a highly efficient confluence of these genres, with the slight predominance of the latter. Overall, all nine of the tracks are entities of a unified compositionally stylistic concept, but most of the songs have some distinctions, and not only because they contain vocals. Vice versa about instrumental pieces, of course. These take the first four positions in the album’s track list and the last. Well, Ann Ballester sings on So Deep Inside, but only one quatrain, in the very beginning, practically out of the context of the principal musical events. With the exception of the separately standing Aurore, which closes the album, the instrumental compositions are notable for intensive, mostly up-tempo arrangements with plenty of acoustic textures. The parts (mostly solos, all being exceptionally original and masterful) of acoustic guitar play a highly important role on each of them, especially on A la Source du Reve, which doesn’t contain those of electric guitar. But although Brand X and (highly underrated, IMHO) Manfred Mann’s Earth Band never laid special emphasis on solos of acoustic guitar, the number of artifacts of their legacy is larger exactly in the instrumental pieces. Specifically, they can be found in some parts of electric guitar and those of Moog, respectively. Those two songs that are titled in English are with English lyrics, and the others are in French. Ann does lead vocals either alone or along with Mimi (who’s a man, at least physiologically, though there is also an excellent three-voice choir in addition. The album is excellent throughout, so it would be wrong to say that the songs are better than the instrumentals. Nevertheless, they are more original, while one of them: Alone Completely Unknown features a rather long instrumental part, which is just filled with magic. I am deeply impressed by that song: nearly as much as I was by Genesis’s Firth of Fifth when I’ve heard it for the first time.
Conclusion. This band possessed a multifaceted talent. It was on par with most of their contemporary Jazz-Fusion congeners and is probably the best female-led band of all time. Their “Aliquante” is not an easy album to get into, but then, it offers me new surprises with every listen, which is just all I needed. Bravely join the cohort of the listeners if you consider the structured European Jazz-Fusion……………
These four guys knew how to please their audience! The dynamic and powerful music on the nine compositions is based upon a strong and adventurous rhythm-section, great interplay and lots of sensational soli: wah- wah drenched guitar and pitchbend-driven keyboard pyrotechnics. A must for the jazz funk jazz rock aficionados!………….
Credits Bass Guitar, Vocals, Artwork By – Josquin Turenne Des Prés Drums – Alain Gouillard Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Marius Lorenzini Mixed By – Alain Migliaccio Photography By – Fernando Viamonte Piano [Acoustic], Electric Piano, Synthesizer [A.R.P. Odyssey, A.R.P. Omni], Vocals – Ann Ballester Recorded By – Patrice Cramer
Tracklist A1 Vedra 6:36 A2 À La Source Du Rêve 7:45 A3 So Deep Inside 5:45 A4 Le Temps D'Un Solo 5:43 B1 La Ville En Béton 5:00 B2 La Fille Du Ruisseau 6:45 B3 Alone, Completely Unknown 6:55