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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Drunksouls

Just Before Chaos

Review by Gary Hill

This is a compilation album from a group described as a French reggae outfit. I don’t think I’ve heard French reggae before. I don’t really hear reggae in everything here, but I do hear it in quite a bit. That’s blended with some decidedly French things like café music and jazz (yes, I know jazz is American, but it really has been embraced by the French like few other countries have). Add in some hip hop, rock and space music and you’ll be in the right neighborhood. This is quite a cool set. I like it a lot. Some lyrics are in French, while many are in English.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Chaos (From "Le petit bus rouge")

I know these guys are supposed to be reggae, but there is really a Latin vibe to this. Add some serious symphonic elements and this is an unusual and classy piece of music. I really love the guitar soloing on the piece.

Human Race (Dom Morley Radio Edit)
Now, this is more reggae. It feels a bit like Madness in some ways. It’s bouncy and fun, but the vocals lend a more serious vibe to the piece. This is cool stuff. There are definitely traces of jazz in the mix.
J'ai fait un reve (Radio Edit)
Jazz, French music, rock and much more seem to merge on this cut. It’s another where the guitar soloing is particularly noteworthy.
Dear Lady
A mellower cut, I wouldn’t quite consider this a ballad. It’s very much set in an alternative rock turned classic sort of sound. There is a soulful texture here and this is tasty stuff. There is also almost a chamber prog element to this. It’s quite an extended number.
Comme Louise et Thelma (Acoustic Radio Edit)
Percussion starts it out here and this is another piece that does have some recognizable reggae in the mix. Still, the usual contenders of jazz, soulful pop music and café sounds are all present, too. It’s a shorter tune.
Pain of Life
Drums are the start of this one, too. It’s also another cut that has more reggae built into it. As this works out, though, it seems to move into territory that’s not far from modern progressive rock at times. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s prog, but it has those leanings. This is energetic and classy.
No More Fighting
Now, this is reggae. It’s got a lot in common with Bob Marley, but with a French element added to the mix. I like this a lot.
The Fall
This is funky. It’s also got plenty of reggae along with some retro jazz. It’s one of my favorite tracks of the whole set and just oozes cool.
Drifter Song
Another funky one, I love the vibe to this. It’s got lots of reggae, lots of jazz and some hip hop. There is even some space music later in the piece. It might be my favorite tune here.
Revolution
There is a real mysterious sound to the music that starts things here. As the vocals enter they bring it into a hip hop reggae mix. I’m reminded a bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers on this cut. This is the hardest rocking thing here and I love the guitar sound.
L'amour Dietetique
The section that opens this, with breathing and mysterious music, is ominous and a little unsettling. It gives way, though, to a smooth groove that’s soulful and jazzy. There are urban elements, but this is one of the most “French” sounding pieces here. Of course, the lyrics in French have a lot to do with that.
Derniere Cigarette
Another that’s in French, this has a lot of progressive rock and jazz in the mix. It’s a real screamer that’s both quite different from the rest and a lot of fun.
The End
Mellower, but dramatic, this is an intriguing cut. It’s got a lot of prog rock in it, but still has a lot of the other elements we’ve heard throughout the disc. I like this one a lot, too.

              

 
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