143

Jean-Luc Herve Berthelot: Echoes from the Last Fairyland

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Jean-Luc Herve Berthelot: Echoes from the Last Fairyland This French import is quite a surprise. The packaging, with its hokey fantasy themes ("fairies, elves, and gentle wizards live in vast forests, where white unicorns and iridescent dragons frolic peacefully"...) leads you to think that this will be just more pretty-sweet New Age fluff. But ignore the words and listen to the music and you will find a surprisingly thoughtful and inventive set of synthesizer pieces. The musical language is the same basic repertoire as the famous Euro-synth players like Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, or especially Jean-Michel Jarre: modal harmonies, with a modal melody carried on smooth synthesizer lines, accompanied by a repeating synthesizer sequence as well as "special effects" sounds. In fact Berthelot, in places, sounds quite a lot like a somewhat more leisurely transformation of Jean-Michel Jarre.

But it's worth going through to catch the unusual passages. Though Berthelot usually stays with a solidly modal harmony, every so often he swerves off suddenly into avant-garde atonality. From Vangelis to Stockhausen in two minutes! When Berthelot is in avant-garde mode, he's very interesting listening. Like the German experimentalist, Berthelot uses heavily modified voices, speaking unidentifiable syllables that may or may not be derived from French or English. Track 3, "The Wizard of all times," and track 4, "The perfect wand," are a good example of this; they range from glassy, tinkling electronic ambient and perky, cruising synthesizer rhythms, to weird moments with spooky voices in incomprehensible dialogue.

Most of the album, though, stays fairly strictly with the familiar Euro-synthesizer styling we listeners are used to. Berthelot's music, despite its modern instrumentation, is almost entirely derived from European culture - except for a very attenuated Indian raga-harmony in a couple of pieces, it shows hardly any influence from Oriental, African, Aboriginal, or American music. This Eurocentrism - which is not necessarily a disadvantage - holds true whether Berthelot is playing pop or avant-garde. It's almost as if this were, in some ironic way, "classical music."


Title: Echoes from the Last Fairyland | Year Released: 2001


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read Pandora's Bag CD/LP/Track Review Pandora's Bag
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 25, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 25, 2017
Read The Attic CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Outside The Comfort Zone CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Impulsive Illuminations" CD/LP/Track Review Impulsive Illuminations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Zanshin" CD/LP/Track Review Zanshin
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Original Demos" CD/LP/Track Review Original Demos
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Double Strike" CD/LP/Track Review Double Strike
by James Nadal
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
by Nick Davies
Published: December 21, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!