143

Jean-Luc Herve Berthelot: Echoes from the Last Fairyland

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
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."

| Style: Ambient


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Saints and Sinners" CD/LP/Track Review Saints and Sinners
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Velcro Bird" CD/LP/Track Review Velcro Bird
by John Eyles
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "Live 1978 at The Old Waldorf" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1978 at The Old Waldorf
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 5, 2016
Read "Of the Tree" CD/LP/Track Review Of the Tree
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!