Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The World Is A Game - Mystery

The Music

There are a number of forces influencing the outcome on this new offering from Michel St Pere’s Mystery with clear and overwhelming conclusions to be drawn.

I thoroughly enjoyed there last offering however there was a shadow of sub Genesis tribute band about some of the music. On this CD Michel has evolved into a fully-fledged rounded musical personality who is capable of writing and producing his own personal brand of intelligently crafted, high quality, high energy rock music.

The CD abounds with great musical ideas every track is infused with great melodies and unique musical moments. The post blues rock riffs of "Pride" and "Another Day" generate a magnificent big excitement and more so because of the mature use of loud/soft contrasts. When Michel plays piano or acoustic guitar it is not self-consciously classical or folky it is merely a natural extension of the compositional process. One organisational decision he has taken with this CD is to avoid over reliance on electric keyboards indeed they are almost absent. This has a great liberating effect on the sound, the prog- rock by numbers feel of some of  “One Amongst…” is entirely absent.

The lyrics

The lyrics and the guitar solo’s have a wonderful symbiotic relationship. There is pathos and a sense of loss and pain in both, it gives the whole project a “now” feeling, they capture the mood of the time. Particularly worthy of note are the pieces that Benoit David contributed lyrics to. From “The World Is A Game”  

“Standing in the line of fire
The hero’s flag flying high
Waving way above their pride
Can anyone win that game”.

And the previous verse  
“Working on the grand design
For some it almost feels divine
Sipping the last drop of their wine
For the World is just a game”.

And finally though from an earlier verse

“Do you feel all the fear that shadowed their eyes?
And all that remains of their lives”

Applicable to Benoit’s observation of Yes, possibly, applicable from a Yes listeners view definitely.

The players   

Michel does not put a foot wrong, his performance here is as complete as Trevor Rabin’s on “Jacaranda”, great guitar playing (acoustic and electric) and most importantly his work on the piano is full of authority and flair.

Nick D’Virgilio is the real surprise of this CD. From the next generation down he has dexterity pace and can swing and be powerful in a heavy rock sense, a rare combination. He drives the music with tons of energy, flair and élan and to borrow a Bruford “ism” he is capable of admiral restraint –silence.
Antoine is agile and of great support, his role is key in avoiding the “prog. by numbers” criticism. There is no sub squire grinding bass or high “melody taking” runs, it maybe more orthodox but that helps Mystery stand in its own musical territory.

Benoit - hmm – this is difficult. I love the unorthodoxy of Benoit’s position as a vocalist. He is essentially a wonderful “pop” singer, see his Horn/Downes work on FFH, who finds himself in a rock environment. For four years he sang high tenor over the thundering bass of Mr Squire. To begin with he simply showed a lack of experience in coping with long haul touring and his performances were uneven, though he did very well in the UK in the winter of 2009.
He performed very well on “One Among the Living” recorded during the early Yes period. However by the time he emerged on the road with Yes for yet another US winter tour in 2011 after recording FFH the effect on his voice was beginning to have a more broad based effect, rather than him merely suffering from minor ailments.
I understand this CD was recorded mid- 2011, what I hear is a voice which is losing its range – at the bottom end. If you compare Benoit’s performance on this to the previous recording you hear a thinner more stretched voice indeed tired, some of the timbre is missing.
Ironically it is a more typical rock tenor voice and for the most part has no impact on my enjoyment of this excellent Mystery CD, which I would recommend to anyone who likes well-crafted post progressive rock music. However those whom met Benoit took to him. I hope that when Mystery reconvene for more work he will have fully recovered the voice on display on “One Among the Living” which helps give Mystery its unique and compelling musical personality. In the meantime every Mystery fan should have a copy of this, their best effort yet, and it should also win new friends even in these difficult times.              


  1. Hi Michelle. I have been enjoying your blog posts which I have just discovered.

    I don't know if you know my Yes Music Podcast but it seems to me like you should come along and be an interviewee if you'd like to.


    Let me know!


    1. Hi Kevin I am delighted you are enjoying my blog.

      What I have gleaned from my recent post on the The World Is A Game and Life Within A Day this spring is the relative power of facebook verses Yesfans. It seems when someone lifts my posts into a different conduit from Yesfans.com the interest levels rise dramatically whether it be progressive ears or facebook.This suggests that as a medium for serious observation about Yes related music Yesfans in dying.

      I would be interested in looking into a pod cast provided you are satisfied it stimulates further interest in Yes related music. My reason for the blog is very simple, to give expression and oxygen to the music which I have grown to cherish over a life time of listening.