This Blog is dedicated to the
notion that whilst we grow in
many ways through the long
years of our lives the music
that my generation fell in love
with as a teenager is more than
nostalgia it had something genuine
and unique to say and was the
beginning of many more journeys,
many of which are reflected here.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
The World Is A Game - Mystery
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
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”
in the line of fire
hero’s flag flying high
way above their pride
anyone win that game”.
And the previous verse
on the grand design
some it almost feels divine Sipping
the last drop of their wine For
the World is just a game”.
finally though from an earlier verse
you feel all the fear that shadowed their eyes?
all that remains of their lives”
Applicable to Benoit’s observation of Yes, possibly, applicable from a Yes listeners view definitely.
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
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.
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.