Yang

A Complex Nature

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Guitarist Frederic L'Epee has long been thought of as France's answer to Robert Fripp, ever since his '70s work with the clearly King Crimson-influenced progressive band Shylock. With his '90s group Philharmonie, his solo work, and the debut album by his latest outfit Yang, however, L'Epee has moved far beyond mere mimicry. Complex Nature, despite its forbidding and slightly pretentious title, is actually an entirely accessible instrumental rock project featuring a two-guitar (L'Epee and his former student Julien Vecchie) front line over the rhythm section of bassist Stephane Bertrand and former Philharmonie drummer Volodia Brice. The eight compositions were recorded quickly, giving them a less polished edge than the occasionally too-polite Philharmonie, and unlike L'Epee's solo work, which occasionally trifles with mere prettiness (kind of like Bill Nelson's less-inspired releases), each of them starts with a well-crafted melodic and rhythmic base over which the players develop some complex interrelations. The concise nature of the pieces -- nearly all of which are in the four- to six-minute range -- means that the solos by L'Epee and Vecchie don't have time to veer off into unmanageable tangents, and showboating is kept to a minimum: Yang is definitely a group, with a rhythmic interplay that recalls great guitar bands like Television (especially on the dramatic ballad "Compassion") and, yes, King Crimson (particularly on the opening "Les Deux Mondes," which also features a terrific overdriven rhythm guitar riff by Vecchie that recalls Mission of Burma's telegraphic style). This is thoroughly enjoyable, straightforward instrumental art rock with few of the style's usual drawbacks.

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