For many reasons, Composite represents the end of Maneige's golden age. It is the last one to feature the classic lineup, since drummer Gilles Schetagne called it quits after the release of this live album. It is also the group's last LP on a major record label (in this case Polydor, like their two previous efforts). But at the time the concerts took place, in the spring and summer of 1979, the musicians were unaware of what the future held for them. The group was at the peak of their popularity, yet instead of relying on old favorites, they premiered many new pieces. As a result, the track list contains six brand new tracks, complemented by "Douce Amère" (from the 1977 LP Ni Vent...Ni Nouvelle) and a very strong, much warmer rendition of "Toujours Trop Tard" (from Libre Service-Self Service, 1978). The material is mostly new, but it hardly pushes the music anywhere else. If anything, this live album shows how much Maneige was resting on their laurels. "L'Éveil et l'Approche," "Bullfrog Dance," and "Étrange Hiver" are merely variations on the tested recipe: flute licks, quirky basslines, prominent percussion -- the jazz-rock credo also followed by Gong and Premiata Forneria Marconi (among many others) at the same time. And putting a drums solo so early on the album ("Max the Whale," the second track) is a highly questionable decision, even for a percussion-oriented outfit. Still, Composite is better than Maneige's last two albums and "Un Certain Regard" equals in quality the best pieces on Ni Vent...Ni Nouvelle. Unlike the other Polydor LPs, this one has not been reissued on CD.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture