François Cahen / Didier Malherbe

Faton Bloom

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A session between ex-Gong saxophonist Didier Malherbe (aka "Bloom") and original Magma pianist François Cohen (aka "Faton"); this should be one of those dream dates for prog rock fans, right? Please don't forget the year is 1986. The predicament for ex-prog stars of the Canterbury/French scene was mainstream jazz-rock, and the Yamaha DX7 reigned over the synthesizer kingdom. Faton Bloom is lightly entertaining, but like Didier Lockwood or Jean-Luc Ponty's albums from the same period, it suffers from the cold production values of the time and a lack of engagement in the writing. The presence of percussionist Roger Raspail adds an Afro-Cuban touch, especially in "Mambo for a Cripple Duck" and "Nouvelles Impressions d'Aise," two Cohen numbers. The other sidemen are bassist Rémy Sarazin and Éric Bedoucha on electronics, although it is unclear what the word should mean here. Malherbe's compositions tend to have more meat around the bone, especially "Celesteville," but his "Nadja" is as mainstream and benign as can be. His playing still has that joyful sound and tongue-in-cheek lightness that makes him a valuable musician, but it remains very little to cling to amidst the generic music of this CD.

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