Maneige

Montréal, 6 am

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Can one man make such a difference, especially a drummer? Of course not: Gilles Schetagne's departure is not the main factor in Maneige's shift from prog rock fusion to straight-ahead jazz-rock, although his replacement, Pierre Gauthier, does boast a squarer sound. One must not forgot that the music was already growing colder since the 1978 LP Libre Service-Self Service. The opening number on Montréal, 6 am, "Tangerine," gives the full measure of the group's new sound: synthetic, ever-more electric, and more down to earth in terms of time signatures. The percussion work has been scaled down considerably, the electric guitar is everywhere. But most importantly, the music lacks the excitement and the buoyancy of earlier efforts. It has become technical and distant, like Jean-Luc Ponty, Didier Lockwood, or UZEB's music at the turn of the '80s. "Tague Baissée" has its moments and "L'Invitée de la Nuit" displays a raunchiness unheard of in the group's set. The highlight is "Popozof," filled with the jazz/prog finesse of times past (think Ni Vent...Ni Nouvelle once again). As for the closer, "Cerveau Lent" (a lame play on the French word for "kite"), its guitar strumming gives only a pale idea of the pastoral mood that was constituent to the band's early sound.

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