Thursday, September 16, 2010
Review: Sylbat - Mara (2008)
Sylbàt was formed in autumn 2006 after being commissioned for a piece by the Roué Waroch festival.
The band is made up of four musicians:
Clotilde Trouillaud is a renowned harpist and has played in other groups (Zim Zim, trio de harpes fileuses de Nuit) and with Sylbàt she has switched to playing the electroharp.
Patrick Boileau is the drummer and was the founder of avant-rock/zeuhl band Xaal (also featured in PA) and has since played in various other lineups (Alain Genty groupe, Gérard Delahaye, Louis-Jacques Suignard).
Hilaire Rama is the basist and before joining Sylbàt has played with various other bands and musicians (Gaby Blues Band et Tequila, Félix Théfaine, Alan Stivell et Melaine Favennec, Taïfa, Skeduz)
Hélène Brunet played the guitars in the band and loves and is inspired by Breton, Irish and flamenco music as well as blues. She played electric guitar and a 12 string Spanish guitar. She to has played with other musicians (accordionist Yann-Fanch Perroches, Jean Félix Lalanne, Scottish harpiste Mary Macmaster).
The fifth piece in this band is the soundman José Nédélec.
The band says their sound is influenced by bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson and Weather Report along with touches of celtic music.
Thanks to Patrick Boileau for help with the bio and for sending me the cd for review.
Delicately rocking you
Rock, fusion and Celtic music are on the menu of the French band Sylbàt, which formed in 2006 and has released their first album called Mara in 2008. Bearing a distinct sound, they create an "airy" sort of rock, light-sounding but not light in the effects it has on the listener. Their special fusion sound, with a particular folk/Celtic taste is augmented with a rock attitude (though not a too heavy or dynamic one) that is created by drummer Patrick Boileau and guitarist Hélène Brunet. The special and mostly ethereal sound of Sylbàt can be attributed to the electroharp of Clotilde Trouillaud. It is indeed the instrument that "reigns" here and is the dominant sound here.
10 tracks on the album and while all bear a connection in sound and approach, they all have something to make them distinct from each other, whether it is by the dynamics and intensity (or lack of) or the specific melody they play. The tracks do resemble in the way that they are built, and in the way that they are developed. From a basic concept, melodic line, they are played with and danced around and achieve a higher level of energy, receive an enhanced dose of excitement and are added with more layers and reach a sort of cathartic musical end point, even if a fragile one.
All musicians here are playing very well and the sound is clear and balanced. The album, as I mentioned above, as an "airy" quality, a delicate quality, even when it gets dynamic and reaches heavier notes. There is a well done balanced between the subtlety of the harp and the loudness and more aggressive nature of the guitar as heard on the fifth track Androide. The opposing nature of those two instruments is combined very well not only in the way the song is composed and their playing one around the other, but also in the mix of the album. Transfert is a fabulous track, a very short dynamic melody where Clotilde Trouillaud shows how the electroharp can fit very well in a rock outfit and not only in a folk or classical context. Too bad it is so short and seems as a snippet only and not a full blown track.
Mara is a very enjoyable fusion album that suits very well a relaxed afternoon or early evening. The tunes are mostly peaceful and are beautiful but it does also get more than just that. The album does not lack its share of intricacies, complexities and interesting hooks. A refreshing release; recommended.