Clearlight — Impressionist Symphony
(Gonzo Multimedia HST214CD, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-08-16
This is the latest cornerstone in Cyrille Verdeaux’ ongoing Clearlight project. Those familiar with the original Clearlight Symphony, the more recent Infinite Symphony, and other releases in his vast and ongoing catalog will surely know what to expect: meticulously composed and arranged pieces based on piano and other keyboards, surrounded with rock instrumentation and grand symphonic designs. The eight movements herein are conceptually informed by the paintings and art of impressionist era masters (Gauguin, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, etc.), and although each piece is a standalone recording, the eight fit together in an almost seamless way, the shifting moods and melodic structures evolve through ongoing labyrinthine sections, some parts very bold, others more subtle, all executed with brilliance. Verdeaux lives in South America now, but none of this was recorded there; the basic tracks were scored and recorded in California, then digital sessions for additional parts and mixing were created by producer and engineer Don Falcone of Spirits Burning, who had previously worked with Verdeaux on the collaboration Healthy Music in Large Doses. Additional sessions were recorded and supervised by Verdeaux in France with Didier Malherbe (woodwinds) and Remy Tran (additional synths), in Arizona with Paul Sears (drums) and Linda Cushma (bass and Chapman stick), and in the San Francisco Bay Area with violinist Craig Fry (formerly of Cartoon/PFS), plus additional keyboard parts by Verdeaux, and Falcone adding some tubular bells to one track. Other musicians contributing to the project include Steve Hillage (guitar on several tracks), Vincent Thomas-Penny (guitar on other tracks), Tim Blake (synth and theremin on one track), Chris Kovax (synth on some other tracks). There are a lot of musicians involved, but it all works magically. The final track “Monet Time” is simply a duet of piano and violin, and closes the proceedings with magnificence and splendor.
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