Clearlight/Cyrille Verdeaux — Rainbow Music: Best of Cyrille Verdeaux 1975-2000
(Clearlight Music C8M-100, 2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2001-07-01From his debut in 1973 with Clearlight Symphony, French keyboardist and composer Cyrille Verdeaux has combined impressionistic soundscapes in the spirit of Ravel and Debussy with progressive rock elements, later adding influences from many cultures around the world. This collection takes tracks from six albums under both the Clearlight moniker and his own name spanning 25 years (now available as a box set called Rainbow Music) and arranges them according to some sort of mystical scheme involving the colors of the rainbow and the auric meanings they have. I’m neither qualified nor inclined to comment on the philosophical aspect of this, but the music should provide enough interest to make such considerations irrelevant, especially if Verdeaux is to reach an audience beyond the New Age community. In retrospect, 1975’s Clearlight Visions might indeed be called New Age music (or a precursor), but for the prog fan, the presence of members of Gong and Steve Hillage’s band provides a connection worth latching onto. Music in this collection ranges from that variety of early symphonic rock to the melodic progressive workout of “Vibrato” from Messenger of the Son/Sun (spelled both ways in the liner notes) to pure New Age relaxation like tracks from Impressionist Musique and Nocturnes Digitales. A recurring theme is the use of environmental noises – burbling water, birds, trains – to accompany the music. The two tracks from Ethnicolor’s (don’t ask me why the apostrophe – that’s how he spells it) feature processed ethnic voices along the lines of Deep Forest. If the tracks were arranged chronologically, they would illuminate Verdeaux’s journey from symph-prog innovator to Euro-techno New Age savant. Or you can just program your CD player to do it for you.
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more