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Present — Certitudes
(Cuneiform Rune 107, 1998, CD)

Certitudes Cover art

Present is the Belgian quintet led by guitarist Roger Trigaux, a one time member of Univers Zero in the late 70s. This is their fifth album, the third in recent times (there was a ten year hiatus between #2 and #3) and as on other recent releases (including last years' outstanding Live!) features the dual guitars of Trigaux and his son Reginald. Joined by returning founding member Alain Rochette on piano, and UZ alumni Daniel Denis and Guy Segers on drums and bass respectively, their music could best be described as aggressive electric chamber rock, dark and twisted, almost frightening at times, with some hints of Magma and even stronger hints of Larks'-to-Red era Crimson (though Present's music is fully composed with very little improvisation). Trigaux' anguished and tortured vocals play right into their sound, while the jagged, howling guitars reinforce the edginess of their sound. This studio release essentially marks a return to the form of the early 80s releases Le Poison Qui Rend Fou and Triskadekaphobie, yet here the intensity level seems much higher, more urgent, more fierce... proof positive that some bands don't mellow with age. Certitudes could easily be Present's strongest studio release to date.

by Peter Thelen, Published 1998-02-01

Roger Trigaux and his son Reginald continue down the path established by Univers Zero, albeit in a decidely guitar-oriented vein. Melodic arrangements are offset by piano and guitar counterpoint using a dissonant edge like their past few releases. Coming off a strong live release, the band seems to have extracted some of the live energy and fused it into the new compositions. Song titles were not available for review, but track two builds a dramatic tension, worthy of the best of the Belgian Euro-legacy. Vocally, the opening lead tracks remind me very much of Bernardo Lanzetti from PFM with his rough Italian vibrato. Lyrically the tone is bleak without being a completely dire circumstance! The opening track also reminds of the strongest moments of Henry Cow's first album, angry electric leads against a tight rhythm section upheld by Daniel Denis and Guy Segers (incidentally, both mainstays in the current line-up for UZ). Track three begins with a two-rhythm guitar bashing leading into another somber vocal line. The quintet is obviously ripe for an appearance at LA's Progfest, having made a few splashes overseas. Present is still at the forefront of the European progressive movement, carrying the RIO banner forward into the 21st Century.

by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-02-01

Unlike during the nine-year hiatus following Le Poison Qui Rend Fou, this time around we didn't have to wait so long between albums by Roger Trigaux and his band. Certitudes follows little more than one year subsequent to the Present Live! CD. Long-time fans will be very pleased to know that not only is Daniel Denis back behind the drum kit, but joining the fold is Univers Zero alumnus Guy Segers on bass; and keyboardist Alain Rochette, who appeared on the first and second Present studio recordings, is also here. From the first moment is a big shock — back to the Present of the 80s with piano, in that instantly recognizable staccato style that gave his earlier work its patented Stravinsky-esque propulsion. A new slant is evident however by Trigaux's menacing vocals, which only further articulate the mad perilous zeal in Present's music. Counterpoint between bass and piano on "Delusions" provides a bedding for rapid-fire guitar soloing that practically knocks the wind out of you. One can sense the pent up frustration from Daniel's years spent behind a keyboard in Art Zoyd. Fortunately Certitudes offers a gutsy primal attitude, eliciting from him some stupendous percussion highlights to the throbbing pulse, which throws the violent tornado into a tailspin via maniacal counter-rhythms. It's his supple jazz inflection that refuses to satisfy any hunger for simplicity, even in a piece like "The Sense of Life," where a two-chord riff is transformed into a work of art, leading to a tension-filled climax. This is the closest any Present effort has come to reproducing their fiery, abrasive live atmosphere on a studio recording. If you aren't sympathetic to this band then excuse my sycophantic fawning over Certitudes. But after so many years and so few chances to sate the appetite, an occasion like this is cause for dusting off the thesaurus and pulling out some hyperbole.

by Mike Ezzo, Published 1998-02-01

Filed under: New releases, Issue 14, 1998 releases

Related artist(s): Present

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