(2006 - A Bout De Son - France)
Some of you will know the multi instrumentalist Julian Julien as the mastermind of the band Fractale. With this solo titled “Strange” he presents us with a more spacey world music offering. It strongly reminded me of something Clearlight Symphony would do. The thing that stands out is the excellent combination of classical, world, and various folk, jazz, and electronic ingredients Julian uses here. If anyone remembers Gregory Allan Fitzpatrick's “Bildcirkus”, then you also have some reference points to go on. This is playful,
circus like sometimes, and often beautiful all instrumental progressive music.
Another clear reference is the band Tri Atma. One more likeness I think of is the Savage Rose “Dodens Triumf” soundtrack. Normally that band would not be compared here, but that one soundtrack does have strong characteristics to this carnival/classical/folk/electronic/zeuhl world music fusion. This just touches the surface of trying to describe the styles of ‘Strange’. Thus, the delight of the whole recording, where you sit and never know what is coming from one song to the next. Not that there is any disconnect, but simply a great variety of genres that Julian uses in his compositions.
The strongest theme running through the recording is a celestial trance feel, along with the pit stops and fusions of the aforementioned comparisons. There is some occasional voice (one beautiful female eastern contribution stands out) added to the large assortment of instruments. This has seven guest musicians on things like sitar, violins, tablas, and other ethnic percussion. Julian does all the programming, keyboards, and samples. All to make one nice exotic trip and enjoyable musical listening experience. There was even a spot where it sounded like Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. The bonus track at end “untitled” is just as great as the rest of the music. The fact is, there isn’t a weak second on the recording. It easily holds your attention, and I have no hesitation in recommending it to all lovers of progressive music. GREAT STUFF!
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on November 7th, 2011