Band: The Box
Band Website: www.theboxband.com
Label: Les Disques Passeport
Release Date: 2009
The Box are a band known to many as a pop-rock band of the eighties who had many hit songs on the radio, and yet to my ears I always seemed to detect an underlying thread of music that was a little more complex. Then a few years back I discovered the band again, reformed around keyboardist and vocalist Jean Marc Pisapia. The disc was called Black Dog There and there were definite proggy moments there. Well get ready to be blown away with the new album d’apres Le Horla De Maupassant! While the previous album may have been only 50-60% prog in nature the new disc is 100% symphonic prog with all the trimmings. The band for this release consists of not only Pisapia but also, Francois Bruneau (guitars), Martin Lapierre (drums), Isabelle Lemay (vocals), Daniel Volj (bass).
Le Horla is made up of 10 tracks of compositions in the six, seven, eight or even eleven-minute lengths. The disc opens with “Ouverture” [6:14] featuring muted hints of the music that is to come. There are spacey, breathy vocals laid overtop of softly strumming guitars with the sound moving in and out and as we hear the first vocals, in French this time, the story is established. This then slides into numerous other segments of what is to follow including many grand epic-scale flourishes and even some wonderful accordion. The neat thing about the music of The Box is that there is no question Jean Marc can write a catchy pop song or a great hummable line, but he does it here within a prog context, so while those moments are there, they never dominate for the sake of standing out, rather they’re used to propel the song to the next part of the stories’ mood. The next song “Incubus” [9:13] begins with some of the guitar sounds we heard earlier, but everything is heightened in terms of intensity. There is no effort to rush the song along in fact the drums don’t kick in until the 1:50 mark. The vocals are in the first half of the piece. At around the half way point the music subsides with only spacey sounds and some organ pads. Then the song slowly builds in intensity adding more instruments and more tempo until it just ends…then we’re into “L’eau Le Lait, Le Vin” [6:30] a song that starts out very acoustic and moody until the three-minute mark where it erupts into a bluesy piece with organ and crunchy guitar trading off licks. Then after a grand climax the song ends with yet another short bit of accordion. The music of The Box is full of musicality, grand is scope when it needs to be and soft and delicate at other times. The compositions are made up of many moods and many different styles that all hang together. This is marvelous stuff.
The Box is one of those bands that don’t sound like anyone else. The influences that are there are submerged so well that I just hear, The Box. The liner notes provide a website to find the lyrics if you are so inclined. I must admit Le Horla sounds better than I ever anticipated. I was blown away by the music contained here and as a result it gets my highest recommendation.