Band Website: www.clearlight888music.com
Label: Gonzo Multimedia
Label Website: www.gonzomultimedia.com
Release Date: 2014
If you’ve been around the Progressive Rock genre as long as I have you will no doubt have heard of Clearlight, or Clearlight Symphony as they were first known. This is the music of French keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux and Impressionist Symphony is his 20th studio release. As before he’s called upon friends old and new to complete his musical vision so besides Verdeaux (piano, synthesizers) we have Didier Malherbe (wind instruments), Craig Fry (violin), Vincent Thomas Penny (guitars), Paul Sears (drums, percussion), Linda Cushma (bass), Chris Kovacks (synthesizers), Remy Tran (synthesizers), Steve Hillage (guitars) and Tim Blake (xils synth, Theremin). The music is best described a classic symphonic with touches of electronic sprinkled here and there.
Impressionist Symphony is best described as Verdeaux’s musical interpretation of eight classic impressionist painting. He would gaze upon the works of Renoir, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and others of that era and have each painting create a musical theme in his mind. To lighten up such a heavy exercise each title is a bit of pun on the artist’s work such as track seven “Lautrec Too Loose”, it’s very clever. The music, while richly orchestrated and quite symphonic in spots never fails to return to a Progressive Rock foundation. Each of the tracks is longer, six, seven, eight minutes or even longer than that allowing for some serious compositional structure and development. The classical approach is everywhere as tunes will ebb and flow is one direction only to shift time and tempo with any number of musical change-ups. The sound itself will go from heavy symphonic and by that I refer to the classical aspect to more avant-garde segments to jazzy and then of course to rock. Sometimes the music takes a serious approach and other times it can be quite light and bouncy depending on Verdeaux’s response to a particular painting. Being instrumental this is very much a showcase for the performers and their instrument of choice with each having an opportunity to shine.
There’s a little over an hours’ worth of music here and it’s a very satisfying listen for those who enjoy the more classically flavoured side of the symphonic Progressive Rock genre. This is a great release and reminds me of the feelings I had when I first heard Clearlight Symphony so many years ago. It was music like this that demonstrated just how wide-ranging the Progressive Rock genre could be and opened my ears to new sounds and styles. I highly recommend Impressionist Symphony to everyone.