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Album cover

Aside Beside - Tadj Mahall Gates

Artist: Aside Beside
Title: Tadj Mahall Gates
Label: Musea FGBG 4445
Length(s): 61 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2002
Month of review: [12/2002]

Line up

Lionel Giardina - vocals, guitars, layotron
Frederic Woff - solo piano, hammond, mellotron, drums, percussion
Vincent Chevalier - backing vocals, mellotron, fender rhodes, piano
Pascal Riaux - guitars
Tristan Pean - bass on 1, 2, 6, 10

Tracks

1) Tadj Mahall Gates 4.04
2) Nightmare 7.55
3) And I Hate Her 3.36 MP3 or RealAudio
4) Autumn 5.25
5) You Who 2.54
6) Ghost Of Love 4.34
7) Tu Qui Omnia Scis 1.16
8) Friends 1.56
9) Christmas Time 2.46
10) Loneliness 5.05
11) Carelessness Song 5.54
12) Fruits Of Meaning 3.55

Summary

This newish French band is propelled forward as the leader of the new French wave. Unlike most bands of this so called wave, though, Aside Beside is a vocal band.

The music

Tadj Mahall Gates opens the album with a mix of complexity and melody.

Nightmare has a near funky opening, especially as far as the bassline is concerned. A brief vocal section leads into a nice bit of avant progressive. The track is closed by a longish symphonic section, featuring some vocals, but mostly instrumental.

And I Hate Her has a mix of Wyatt like melancholy and psychedelic sounds. It runs over into the harp opening of Autumn. Melancholy is still about, but in a completely different way, this being something of a ballad. The harp is joined by cello and obo, and even a guest singer. Despite the somewhat seedy concept, this has turned quite a nice effort. You Who is the closer of this apparent trilogy. Though short lived, the burn is the brighter. Good stuff.

Ghost Of Love is a pleasantly flowing progressive track, with lots of melody.

Tu Qui Omnia Scis is a sort of opera piece running over into the short piano vocal duet Friends. Nice one, once again running over into Christmas Time, which borders on being sappy, but remains on the safe side.

Loneliness starts an acoustic song, but spikes up a bit as it moves along. Thsi track misses the tension of what's gone before, although still nice enough.

Carelessness Song seems to have to perfect monniker, the vocals sounding husky and somewhat drunken. Beside this there's an okay melody and dito guitarring. The instrumental section closing out the track is pretty nice, though.

The rather nice closer Fruits Of Meaning is after some five minutes of silence followed by a rather spacy ghost track. Nice stuff.

Conclusion

Aside Beside blend all kinds of progressive influences into their music, making this a rather worthwhile album. Unfortunately they can't quite seem to maintain the level of the first two thirds of the album in the last. What they definitely do better than a lot of their compatriots is keep the attention: no lengthy freaky sessions or other such efforts. This is a very good album, with just the couple of less strong songs towards the end.

© Roberto Lambooy