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Album Review: "Perspective" (2017) by Fabien Bienvenu

5 years ago, the then 20-year-old musician Fabien Bienvenu entered the prog scene with his debut instrumental EP ‘’Perspective’’. Playing around with lots of elements to create his authentic voice in the scene, Fabien paints a voyage thoroughly, while having many ups and downs such as little repetitiveness. The journey instrumentals are very well complementary, yet still, it's‘’ just a distant walk’’, rather than a concept album. The sound of the french prog scene, as well as the keyboard influences of the 80-90s French and English scene, makes up his ambient identity, however, the renditions and complexity of other compositional elements are the fundamental things that make this album stand out. Fabien—as the keyboard player, composer, and mix/masterer of the album—was accompanied by Kylan Amos(Bass), Andrea Mur(Guitar), Scott Higham(Drums), and the engineer Karl Groom with their contributions from England. A breed of different times, different influences, having the limitations and thus creativity of being a keyboardist, and the spirit of a stationary explorer; Fabien stops the straight flowing time and decides to go upwards within it. Read our track-by-track review for further analysis and thoughts, and see how(and if) his explorations bear fruits.

Across the Sky: Having France’s ambient prog music at its core, Across the Sky bears all the culture that France authentically brought to the scene, and further combines it with many elements to have a personal prominent voice of an ‘’intertextual’’ artist. The beginning shares voice recordings from the 84 mission Space Shuttle Discovery, directly setting the tone and concept of such a personal journey and discovery of the album along with the synthesizers creating the ambiance. While Fabien shares the journey across the skies that he creates with his music, help from guitarist Andrea Mur introduces such sounds of the 70s (YES, Genesis, ELP, etc.) with longly sustained guitars to play an ethereal melody on top of the hopeful soundscape that develops the song further than the classic french prog scene. Having a sweet bass tone as well, the supporting artists were in harmony with the balanced composition, while being felt at most during the interlude. Fabien layers different sounds on top of each other without clashes throughout the song appears to foreshadow one of his musical professions, and the complex compositions through modal changes and highly various progressions are supportive of his ability never to bore the listener or get lost in the repetition.

Other Way: “Other Way” has the kind of intro we all miss from the ’70s. It starts just like the good old space rock pieces. The ambiance is so similar to the “Evening Star” by Fripp&Eno, we cannot overlook Bienvenu’s admiration for King Crimson. Passing the intro, the perplexing guitar riffs of Andrea Murr delight your ears. But that wouldn’t be enough for a song this perfect, would it? Fabien accompanies Andrea with his pure talent on the keyboards. Not to forget the beats, it proves that you don’t need more than three soundscapes to achieve this kind of beauty. “Other Way” successfully etches on our hearts with its beautiful layerings.

Walking Fear: The Prog Loop favorite of the album, Walking on Fear, walks through many explorations that are just pure sensory pleasure. Reminiscent of the late Pink Floyd, the hitting-in-the-face bass and tasteful electronic drumming along with the powerful synth-action, the 3rd track just has all the elements that once drew ‘’A Divison Bell’’. Delayed synth with the choir sounds and lead synths portrays Beauty, while the changes in direction tell you that this is not a safe drive—rather a journey into the unknown. Although the transitions seem a bit underworked at some times, the general composition appears to be complementary and dynamic. One will certainly wish that the song would more lean on the sections that we hear in the intro and finale, since they are the parts that make this song stand out, they are still enough to make this an instantly recognizable piece.

Isolation: “Isolation” lives up to its name since it’s the second solo work of Fabien Bienvenu in this album. It makes you feel isolated just from the beginning with its melancholic ambiance. The slow entrance of drums takes the song to a new level. It starts to tell us the isolated beauty of space and makes you feel like the cosmonaut - looking into the depths of space - on the cover of the album. Normally we would expect heavy synths to be dragging, but no, Fabien puts all the sounds together perfectly. The melodies absorb you in and don’t let you out. After discovering the beauty, we go back to the melancholy of “Isolation".

Crystal Taker: Instantly teleporting you into the TARDIS, "Crystal Taker" happens to have the best intro in the album. All instruments kick in at the same time successfully. We have Andrea Murr on the guitar, Scott Higham on the drums, and Kylan Amos on the bass. Fabien's happiness about having these guests reflects in the song with his energetic use of the keyboards. Through the middle, everything slows down. After that, Andrea surprises us with a classic progressive twist on his guitar. We cannot keep ourselves from loving the mad riffs in that part. Coming to an end, "Crystal Taker" wants you to fasten your seatbelts for the last time. And the instruments leave their place to a choir. Choirs make a great ending and leave us with a smile.

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