Elora - Crash

(CD 2013, 57:58, Progressive Promotion Records PPRCD013)

The tracks:
  1- Se Taire(4:13)
  2- Elle Espere(3:54)
  3- Annee Lumiere(5:15)
  4- Ici Encore(6:08)
  5- L'Espoir Part 1(5:38)
  6- L'Espoir Part 2(6:57)
  7- Controle(5:44)
  8- En Paix(6:21)
  9- Elle(4:56)
10- Crash(8:45)

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Elora is the name of the daughter of the French bassist Jean-Vincent Filipinni, but it's also the name of the band he founded in 2004, the year his daughter was born! Besides Filipinni, this French band consist of guitarist Lionel Giacobbe, keyboardist Patrice Cannone, drummer Julien Beaumont and the two vocalists Damien Dahan and Anastasia Moussali. After recording a four-track EP, Elora found a new home with the German Progressive Promotion Records label and Crash is the first album they recorded for that label.

While listening to Crash I tend to compare Elora with their compatriots of Lazuli. First track Se Taire holds the same atmosphere and the French vocals of Damien Dahan have the same kind of emotion and intensity as Lazuli's Dominique Leonetti, which is intended to be a compliment. However, Elora's music is less adventurous than Lazuli's. Elora play a progressive rock style with elements of alternative rock and sometimes touches of Porcupine Tree hidden in the compositions. The combination of the male and female vocals is really outstanding, especially when the lead vocals of Moussali are doubled. This creates a distinctive atmosphere. During Elle Espère, the influences of Lazuli can still be noticed, but I guess this is caused by the vocal parts in this track, which is an alternative rock-like song with prominent bass guitar parts and adventurous guitar work. Again the combination of the two vocalists works out real good here.

A spacey intro, soft vocals and a melancholic mood are the ingredients of Année Lumière. This piece is softer than the previous two, but just as impressive. This time the melancholic voice of Dahan is accompanied by an outstanding and relaxed guitar part. It may be strange, but the older compositions like Année Lumière and the following Ici Encore, lack the influences of Lazuli. The latter track is mainly led by the vocals of Moussali, which gives it a nice twist. The guitars sound heavier and overall this piece tends to prog metal, though the guitar solo is played in a kind of alternative rock style.

The following two compositions are linked together. L'Espoir, pt. 1 is about the past, while L'Espoir, pt. 2 deals with the future. The first part contains emotional female vocals followed by a fluent guitar solo; in the second part the male vocals are added together with a prominent bass line. The fine piano playing in the background finishes this nice piece. Controle starts with an instrumental intro showing the steadiness of the rhythm section combined with the pleasant sounding guitars and keyboards. When the song continues vocally, the female vocals are higher, almost in a gothic style which I think is a bit of a shame. En Paix is one of the older compositions mixing progressive rock and electronic music. In this piece Anastasia Moussali sings with a lower voice which perfectly suits this song. I like her higher voice when she sings together with Damian Dahan, like further on in the song, but I either prefer her dark and moody vocals.

Elle starts with a fine bass part that continues as a nice driven song building towards a more powerful end, including a guitar sound that slowly changes from soft into strumming. The title track is the final composition on the album. Everything I've heard on the previous songs comes together in this extended epic, which eventually becomes my favourite composition on this album. The fine bass parts are supported by intense guitar playing and both vocalists excel again. Crash ends with an impressive classic progressive rock epic.

The first time I listened to Elora, I thought they had chosen a style close to their fellow-countrymen of Lazuli, but after a few spins I concluded that there are some minor similarities though, but they definitely follow their own musical path: blending prog rock with alternative rock. I found Controle a bit of a disappointing song, but it's fully compensated by the title track. This one proves that they can write and play a great progressive rock epic including an emotional guitar solo.

**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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