Back in 1990, I discovered the CD Sarabandes in a record store. Since then I have been a loyal fan of the French outfit Minimum Vital . Meanwhile, I saw them twice live on stage. The music of the band is hard to describe or to pigeonhole. The mixture of progressive rock and folk music of the middle ages is not easy for everyone to swallow. For me, the albums La Source and Esprit d’Amor are highlights in the band’s career. For those albums, the twin brothers Thierry and Jean-Luc Payssan wrote music that had the best elements of progressive rock and modern dance beats. They added two lead singers to their line-up and as a result, the music became less complex and more radio friendly.
Some people find their previous album Atlas less interesting. Difficult to tell why, but probably they are right. With their latest effort Capitaines, however, the sparkling music is back. One of the lead singers Jean-Baptiste Ferracci, left the band. Sonia Nedelec remained, but to my surprise, she has a rather modest role. Mostly, the vocals alternate between keyboardist Thierry and guitarist Jean-Luc. We hear Sonia’s voice not that often. Just like in the early days, there is a lot of close harmony singing in a language, which is a mixture of words taken from several languages such as French, Latin and English. Besides, the twin brothers use their own language invented during their childhood.
What can I say about the songs? The first track She Moves Through The Fair is an Irish traditional. With the same tune, but entitled Belfast Child the Simple Minds scored a number one hit in the Netherlands with. The version of Minimum Vital is hardly recognizable, because they arranged the song in a very different way. The rest of the songs are rather strong and has the same elements I mentioned earlier. I did not discover any weak spot on Capitaines. That is why I can only say: welcome back Minimum Vital.
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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