People who are familiar with the music of the French band Minimum Vital know that they don't create conventional progressive rock like bands as Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd.
The music is mainly composed by the twin brothers Thierry and Jean-Luc Payssan, who are inspired by other musical sources. Sometimes they're inspired by jazz-rock and fusion; at other times by medieval and Southern European traditional music although music from the Baroque and Renaissance era can be noticed as well, if you listen carefully.
Minimum Vital already released six albums; their best ones are without doubt Sarabandes (1990), La Source (1993) and Esprit D'Amor (1997). Their latest two albums are Atlas (2004) and Capitaines (2009). The twins also released music as the instrumental Vital Duo. This resulted in the CD Ex Tempore (2001) and the DVD Le Jardin Hors Du Temps (2003). These works are a kind of minimal version of the full band. In a way this new release on DVD can be seen as another step forward in creating a kind of minimal music.
Chapītre 3 is the first DVD ever published by Minimum Vital. They were captured live on the 4th and the 5th of March, 2011 at Bčgles' Mussonville Chapel in France. As the title of the DVD more or less indicates the band has been reduced to a trio. During the main part of the forty-minute set only three of the original founding members are on stage. Jean-Luc Payssan (guitars, mandolin, percussion, saz), Thierry Payssan (keyboards, percussions) and Eric Rebeyrol (bass, bass pedals, saz) succeeded in performing only instrumental music that never gets boring. Without using a real drummer the two brothers use all kinds of percussion attributes like a drum pad, drum pedals and cymbals to create enough strong rhythm parts.
This performance shows that they create top-notch music with class and elegance. However, their style will not be loved by all prog heads because the Baroque and Renaissance music blended with medieval and Southern European traditional music is from time to time hard to digest. Those who'll give this music the attention it deserves will get a lot of pleasure from it. Highlights during this short performance are the more progressive rock orientated pieces Saltarello and L'Enfance Des Sages. Many outstanding keyboard parts are responsible for the fact that I enjoyed these pieces the most. Maybe the two tracks that feature the strange instrument called 'saz' are the weirdest of all. Because of this instrument tracks like En Castille and Le Tourdion might be labelled as Turkish folk music. I guess you have to be open-minded to enjoy them, because only few western people are familiar with eastern music. Finally I have to mention the last piece Le Tourdion on which Thierry Jardinier joined the trio to add some percussion parts to this composition.
Three compositions were recorded in February 2012 sounding as a sort of rehearsal recordings at an attic, bedroom or garage. These are featured as bonus tracks; together they last fifteen minutes. On La Basse Danse and La Pavane you can once again enjoy the trio. This time Jean-Luc Payssan played the mandolin. This is also the only instrument you can hear on Fantaisie Pour Mandoline. Once again the music is rather enjoyable provided that you like this type of music.
All in all this record is rather good. The sound is fine and the images are very well shot, but once more the music has to suit you. Personally I prefer the complete band version of Minimum Vital, no question about that. However, if you're open for their third chapter, you'll find this new approach of their music as thrilling as the previous chapters! I'm in!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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