Review of "We Stay Together" on Progressor
As the press kit says, French drummer Philippe Laloux formed T-BO in memory of his son Thibault (pronounces as "ti-bo", hence the outfit's name), killed at the age of 19 by a driver who was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Thibault had liked his father's music and had inspired him to record it. This CD, "We Stay Together", can definitely be regarded as a living embodiment of his wish.
Yet another recording with a near-completely unified compositionally stylistic concept. What is more, this string of fourteen instrumental tracks so overtly reveals their makers' source of inspiration that I could with a light heart describe it very briefly, just this way: Imagine a simplified and, at once, mellower version of Camel's "Nude", then remove the vocals from the picture, and you will hit the mark. No, you won't find any ripped-off theme or solo here. This is, so to speak, a perfect clone creation and can surprise even some experienced prog heads, let alone beginners. One way or another, most of the pieces flow in a relaxed, either moderately slow or mid-tempo rhythm. The pace remains unchangeable throughout each of the following: Take Time, Going On, Love Is Everything, Treasured Moments and See You Later, but Philippe always succeeds in avoiding the 'squarest' time signature, 4/4. Another positive aspect of those tracks is their richness in contrasting, differently vectored solos (guitar player David Epis and flautist Pierre Gillet both appearing to be particularly resourceful in that field, additionally shining with technical mastery), all of which, though, is typical of the entire recording. Three more purely symphonic compositions, Play It, Your Gentleness and Sending Love, weren't listed along with the aforesaid five tunes because they're much more acoustically pronounced, none involving drums. The yet to be named tracks all contain some quasi improvisations, though already the presence of brass instruments on most of those imparts a light, yet evident jazzy sense to their (basically symphonic) sound. In this respect it would be of help to you if you could recall those pieces from Camel's "Nude" or "Ammonia Avenue" by The Alan Parsons Project that feature Mel Collins on saxophone, such as Pipeline from the latter album as an instance. Different Kinds of Life, Parallel Directions, You Will Find and Teach Me each reveal a few thematic transitions combining simple passages with more complex ones, though the first two pieces both seem to be less eventful than the other two, which is due to some discrepancy between their length and their musical content. The remaining two tracks, Tears In the Rain and Love & Energy, both stand out for their intense arrangements and are generally delivered in such a way that even those whose progressive horizon isn't limited by the likes of The Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest can find something in here to be enjoyed. As the curtain falls, I'd like to revert to the CD in its overall appearance. What also distinguishes this music from the afore-cited example (meaning besides its simplicity) is that the keyboards are mostly in the background. To be more precise, while there are strong guitar and flute leads almost all over the album, only a couple of tracks are notable for their bright synthesizer solos. As for Philippe Laloux's personal contribution to "We Stay Together", I appreciate that he only once allowed himself to do a drum solo - in the finale of Different Kinds of Life. In other words, I am to a greater degree impressed with his music than with his drumming, which is always precise, but very rarely diversified.
"We Stay Together" is not a creation of classic symphonic Art-Rock, but it has nothing to do with Neo Progressive either. The music doesn't stand out for any earth-shattering moves, but this doesn't mean at all there is no fascination to be found. I want to believe the review reliably enough reproduces the essence of this release to go without specifications to whom it can be recommended and vice versa.
VM: October 1, 2007