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Tangerine - De L'Autre Cote de la Foret CD (album) cover

DE L'AUTRE COTE DE LA FORET

Tangerine

 

Prog Folk

3.04 | 7 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The main riff and chorus of the title track sound as if they were lifted verbatim from the 1972 America tune “Sandman”, but otherwise this is a pretty decent album.

Tangerine’s debut features the lovely folk-infused vocals of Valéry Btesh garnished liberally with four (yup, four) guitarists including Ms. Btesh herself. Acoustic guitars at that. Some of them 12-strings. Plus bongos, flute and spindly clavier, an instrument that always makes music sound slightly (or completely) baroque and definitely folk. Not that these guys need any help in that department; these tracks do that quite nicely all on their own.

Several things about this band stand out aside from the four guitarists and minimal drumming. They also alternate between English and French vocals, something that is rather unusual for a native French band. I’ve heard Canadian bands do this fairly often, but rarely old-world Frenchies. They wear both sounds quite well, although there is a clear tendency to emulate the early seventies American west- coast sound on the English tracks. And their arrangements seem to slide effortlessly between folk, mellow jazz and an almost easy-listening pop. Plus just about every track has a fadeout ending, something that rather annoys me but which I’ve never really heard a band do pretty much as a matter of course, so it definitely is a trait that stands out. And finally, this is one of the only seventies folk bands I’ve ever heard manage to use a flute without sounding like Jethro Tull. Props to them for that.

Aside from Ms. Btesh’s exquisite vocals, the predominant sounds come from the guitars. With four of them to leverage the band is able to layer strumming acoustics with more elaborated rhythms and even a bit of picking. The multitalented Marc Donahue also lays down some very cool saxophone tracks in places, most notably on the long and languid “Méditations”.

In contrast “Liberté” is awash with mellotron (just kidding – that’s always fun to throw in though. There’s no mellotron at all really). Actually “Liberté” is pretty heavy on flute and three-part vocal harmonies, and even though this one is sung in French the timbre is an awful lot like so many of those American seventies pop-folk tunes.

After the riff-lifting opening title track, the brief acoustic ditty “Death”, and the lengthy “Liberté”, the rest of the album consists of six more tracks, all of only three or four minutes each and most of them rather similar: flute, acoustic guitar strumming, and two (sometimes three) part vocal harmonies. The only real exception is “It's Ending” in which only Btesh sings and the guitarists manage a pretty ambitious rhythmic volley that lasts several minutes punctuated by the flute and bongos. Otherwise the back half of the album is fairly unexceptional pop-folk, very nicely done but not really noteworthy.

The band would lose Btesh before their next release a year later, and as part of the change would also adopt a decidedly more blues-rock sound with significantly more English vocals. I would imagine this put off some fair portion of their fans and may have been part of the reason why that was their final release. The last album to bear the Tangerine name is actually a Btesh solo album in which she is backed by studio musicians. So if you want to hear the band at the height of their creative expression this is probably the album you want. That said, I can’t bring myself to give it more than three stars due mostly to the lack of innovation and the clearly copped riffs right on the opening strains of the record. The vocals are much better than good though, and the four acoustic guitars are a refreshing treat, so a solid three stars seems an easy mark to give. Recommended to seventies prog folk fans but don’t expect to find this a masterpiece – it’s just a very good and forgotten folk record, nothing more, nothing less.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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