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Asgard - Tradition & Renouveau CD (album) cover

TRADITION & RENOUVEAU

Asgard

 

Prog Folk

3.93 | 14 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars For their second album `Tradition & Renouveau' in 1978, French band Asgard offered a mix of soft-rock and folk, where the usual acoustic instruments of the purer folk groups were frequently supported by electric guitars and a restrained use of synths and Mellotron to bring a light progressive-rock quality to their music. Sung entirely in French, it boasts sweetly charismatic lead vocals and delicately implemented brief instrumental runs around strong tunes, always remaining dignified, atmospheric and melodic without being too clean and obvious.

Right from the start it's obvious we're not getting a traditional folk album, as `Le Braconier' mixes in shimmering electric guitars, spacey keyboards and twinkling electric piano dreaminess to chiming acoustic guitar strums and wisps of flute, sounding especially lovely in an extended instrumental stretch in the second half. The sprightly ` Quand Je Menais Mes Chevaux Boire' is punctuated with a catchy and winning electric guitar theme, humble ballad `J'Ai Mon Amì Sous les Brandebourgs' rises with gentle electric life, and both the rollicking ` L'Alouette Est Sur La Branche' and the pretty yet playful `D'Ou Venez - Vous Belle' interludes burst in and out of jig-like dances.

But it's the second side that takes the album to another level, beginning with `La Petit Hirondelle', jangling acoustic strums and whirring keyboards throughout a repeated chorus-like break lifting to the heavens with tasty creaky Mellotron and supremely symphonic reaching electric guitar fire. `Ce Soir Francois Villon' is laced with darker urgency, its Mellotron choirs, skittering drumming and dramatic spoken word passages almost calling to mind French symphonic legends Ange, and meditative recorder and an urgent group-vocal repeated chorus flit through `Le Lac d'Argent'. Best of all might be `Le Vent', full of drowsy Pink Floyd mellow guitar strums, trilling synth whirrs and Rick Wright-like embracing piano over a wearing yet comforting group chorus vocal. Closer `Les Landes D'Harou' brings together all the characteristics that makes the album wonderful, striking spoken word passages, lonely piano, airy wisps of floating synths all weaving together with darkly symphonic Mellotron majesty, especially satisfying in the moody and dramatic instrumental finale.

Asgard here offer a more reigned-in group vocal than something like Malicorne's hypnotic cult-like hold, but the album boasts some of the loveliest singing on a French prog-related disc since Pentacle's wondrous `La Clef des Songes' from 1975. Listeners who enjoy the plugged-in medieval flavours that permeated bands like Gryphon and Gentle Giant might greatly enjoy a lot of this album, and `Tradition & Renouveau' is a precious and sublime crossover work that proves to weave a seductive hold on repeated quiet listens.

Four stars for an essential Prog-Folk release of the vintage period.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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