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Silver Hunter - Concrete Hearts CD (album) cover

CONCRETE HEARTS

Silver Hunter

Crossover Prog


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kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Prog Team
2 stars This is the latest EP from the Anglo/French partnership of Tim Hunter (guitars, synthesizer, keyboards, sequencing, drums, lead vocals (4)) and Thierry Sportouche (lead vocals (1-3), flute (3)). On this four-track EP they have also been joined by Jasmine Isa Butterworth (backing vocals) and Phil Jackson (keyboards). I am a little confused with this release in a few ways, as it is named after the song that appears third, and the lead off number is a cover of 'Avalon'. The issue with taking on a song that is as well-known as this, is that it is bound to be compared with the original. Now, I believe that Roxy Music released far better material than this during their existence, but this is the song that was played to death on the radio back in the Eighties so I, and many others, are incredibly familiar with it. While musically it isn't a bad take, Thierry's vocals don't work with this. The trace of accent, along with production that is too dry, means that one must wonder why it was undertaken. Ferry's vocals were given a great deal of reverb and this should have also been the case here.

The second song, 'Ode a Emile', which was originally by Ange, also doesn't work as well as it could for some reason, as it jars, but the third song (which is the title track of the EP) is quite the opposite with some strong guitar and delicate flute and the vocals definitely stronger, and a strong melody. 'Ys ' The Lost City of Brittany' is the longest song of the four, and in some ways, is the most reminiscent of the album, but also isn't as structured and well-arranged as I would expect. While Silver Hunter should be commended for releasing physical product, and none of the songs on this EP are currently available elsewhere, I would have preferred it if they either hadn't covered 'Avalon' or had different production, and they should have actually led with the title song as that is the strongest of the four.

Report this review (#1803193)
Posted Friday, October 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars As the collaboration between Thierry Sportouche and Tim Hunter is in stand-by, the duo releases a very cool 4 tracks EP showing a perfect symbiosis. First of all, I suspect Thierry of having been persuasive in the choice of one of the two covers featuring on this maxi CD. 'Avalon', the hit of the 80s, is played here with a rare delicacy and the additional arrangements improve this eternal masterpiece. First of all Thierry's vocals with his meaningful phrasing can let us forget Brian Ferry's voice, as if Thierry had written the lyrics. Then the arrangements. They both borrow from the original ones and propose a great new approach in a marvelous blend. What a good idea this development of the guitar parts on the second half of the song! And it ends with very high quality choirs which enlighten the whole, giving us these shivers we require. Very beautiful! 'Ode ' 'mile', a cover of the eternal standard by the French progressive rock band Ange, follows. Thierry certainly wanted to pay an additional tribute and the song is completely reinvented, except the lyrics of course. A surprise effect is guaranteed because you have to wait for the first words to guess, without having seen the cover, which song it is. A second surprise comes when you realize that the new arrangements carry on throughout the track without ever betraying it. It is, first of all, the interventions of very expressive guitars between the verses and drums giving the rhythm a little out of the way (but with the best effect), then the keyboards chorus with a modern sound while the original version used the classic Ange sound. And always those vocals where Thierry seems to give all the emotion he can, in an exercise where singing in your mother language for your countrymen is a hard challenge while English allows fewer comparisons. The third track gives the title to the EP: 'Concrete Hearts'. I was completely unable to resist. This song could be featured in Genesis' 'Invisible Touch', yes this album where we could imagine Steve Hackett still playing. Am I carried away? The melody is superb, pleasant, soft, mesmerizing, divinely expressed by very slightly set back vocals in order to seem even more present because they harmonize so well with the musical frame. If in the previous song, the end of sentences were stressed, here they are deliberately faded out to confer a slowness which befits marvelously the romanticism of the words. What about the arrangements where the guitar hits the bull's eye in every solo, the keyboard is often discreet but omnipresent and this chorus reminding Tony Banks so much? I invite you to close your eyes during the chorus in the middle of the track and you'll really be able to find the sound of those masters. A feeling you'll also find with Tim's excellent backing vocals. I forget to mention the flutes as an introduction which set the tone for the whole song and this finale in French where we would like so much that the music restarts, but the song is great that way. All the ingredients of progressive to the service of a very beautiful 'pop' song. All masters wrote one, didn't they? Total change of atmosphere with 'Ys', fourth and last track of this EP. Sung by Tim, we have a mid-tempo song which is rather linear and does not require a lot of listening to get into it, a bit like Simple Minds who know so well how to make those songs. An omnipresent but simple guitar riff blend with very modern keyboards arrangements inside a lot of inventiveness. A passage highlighted with marine references always on the same rhythm, a guitar chorus Peter Trewavas would not deny, so meaningful all along the notes. A real success. If you are a lover of assorted music within the same album like me, then this CD is made for you. The amateur of epics with elaborated developments will enjoy this disc a little less but I invite them to forget their prejudice and to taste these four tracks filled with very progressive influences and arrangements.

Bonus on Bandcamp 'The King of Sun'. Total change of style once again. This is an attractive track with medieval accents which gets off to a flying start, a hard-hitting sound mass as we usually like. Here a little less delicacy, the vocals becomes intensive in the middle of solid keyboards where the guitars embellish the whole and surprise! A welcome break with the acoustic guitar giving more thickness to the song. And this flute so well placed before those collective vocals, developing the mystery again. But what makes this track so interesting, it is the multitude of musical signatures blend marvelously. But attention, no fawning here, the song has a rather rough approach and deserves several listenings to connect the various parts. Another special mention to the arrangements, especially this jerky bass which inebriates your soul as well as those impressive keyboards. A special mention too to the vocals which, if you listen very well, are not that obvious. Many feelings and atmospheres are expressed throughout the track. And I have to say that this track is very original, maybe not something never heard but almost adventurous, certainly 'presumptuous' but this is a success. Surprising but never disturbing!

Olivier Sauce

Report this review (#1914784)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2018 | Review Permalink

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