Cyrille Verdeaux - "Journey to Tantraland"
(Clearlight Music, 2001, C8M-202)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
With French group Clearlight back in the 70's, Cyrille Verdeaux produced a brand of spacey, progressive rock that had touches of new age to it (although the term "new age" had not yet really been applied to music). Today, as a solo artist, Verdeaux is producing new age music with touches of spacey, progressive rock to it.
Journey to Tantraland is a series of instrumental excursions inspired by the second chakra of the Kundalini Opera. The second chakra, according to the liner notes, is the chakra dealing with sexual energies. Knowing this makes you take a second look at the cover photo on the CD.
Musically, the pieces are, spacey, ambient voyages played on synthesizers, bamboo flute, and lyricon (a sort of electronic woodwind instrument). Verdeaux unfortunately has to throw in a few of the more annoying clichés of the new age genre, such as babbling brooks and singing birds, but they are sparse and rare, most notably found at the beginning of Flute-miroir (which is perhaps, the weakest and most "new-agey", but also the shortest piece on the album). Shambala is nice and otherworldly, as is Journey to the Center of the Head. The latter even exhibits some of the Eastern influences suggested by the artwork on the back cover and inside the liner notes. Both pieces are reminiscent of the more ambient moments of classic Tangerine Dream or Ash Ra. Another standout is the 17-minute epic, Meditation Lyricon. Its soundscapes are are eerie and uncompromising. This is a lonely journey through dark, still spaces, great with the lights turned down and the headphones on.
At a total of 60-minutes, I found the album a little on the long side, growing weary of it before the end. With a little trimming away of the shorter, more cloying pieces, this could have been a great, if not groundbreaking, album. But it falls a little short of that. Still, an enjoyable listen when in the right mood.
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Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald