Grandval is a project of France's Henri Vaugrand and Olivier Bonneau, and Eau Et Feu is their third album. While progressive rock influences appear throughout the disc, I would be hesitant call it a full-blown progressive rock album, in the classic sense - that being said, this is a VERY good album.
The disc opens with Ferimur, a far too brief trip which brings to mind early offerings from Canada's The Box and is followed up with Les Jours Innocents, which is an excellent example of accessible prog-pop including a brilliant middle section featuring fantastic guitar and synthesizer solos. The third track is Il Neige Encore, which is another quite accessible track, complete with a very catchy “chorus”. The mellotron and organ parts along with the guitar solo bring to mind mid-period Genesis under-pinning a well crafted pop song.
Heinrich (Un Monde Bien Étrange) moves this disc into a different direction. This track is pure progressive rock moving through several styles and ambiances - incredible bass work, classic synthesizer sounds, Hammond organ lines and a fantastic acoustic guitar driven mellow interlude. To my mind this is the best track on the album.
Erables Et Chênes is the next track and it takes us down yet another path. The opening is a smoky jazz-pop section including some more top-notch bass work, which slowly melds itself into an electric piano driven middle section which then culminates in end section which gives a healthy nod to the work of the Alan Parsons Project.
Aqua Et Igni starts off with a section which brought to mind Peter Gabriel's Barry Williams Show. The instrumental break down towards the end of the track features some more great interplay between guitar (courtesy of Jean-Pierre Louveton of Nemo and JPL) and synthesizer - which then heads off down to a very Pink Floyd-inspired closing.
The disc closes off with Fin De Partie which, in many ways, pulls the album together and acts as a very suitable finale.
One final performance note: I cannot finish off this review without mentioning the incredible drumming of Jean-Baptiste Itier (Nemo, JPL) which throughout the disc acts an anchor to the ever-changing moods and styles.
Overall a very enjoyable album featuring some incredible playing. The production on the album is quite clear and allows each instrument their own space. Highly recommended.
**** David Carswell
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