CLEARLIGHT — Clearlight Symphony

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CLEARLIGHT - Clearlight Symphony cover
3.96 | 7 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1975


1. 1st Movement (20:28)
2. 2nd Movement (20:29)

Total Time: 40:58


- Gilbert Artman / drums, percussion, vibraphone (2)
- Tim Blake / synthesizer, percussion (1)
- Christian Boulé / electric guitar (2)
- Steve Hillage / electric guitar (1)
- Martin Isaacs / bass (2)
- Didier Malherbe / tenor saxophone (1)
- Cyril Verdeaux / keyboards, gong, synthesized bass, mellotron

About this release

Virgin ‎– V 2029(UK)

Track A recorded and mixed at Kaleidophon Studios,track B recorded at the Manor,UK 1973–1974

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Members reviews

I bought this album for the Gong connection. Steve Hillage, Tim Blake and Didier Malherbe all appear on the first part. On the second half is Gilbert Artman of Lard Free, along with Christian Boule, and bassist Martin Isaacs. The first part features the Gong musicians, and they pretty much leave the Gong sound at home. Here Cyrille Verdeaux gives a more symphonic approach with his piano playing and tons of Mellotron used throughout, along with the occasional trippy passage. Tim Blake provides spacy synths and while Didier Malherbe is credited here, it's strange I don't hear his sax playing here, but I do hear him on the second part, with the Gibert Artman involvement. This first part is nothing short of incredible. So much comparison has been made of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Honestly I really don't notice that. Certainly some of the guitar playing from Hillage strangely reminds me more of Oldfield's fuzz lead guitar playing that what you usually expect out of him. This has more of a symphonic prog feel, and instruments like a Mellotron is certainly out of the question on a Mike Oldfield album. The second half is a bit more fusion-influenced, with a bit of a Canterbury feel, especially the small amount of Canterbury-like organ. Piano is much more dominant, and as stated before, I notice sax, which means Didier Malherbe must have actually played on this piece and not the part with the Gong members involved. This is certainly a great prog rock album, and the reason it's included in here is the jazz influences found in the music. Highly recommended!
Recorded at the Manor and put out on Virgin Records, it's not too hard to see that this was an attempt to replicate the success of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Apparently, the album was recorded through the simple means of recording a couple of 20-minute piano solos from Verdeaux and then overdubbing the rest of the instruments later on, as other musicians jammed using the piano solo as inspiration and Verdeaux added keyboard and synth flourishes. This explains why on one side Verdeaux is backed by a triumvirate of key musicians from Gong, whilst the other side features the core of what would become the Clearlight band.

The extent to which Verdeaux's piano solos dominate both sides means that the album almost slips into the New Age category, but there's enough prog twists added (often with a mild Canterbury flavour, no doubt due to the Gong presence) to keep prog fans satisfied. At the same time, though, the fact that the disc was an unabashed attempt to replicate the Tubular Bells formula is hard to overlook. Three stars - it's a fun listen, but it's a little too derivative and unimaginative to be a great listen.
Sean Trane
Incredible first (?) album for Clearlight or should I say Cyrille Verdeaux's project. In a way, if you thought that the Virgin label had scored with Michael Oldfield Tubular Bell, you might be also tempted into looking on that same label at this little marvel of electronic music! There are lots of similarities between those two oeuvres, being mostly electronic but also full of great real instruments much the same way TB had it also. But I would like to assure you that Clearlight's Symphony is a much better and a much fuller record (it was a double vinyl for a start) than TB. I always thought that TB was a rather empty and meatless/beefless record, but it was the novelty of it at the time that made its great success. With Verdeaux's superb record, we are two years later than the groundbreaking TB, but this oeuvre is so much more mature that TB pales in comparison. Enough comparing the two and let's concentrate on this record. Actually the record's full name is Symphony II (which implies there was a previous oeuvre, but this proghead never heard that work) and it lasts some 66 minutes, and 6 movements ranging almost 9 minutes until the whopping 20.5 minutes of the fifth. As one might guess, the work is very melodic, romantic and delightful, and should please most everyone - especially recommended to get comfy with the partner and engage in special gymnastics (get the Cd release to avoid flipping the discs and leaving the partner cool down ;-). To describe you how the music sounds, you might want to think of a cross between Oldfield's TB and Tangerine Dream (from ricochet to Force Majeure era). Not completely without influences, Verdeaux pays a tribute to the Never-ending-chord and the Never-ending-note of the Beatles A Day in The Life in one its movement. But the major interest is the superb fifth movement where three musicians from Gong appear, with Hillage, Malherbe and Blake bringing to the total oeuvre to a spine-chilling climax.

Definitely one of the best progressive works to have come out of France, this little baby is still sadly a much too unknown, under-appreciated and overlooked gem. I cannot recommend this record anymore than here and by giving it a fifth star. When you know how rarely I hand out this rating, this should just about convince you and send you running to the record shop. Don't forget your wallet, though ;-)

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