Jazz Related Rock • France
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Essentially French keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux and an ever-changing list of collaborators, among them Christian Boule and Gilbert Artman, Clearlight was among the most well-known French symphonic progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Their massive, occasionally psychedelic sound showed a different side to Verdeaux than his later, more new age records. One of the first bands signed to the fledgling Virgin Records in the early 1970s, Clearlight has been compared to such progressive bands as Yes and Genesis as well as more experimental groups like Gong. The first Clearlight album, 1973's Symphony, presents the band at the height of their grandeur, pursuing everything from modern experimentalism to more classically styled pieces. For the project, Verdeaux took on several members of Gong as collaborators. It was later re-recorded with a great deal of new material in 1990 and released as Symphony II. Forever Blowing Bubbles was released in 1975 and found Clearlight read more...
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CLEARLIGHT Discography

CLEARLIGHT albums / top albums

CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony album cover 3.96 | 7 ratings
Clearlight Symphony
Jazz Related Rock 1975
CLEARLIGHT Forever Blowing Bubbles album cover 3.64 | 2 ratings
Forever Blowing Bubbles
Jazz Related Rock 1975
CLEARLIGHT Delired Cameleon Family album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Delired Cameleon Family
Jazz Related Rock 1975
CLEARLIGHT Les Contes du Singe Fou album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Les Contes du Singe Fou
Jazz Related Rock 1976
CLEARLIGHT Visions album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1978
CLEARLIGHT Symphony II album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Symphony II
Jazz Related Rock 1990
CLEARLIGHT Mosaïque (In Your Hands) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mosaïque (In Your Hands)
Jazz Related Rock 1994
CLEARLIGHT Infinite Symphony album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Infinite Symphony
Jazz Related Rock 2003


CLEARLIGHT live albums

CLEARLIGHT demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

CLEARLIGHT re-issues & compilations

CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony Box album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Clearlight Symphony Box
Jazz Related Rock 2008

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CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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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!

CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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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.

CLEARLIGHT Delired Cameleon Family

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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Sean Trane
Clearly seen as another Clearlight album, it is much more than that. Thanks to my buddy Olivier for pointing out this album to me, as it was completely unknown to me, and it is part of my regular spin rotation. Musically, the album hovers around some Gong, with Steve Hillage, there is a pinch of Magma (mostly in the vocals), the rather freer sounds of Lard Free and Pinhas/Heldon, but it has an undeniably Clearlight affiliation. After an eastern Gong-like (mostly due to Blake/Hillage) spacey opening track, Weird Ceremony starts from the same aerial roots and glides back down slowly to earth letting the calm serene winds leading them away to the next song. La Fin Du Début (the end of the beginning) is the first track to boast some delightful plaintive, yet rested, vocals. While the first side of the album closes on a more energetic Gong-like spacey jam, where some of the improvisations come close to atonal and are rather unfocused, even losing the thread before ending with Stella Vander doing one of Zeuhl number. Too bad this tracks lacks rigour, for it has many highlights.

The second side is a slow crescendo that has again Gong roots, and is again jam- induced and dabbles in atonal improvisations that reminds of Lard Free's Unnamed album or even Keith Tippett's free jazz, but just as it gets lenghty and tedious, the track reprises a bit in a Hawkwind fashion. The lengthy closer Ananta, yet another spacey adventure offers too many lengths for its own good and the album's overall performance. Malherbe's sax adventures are a bit undermixed too, and Verdeaux's piano interventions are spellbinding, but overall, while still interesting, the track overstays its welcome.

This album IMHO, is more of Gong lineage musically speaking than a Clearlight album, but remains one of those albums that epitomize France's best contribution to progressive rock. Warmly recommended, even if not really essential but you would regret it if you passed over it.

CLEARLIGHT Clearlight Symphony

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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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 ;-)

CLEARLIGHT Forever Blowing Bubbles

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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Sean Trane
If the debut album was simply stunning, unfortunately, one cannot expect this sophomore record to be quite as successful. Out with Cyrille Verdeaux is a real band (with Christian Boule already present on Symphony II) as well as a real star guest list including David Cross (KC), Gilbert Artman (Lard Free) and the Northettes (of Hatfield and National Health fame). But all of this does not save this record from paling with its predecessor; although it is clear Verdeaux did not try to duplicate his first record either, which is a sign that they were real artistes.

Also released on the (then-reliable) Virgin label, it contains unfortunately some very cheesy and embarrassing bubble sounds that ruin an otherwise interesting record if you make abstraction of the opening and second last tracks, which are sung and are not particular well at it. Clearly the centrepieces are the highlight of the album taking you back a bit to the debut album, but without making a copy/paste either. Without words and ergotrip being the better tracks, IMHO, but you can also safely put your money on Way and Pendant Ce Temps-Là (in the meantime) which are also superb. A rather stunning closing track with full electronics-délire does end the album on a high note.

Not quite as essential than Symphony, this recode is nevertheless still a great moment, despite its flaws, and is much worth your investigations.

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