PIP PYLE — Belle Illusion (review)

PIP PYLE — Belle Illusion album cover Live album · 2004 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
A live album, consisting mainly of PPB’s concert at Le Triton in Paris in 2003 (as part of the Tritonales Festival), but the set has been cut by two tracks of a Seattle concert of the previous year. Same line-up except that Elton Dean pops up on stage at the end of the Triton gig for two tracks. Don’t be fooled too much by the “France Profonde” pictures that make the album’s outer artworks, though: I don’t think it’s got much to do with the music, outside maybe the tracks being inspired by the French landscapes, some bearing French titles. Most other tracks are written by Pyle, with Maguire, Baker and Meyer also penning one each.

Musically we’re dealing with a cool modern fusion-jazz, one that will not raise the hairs in your neck because of the energy or wildness. Rather the opposite, some tracks are close to being soporific (like Beautiful Baguette or Adiba), despite the stellar musicianship. I guess you had to be there to appreciate the full thing. Other tracks are much more interesting and “involved” (energetic), like Spoutnik (yup, the French add an “o”) or the more chaotic (at first) Carousel, but don’t expect 70’s energy levels. Needless to say that most softheads will pay special attention to the two tracks that Elton appears on: Cauliflower Ears sees Baker’s bass goes fuzz (and most likely not by accident), while Carousel’s intro is very Dean-esque. Clearly the album-closing Fragments is their most energetic and my fave... as well as the closest to the Machine Spirit.

Despite the interest some progheads and softheads might have for such a “Canterburyan” project, it bears relatively little resemblance to anything coming from the Machine, even in its Legacy (SML) stage in the first half of the album, even if the last three tracks do wink somewhat towards them. Hardly essential in my book, but I’m happy to have heard it.
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