Baroque Mastery Sublime


OLIVIER ROCABOIS: Olivier Rocabois Goes To Far (Acoustic Kitty/Kuraneko/Differ-Ant)

An assured and rich selection of texture and tonal majesty Olivier Rocabois Goes Too Far is that rare slice of authenticity in an increasingly synthetic world.  Quietly elegant, it skims and slides with effortless aplomb to herald a man at the height of his abilities. Never showy for the sake of being so, it unfolds like an opening bloom which will improve the mood and caresses the senses of the listener with repeated plays. A series of deft touches brings each song to the level of some soulfully baroque street-side opera. 

Blessed with concision and refined flourishes the album has a strange quality, poised, refined but never florid. Understatement in slow overdrive, and a tremendous array of deftly sensitive musicianship.

"The Sound Of The Waves" reveals itself as a perfect opener. Think Steely Dan in Aja period style with a mostly sixties Bowie vocal soaring towards the future that would be "Wild Is The Wind." The piece concludes in a delightful instrumental motif, like a soundtrack for an unmade movie. "High As High" evokes Paul McCartney at his jaunty and up-tempo best, replete with lavishly louche nonchalant drums from Guillaume Glain. 

Swish and assured "In My Drunken Dreamscape" ebbs and flows like an arriving and exiting tide. Donald Fagen in cahoots with The Left Banke underscored with a catchy classicism it grows to a cacophony reminiscent of early Genesis before resolving itself with piping brass and Beach Boys backing vocals. Mannered and refined. A psych-pop mini operetta unveils itself in "Arise Sir Richard" with a Fab Four like underscored beat this surfs into the mind with a Brian Wilson-like ease and a harpsichord that reminiscent of that wonderful pop maverick B.C. Camplight. 

The cascading vocal and piano intro of "Tonight I Need," so gentle its gossamer-like transience it could be lifted from a musical score discovered in a burnt out library, is a haunting gem. Rocabois is deftly assisted by English singer-songwriter John Howard in vocal harmonies that are nothing short of exquisite. Over all too soon, it simply demands to be played again, and then again. "Let Me Laugh Like A Drunk Witch" builds to a brooding epic with an element of underscored menace with elements of a song that has escaped from a Broadway musical melodrama.

There's a choral sophistication to the occasionally casual "Hometown Boys," his toy-town symphony of drummer-man precision, but slightly skewed, the song meanders perfectly till everything simply saunters quietly away. A pronounced glam piano intro suggestive of Queen or The Raspberries grows into a power-pop swagger in the form of "I'd Like To Make My Exit With Panache" that brings Sparks to mind in moments that are a joy to catch. 

The perfect closer emerges in "My Wounds Started Healing" -- a Beatles chamber driven masterpiece, delicious strings in a tango-like swirl and swagger, several songs in the guise of one, borne off in a tremendous flourish, part pomp prog, part innate classicism.

An effort that leaves a sense of anticipation, this is a hard act to pull off, and a difficult one to follow. Rocabois is never fearful of exposing his influences since he's never in any danger of being consumed by them. 

The album's title comes from an abandoned Paul McCartney project from the Sixtes. There's no such sense of abandonment here, merely one of a journey that is to be continued and replenished.

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