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Stereoscope - Stereoscope (Debut Album)

Stereoscope - StereoscopeStereoscope are, none other than, Jeremie Grima and Sebastien Bourdieix of the highly rated French outfit The Black Noodle Project.

If you are familiar with BNP, you will be aware of their approach toward the more pop oriented sound of latter day Porcupine Tree and has seen them even dipping their toes into the earlier proggy styles of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and even Caravan. They have tied all this together into a modern sound with tinges of other contemporary prog giants such as Sylvan and Frost. Recommended stuff.

However, if you are expecting Stereoscope to be a carbon copy of Black Noodle Project then you must think again, as this is an altogether different kettle of fish.

The percussion and bass that drives The Noodle has been stripped away along with the most of the melody and harmony that accompanies BNP, what we are left with is a collection of soul searching songs that tend to frustrate and disappoint the listener.

It starts off earnestly enough, in minor key acoustic with the clever addition of a typewriter sampled into the structure of the song which sets the tempo for the album with its gentle strings, pizzicato electric guitar and the obvious Gallic influence.

The playing is quite brilliant in places with haunting themes and clever arrangements.

However, the lyrics read as though they have been lying in a half-forgotten box under the bed since high school days and as such they are so full of forgotten teenage angst.

There are some excellent highpoints, such as the haunting Once Upon A Sky Corner.

The Girl In The Paper, with its ever so downplayed and simplistic approach, its sweeping understated melody and angst ridden pleading acceptance lyric, is top drawer stuff.

The huge nod towards the Blackfield prog/pop sound on the clever  Sleeping with U and the stunning  1+1=2 is a tribute to the partnership between Jeremie and Sebastien.

There are some low points as well, unfortunately, The Beauty with The Colt is both uninspiring and base and the album would have benefited tremendously from its exclusion. It is that bad, even with a tongue firmly in the cheek it fails to deliver on so many levels.

We may look back on Stereoscope’s debut with fondness in years to come, if the undoubted potential on this release comes to bear fruit on some future output, we may be hailing the dawn of a bone fide French Prog success. I for one certainly hope so. Stereoscope’s debut remains a frustrating, interesting and a sometime rewarding 45 minutes of mellow and understated prog. Worth a listen!

Steve Morris

Stereoscope

B-Smile Records

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