Baron Crâne – Les Beaux Jours: Album Review

Baron Crâne release their fourth album Les Beaux Jours, and unleash a powerhouse of heavy fusion sounds and astonishing musicianship.

Release date: 15th October 2021

Label: Mrs Red Sound Records

Format: CD / Vinyl 2LP / Digital Album 

Paris based trio Baron Crâne, formed in 2014, and have been engaged on a journey of sonic experimentation, to reach this their fourth album, Les Beaux Jours. The album is a musical pinnacle, laced with unstoppable energy, dazzling and complex arrangements, and an emotional engagement, through the range of moods that the music can conjure up.

Album opener Danjouer, begins with drone like choral vocals, and then slams into a breakneck paced slice of jazz fusion. Léo Pinon-Chaby’s guitar squeals and soars, alternating with some very heavy riffing. The thundering drum patterns from Simon Lemonnier, breathlessly propel the music forward.

Larry’s Journey, clocking in at nearly nine minutes, has a feel of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, with its contrasting frenetic and quieter reflective musical sections, and call and response guitar soloing. There are some complex time signatures, handled admirably by Léo Goizet, drums, and Olivier Pain, bass. The mid-section sounds for all the world like the Jefferson Airplane at their most musically psychedelic, with Olivier’s bass matching Jack Casady’s characteristic undulating bass tone, that so marked out the sound of the Airplane. There is even a bit of classical Led Zeppelin style epic riffing added into the mix. A superb track.

Quarantine, featuring the attacking vocals of Cyril Bodin, has a progressive metal thrust, and you can almost imagine the head banging, and mosh pit opening up, when this song is played live. The expressive vocal performance is exceptional, driving the edgy pace and feel of this great track.

The stunning album art by Nora Simon

Mercury and Merinos, exhibit the most pronounced sense of a jazz influence on the album. Mercury slowly builds, with some lyrical guitar playing, that darts out of the speakers. The guitar then echoes and floats, punctuated by some exquisite cymbal work, as the rhythm accelerates. Guillaume Perret’s saxophone then floods the track with a charged and melodic flurry of notes, before doing battle with the guitar, and then fading into the gentle end coda. There is a passion in the playing here that is emotionally compelling for the listener. 

Merinos features Robby Marshal, on flute, weaving the instrument beautifully through the reggae like introduction, and mid-section. While the staccato guitar chords and wailing soloing, provide a dynamic counterpoint. This inventive musical approach underlines the creative, and completely admirable, musical unpredictability that characterises the whole of the album.

Les Beaux Jours, the lengthy title track, closes the album, with Léo taking on vocal as well as guitar duties. The title could roughly translate as the good or bright days ahead, and has at points a completely fitting wistful Canterbury scene sound. Think Caravan or Hatfield and the North. There are also some very anthemic sections bustling with ascending vocals and reverberating guitars. The central guitar solo is the best on the album; it is by turns, inventive, note bending, and full of sustain and melodic phrases.

This is an album full of musical delights, that speaks to a band at the height of its compositional and playing powers. The playing is quite awe-inspiring and inspirational. Don’t let this one pass you by.

Listen to Larry’s Journey from the album here: 

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