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GRAND BATON – Le Grand Baton

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Metal Express Rating: 6.0/10
Release Date: 2008-04-06
by: LIOR “STEINMETAL” STEIN
Email: lior@metalexpressradio.com

Grand Baton is a joint unit of Caribbean, French and American who dares to reach out, in its music, to some obscure corners and to mix a collection of styles. The band, lead by their vocalist /guitarist, which is also the founder and the song writer, Jean Christophe Maillard is a project that is meant to present the mixture of Rock , Fusion and progressive elements combined with traditional Guadeloupe music. Maillard can be considered as a pioneer regarding this combination of various genres and his debut album, Le Grand Baton, can be considered as a fair presentation.

The music on the album is pretty complex and drawing its complexity from multiple genres of music and gives this project a fine tune, which on most cases, doesn’t fail.

The production of this release is very good and well engineered. Every role in the music is in place and the roles of the players are done with a high measure of skill. For the non-French speaking this album can provide, in most songs, a sort of atmosphere and sensation of the Caribbean. The trouble starts when the songs are too complex and that can feel like a sort of headache to some listeners. It should be noticed that a lot of thought was invested in this release but sometimes it gives off the notion that the composer was focused too much on complicating the songs rather than letting them flow as they go.

Maillard’s music brings out the best from his world and the Rock world. As a vocalist he addresses the listeners with various voices that range from small attack dosages to soft clean and silky tunes. As a guitarist he demonstrates some nice riffs of Rock and Progressive Rock infused with Reggae and Funk. This mixture completes the full picture of this album. The other members of the band work accordingly to Maillard’s lead and do a fine job doing so.

As for the tracks, Le Grand Baton gives almost everything to the fans in regards to new experiences but it lacks something important which is interest. The first thing about the album that can drive some listeners mad is the first track, “Don’t Copy”. The first thought that comes to mind from this particular track is that the listeners copy albums and have to be warned not to do so rather than asked not to copy. This track is not a suitable opener for any album no matter the genre. Second, most of the tracks have a hard time providing any interest and are swallowed in their own complexity.

Although there are many weak spots, there are some standouts like “File”, which is a nice tune with a good chorus and comes across as Heavy Rock. “Zafe A Kuule La” is another good track with a lot of progressive elements. The last standout is “Les Jours S’allongest” which can pretty much paint a full picture of the album. It has a captivating rhythm, especially on its ending verse.

Grand Baton is a fine project, which with some minor adjustments can go far. Millard’s purpose in his composing is brilliant and he has a lot to give to the music industry. It’s hard not to think that this release is his final word.

Website: www.myspace.com/grandbaton

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