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"Bethesda"

Silvain Vanot – Bethesda
23 March 2010, 10:00 Written by Gina Louise
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After a seven year hiatus, Silvain Vanot is back with a fruity little number called Bethesda: an eclectic mix of sounds, influences and contributions. It is a confusing album with no palpable conceit, and after multiple listenings I am still none the wiser to his ambiguous aspirations. Yet perhaps this is the beauty of Vanot; he makes a cacophony of noise, melds together a myriad of genres that should, by rights, never be melded, and walks away. You are meant to be left guessing.The album opens gently with the country waltz ‘Ô Mon Tour’, with steel guitar melodies reminiscent of Santo and Johnny and some vocals that sound disconcertingly like The Magic Numbers. Okay”¦so the opening does sound a little like the soundtrack in a Bewise store, but the rest of the album is altogether more promising.Next up is ‘Un Pied Derrière’, a catchy percussion driven song with a melody vaguely resembling ‘King of the Road’, making it an amusing little ditty to listen to. The album then meanders through harrowing harmonica melodies to the tropical down tempo beat of ‘Hawaii’, which is somehow more befitting of the Welsh countryside than a hula girl laden beach. Perhaps the influence of the Welsh recording location of Bethesda is seeping through there”¦‘Rivière’ combines beautiful piano melodies with ‘Jungle Book’ style instrumentals, and provides a stark contrast to the rockier songs that follow, highlighting just how many genres Vanot manages to include in one piece of work. He even throws in a bit of Latino for good measure in ‘Implacanle’. The overall tone of the album is strangely ethereal, with no extricable reasoning for these haunting overtones. The layers of sound aren’t too oppressive, showing Vanot’s obvious talents for picking and choosing his wide array of instrumental accompaniments.The spacing between songs is a little skewed, perhaps the shoddy outcome of a staggeringly short recording time: the 11 song album was recorded in just one week. Yet whatever the reason, it certainly makes you impatient for the next song which I suppose is always a plus. Whilst it is never going to be in anyone’s top tens, Bethesda is nevertheless a very palatable album.
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