A French symphonic band from the nineties, VERSAILLES have also been referred to as neo-progressive, but a listen to any of their studio albums reveals obvious and strong influences by the early symphonic masters, including GENESIS, YES, KING CRIMSON, and PFM. Their keyboard work is especially comparable to both GENESIS and YES.
The band consisted of the quartet Guillaume de la Pilière, Alain De Lille, and Benoit and Olivier de Gency. Their most memorable release is the 1992 “Don Giovanni”, which is marked by three epic-length compositions full of inflected guitar, heavy mellotron, delicate flute, and three-part harmonic vocals. Their subsequent albums would also be characterized by lengthy passages, but none would approach the expansive and expressive feel of this release.
VERSAILLES’ sound consists mostly of spacey but heavy mellotron, heavily inflected guitar, and dramatic flourishes of vocals (in French, of course) and flute. The guitar work often seems to lean rather heavily toward seventies David Gilmour, although the compositions themselves are distinctly French and do not approach the feel of PINK FLOYD. ANGE would probably be a better comparison.
The band produced four studio albums in the nineties before dissolving (sans bassist Olivier de Gency) to help reform the theatrical seventies French band MONA LISA, with whom the group released a studio album in 1998, and a live release from their ProgFest 2000 appearance before fading once again. Multi-instrumentalist and VERSAILLES leader Guillaume de la Pilière also produced solo albums in 1997 and 2000.
VERSAILLES should be listed in the Archives because of their distinct and dramatic style of keyboard-driven French music, and for being the catalyst in the reformation of MONA LISA. Their sound is undeniably symphonic, so their place here is assured.
Bob Moore (ClemofNazareth)
A La Gloire Des Animaux
Erre au fil des Ères
1. “La Cathedrale Du Temps”, 1991 (FLAC: image + .cue)
2. “Don Giovanni”, 1992 (FLAC: image + .cue)
3. “Le Trésor De Valliesres”, 1994 (2 issues; FLAC: tracks + .cue + artwork)
4. “Blaise et Benjamin”, 1998 (APE: image + .cue)