Pryzme hail from Rennes in France, and the amusingly titled Four Inches is their debut album. Why Four Inches? Well, I guess it’s catchier than 10.16 centimetres. Odd album titles aside, this is an impressive piece of work, exploring the progressive possibilities of a twin guitar band. We aren’t talking Wishbone Ash, as the two guitars are almost always playing completely different but complementary roles in each piece, rather than harmony lead lines, and the textures they conjure make for great listening. Couple this with a supple rhythm section, and all four musicians with decent voices, and the results are varied and really enjoyable.
The band list, amongst others, Yes, Steven Wilson and Pink Floyd as influences, and at various moments I can hear all three, but they do manage to forge their own sound, and any such comparisons are pretty fleeting. There is an exception in the opening track, Fusion, which has a lovely jazz-prog flavour, with a relaxed funky rhythm, almost Solstice-like in atmosphere. The guitars weave a rich tapestry, with melodic lead lines and Rush style riffing until the breakdown towards the end where the four voices ‘borrow’ the wordless vocal bit from South Side of the Sky. It’s a respectful nod to Yes, and at no other time do they sound anything like them!
The songwriting is a great boon for Pryzme, highlighting the band’s strengths, especially the empathy and flair between the two guitarists, but also the vocal harmonies and infectious jazzy grooves. The vocals are in English, which can only help them outside of their home territory. The compositions are thoughtful and not too rigid, always allowing a degree of improvisation and exploration within the structure of the songs. Nothing to Say is a good example, and is actually a song about songwriting, and searching for inspiration. Some of the guitar patterns and riffs meander in an almost Sanguine Hum kind of way, but the mid-section is a very Floydian soundscape, with some beautiful guitar work. Such reminders of other bands are subtle, and I hesitate to mention them at all as I’d hate to detract from Pryzme’s own identity, but perhaps they may help to give a flavour of a very rewarding album.
Another highlight is the moody After Wichita, which has some delightfully atmospheric mallet instrumentation giving a gentle minimalist repetitive pattern throughout the piece. It’s the sort of mood which Peter Gabriel does so well, and works a treat on this track, which has a dreamy ambiance which gradually builds in tension, culminating in some superb guitar solos from David Chollet and Dominique Blanchard. This pair are responsible for all the writing, so are obviously key to the whole project. They are ably aided however by Maxence Marmieysse on bass and Gabrielle Duplenne on drums who provide the perfect support, which is distinctive and dexterous without detracting from the guitar duo. Pretty Princess opens quietly with a delicate guitar synth soundscape and sounds of young children in a playground before another easy laid-back riff chops in over a rather danceable rhythm as the song deals with welcoming new life into the world. It all breaks down midway through, as many of these songs do, in this case to a lovely semi-acoustic guitar exploration in a very jazzy style before returning to the main theme.
The last three tracks seem to gradually get heavier, and more riff orientated culminating in the title track, and the longest piece here. At thirteen minutes, it really allows the band to explore and evolve the main riff, and of course the Rush comparison arises again, mainly resulting from the complex time signatures and meaty guitar work. As it builds up by layers, the guitars becoming quite distorted in places, one is caught up in the momentum as lead guitars squall and dive, but always maintaining control and purpose. It is a fitting climax to the album, and I dare say their live performances too. By the end, you just want to play it again, as the song flies by, and I’m still none the wiser as to why it’s called Four Inches. It sounds big enough for a good few feet to me.
01. Fusion (7:39)
02. Vision (5:20)
03. After Wichita (8:39)
04. Nothing to Say (6:08)
05. Pretty Princess (8:07)
06. The Ride of Your Life (7:52)
07. Morning Song (6:53)
08. Four Inches (13:49)
Total Time – 64:27
David Chollet – Guitar, Vocals
Dominique Blanchard – Guitar, Vocals
Maxence Marmieysse – Bass, Vocals
Gabrielle Duplenne – Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: France
Date of Release: 12th September 2021