Record Collector (magazine) (p.88) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "JESTER makes a mid-period Genesis kind of noise...and has a neat line in stupendously overwrought lyrics..."
In the second half of the 1970s, Machiavel became one of Belgium's biggest bands, and for a time, their appeal expanded across Europe. Like so many prog rock groups, they started out making sophisticated, complex music and simplified their approach to a more mainstream sound by the end of the `70s. On their second album, Jester, however, Machiavel was still solidly in the classic symphonic prog mold. Since England was pretty much the birthplace of progressive rock as we know it, it was only natural for these Belgians to soak up some British influences, and their sound circa Jester picks its inspirations from the best of the batch; keyboardist Albert Letecheur's keyboards never approach the extremes of filigree practiced by the likes of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson, but they nevertheless have something undeniably in common with the graceful lead synth lines of Genesis' Tony Banks. Guitarist Jean Paul Devaux, meanwhile, punctuates the tunes with lyrical six-string statements that recall the trenchant melodic inventions of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Camel's Andy Latimer, and singer Mario Guccio's mix of rasp and refinement puts him solidly in the Peter Gabriel/Peter Hammill mold, as opposed to the airier realms of Jon Anderson, et al.
The band's compositional approach follows its instrumental tendencies, never showing off or engaging in anything excessively flashy, but consistently delivering carefully wrought melodies, within structures that employ just enough dynamic shifts and unconventional time signatures to keep things properly proggy. Letecheur is equally proficient on piano and synth, employing whichever makes the most musical sense, and while Guccio bears an unmistakable accent, the English lyrics never seem forced, as they sometimes do with singers from non-English-speaking nations. Two brief bonus cuts are added to the reissued version of Jester: the concise, guitar-based tracks "The Birds Are Gone" and "I'm Nowhere," both of whose hard-rocking edge hints at the direction the band would take in the future. ~ J. Allen