Sunday, February 1, 2015

Champignons - 1972 - Premiere Capsule

Premiere Capsule

01. Dynamite
02. Le ghetto noir
03. Reve futur
04. Le train
05. Le chateau hante
06. Folies du mercredi
07. Pop-Pino

Émile Naud / saxophone, flute, vocals
Alain Vincent : drums
Alain Lavalleé / bass
Daniel Maillette / keyboards
Jacques Paradis / guitar
Alain Charrette / guitar

A crazy bunch of Québecois that only recorded one album, this sextet were relatively unrepresentative of the average Québecois band, despite the obvious drug reference about their name and their album title (first pill). Indeed, released in late 72 on a public-owned label, his is a product of its time. Lead by singer and wind-player Emile Naud, he's seconded by a sizzling lead guitar and a dazzling organ, but the rhythm section is quite solid as well. Despite a few notes on the back cover, not much is discussed of the band itself, and the only photo known (to my knowledge anyway) is the one taken in front of the mushroom mural painting.

Opening on the rapid-fire instrumental track Dynamite, which features in a drum solo in its middle section, Naud's sax is giving it a very brassy sound. The 7-mins slow blues Ghetto Noir is up next, and Maillette's organ rivals with Charette's guitar for the attention, while Naud's vocals (situated between Dyonisos and Octobre) and his harmonica are definitely giving an old-south feel, despite the French-sung vocals. The 6-mins Rêve Futur heads in a splendid mid-tempo track where Charette's fuzzed guitar and Paradis' efficient rhythm guitar are giving an answer to Maud's flute. Excellent bass and drum parts as well. Best track of side A. The side-closing Train is sonically fairly close to its predecessor.

The flipside opens on the 11-mins centrepiece Chateau Hanté, a slow creepy tune that features tons of noises to create its graveyard aura; especially with the nearly cookie-monster-like spoken vocals. The sinister feel is only half-convincing, and therefore the credibility is ampered, but the searing guitar and spellbinding beat gives a slight Univers Zero feel. Despite a fairly conventional start, Folies Du Mercredi is their wildest and most adventurous track, changing constantly climates and rhythms. Mad is back on the sax, and Maillette's excellent organ solo two-thirds in add much drama, as does Charette's sizzling fuzz guitar. Great stuff, and it is probably the album's highlight, along with Rêve Futur. The short almost-goofy afterthought Pop-Pino closes the album one down note, though.

Wile their Première Capsule album is n almost must-hear Québecois 70's artefact, I can't tell you that Les Champignons are an essential part of "La Belle Province's" overall musical soundscape, but it is surely a very enjoyable detour. I just wish it would one day get a fully legit reissue, but the Radio-Active bootand the more recent Flawed Gem label copies make it unlikely for a fragile ProgQuebec label to take a financial risk in reissuing it. Anyway, an excellent consolidating block to your Quebecois prog section.

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