Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Heldon - 1974 - Électronique Guérilla

Électronique Guérilla

01. Zind (2:18)
02. Back to Heldon (8:31)
03. Northernland Lady (6:57)
04. Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68 (Le voyageur) (4:22)
05. Circulus Vitiosus (8:43)
06. Ballade pour Puig Antich (révolutionnaire assassiné en Espagne) (2:19)

- Richard Pinhas / AKS synthesizers, 1957 Gibson Les Paul guitar
- Alain Renaud / guitar (3)
- George Grunblatt / VCS3 synthesizers (4)
- Patrick Gauthier / piano, VCS3 synthesizers (4)
- Coco Roussel / drums (4)
- Pierrot Roussel / bass guitar (4)
- Gilles Deleuze / vocals (4)

French band formed in the 70's by guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Richard Pinhas (sometimes called the 'French Fripp'), synth player Patrick Gauthier, drummer François Auger and scores of other musicians dropping in and out over the course of six albums between '74 and '79. Their sound could best be described as a mixture of Frippian guitars with the cold, icy prog of KING CRIMSON and the hypnotic drones of CAN over a harsh, aggressive electronic background.

Their six first albums range from fairly spacy and quiet ("Allez Teia") to brain-searing sonic attacks ("Interface"). The easiest one to get into and most recommended to neophytes is "Stand By", their strongest effort todate. It is the least chaotic and most CRIMSON-like of the lot yet still features Pinhas' frenzied/tortured guitar play that verges on heavy metal in spots, complete with growling bass and guttural vocals. In 1998, Pinhas has tried to revive the band with an album called "Only Chaos Is Real", featuring French SF-writers Maurice Dantec and Normand Spinrad (their voices digitally treated) as well as trash singer David Korn. This album isn't quite in tune with the rest, sounding more like 'punk meets techno'. Overall, the music of the original six albums is dark and cold, yet fascinating and intense. It combines the elements of the French and German schools of electronic into something uniquely. HELDON.

 A successful experimental debut from an experimental band. Heldon's style mixes trippy electronic textures with frippian guitar playing. Contrary to most of contemporary musicians of the genre during the 70s', Heldon's music is not light, but rather dark and frightening. Some tracks are guitars dominated, while others are played only synthetizers. The result is pretty innovative and truely enjoyable !

The album opens with Zind, which sets the atmosphere directly up with smooth electronic distortions to introduce the highlight of the record, Back to Heldon. This track is really groundbreaking for its time and will transport you to another galaxy. Superposed waves of keyboards with floating guitar solos are epic and reminds by moments the end of Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine (which will be recorded one year later !). The second part of the song is much more experimental, in the vein of Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity. Unique and mindblowing ! Northernland Lady arrives as a quite ambient relaxing track with surprising sounds. The next track, Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68, (Georges Marchais was a french politician) is rather guitar dominated and features the politician talking over a slow psychedelic riff. Strange... There comes Circulus Vitiosus, the little brother of Back to Heldon. Similar in spirit and sonorities to his brother, the tune is the most tortured track of the disc. It ends with Ballade pour Puig Antich, featuring a small guitar theme over vaporous synthetizers effects.

Electronic Guerilla is one of the best albums from the band. With their first record, Heldon clearly establish themselves as true innovative musicians, differing completely from other musical directions that were taken by other electronic acts and in advance of their time. Strongly recommended to spacey and adventurous music explorers !



  2. At the risk of sounding like a smart ass, the voice on track four 'Ouais, Marchais, Mieux Qu'en 68 (Ex : Le Voyageur)' is that of the late French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and he is reading out lines from Friedrich Nietzsche (at least that it was I have always assumed!).

    Classic album and great to see all the Heldon albums available in such good quality. I think as time goes on, the music of Heldon and Richard Pinhas will be increasingly recognised as absolute genius and of such originality. - When I think back to how hard it was pre-internet to get these albums and now at the click of a mouse it is all there!

  3. PLease be a smart ass! I just learned something I didnt know... Thank You!

  4. Marchais, George was the leader of the french communists (Parti Communiste) in the 70's, Pinhas was even more maoist sided (lol, the argued like religious zealots over details within details for ages about Karl Marx theories). "Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68" is expressed in a whole to George Marchais "this is even better than in mai 1968 students riots in France" =)