Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Heldon - 2006 - Well And Alive in France; Live in Nancy 1979

Well And Alive in France; Live in Nancy 1979

101. Virgin Marie Overdrive (4:13)
102. Heldon UFO War Machine (12:14)
103. Schizosphere / Mekanosphere / Rhizosphere (16:13)
104. Red Line Target (13:53)

201. The Large Interface Session (18:12)
202. Mellotronic Dune Dance (18:53)

- Richard Pinhas / guitars, synthesizer, sequencer, Mellotron
- Pierrot Roussel / bass guitar, Mellotron
- François Auger / drums, percussion

Recorded 19th March 1979 Nancy France.

This live album was done during the most heavy, and also, (psychedelic) “rock” period of Richard Pinhas, some time after having recorded the Heldon album, “Interface” (1978). The album is not recorded too well, but the quality is acceptable to get an idea, and also, it doesn’t keep the listener from digging deep into it.

After the shorter, warming up, “Virgin Marie Overdrive”, keeping drums and electronica still a bit separately, the following track, “Heldon UFO War Machine” very quickly drags you into the hypnosis of things. Richard Pinhas plays guitars and synthesisers and sequencer, Pierre Roussel plays bass guitar, and François Auger plays drums and percussion. While the basic rhythm is dominated by the steady sequenced electronic rhythm, the drummer goes berserk, the guitarist goes berserk, and the bass throws out hot lava over them, until it cools down, and the percussion sounds as if a steam engine is coming to a halt, while hot steam comes out from the metal plates. While a high sequenced note like birds whistles on…the engine, still like a steam machine prepares for the next track, called “Schizosphere”. Also this track has its own hypnotic energy which is calmly prepared in the bass line theme, building up the tension. Such a track would sound better with more professional recording preparations. Because of the improvised direct live mix, it sounds more chaotic than it is, because the few pushing instruments and notes are recorded more silently than the more hypnotic and rhythmic parts, which now completely dominate. Within this blurry sea the rhythmic hypnosis and drumming is building to an almost incredible and amazing speed. Last track, “Red Line Target” is getting really freaky again, and is actually completely over the top, walking the thin line of expectance, with a rather noisy and very freaky sound, very hypnotic, leaving me blown away, and for a part out of my body, after the music stops..

The second CD has an over 18 minute version of “Interface”. It starts calmly, and it is interesting to hear some talented drum parts here and there before the electric guitar starts to improvise. Also here, the instruments aren’t perfectly in balance, and the bass is too loud against the guitar. But there’s enough happening not to have the listening pleasure spoiled by this. The last track “mellotronic dune dance” starts with a few sequenced loops, some keyboards and bells…to let the core roll completely by two mellotrons (Roussel and Pinhas) tuning in a high-into-space outro for the concert.

Unless its sound quality, it is especially worth it for fans to check out this release, which is limited to 1000 copies, published in Japan only. Especially the first CD for the biggest part is a must and rewarding experience.



  2. Many thanks for sharing the two live Heldon albums, they are just incredible sonic artifacts. Though I love all the Heldon albums, if I had to make a choice, I would go for the later seventies albums like Stand By and Interface and the solo albums (I got the Richard Pinhas CD box set on Captain Trip a few months ago and I can't recommend it enough) - so it was really interesting to hear how they sounded live during the late seventies - absolutely astounding - over the decades I have seen many 'heavy' bands live, from early Sonic Youth, Swans, Psychic TV, Spaceman 3, Loop and Discharge to Motorhead and Metallica - and if the sonic reproduction is anything to go by, I would say Heldon circa 1979 were as powerful as any of the aforementioned bands (I would also say it blows 99% of their then 'punk' and avant-garde contemporaries out of the water (with maybe the exception of Throbbing Gristle and NON at the time).

    Like you say, it is is a shame the mixing board balance isn't as clear as I would like as well, but I guess this is part of its charm on one level - many thanks for sharing this rarity, I had no idea it even existed!