Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ame Son - 1970 - Catalyse

Ame Son
1970 
Catalyse




01. Seventh Time key/ I just want to say (6:14)
02. Eclosion/ Marie aux quatre vents (6:58)
03. Coeur fou/Le globule/ Le mal sonne (8:49)
04. Reborn this morning on the way of.../Unity (6:15)
05. A coup de H/Les sables mouvent (6:56)
06. Hein, quant à toi/Comme est morte l'évocation/Hommage (6:42)
07. Je veux juste dire (2:52)
08. Unity (3:56)

The BYG Records release truncated the actual album due to the limitations of mastering, rendering the track information nonsensical. At least three pressings of the BYG Records issue (3 different label designs) are known. The only known complete LP vinyl is the German Metronome / BYG Records one in their "Super Groups" series of releases. The Spalax CD (and some other reissues) re-add the missing tracks and add single/alternative bonus tracks.

- Bernard Lavialle / guitar
- Patrick Fontaine / bass guitar
- Marc Blanc / voice, drums
- Francois Garrel / voice, flute


In 1967, Marc Blanc and Patrick Fontaine were introduced to Daevid Allen after his departure from Soft machine. They both played in its Bananamoon band in Spain during summer '68 and in the south of France at the beginning of '69. They formed Ame son in June '69 with François Garrel on flute and Bernard Lavialle on guitar. The "Catalyse" album has been released in 1970. Ame son played in all the greatest festivals like Amougies, Les halles, Biot, Le Bourget and had a lot of success from both the audience and critics. The music was strongly influenced by early Gong with long psychedelic jam- sessions leaded by flute and guitar. They split in June'71 for the first time. They start again with a different formation in 1973 and are still playing together from time to time.

Ame Son's only album is one of the earliest "prog" French record (Sept 69) but really it is still very much a psychedelic thing, but undeniably progressive. This groups had roots in the mid-60's under the name of Les Primitiv's and were playing all over France and had been exposed to early Soft Machine on these last's frequent tours of France, especially on the Riviera. As one of their members got drafted in the army, the group went in lethargy and some members started playing with Daevid Allen's Bananamoon in 68 and 69. Upon the return of the drafted, the group reformed and changed their name to Ame Son with flutist Garrel. Signed to Byg Records, Ame Son's album was recorded in two days in London (French vocals later added in a Paris studio) and has Allen and early Soft Machine written all over it, without appearing like a derivate product either. It was generally well received by the press and the public, and they participated in most major festivals in France and Belgium.
To describe their music to progheads is not that easy, because their particular type of psych rock is often truly improvisational, but if dissonant, it did not go in the free-jazz and is much wiser/pleasant than Crimson's Moonchild (note: they don't sound like them at all). Basically a guitar trio with a signing flutist (but not our Tull Mad Flauter, more like Bloomdido Bad De Grass Malherbe), their sound approaches a Floyd-ish (circa Saucerful or live Ummagumma), a calmer Guru Guru (UFO and Hinten) and early Gong (Continental Circus OST), even if vocally they might have been stronger (but as I warned above, recording vocals in a different studio than the music, probably caused difficulties). But Ame Son managed to remain accessible by never over-stretching their talents or their improvisations. In many ways, Catalyse reminds me of Dashiell Hedayatt's jaw-dropping Obsolete (which is also Gong-related) with their raw hippy dreamy rock. Most of their tracks (none shorter than six minutes) are subdivided into sections of which Coeur Fou and Reborn This Morning are the highlights, but there are some real flaws: Coup De H/Sable Mouvants is not only slightly weaker, but definitely not well recorded. Two bonus tracks from a single are added on the Spalax Cd reissue, and they are fairly well in the spirit of the album (even if shorter), but a good remastering job is more than needed for that single and the full album.

After touring extensively France for two years, the group split up in mid-71, after some recording sessions to reform in 73 with a different line-up and made recordings, which also did not materialize, in a second album. AS's only album is one of those French pearl that qualifies as psych proto-prog and is very much recommended to anyone into Gong, Daevid or early Softs and untamed Floyd. For my part, I find this album stunning and in my French top 20 - Zeuhl notwithstanding.

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