Thursday, February 18, 2016

Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis - 1969 - Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis

Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis
Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis

01. Lumière écarlate
02. Soeur de race
03. Les Fées Carabosses
04. Voyage 1
05. La Solitude
06. Un sourire, un rire, des éclats
07. Le Crime de l'enfant Dieu
08. Le Point qui scintille

Guitar – Patrice Moullet
Organ, Percussion – Alain Haldag
Trumpet [Trompette Marine Electrifiée] – Bernard Pinon
Vocals – Catherine Ribeiro

Born in Lyon during the war, Catherine Ribeiro started her career in acting, even shooting a film for JL Godart, Les Carabiniers, he met future writing partner Patrice Moullet (then under the name of Albert Juroost), before she started singing, recording a bunch of singles throughout the 60's, both in Portuguese (her parent's origins) and in French. These singles are now compiled in a set called Libertés. In the late 60's, Moullet asks her to starts a band, first named 2Bis (one record released under that moniker), than Alpes, where she'll be the front person. The group was lucky enough to participated to one of the very few festival still organized in France in the early 70's (most of them being banned to avoid further youth/student riots after May 68 both the group and festival getting the "go-ahead" from authorities a few hours before starting) in Port Leucate, then Avignon, playing to huge crowds and getting wide notice of the public.

During the early 70's, Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes recorded a string of stunning albums, starting with Ame Debout and ending with Le Temps De L'autre, the most remarkable being Rat Débile Et Homme Des Champs, with stunning tracks such as Poeme Non-Epique and Ere De La Putréfaction (sic). The group is then centered around Catherine, (guitarist) Moullet and (keyboardist) Lemoine (future Gong) and Motron, but by 76, only Lemoine remained with Catherine. The later 70's will see albums getting wiser in terms of provocations, but will gain in musician abilities and spectrum, but Ribeiro started recording solo albums dedicated to poets (Jacqueries for Jacques Prévert) and semi-anarchists singers (Ferré, Brel etc..).

In 8i, the group will disband in full glory (awards and academy prizes) after la Déboussole, Catherine recording a string of albums increasingly gentle and decreasingly interesting, until she will recontact Moullet for solo collabs. The very same Moullet will reform Alpes in the early 90's without Ribeiro, and two more records will be released, both sounding a tad new age, but remaining prog records. Moullet is still playing experimental music through his project Atelier Alpes, while Ribeiro still graces discs of her voice.

As a quick conclusion: Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes have recorded a string of fairly successful albums, gathering a few plaudits and yearly awards from specialized press, played throughout Europe and even in Latin America and Northern Africa and are now seen as an iconic group of the hippy 70's in France. Their use of seldom-seen percuphone and cosmophone (both alpine instruments), their lengthy Poème Non-Epique pieces, Ribeiro's anarchist avant-garde and ecologist lyrics and doomed atmosphere (there is some VdGG feel in their music) made this group a very distinct and very original group that has their own sound. Their record company will print at the back of the cover that "the lyrics of the group only engage the musicians and them only", therefore taking a distance to Ribeiro's incendiary diatribes. This disengagement is to be seen as CR&A's best compliment, as in their manner, they were at the forefront of the Counter Culture.

Catherine Ribeiro was born in 1939, the daughter of Portuguese immigrants. She starred in Jean Luc Godard's controversial film 'Les Carabiniers' aged 22, where she played a partisan. Here she met (and later married) guitarist and sound sculptor Patrice Moullet, the core member of the group they were to later form called Alpes. They released the first album Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis in 1969, but didn't use the name Alpes until the second album Nr.2. Her daughter Ioana was born sometime around 1971 and inspired many songs. Catherine is most well-known in France for her recording of Edith Piaf songs

I often say that the USA album is the greatest rock album made in the 60s, or that it's a toss-up between it and the VU + Nico album. Well, technically this album, more or less rock music I suppose we could say, was made in the 60s, and it makes the USA album seem like fluffy pop. I'm not saying that USA is at risk of losing its throne, but this a whole different breed of avant-rock royalty way off any scale we could construct. This is a holy grail of 20th century music. Never reissued, this needs to be heard by everyone even slightly interested in this aesthetic sphere.
It's misleading to call this rock music though, because rhythmically it doesn't use any conventional rock beats, and the percussion is used in a strikingly unusual way that gives a droney effect despite using a rapid stream of drum hits. That's drum, not drumkit. I don't think there's any drumkit used in this music. I suppose we could call this music "ecstatic psychedelic electric avant-folk music".
What's so amazing here is that the instrumental parts of the music are equally as idiosyncratic and startling as Ribeiro's bracing vocals. These people were from another planet. The avant-folk precursor to Magma.

IMHO just one of the 100 best records ever made!