Friday, February 19, 2016

Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes - 1972 - Paix

Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes 

01. Roc Alpin (3:02)
02. Jusqu'à Ce Que la Foce de T'Aimer Me Manque (2:56)
03. Paix (15:37)
04. Un Jour... la Mort (24:33)

- P.Moullet / Cosmophone, acoustic guitar
- Jean Sebastian Lemoine / Percuphone, bass guitar
- Patrice Lemoine/ Organ
- Michel Santangelli / Drums

CR&A's third album (fourth if you count the 2Bis album) is probably the best acclaimed by connoisseurs and deservedly so! Their hippy psych rock filled with revolutionary ideals in their lyrics works wonders in this case as it will in the next few albums, but back in 72, there was still a lot of peoplethat actually believe it was all still possible, something the 73 oil crisis will crush (at least in the old world and around the globe, bar the US). The quintet has again suffered some line-up shuffle and besides guitarist/composer Mouillet, percussionist, drummer Santangelli and keyboard Lemoine, appears Jean-Sébastien, brother of Patrice on bass guitar. With only four tracks and a very pastoral artwork cover
Starting with the wordless a cappella Roc Alpin, the album is off to a rather short &and unrepresentative upbeat track, that presents a slight folk feel. Much more impressive is the equally short (both around the 3-mins track) Jusqu'à Ce Que La Force, which shows all the usual CR&A dramatics over a Tony Banks organ line. Ribeiro's vocals are again very powerful, maybe recorded a tad too low, but her French singing shouldn't be a problem for anyone having the basis of the language. This minimum French is of course mandatory to understand Catherine's usually very strong lyrics, often selling revolution as if the obvious alternative; her sometimes arresting images in her lyrics are very powerful and add much to the group's flavour. Indeed the lengthy (15-mins+) title track starts on an extended instrumental intro (and equally long outro), showing the musical quartet being very good at their respective tricks, but its constantly crescendoing prog chords only add that much weight once Catherine starts bellowing her "peace" messages: "peace to our bellies, tanks for academics garbage" or "peace to our degenerate generations".

The flipside's sidelong suite, Un Jour. La Mort, is another fabulous journey into Alpes' universe: slow organ grindings with spacey electric guitar whinings taking their sweet times to develop, but once the bass gets along, Ribeiro's death-throes scat vocals are taking you on the other side of life, the whole thing dying down around the 7,5 mins mark, until Ribeiro's singing is now taking an almost liturgical tone (especially over the organ), until she becomes seductive and enticing, even when using colourful rebellious and thoughtful revolutionary lyrics. Interrupted by a strident musical raga-like interlude sprinkled with dissonant piano, enchanting acoustic guitar strums, Catherine comes back eructing death, claiming she's not a real lesbian (too bad for her. She's missing out, I am one ;o)), the same happening a little later than Catherine promising to make you a kid as the track slowly retires in a mish mash or her rantings and other antics mixed with strong organ.

Rather hard not to agree with many that Paix is one of CR&A's major achievements, Paix is indeed the perfect entry point to those seeking to enter this amazing French psychedelia. You'll have understood that CR&A is not for everyone, but if you love unusual music and smile at the thought of saying "WTF is this music???", no doubt that CR&A will take a few spins per year in the next few decades in your life.