Friday, February 19, 2016

Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes - 1974 - Le Rat Dèbile Et L'Homme Des Champs

Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes
Le Rat Dèbile Et L'Homme Des Champs

01. La Petite Fille Aux Fraises (5:13)
02. L'Ère De La Putréfaction (3:28)
03. Un Regard Clair (Obscur) (4:47)
04. Poème Non Épique (Suite) (25:22)

- Patrice Moullet / cosmophone, acoustic guitar
- Claude Thibaut / percuphone
- Patrice Lemoine / organ
- Catherine Ribeiro / vocals

CR&A's fifth album comes with a catastrophically realized artwork, even if the intention was good as the great title hints, but did they really have to put their faces on the front cover?!?! Anyway, based on a variation of Lafontaine rhyme of Rats Des Villes et Rats Des Champs (town rats and country rats), this album is probably the ultimate statement of CR&A as they openly invoke anarchy to counter the society of pollution. Although CR&A were not the first to have concerns on environment (Spirit with Nature's Way and Fresh Garbage), this is to my knowledge one of the first group to spread all over an album and in successive albums. This is of course relative when you know that Ribeiro was a musical industry singer before this group and will return to more conventional song formats after Alpes' gradual dismissal.
The opening Strawberry Girl is slight a mouth-watering starter for the more interesting stuff coming up, a bit of a zakouski before the first course and the main course. Built over a descending riff the first Poème Non Epique takes its sweet time developing, and it is well over the three-minute mark that Ribeiro starts her mad ramblings, and by the time of its almost 10 minutes length, the group has given you a royal run-around, but you wouldn't notice it much. Un Regard Clair (Obscur) closes the first side of the wax slice over another spacey jam (between Gong and Third Ear Band and Floyd) that bring not much new to the album's overall contents.

The second part of the Poème Non Epique is the real crazy one, clocking at 25 min+ of the full oeuvre. When Ribeiro is not singing/yelling revolution, the rest of the group is doing it over an Indian-raga background, with incredible violin guitar interventions. With over two decades of advance over most Europeans, three over Al Gore and four decades over the rest of the States, Catherine Ribeiro is claiming that violence might just be necessary to save the planet from asphyxiation. With heavy psych dramatics, grandiose finale, the band had developed a form of minimalist raga that in some ways could make you think of Third Ear Band

Not exactly an easily absorbed meal, this album will of course be better digested if a proper mastering of the French language, an affinity for anarchy, a certain "penchant" for ultra-left wing hippy communes (not communism) etc. But most adventurous progheads will love this upon the first listens, but whether any CR&A album stands repeated listens is something I'm not willing to bet. Ribeiro's superb voice is an acquired taste (it an rub the wrong way), her group is fairly repetitive and not exactly looking for complex arrangements, but not shying away from it either. Overall I'd say that progheads looking for intricate arrangements and complex rhythm patterns will not find their happiness, but the most adventurous ones will love the "fresh" (back then it was, it might also sound a little stale) approach to prog.



  2. I really love this one out of Ribeiro's wonderful discography, but a lot of folks over at Julian Cope's Head Heritage Unsung forums who I thought would also love it, have really slagged it off in the past! I'm glad you like it too, I was feeling all alone with that ;-)