Sunday, August 14, 2016

Etron Fou Leloublan - 1978 - Les Trois Fous Perdégagnent (Au Pays Des...)

Etron Fou Leloublan
Les Trois Fous Perdégagnent (Au Pays Des...)

01. Face à l'extravagante montée des ascenceurs, nous resterons fidèles à notre calme détermination (
02. Le fleuve et le manteau
03. Percutant reportage au pays des fées
04. a) Recherche pour un journal, des lunettes, une pipe et un bérêt
    b) 13h 58, ou les petites aventures du médecin chef
    c) je veux danser avec toi (Artman Inspiration)
05. le désastreux voyage de piteux Python
06. P.O.I. (Pourissement des organes intérieurs)
07. Nave de bilande

- Francis Grand / Alto & Tenor saxes, melodica, flute, harmonica, cithare, vocal
- Guigou "Samba Scout" Chenevier / drum, boxes, yoyos, sifflet, trucs, machines, vocal
- Ferdinand Richard / bass, vocal

EFL's sophomore album is a much more assured piece of work than their debut. Founder member Chris Chanet had departed, to be replaced by Francis Grand on saxes, flute, harmonica and melodica. This line up lasted for a busy 18 months starting in September 1976, and the album was recorded in November 1977, with the revised line up augmented with guest guitarist Verto. All of this made for a significant progression from the raw energy of Batelages; the surreal lyrics and Beefheart inspired rhythms remained, but overall there was a greater sense of focus and clarity in evidence.

The album opens with the sounds of street, barking dogs and assorted car and motorbike engines, leading into a 6 minute instrumental that is a classic piece of 70s RIO, with guitarist Verto and Francis Grand chasing each other over a complex rhythm that demonstrates just how powerful the interplay between Ferdiand Richard and Guigou Chenevier had become. The remainder of the first half is equally strong, with the occasional vocals shared between Richard and Chenevier. These songs are full of the twists and turns and stops and starts that are associated with RIO, and if the vocals aren't that powerful they mostly avoid the wilful eccentricity of the debut album. The second half of the album is dominated by La Desastreux Voyage du Piteux Python, a sudden throwback to the style of Batelages complete with surreal lyrics declaimed by a manic Guigou Chenevier and some extremely non virtuoso harmonica. This was probably extremely effective in concert, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly once you've heard it more than a couple of times, and at 10 minutes it more than outstays its welcome. The two shorter pieces which bring the album to a close are much stronger, with Henry Cow, Beefheart and early Zappa influences well to the forefront.

Les 3 Fous is a crucial piece in 70s RIO jigsaw; like Sammla Mammas Manna's Maltid it sees the musicians working towards a fully fledged RIO style, and doing so mostly with good humour and a lot of charm. It can't be called a masterpiece, but if you skip the 10 minutes of La Desasterux Voyage du Piteux Python you're left with half an hour's worth of extremely high quality RIO madness. Cautiously recommended.


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