Monday, November 17, 2014

Abus Dangereux - 1980 - Le Quatrieme Mouvement

Abus Dangereux 
Le Quatrieme Mouvement

01. Le roy est mort, vive le roy (7:40)
02. Le Quatrieme Mouvement (5:15)
03. Interlude (1:00)
04. Funk au Chateau (2:55)
05. Theme D'Hiver (3:00)
06. Ballade Courte (9:10)
07. Danse du Paques (5:57)

- Pierrejean Gaucher / guitars
- Eric Bono / piano, keyboards
- Laurent Kzrewina / saxophones
- Alain Mourey / drums
- Pascal Gaillard / bass
- Sylvie VoiseE / vocal
- Caitriona Walsia / vocal
- Dan Ken / vibes
- Arnaud Jarlan / percussion
- Nigel Warren Green / cello

Abus Dangereux is the brainchild of Pierre Jean Gaucher, the guitarist of the band. His love for music began at age 10 when he received for his birthday the single Let It Be by The Beatles. It made him continue to explore this music and got Deep Purple and Pink Floyd albums. This lead him to listen to prog - Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and from there he got to know fusion and jazz based prog bands such as Soft Machine, Gong, Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra. However it would take several more years until he became aware of modern jazz. He also started playing a guitar alone in his room at this time.

At the age of 18 (1977) he started Abus Dangereux. The name was chosen as a reference to a health warning on cigarette packets (the first bassist was a heavy smoker). As he recalls the first album, Le Quatrieme Mouvement, was a band effort in that everyone did their part in composing the tracks. So the heavy fusion and Zeuhl influences are not solely Gaucher's "fault". Looking back or rather listening back, he gives much credit to the keyboardist Eric Bono. However the lineup for the first album was temporary and hired for the studio recording. Only Eric Bono and Laurent Krewina played before with Abus Dangereux. The album itself was recoreded in London at Rockstar studio in December 1979. They had to trim the music from 2 hours to around 40 minutes for the recording.
This album contains, as Gaucher said in an interview, all the music influences he absorbed until then, which explains the trimming down that was needed. He also states this is an immature album, and finds his guitar playing horrible. And still, he is proud of this album. And he should. This thrilling release has exciting fusion based tracks with Zeuhl references which can be heard in the drumming and bass.

Between this first album and the next, Gaucher went for six months to Berklee (Boston) to study music where he discovered modern jazz and it inspired him to start composing more jazz-oriented music. In accordance with this, the next albums were more jazz-rock in nature. In the meantime the band dissolved and the only remaining member was Alain Mourey the drummer.

Abus' instruments included vibes and marimba and in January 1981 Benoit Moerlen joined the group for several shows before the temporary break. However this was to end with the Live album (1985) when the Gaucher shortened the name to Abus (1986) and started using computers and programming in his music.

 This band and this album in particular are regarded by many as Zeuhl and for good reason. The bass work, the drums and saxophones, the female chanting and slightly theatrical style give the music its Zeuhl characteristics and quality but when I asked Pierrejean Gaucher how to tag his band, he preferred jazz-rock since he was looking at the entire discography and not just one album. So I look at this album as a fusion/zeuhl (not unrelated styles obviously) with each sound being the dominant in each specific tune and even within the tracks there is alternation between those two, one giving way to the other. The combined effect is captivating and thrilling as can be heard on the opening track. With the title track, the zeuhl fans will probably feel at home and love the bass work and chanting. There are also touches of "avant-garde-ness" in certain points - Le Roy est Mort, Vive le Roy around 6:00 for instance; and in Ballade Courte brings in more of that avant-garde spirit again, with a dynamic repetitive and stressed bass line and the improvisation by the saxes and at the end comes in again the Zeuhl with the chanting and bass and slightly disharmonic melody. The second track, "Le Quatrieme Mouvement" as it starts makes me think of Eskaton - the bass, wacky chanting and jazz rhythm. Funk au Chateau is another fine example of the combined efforts to mix and intertwine those two related sounds. Groovy rhythm and a wandering bass start this piece which at some point goes for a stroll in the weird sound department with the guitar and keyboard and then the sax taking over, improvising at will around the theme the bass and guitar play. It is indeed a funky tune.

The music is bumpy, mostly on the happier side of things and with great rhythms, funky at times. The bass is doing great work going about either supporting the melody or in its own independent line. The keyboards too provide an important supporting element, sometimes giving extra ornaments to the music. The drumming and percussion give excellent rhythm and at times a more exotic sounding flavour to the music.

This is one of those albums that brings a smile to my face while listening to them, mainly due to the groovy rhythms, but not least because of the bass playing which I love to follow as it goes about, at times seeming oblivious to anything around it. Whether you're looking for a jazz-rock or a zeuhl album, with an experimental edge I think this will be a great album to get, although if you do not like the Magma-type zeuhl, I would first listen to samples if possible (try the title track, as it would be the highest level of it played here). I think this is an excellent album to add to your collection, and while it may be as immature as Mr. Gaucher says, it doesn't mean it's bad; au contraire. It is a good-spirited album, that will make you feel good and make you want to move to the music in those groovy parts!



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