Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Patrick Gauthier - 1993 - Sur les Flots Verticaux

Patrick Gauthier
Sur les Flots Verticaux

01. Des Pygmées Dans La Ville (6:32)
02. Sur Les Flots Verticaux (9:59)
03. Le Train Fantôme (7:17)
04. Odessa (4:10)
05. Eleutheren (8:16)
06. Zawinul (8:25)

- Patrick Gauthier / piano, programming
- Alain Bellaiche / vocals, guitar
- Pierre Marcault / percussions
- Antoine Paganotti / drums
- Christian Mathurin / bass
- Marc Eliard / bass
- Bénédicte Ragu / vocals
- Julie Vander / vocals
- Stella Vander / vocals

In contrast to BEBE GODZILLA, a solo album recorded with the help of a galaxy of musician friends, SUR LES FLOTS VERTICAUX presents music composed by PATRICK GAUTHIER but played, this time, by a group dedicated to the task. The result of this collective effort is a greater sense of musical unity and the introduction of new colours which bring greater richness to the compositions. The great novelty of this disc is the added dimension of vocals, marvellously performed by Stella and Julie VANDER, Benedicte RAGU and Alain BELLAICHE. The exceptional rhythm work creates a shifting atmosphere, as much coming from the subtle drumming of Antoine PAGANOTTI as the African coloration added by the brilliant Pierre MARCAULT.

Patrick Gauthier - 1980 - Bebe Godzilla

Patrick Gauthier 
Bebe Godzilla

01. Bébé Godzilla (5:35)
02. Le Grand Maître-Orient (2:19)
03. Mixtur Trautonium (2:53)
04. Benoît Et Les Riverboppers (4:10)
05. Heldon (4:25)
06. Riding On White Horses (1:37)
07. En Passant Par La Transylvanie (4:53)
08. Nör (8:17)

Patrick Gauthier / Keyboards, Marimba, Piano [El-piano], Polymoog
Bernard Paganotti / Bass
Christian Vander / Drums
Richard Pinhas / Guitar, Performer [Moog Programming]
Didier Batard / Bass
Yvon Guillard / Bugle
Alain Guillard / Flute [Bass]
Pierre Blanchard / Violin
David Rose / Violin
François Auger / Drums
Dominique Bertram / Bass
Aldo Romano / Drums
Alan Bellaïche / Percussion
Benoît Widemann / Synthesizer [Mini-moog]
Jean Pierre Fouquey / Synthesizer [Mini-moog]
Jean Philippe Goude / Synthesizer [Mini-moog]
Kirt Rust / Drums
Cooky Rhynocéros / Guitar, Guitar [Slide]
Steve Shehan / Percussion
Sylvain Marc / Bass
Clément Bailly / Drums
Patricio Villaroel / Tabla
Alain Renaud / Guitar
Michel Ettori / Guitar

Patrick Gauthier is quite accomplished as a prog keyboardist. He studied orchestration and harmony in college, but soon found himself lulled to the emerging world of analog synthesizers. He was soon a member of pioneering progressive-electronic group Heldon, and has performed on all of their albums. He toured with Magma and appeared on one track of Udu Wudu before quitting the band to form Weidorje with ex-Magma bassist Bernard Paganotti. Weidorje transformed into the Paganotti-led Paga before falling apart, and Gauthier then returned to Heldon. His solo career includes several albums which each feature a rather incredible cast of ex-Heldon, Magma, and Weidorje members.

 This is Patrick Gauthier's debut album released in 1981. Patrick played keyboards in the bands WEIDORJE, HELDON and briefly with MAGMA. He has a huge guest list here including many of his former band mates from the groups I mentioned. I should tell you that Richard Pinhas from HELDON helped to mix, engineer and produce this record, oh and he also plays guitar and adds some moog programming. Vander, Paganotti, Bertram and Widemann from MAGMA are on here, all the members of WEIDORJE, and also four members from HELDON. And many others.

"Bebe Godzilla" really impresses me because of Christian Vander's drum work and Paganotti's bass lines. Lots of piano from Gauthier here but check out Vander ! Pinhas comes in on guitar after 2 1/2 minutes making some wondrous noise. "Le Grand-Maitre Orient" is dedicated to Christian Vander and he also plays on it. Didier Batard from HELDON plays electric bass and we get the Guillard brothers from WEIDORJE on wind instruments.This is uptempo with so much going on. All these intricate sounds coming and going. Vander once again impresses. Some marimbas and violin as well. "Mixture-Trautorium" opens with electronics from Pinhas before David Rose comes in on violin. Auger from HELDON is on drums here. "Benoit Et Les Riverboppers" features three guys playing mini-moog. Bertram is on electric bass. This is a top three track for me. Love the bass, electric piano and drums throughout this song. So much going on. A collage of sounds.

"Heldon" is dedicated of course to Richard Pinhas. Kirt Rust from WEIDORJE is on drums here, Paganotti on bass. The piano sounds great from Gauthier.The tempo picks up before 3 minutes with some outstanding drum work. "Riding On White Horses" is a short piece with Steve Shehan on percussion. We can hear other sounds as well. "En Passant Par La Transylvanie" is another top three tune. Gauthier plays some Hammond on this one while Pinhas is on guitar. Lots going on with all these intricate sounds. Drums 2 minutes in with organ to follow. "Nor" is dedicated to WEIDORJE and is my final top three. Love the intro. Lots of guitar on here and Widemann offers up a mini-moog solo. The drumming from Rust is so crisp 2 1/2 minutes in. Pinhas on guitar 7 1/2 minutes in.

This is an all-star cast who came out to help out their talented friend Patrick Gauthier, and we are the ones who benefit in a big way. Great record.

Benoit Widemann - 1979 - Tsunami

Benoit Widemann

01. Des iles
02. Cecile
03. Fifteen for me
04. The proud Mongol
05. Let´s go, kids of the drum
06. Tsunami

- Benoît Widemann / acoustic piano, fender piano, Moog & Oberheim synthesizers
- Jean-Pierre Fouquey / acoustic piano, fender piano, Moog & Oberheim synthesizers
- Gilbert Dall'Anese / soprano, tenor and baritone sax
- Rémy Dall'Anese / bass
- Jean-Paul Ceccarelli / drums, percussion

Best know for his stint with Magma, has made solo albums consisting of pleasant instrumental jazz-rock. First album was Stress and Tsunami was his second album.
Tsunami is more polished than Stress and tends to emphasize jazz, though still definitively fusion. But it still has a rather demented quality to it. I wish I could elaborate on that more. There just seems something unsettling about the melodies. I think these are better musicians on this album and it seems that more money went into the overall production. Tsunami's cover art is definitely more professional. And although I've said less about this album than the first, I would have to say that if Widemann has any more albums, I hope they are more like Tsunami.

Benoit Widemann - 1977 - Stress!

Benoit Widemann

01. Balèze
02. Herbes sol
03. Stress!
04. Le Camp du Drap d'Or
05. Demi-final
06. Quaternaire
07. Spirale
08. Fête au Septième Plan - Sacrifice
09. Final - part 1
10. Final - part 2

- Benoît Widemann / acoustic piano, fender piano, Moog and Oberheim synthesizers
- Clément Bailly / drums, percussion, tympani
- Guy Delacroix / bass
- Patrick Gaythier / minimoog
- Jean-Pierre Fouquey / Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer
- Patrice Tison / guitar
- Bruno Menny / Rhythmus system
- Emmanuelle Parrinin / voice
- Hugues de Courson / voice

 Benoit Widemann was the keyboardist of Magma between mid- to late-70's.Among his duties with the Zeuhl monster band, he also found time to write some material of his own and recorded his debut for the small but legendary Ballon Noir label, entitled ''Stress!'', in 1977.He was helped by several other Magma members like keyboardists Patrick Gauthier (also of Heldon fame) and Jean-Pierre Fouquey, drummer Cl'ment Bailly (former of Nemo) and bassist Guy Delacroix.We find also contributions by guitarist Patrick Tison and singers Emmanuelle Parrenin and Hugues de Courson.The album was recorded during the summer of 77' at Studio Acousti in Paris.

''Stress!'' is a much-keyboard-driven album of different dramatic soundscapes and what more reasonable with three keyboardists on the roster.It is a great proof of Widemann's diverse talent and composing skills with the tracks ranging from Space Fusion to Funk and from energetic Jazz-Rock to Electronic Prog.While ''Baleze'' opens with some fiery and powerful Funk/Fusion beat, it is followed by the hypnotic ''Herbes sol'', full of electronic ambiences and led by Widemann's grand piano.The eponymous short instrumental has a lovely Canterbury edge in it with great electric piano throughout and on ''Le camp du Drap d'Or'' it is time for Delacroix'es star to shine, deep funky bass lines all the way supporting the Fusion-esque synthensizers.''Demi-final'' is just an outro based on sound effects, totally needless.The flipside opens with ''Quaternaire'', fantastic Fusion with complex bass lines and Canterbury-styled synths blended with funky vibes, definitely the album's highlight, performed under series of great solos.''Spirale'' is so close to Avant Music with Widemann's haunting piano and the obscure synths creating a grandiose atmosphere.The addition of the rhythm section along with some background mellotron and guitars make it even more bombastic and powerful, another great composition by Widemann.''Fete au septi'me plan - Sacrifice'' has also an obscure atmosphere created by the atmospheric background synths and the distorted guitar lines to close as a pure cosmic Electronic piece of music.The pair of ''Final'' tracks at the end are Jazz/Ambient-based numbers, much driven by Widemann's piano, an attempt by the keyboardist to close the album in a smooth way.

I categorize this album as one of the best releases ever to come out by a Magma member, though its style is rather unclassifiable.Yet this a trully progressive release of versatile instrumental musicianship, that deserves some exposure.Strongly recommended, propably even more for fans of dynamic Fusion stylings.

Rhesus O - 1971 - Rhesus O

Rhesus O 
Rhesus O

01. Cigüe (2'42)
02. Maldonne (6'53)
03. Crier Pour Donner (5'32)
04. Le Prophète Egaré (2'14)
05. Préambule (6'24)
06. Eveil (4'39)
07. Outre-Tombe (2'53)
08. Parcours (3'54)
09. Nos Baignoires Sont Enchantées (0'44)

Recorded and mixed at "Le Chateau d'Herouville" studio, 1971.

Alain Hatot - soprano, tenor, barytone sax, flûte
Alain Monier - organ, percussion
Jean-Pol Asseline - piano, harpsichord
Francis Moze - bass, xylophone
Serge Lenoir - bass
Guy Pederson - double bass
Thierry Blanchard - drums, percussion
Jean Stout - choir conductor

The French band Rhesus O was formed in 1971 by future Magma keyboarder Jean-Pol Asseline with musicians from the jazz and jazz-rock field and released one self titled record. Soft Machine is the main influence to be found on the record and to a lesser extent Magma, Miles Davis and Frank Zappa. The record presents a melodic jazz-rock with folk and classical elements, based on an instrumentation of two keyboarders: Alain Monier on organ and Jean-Pol Asseline on e-piano and harpsichord, two bass players: Guy Pedersen on double bass and Francis Moze on electric lead bass, Thierry Blanchard on drums and Alain Hatot's sax & flute arrangements."
An early-70's French entry with strong Magma links.It all started in late-60's, when keyboardist Jean-Pol Asseline and drummer Thierry Blanchard played with bassist Gerard Prévost, future member of Zao, and participated in several Jazz-linked concerts, before deciding to form a regular band.Asseline and Blanchard were joined by organist Alain Monier, bassist Serge Lenoir and sax player Alain Hatot, forming Guige.They were rehearsing at Monier's family basement and were discovered by CBS, signing a long-term deal, folloed by a change of name.With Lenoir out for his military service Magma's bassist Francis Moze was recruited, but by the time of the first recordings Lenoir was back and the band had now two bassists plus Guy Pedersen, a Funk bassist, who joined them on double bass.The recordings took place at Chateau d'Herouville and the debut album came out in September 1971 on Epic.

An organic amalgam of loose Jazz, smooth Psychedelic Rock and intense Fusion was what this septet was offering at the time and the combination worked pretty great at moments, switching from dreamy interplays, powerful solos, ethereal sax lines and sinister Hammond organ waves.They do sound a bit like compatriots AME SON and, of course, MAGMA, although the Jazz component is more pronounced in ''Rhesus O''.The line-up of seven musicians allowed the band to create a vast palette of jazzy rhythms and solos, either performed with some furious electric piano and deep double bass or featuring the darker sound of organ, but always including the work of Hatot on sax.The music gets very dense and closer to Progressive Rock quite often with full keyboard/piano battles, electroacoustic changes and sax interventions in pieces which also include a more active role for the bass players.And there are even a couple of parts with some sort of Classical edge, executed on organ and harsichord.Best highlights of the album appear to be the fantastic changes between emphatic, dreamy, loose Jazz Rock and a more structured and Fusion-oriented Psych/Prog.At last a couple of folky, depressive flute parts add the album yet another dimension towards the end.

When Moze left to rejoin Magma he was replaced by Bernard Paganotti (who went on to become also a member of the French pioneers) and Richard Raux, a session sax player, who also played with Magma, Laurent Thibault and Popol Ace among others.The band was moving towards a more brass-oriented sound, but soon Paganotti and Raux quit along with original drummer Thierry Blanchard to be replaced by Chad-born Manfred Long on bass, Jean-Michel Herve on sax and Christian Ducamps on drums.1972 additions included also bassist Marc Bertreaux and trumpetist Michel Boss, but just when Rhesus O started recording new pieces Monier joined the army for his service and the contract with CBS came to an end, resulting the band's dissolution.Keyboardist Jean-Pol Asseline would also meet his destiny with Magma circa 1975, meeting again with Paganotti, and was a regular musician on Jean-Pierre Alarcen's solo albums.

Good, early-70's Jazz/Fusion with progressive overtones and slight, psychedelic explorations.Musea's reissue is a good chance to meet Rhesus O's rich and jazzy sound.Recommended stuff.

Troc - 1972 - Troc


01. Kali Lo 6:40
02. Truth Verite 6:32
03. Old Man River 6:25
04. Did You Ever 4:12
05. Plum 3:30
06. Sticktime 10:23

Alex Ligertwood — vocals
Henri Giordano — grand piano, Fender piano
André Ceccarelli — drums
Jannick Top — bass (1, 2, 4, 6, 8)
Jacky Giraudo — guitar (1, 2, 4, 6, 8)
Françis Moze — bass (3, 5, 7)
Claude Engel — guitar (3, 7)

In the tradition of Miles Davis, Weather Report and others taking jazz to new shores in the early Seventies, “Troc” was a legendary yet short-lived quintet whose only album was issued in 1972 – a rough diamond from the seams of jazz/ rock and other hallucinatory experiments…
Drummer André Ceccarelli recently reformed the group to record “Troc 2011” for Universal and its success leads to this Frémeaux reissue of the band’s epic first album

STS - 1997 - Systeme Solaire

Systeme Solaire

01. Terre        
02. Lune    
03. Mercure
04. Vénus    
05. Soleil    
06. Mars    
07. Jupiter    
08. Saturne    
09. Kether        

Bass – Jannick Top
Drums – Claude Salmieri
Guitar [guest] – Thibault Abrial
Saxophone – Eric Seva

Concert enregistré live au "baiser salé" à Paris, Octobre 1997

Here's a disc that shows what bassist extraordinaire Jannick Top (best known for his proto-Ruins composition "De Futura" on Magma's 1976 album "Udu Wudu") has been up to lately. STS is his trio with sax player Eric Seva and drummer Claude Salmieri, and "System Solaire" is a live concert recording from '97, for which they were joined by guest guitarist Thibault Abrial. The nine planetarily-aligned tracks are both moody and energetic, dark jazz fusion with heavy Magma touches (Top and the drummer lock into some unmistakably Magmoid grooves), and the guitar adds a definite psych-rock element" - Aquarius

STS is a jazz-band led by saxophonist Eric SEVA, and by a dream rhytmic section composed of bassist Jannick TOP (MAGMA) and drummer Claude SALMIERI (PAGA GROUP). The Zeuhl influences are here quite evident all along this one-hour concert, something that creates an impressive experience out of "Système Solaire" (1996), a little in the same way ONE SHOT did.

A long time on the rumour front, and only encountered almost a decade after their inception, STS are the trio of: Claude Salmieri (drums), Jannick Top (bass) and Eric Seva (sax), often documented with a guest on guitar.
SYSTEME SOLAIRE (GT Productions) is from a gig in Paris, October 1997, and sees them finding a footing somewhere between the usual sophisticated French jazz-rock of the 1980's and all sorts of Zeuhl-isms. The playing is very technical, with lots of effects and processing, all subtly adding to the texture and clearly defining it as a modern product. Guest guitarist Thibault Arial is quite a boon when he's let loose and he sizzles in a John McLaughlin fashion, with a slight edge of metal (obviously due to the modern guitar effects he uses), and there are a lot of other sounds in the mix that are not instrumentally credited, no doubt created by modern technical wizardry!

Jannick Top - 2008 - Infernal Machina

Jannick Top
Infernal Machina

01. Part I (7:24)
02. Part II (4:29)
03. Part III (4:12)
04. Part IV (4:15)
05. Part V (5:09)
06. Part VI (5:52)
07. Part VII (4:22)
08. Part VIII (3:49)
09. Part IX (4:42)
10. Part X (3:13)
11. Part XI (4:27)
12. Resolutio (5:36)

- Jannick Top / bass, cello, cellobass, percussion, voices
- Christian Vander / drums
- Damien Schmitt / drums
- Marc Chantereau / percussion
- James McGaw / guitar
- François Delfin / guitar
- Thibault Abrial / guitar
- Jim Grandcamp / guitar
- Fabien Colella / keyboards, computing
- Mathias Lecomte / grand piano
- Klaus Blasquiz / voice
- Natalia Ermilova / voice
- Veronika Boulytcheva / voice
- Stella Vander / backing vocals
- Himiko Paganotti / backing vocals
- Antoine Paganotti / backing vocals

This is an absolute monster ! Jannick Top is back ! I was awestruck by his "Soleil D'Ork" album from 2001, which was really a compilation album of songs he had done over the years. If it's possible this one is even better.This is really one long suite divided into 11 parts, plus there is the concluding track "Rosolution". All the tracks blend into each other, at times you wouldn't know when one part ends and another starts, and at other times there is a change, but the music never stops.This album builds up slowly to a feverish pitch that is dark, heavy and relentless. It's so exciting to have a new Zeuhl album to listen to in 2008. Christian and Stella Vander guest, as does Klaus Blasquis and James Mac Gaw, among many others. What I like about Top's two solo records more than MAGMA's recordings are how heavy, dark and furious they are.

"Part I" opens with spacey sounds as slowly played piano comes in. Deep bass growls come and go slowly as well, including some cellobass and fuzz bass. This is all so cool sounding. Female vocal melodies or chants come in after 4 1/2 minutes to join the piano and bass. This "Part I" is the longest section at 7 1/2 minutes. "Part II" continues with what went on before along with some heavy industrial sounds. The tempo is picking up. Drums pound slowly as the bass growls and female vocal melodies join in. "Part III" opens with the first change as we get guitar riffs to open as female vocal melodies continue. Drums and bass both create the bottom end as guitars continues to light it up. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in. Awesome sound ! "Part IV" begins with a heavy and angry sound before Blasquis comes in with his unmistakable vocals. The sound pulses slowly and heavily. Piano joins in. Guitar comes in very late as it blends into "Part V" where we get more of a beat as the guitar makes some noise. Here comes that pulsating bass. Fantastic sound ! The tempo picks up before 3 minutes as female vocal melodies come in and the guitar continues. The tempo picks up another notch 4 minutes in. The guitar is great.

"Part VI" continues with the same melody as the sound is getting very intense. This has to be heard to be believed ! They even go one better 2 minutes in. A furious pace. I can't believe how long this goes on ! It's almost 3 1/2 minutes in before we get relief when the guitar comes in ripping it up. Then that relentless melody comes back briefly then stops as the guitar lights it up again. The drumming is off the charts, has to be Vander ! An absolute frenzy ! It all finally ends as "Part VII" starts with piano melodies and lighter drums and bass. The drums and bass become more prominant 2 minutes in. Male vocal melodies arrive, and check out the drumming. "Part VIII" continues with same melody. It's getting more intense as piano continues. It lightens 2 1/2 minutes in and continues into "Part IX" but the bass and drums take over as it starts to get dark and heavy. Lots of bottom end during this part. The intensity is rising. Guitar comes in around 4 minutes to add to the hysteria. Male vocal melodies arrive. "Part X" continues with the same sound. Great sound 2 minutes in. "Part XI" continues with the riffs and heavy drums. Nice. Female vocal melodies come in and then piano. Blasquiz too as they go for the dramatic finale. "Rosolution" is very interesting sounding. Experimental might be the word as drums keep a steady beat. Sounds cool though. Riffs and female vocal melodies 2 minutes in. It ends just like the first song began, in that same spacey manner.

Jannick Top - 2001 - Soleil D'Ork

Jannick Top
Soleil D'Ork

01. Epithecantropus Erectus (6:52)
02. Utopia Viva (6:53)
03. La Musique Des Spheres (8:29)
04. Mekanik Machine (9:24)
05. Soleil D'ork (6:19)
06. De Futura (22:47)
07. Glas (7:30)

- Jannick Top / Bass, Guitar, Drums
- Jean Schultes / Drums
- Doudou N'Diaye Rose / Percussions
- Dakar / Percussions
- Christian Vander / Drums
- Klaus Blasquiz / Vocals
- Brian Godding / Guitar
- Michel Graillier / Keyboards

Jannick Top (aka Jannik, Janik, etc.) was born in Marseille, but moved to Paris after a classical Russian education in piano, cello and the more theoretical side of music, becoming acquainted with many jazz-oriented musicians and recording an album with Troc before joining Magma in 1973. As the Wahrgenuhr, he helped solidify the zeuhl sound both by contributing his unique bass techniques - the trademark heavy distortion, played on a bass guitar tuned as you would a cello - and through compositions of his own, including the cult song "De Futura". Although his tenure with Magma was relatively brief (staying from May '73 until Oct '74, and then returning to record and embark on one last tour) his legacy is stamped all over Zeuhl and continues to influence bands from around the world.

Following his departure, Jannick recorded an album with the band Speed Limit, a band made up mostly of Magma alumni and in a similar jazz-rock style. When that project didn't last, he became a sessionist, working his way up the ladder of recognition and eventually recording for various well-known names. Although his musical concerns have taken a turn towards the commercial, Jannick Top has recently guested with Magma, as recorded on Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II.

The compilation album, "Soleil d'Ork" is a collection of his solo work recorded between 1974 and '80, some tracks being in collaboration with fellow Magma musicians and other important members of the Paris scene such as Richard Pinhas. The whole album retains a very Kobaian flavour and would be of interest to fans of the Zeuhl movement.

Jannick Top owns and runs Utopic Records and maintains an archive of Magma bootlegs.

 Jannick Top, being the champion of discerning prog bass guitar, is a musician who suffers from applied superlatives - terms like "bulldozing", "tectonic" and infamously, "dinosaur-skinning" are often related to his trademark zeuhl low-end. However, listening to this collection of his own work it might be that, on the famous Magma classics he may have been a little restrained.

"Soleil d'Ork", despite being studded with guest musicians (and if you follow the french scene, you'll know their names) is All About Jannick(TM) and is naturally written with the Kobaian rhythm section in mind. Consequentially, the record is almost totally saturated with funky bass and matches pulse with the ever-beating wardrums of planet Ork. If you're familiar with Magma's "Udu Wudu" then you should be able to recognise this shared song form - those alien disco synth melodies twinned with those trolled vocals while those doomy bass patterns churn and coil across that military drumdropping and the slither of hissing hi-hat, together defining battle anthems that endlessly loop. I do hope you like this formula, because the Wahrgenuhr certainly does.

Luckily, the songs diverge a little; "Epicanthropus Erectus" is a dark cave-groove with curious fiddlings; "Utopia Viva" is a glorious celebration which tests funk positive; "La Musique des Spheres" (a title you might recognise) is a spooky field of spacy-gothic echodrum ambience that feels like the evil-ternative Jean-Michel Jarre as reprogrammed by the Borg. All these songs are very long and don't really deign to conclude in any meaningful way, suggesting, of course, that the people of Ork live a toroid lifespan where they can see through time in both directions - what need is there for an ending when the temptation is there to scry it directly and ruin the surprise? Much more sensible to live the groove eternal.

"Mekanik Machine" is really special and a total treat for Zeuhl-lovers, because THE CORE is present - by the forces of Vander, Top and Blasquiz combined, this becomes the album's true centrepiece, as well as a possible "lost" Magma song. However, although there's even a little electric piano during the pensive moments, thanks to Jannick's direction everything else is light on the jazz and choral fronts, so the tasteful light and shade is foregone, leaving the song to culminate in one big rumbling, shrieking, pounding explosion of classic zeuhl ridiculousness. Again, it doesn't really end so much as become gradually more haywire and frenetic, but that's practically the album's concept (even if I have to attribute it as such myself) and if you've ever wanted to hear Magma being as heavy as a ton of doom metal CDs, come hither.

The title track should be vaguely familiar, and I suspect it's the same piece of music filtered slightly differently. This is a slightly disappointing moment - I wanted to hear it trolled more, or at least distorted beyond recognisability. If anything, it serves as a reprieve between two titanic epics, because you've read the tracklist and you know what comes next...

The man may be more famous for guiding such musical luminaries as Johnny Halliday and Celine Dion slowly around the studio by the hand, but "De Futura" is his true calling card, right? Here it is in a much more peculiar form, bookended by gibbering demonic voices (or possibly cows on motorbikes) and a despondent kobaian monologue, and once we've entered zeuhlspace some of you might be disappointed, as the Orkish funeral march is propped up this time by that most accursed of man's creation - the drum machine. Still, I really think this punishing heartbeat of the future fits the tune well and adds an even more robotic element, and the lack of more subtle drum textures pronounces this version of the epic as "pure" as can be. You may disagree and crave the variety that Mr. Vander always brings; just think of Top's "De Futura" as the original recording reflected on an oil slick.

The final piece, "Glas", is a trek across the dunes of Ork towards a temple of the bells, complete with sand-laden wind bearing down your respirator and distorted, distant everythingness. I'll mention "Hyuponia" here in the hope that someone will understand the reference.

Frankly, you may have noticed by now that this album is perhaps not aimed at your classic moog-rocker, being mostly ambient or doomy for its entirety, and for this reason, I can't recommend it unreservedly. However, I'm giving it a full five stars because it is an essential element of any prog collection also featuring "Kohntarkosz" - if you like doom metal, funk, industrial or power electronics, then doubly so. I'd just like to say that this is my favourite record from another planet.

Heldon - 2007 - Live Electronik Guerilla: Paris 1975-1976

Heldon - 
2007 -
Live Electronik Guerilla: Paris 1975-1976

01. 1984 Après Cosmic C'était (9:49)
02. Distribution Déterritorialisation (10:38)
03. Heldon Is Back (6:48)
04. Lady From The North (8:37)
05. Klossowki's Circlus Vitiosus (4:22)
06. Death Of Omar Diop Blondin (6:39)
07. Track Of Cocaine (4:59)

- Richard Pinhas / guitars, Moog on 1 and 2, Mellotron, AKS and ARP 2600 on tracks 3 to 7
- Patrick Gauthier / Mini Moog and Moog bass on tracks 1 and 2
- François Auger / drums on tracks 1 and 2
- Alain Renaud / guitar, analog keyboards on tracks 3 to 7

Heldon - 2006 - Well And Alive in France; Live in Nancy 1979

Well And Alive in France; Live in Nancy 1979

101. Virgin Marie Overdrive (4:13)
102. Heldon UFO War Machine (12:14)
103. Schizosphere / Mekanosphere / Rhizosphere (16:13)
104. Red Line Target (13:53)

201. The Large Interface Session (18:12)
202. Mellotronic Dune Dance (18:53)

- Richard Pinhas / guitars, synthesizer, sequencer, Mellotron
- Pierrot Roussel / bass guitar, Mellotron
- François Auger / drums, percussion

Recorded 19th March 1979 Nancy France.

This live album was done during the most heavy, and also, (psychedelic) “rock” period of Richard Pinhas, some time after having recorded the Heldon album, “Interface” (1978). The album is not recorded too well, but the quality is acceptable to get an idea, and also, it doesn’t keep the listener from digging deep into it.

After the shorter, warming up, “Virgin Marie Overdrive”, keeping drums and electronica still a bit separately, the following track, “Heldon UFO War Machine” very quickly drags you into the hypnosis of things. Richard Pinhas plays guitars and synthesisers and sequencer, Pierre Roussel plays bass guitar, and François Auger plays drums and percussion. While the basic rhythm is dominated by the steady sequenced electronic rhythm, the drummer goes berserk, the guitarist goes berserk, and the bass throws out hot lava over them, until it cools down, and the percussion sounds as if a steam engine is coming to a halt, while hot steam comes out from the metal plates. While a high sequenced note like birds whistles on…the engine, still like a steam machine prepares for the next track, called “Schizosphere”. Also this track has its own hypnotic energy which is calmly prepared in the bass line theme, building up the tension. Such a track would sound better with more professional recording preparations. Because of the improvised direct live mix, it sounds more chaotic than it is, because the few pushing instruments and notes are recorded more silently than the more hypnotic and rhythmic parts, which now completely dominate. Within this blurry sea the rhythmic hypnosis and drumming is building to an almost incredible and amazing speed. Last track, “Red Line Target” is getting really freaky again, and is actually completely over the top, walking the thin line of expectance, with a rather noisy and very freaky sound, very hypnotic, leaving me blown away, and for a part out of my body, after the music stops..

The second CD has an over 18 minute version of “Interface”. It starts calmly, and it is interesting to hear some talented drum parts here and there before the electric guitar starts to improvise. Also here, the instruments aren’t perfectly in balance, and the bass is too loud against the guitar. But there’s enough happening not to have the listening pleasure spoiled by this. The last track “mellotronic dune dance” starts with a few sequenced loops, some keyboards and bells…to let the core roll completely by two mellotrons (Roussel and Pinhas) tuning in a high-into-space outro for the concert.

Unless its sound quality, it is especially worth it for fans to check out this release, which is limited to 1000 copies, published in Japan only. Especially the first CD for the biggest part is a must and rewarding experience.

Heldon - 1998 - Only Chaos Is Real

Only Chaos Is Real

01. Only chaos is real (4:50)
02. Les Racines du mal (5:02)
03. Le Plan (8:42)
04. Holy Dolly (7:55)
05. Brighter than a thousand suns (6:05)
06. Next level (7:07)
07. Mutant monkey (5:42)
08. Ubik (7:07)
09. Last level (7:20)

- David Korn / vocals
- Antoine Paganotti / drums
- Olivier Manchion / bass guitar
- Norman Spinrad / lyrics and additional vocals
- Maurice G. Dantec / lyrics, analog synthesizers
- Richard Pinhas / guitar metatronic process & electronic

- Alain Ranval / side guitar on "Holy Dolly"
- Duncan Nilsson / side guitar on "Holy Dolly"
- Bernard Paganotti / bass guitar on "Le Plan", "Ubik"
- Benoît Widemann / organ, synths, Minimoog bass
- Alain Bellaïche / side guitar on "Ubik"
- Philippe Laurent / electroloop on "Only Chaos is Real"

 And a very strange Heldon album it is, indeed!!!! Why did Richard Pinhasfeel the need to reform (or at least record under the name of ) this group? I mean this record does not even approach at all the concept of Heldon.

We have here a strange cross of Punk vocals , Techno beats and the usual repetitive minimalism (that R. Pinhas is well known for), the whole thing not really sounding progressive no matter how experimental this is. Not that this album is bad, I found it quite interesting after two listens, but I cannot guarantee that I will listen to it more than twice after writing this review (I usually do re-listen to see if the text I wrote does fit well my feeling). Please note the musical help of a few Magma-related musicians such as Wideman and the father-son duo Paganotti, but this is withouit any effect on the music..

Actually , unlike most Heldon albums , the emphasis appears to be in the texts (the huge majority of Heldon in the 70's was instrumental) and they are rather deep , thoughtfull, tortuous and a bit revolutionary.

However the revolt of the lyrics (in French for the most part but consequent percentage is also English), this album should only appeal to confirmed Pinhas fans and not really to progheads looking for yet another stunning work such as Heldon had developped in the 70's.

Heldon - 1979 - Stand By

Stand By

01. Bolero (21:44)
   I Apprehension
   II Bolero proprement dit
   III Recognition
   IV Repetition
   V Rote Armee Fraktion
   VI Production
   VII Distribution
   VIII Deterrioration
02. Une Drole de Journee (3:59)
03. Stand By (14:04)

- Richard Pinhas / guitar, Moog, Polymoog, vocoder, electronics
- Patrick Gauthier / Mini-Moog, piano, Polymoog, keyboards
- Francois Auger / percussion, Kolossal percussive
- Didier Batard / bass
- Klaus Blasquiz / voices
- Didier Badez / sequencer

Remember the movie "Videodrome"? David Cronenberg's bizarre fantasy/satire starred James Woods as a cable TV pornographer who stumbles on a mysterious pirate transmission of hardcore S & M, exposure to which can lead to wild hallucinations and horrifying physical mutations (Woods develops a gooey, organic VHS tape deck in his tummy).

I only mention this because it's entirely possible that the music of Heldon may generate a similar effect. There was always something dangerous, if not downright seditious, about their sound, best described as the musical equivalent of guerrilla warfare (an early album was even entitled "Electronic Guerrilla"). Under the leadership of guitarist Richard Pinhas they patented a blend of proto-industrial-ambient electronica, long before such labels became fashionable, and worlds away from the comforting Utopian vistas of most '70s Progressive Rock.

My memory of their early, more radical stuff is (perhaps thankfully) somewhat hazy now, but this 1979 release is easily their most accessible effort, and possibly their best. It was also the last album of the original group, although Pinhas continues to tour and record, with occasional help from his ex-Heldon bandmates. But they went out with a bang, to be sure.

The track list (all three titles) was shuffled for the CD reissue, with the monster title track better employed as the curtain raiser here. This one doesn't waste any time with polite introductions; it simply grabs the unwary listener by the throat with a savage 14- minute instrumental assault of synth-laced guitars and aggressive rhythms.

Talk about an attention getter, but the track is mis-titled. "Stand By"? Consider yourself fortunate if you don't end up running around the room in a blind panic, clawing the walls and tearing at your headphones like a gibbering idiot. Power chords have rarely sounded so powerful before, and the almost regal majesty of the last few heavy metal minutes does little to alleviate the near relentless brutality of the preceding jam.

By comparison, the more concise and playful "Un Drôle de Journée" functions almost like comic relief: a four-minute, caffeine driven sprint through a maze of racing sequencer arpeggios and busy (acoustic) drum patterns. Special guest Klaus Blasquiz, of the Kobaian band MAGMA, provides the "voices" (not "vocals", take note).

All of which leads to the almost 22-minute "Bolero", a typically open-ended Heldon epic, composed (with plenty of room for improvisation) by Pinhas and drummer François Auger, credited here with "Kölossal" Percussive (another Zeuhl reference?). The track bears no relation to the Maurice Ravel orchestral masterpiece, except perhaps in its trance-like repetition, divided here over eight strictly nominal sections. Good luck trying to find the divisions: it all sounds very homogenous to me, a mix of endlessly pulsing analog synthesizers and long, discordant guitar solos. Pinhas made no secret of his admiration for KING CRIMSON (even, believe it or not, naming an early Heldon song "In The Wake of King Fripp"), and most of "Bolero" sounds not unlike a collaboration between Fripp at his mid '70s fractured best and classic TANGERINE DREAM.

Undiscriminating listeners might call it boring; I prefer the word hypnotic. Either way the music is its own altered state, with no other chemicals required, and was so impeccably produced it might have been recorded yesterday. But if, while wedged between the headphones, you see (or imagine you see) a compact disc cartridge emerging from your stomach, dripping with viscera, don't say you weren't warned.

Heldon - 1978 - Interface


01. Les soucoupes volantes vertes (2:28)
02. Jet Girl: in New York or Paris, equivalent / in south Bronx (9:53)
03. Bal-a-fou (7:25)
04. Le fils des soucoupes volantes vertes (1:56)
05. Interface (19:02)

- Richard Pinhas / Moog III et B, guitar, electronics
- François Auger / drums, synthesizer, composition (4)
- Didier Batard / bass (4)
- Patrick Gauthier / Minimoog, composition (3), Moog bass

 I really didn't think I would find a HELDON album that I would like better than "Stand By". I would suggest getting them both as these are two of the best albums I have heard from the Electronic genre. Of course Pinhas' guitar style has a lot to do with why I love this band so much. I'll also mention Auger who at times makes me laugh with joy at the way he plays his drums. Patrick Gauthier is the third and final member of the band on this recording, he plays both moog bass and mini-moog. Of note my version has three bonus songs on it that aren't tacked on the end, but are tracks 3, 6 and 7.

"Les Soucoupes Volantes Vertes" has this relentless rhythm of drums and moog bass, while Pinhas adds moog III & moog b. A constant beat for 2 1/2 minutes to open the album. "Jet Girl" opens with electronics and the drums are cool as they are all over the place.The guitar meanwhile is doing it's own version of "scorched earth policy". The song calms down 5 minutes in but is still powerful, just slower. The guitar is crying out like a caged animal. "Le Retour Des Soucoupes Volantes" is one of the bonus songs and it sounds amazing with the electronic sounds,mini-moog and drums. "Bal-A-Fou" is an Auger composition like the first track was. Lots of atmosphere as strange spacey sounds fill the air. Auger is on synths as well as drums and percussion on this song. No melody until 3 1/2 minutes in as the drums and mini-moog provide that. The bass is prominant 5 minutes in from guest player Didier Batard. A very cool sound for the last couple of minutes.

"Le Fils Des Soucoupes Volantes (Vertes)" features powerful guitar and drums.This is killer ! Way too short though. The next two songs are bonus songs "Interface-Live (Part !)" and "Interface-Live (Part 2)" recorded in Paris, France in 1978. The first has a mechanical sound to it with Auger playing synthesized percussion.3 1/2 minutes in the drums start to rise above the mechanical rhythm,but it fails. The guitar comes in and succeeds in overcoming the beat with monster-like sounds. The drums then start to become more powerful with random patterns. This continues into part 2. The drums are getting stronger,what an incredible sound as the guitar continues to cry out. "Interface" is the 19 minute finale. It starts with the same theme of synthesized percussion which really goes on for too long for my liking, although some drums and electronics are mixed in fortunately. 8 1/2 minutes in the guitar arrives with some angular melodies. The drums are fantastic ! Great sound 12 minutes in. The intensity is rising if that's possible. The guitar solo to end it is shocking. Where did that come from ?

There isn't a song on here I don't like. I'm not sure how many people out there will like HELDON's music, the way he mixes electronics with fantastic drumming and guitar playing. I'm looking forward to listening to their fifth release, as I continue to explore HELDON albums from the newest to the oldest.

Heldon - 1976 - Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale

Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale

01. Marie Virginie C (11:42)
02. Elephanta (8:29)
03. Perspective IV Ter Muco (Live, bonus track on CD) (5:25)
04. MVC II (6:13)
05. Toward The Red Line (15:16)
06. Marie Et Virginie Comp (Live, bonus track on CD) (9:36)

- Richard Pinhas / guitar, Moog B et III, EMS
- François Auger / drums, percussion
- Jannick Top / bass, Fracello (4)
- Didier Batard / bass (3)
- Patrick Gauthier / Moog (1)

"Un Reve sans Consequence Speciale" is my all-rime favourite Heldon album, and it is certainly the most aggressive of this French project's discography. For this one, Pinhas had a very effective partner in drummer/percussionist François Auger, who without doubt played a crucial role at enhancing Heldon's sonic power the way it is reflected in the album's repertoire. Other collaborators are synth player Patrick Gauthier, and bassists Didier Batard and Janick Top (of Magma fame). The featured presence of the rhythm section is based on a more pronounced role of the synthesized loops, and of course, Auger's intrepid drumming: some percussive stuff is frontally tribal, like a soundtrack for a wildest mystic trance. This album is pretty much like a constant ride though stormy weathered lands, with Pinhas' guitar lines and riffs assuming a higher level of aggressiveness than ever before: at times the guitar gets really violent, and as a Fripp-inspired guitarist, he keeps the guitar stuff very dissonant and floating. This intention is made clear from the opening track 'Marie Virginie C.' - the CD edition ends with a live rendition of this same number, which bears a slightly altered title. The 15- minute 'Toward the Line' is the longest track in the album, and it also represents firmly the line of work described before: this is as powerful as minimalistic rock with an electronic basis can ever get. 'Perspective IV Ter Muco' and 'MVD II' keep the same ideology, only with a decreased level of energy, but still these are strong numbers, designed, just like the other two, to shake the listener's aesthetic foundations rather than to make them enjoy (in a conventional sense of the word). The repetitive nature of this tracks' cadence may remind the listener of Can or Neu!, but with a more ballsy attitude - that comes from the Fripp influence, of course. 'Elephanta' is the only non- Pinhas number in the album. It was written by Auger, and it mostly consists of a hypnotic ritual of drums and assorted percussions "dancing" frantically to an eerie tempo, with Pinhas using his Moog as an extra percussive implement in order to give this ritual a more delirious texture. Well, I've got nothing else to say about this exciting album, except that it is a prog masterpiece. I know that Heldon is not your typical progressive band, and it even was labeled as "cyper-punk" by the French musical press; I also keep in mind that Heldon is not a band you might call particularly recommendable, since its style is overtly cryptic. But if we keep in mind that, generally speaking, modern experimentation is an essential ingredient of the greatest prog, and that Heldon's music is closely related to big prog names such as KC and Tangerine Dream, then I can only conclude that this is not only a very good progressive music album, but also a masterful example of the most experimental side of the prog movement. This is Heldon's most brilliant and cohesive album,

Heldon - 1976 - Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson

Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson

01. Perspective I (où commence le nihilisme actif) (10:26)
02. Perspective II (3:13)
03. Perspective III (Baader Meinhof Blues) (10:48)
04. Bassong (2:59)
05. Perspective IV: (21:45)
  I Perspective IV (7:07)
  II Virgin Sweedish Blues (7:28)
  III Psylocybine (8:34)

- Richard Pinhas / Mellotron, 1954 Gibson Les Paul guitar, synthesizers (1-3,5)
- Michel Ettori / guitars, composition (4)
- Alain Bellaiche / bass (5)
- Gérard Prevost / bass (4)
- Patrick Gauthier / Minimoog (5)
- Philibert Rossi / Mellotron (1)
- Coco Roussel / drums, percussion (2,5)

 This album starts to take a different direction to the groups first three albums. Leader Richard Pinhas is not doing as much Fripp-inspired guitar playing as on other albums, but drumming and percussion is now more important than before. There is also more of a 'rock' feel to some of the songs. By incorporating more of a rock sound, Heldon doesn't try to streamline their sound but the complete opposite: it makes the music more aggressive and sinister sounding. The line-up is never consistent and other than Pinhas, the only really noteworthy name is keyboardist Patrick Gauthier, who was a member of Magma at the time.

There are five tracks on the album, with four of them being titled "Perspective." Part I opens the album and is the most atmospheric and spacey song here. Steady electronic hi-hat and snare throughout. Strangely melodic in it's own way. It doesn't change much over the course of 10 minutes but is a great piece of minimalist electronic music anyway. "Perspective II" is mostly synth on arpeggiator mode with some cymbals and bell sounds. A sequencer pattern appears after a minute which gets louder and more dominant later on.

"Perspective III" starts with aggressive sounding sequencers and spacey arpeggiators. Then some noisy guitar joins in. Slowly it gets louder and more intense as it goes along. The guitar playing in the middle is more 'solo' oriented. Like part I this doesn't change much throughout. Both songs being very hypnotic. "Bassong" features no synths and no Pinhas! Just chorused guitars and some bass (or is it bass parts played on guitar?). Michel Ettori wrote this song and plays the guitars.

The first four tracks don't sound terribly different to earlier Heldon, but it's the last side-long track on the album that points the way to future albums. "Perspective IV" is itself divided into three parts. The first part is called just "Perspective IV" and opens with overdubbed guitars with at least one guitar keeping a steady picking style. Some synth squiggles enter. Eventually sequencers along with cymbals and bells are reprised from part II. The next part is called "Virgin Sweedish Blues" which is also a name of a song on the last album, It's Always Rock'n'Roll. This is a guitar riff backed by drums and bass. Heldon jams out and Pinhas solos away. Some synth soloing as well. The last part of the epic is called "Psylocybine." After the band fades away we get more sequencer patterns along with noises on cymbals and gong. Drums come in later and the sequencers get faster.

Agneta Nilsson is the middle ground between the earlier keyboard dominated albums and the later guitar-and-drums heavy albums. Sometimes this sounds like a more sinister Tangerine Dream mixed with a more jammy King Crimson.

Heldon - 1975 - It's Always Rock And Roll

It's Always Rock And Roll

01. ICS Machnique (4:11)
02. Cotes de cachalot à la psylocybine (8:35)
03. Méchamment rock (3:33)
04. Cocaine Blues (9:42)
05. Aurore (18:13)
06. Virgin Swedish Blues (7:27)
07. Ocean Boogi (5:53)
08. Zind Destruction (8:22)
09. Doctor Bloodmoney (16:49)

- Richard Pinhas / ARP & VCS3 Synthesizers, guitars, bass, Mellotron
- George Grunblatt / Mellotron, guitars (2 & 7)
- Patrick Gauthier / ARP synthesizers (9)
- Gilbert Artman / drums (3)
- Jean My Truong / drums (9)
- Ariel Kalma / Indian Harmonium (5)

This is HELDON's third album and it's a double with 85 minutes of music on it. Rather ambitious no doubt, but after his first two albums i'm not surprised that Richard Pinhas would be wanting to take on the world. Like most doubles this is very much a hit and miss affair. Richard composed all the songs except for "Ocean Boogi" which happens to be a George Grunblat tune. Very cool to see that Jean-My Truong from ZAO is playing drums on "Doctor Bloodmoney". Patrick Gauthier guests on synths on the same track.

"ICS Machinique" features these interesting sounds that are like mini outbursts of thunder. Synths eventually join in. "Cotes De Cachalet Ala Psylocybine" has this electronic beat, then the guitar comes in making some noise before 2 minutes. The guitar becomes really prominant 5 minutes in. "Mechammment Rock" is my favourite. Drums and bass to open before the synths join in. The guitar starts to rip it up. Awesome sound ! Gilbert Artman the leader from LARD FREE guests on drums. How cool is that ! "Cocaine Blues" features pulsating electronics as other sounds come in. A deeper sound then takes over as other sounds come in. So much going on here. By the way the first disc is my favourite.

Disc two begins with "Aurore" which features some guest Indian harmonium.This is very repetitive. Dogs come in barking before 15 minutes to add a new dimension, but at over 18 minutes in length this is a long one. "Virgin Swedish Blues" has these spacey sounds as the guitar tastefully plays. Mellotron in this one as well. "Ocean Boogi" is my favourite of disc two. The acoustic guitar, bass and spacey sounds all sound so good. Electric guitar arrives after 2 minutes. Mellotron follows. Such a good track. "Zind Destruction" is dedicated to "the man on the guitar" which I assume is Robert Fripp. The guitar sounds so psychedelic here as Richard lights it up. The sounds pulsate as Pinhas solos away. "Doctor Bloodmoney" is the almost 17 minute closer. Lots of spacey synths including Patrick Gauthiers solo. Jean comes in on the drums 12 1/2 minutes in right to the end. Some excellent moments from him here.

An excellent double album.

Heldon - 1975 - Heldon II: Allez Teia

Heldon II: Allez Teia

01. In the wake of King Fripp (6:36)
02. Aphanisis (2:22)
03. Omar Diop Blondin (7:26)
04. Moebius (1:52)
05. Fluence: Continuum Mobile Disjonction inclusive (12:14)
06. St Mikael Samstag am abends (6:18)
07. Michel Ettori (4:17)

- Richard Pinhas / VCS3 synthesizers, guitars, A.R.P.
- George Grunblatt / Mellotron, guitars, A.R.P.
- Alain Renaud / guitar (2)
- Alain Bellaiche / bass (3)

Don't be misled by the cinéma vérité brutality of the cover art, better suited to a Dead Kennedys LP than to a European Prog Rock album circa 1975. The second studio effort by guitarist Richard Pinhas and friends is (most of the time) actually a surprisingly mellow, almost soothing experience.

The album saw Pinhas continuing his efforts to erect a musical shrine honoring his role model Robert Fripp, believe it or not going so far as to name the album opener "In the Wake of King Fripp" (I can imagine the Crimson King shaking his bespectacled head in polite embarrassment). The track is one of several gorgeous pieces of music here, a gently unfolding study of subtle, hypnotic electric guitar textures and understated mellotron strings.

But elsewhere the album can be almost ridiculously imitative. The oddly titled "Omar Diop Blondin" (named after a militant Sénégalese activist) is an unashamed rip-off of the title track from the FRIPP & ENO album "Evening Star", released earlier the same year. The silver lining is that Pinhas could handle his guitar (and his synthesizers) with as much sensitivity and almost equal skill as his idol across the English Channel, adding a near- Krautrock awareness of radical experimentation that Fripp himself might have endorsed.

That more Teutonic side of Heldon surfaces on the album's flip side, notably during "Fluence: Continuum Mobile / Disjonction Inclusive". The name may not have the same obsequious ring as "In the Wake of King Fripp", but it's still one of the great Industrial- Ambient synth-rock track titles of all time, perfectly matching the cinematic drone of the song itself. Even better is the dark but melodic mood piece "St. Mikael Samstag am Abends": another musical refugee from the other side of the River Rhine (a better name for it might have been "In the Wake of King Froese").

There isn't a drum within earshot to interrupt the (sometimes uneasy) calm throughout the album, and the two brief interludes of unadorned acoustic guitar sound almost alarming from such a notorious musical provocateur. You'll have to look elsewhere for the usual Heldon electroshock therapy; this one has the alluring bedside manner of a well-disguised boa constrictor.

Heldon - 1974 - Électronique Guérilla

Électronique Guérilla

01. Zind (2:18)
02. Back to Heldon (8:31)
03. Northernland Lady (6:57)
04. Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68 (Le voyageur) (4:22)
05. Circulus Vitiosus (8:43)
06. Ballade pour Puig Antich (révolutionnaire assassiné en Espagne) (2:19)

- Richard Pinhas / AKS synthesizers, 1957 Gibson Les Paul guitar
- Alain Renaud / guitar (3)
- George Grunblatt / VCS3 synthesizers (4)
- Patrick Gauthier / piano, VCS3 synthesizers (4)
- Coco Roussel / drums (4)
- Pierrot Roussel / bass guitar (4)
- Gilles Deleuze / vocals (4)

French band formed in the 70's by guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Richard Pinhas (sometimes called the 'French Fripp'), synth player Patrick Gauthier, drummer François Auger and scores of other musicians dropping in and out over the course of six albums between '74 and '79. Their sound could best be described as a mixture of Frippian guitars with the cold, icy prog of KING CRIMSON and the hypnotic drones of CAN over a harsh, aggressive electronic background.

Their six first albums range from fairly spacy and quiet ("Allez Teia") to brain-searing sonic attacks ("Interface"). The easiest one to get into and most recommended to neophytes is "Stand By", their strongest effort todate. It is the least chaotic and most CRIMSON-like of the lot yet still features Pinhas' frenzied/tortured guitar play that verges on heavy metal in spots, complete with growling bass and guttural vocals. In 1998, Pinhas has tried to revive the band with an album called "Only Chaos Is Real", featuring French SF-writers Maurice Dantec and Normand Spinrad (their voices digitally treated) as well as trash singer David Korn. This album isn't quite in tune with the rest, sounding more like 'punk meets techno'. Overall, the music of the original six albums is dark and cold, yet fascinating and intense. It combines the elements of the French and German schools of electronic into something uniquely. HELDON.

 A successful experimental debut from an experimental band. Heldon's style mixes trippy electronic textures with frippian guitar playing. Contrary to most of contemporary musicians of the genre during the 70s', Heldon's music is not light, but rather dark and frightening. Some tracks are guitars dominated, while others are played only synthetizers. The result is pretty innovative and truely enjoyable !

The album opens with Zind, which sets the atmosphere directly up with smooth electronic distortions to introduce the highlight of the record, Back to Heldon. This track is really groundbreaking for its time and will transport you to another galaxy. Superposed waves of keyboards with floating guitar solos are epic and reminds by moments the end of Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine (which will be recorded one year later !). The second part of the song is much more experimental, in the vein of Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity. Unique and mindblowing ! Northernland Lady arrives as a quite ambient relaxing track with surprising sounds. The next track, Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68, (Georges Marchais was a french politician) is rather guitar dominated and features the politician talking over a slow psychedelic riff. Strange... There comes Circulus Vitiosus, the little brother of Back to Heldon. Similar in spirit and sonorities to his brother, the tune is the most tortured track of the disc. It ends with Ballade pour Puig Antich, featuring a small guitar theme over vaporous synthetizers effects.

Electronic Guerilla is one of the best albums from the band. With their first record, Heldon clearly establish themselves as true innovative musicians, differing completely from other musical directions that were taken by other electronic acts and in advance of their time. Strongly recommended to spacey and adventurous music explorers !

Michel Graillier - 1991 - Fairly

Michel Graillier
(The Complete Sessions)

101. Portrait in black and white [4:36]
102. L'ile aux cygnes [2:16]
103. Central Park West [3:23]
104. Broken wing [3:33]
105. Search for peace [6:47]
106. Funk in deep freeze [3:26]
107. Aicha [5:38]
108. A child is born [4:35]
109. All in love is fair [3:47]
110. Wayne's way [6:10]
111. For tomorrow [5:57]
112. Bill's heart [2:37]
113. My foolish heart [5:50]

201. Estate [5:02]
202. Naima [2:36]
203. Happier in a morning sun [4:13]
204. Gottingen [1:32]
205. Un jour tu verras [2:23]
206. Cavatina BO the deer hunter [3:03]
207. Spleen [6:26]

Alby Culaz
Bernard Lubat
Michel Petruccani
Jean-François Jenny-Clark
Simon Goubert
Alain Jean-Marie
Eric Le Lann
Riccardo del Fra

Michel Graillier was a French jazz pianist, born 18 October 1946 in Lens (Pas-de-Calais), died 11 February 2003 in Paris.

From four to eighteen years of age, Michel Graillier studied classical piano in Lens. During adolescence, he appeared on the scene for the first time as a drummer with the amateur yéyé group, Les Chaps ("The Guys").

After some preparatory classes, he enrolled at the ISEN in Lille,in their engineering school where he met the bassist Didier Levallet through whom he discovered jazz. In 1968, with a diploma in electrical engineering under his belt, he moved to Paris. There he played in clubs, most notably at the Caméléon, in a trio with Aldo Romano and Jean-François Jenny-Clark. He made his first recording in 1969 with Steve Lacy. Thereafter, he accompanied the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty for three years. His first disc with the label, Agartha Records, appeared in 1970 on which he was accompanied by Alby Cullaz and Bernard Lubat. The same he year he recorded "Pianos Puzzle" with Georges Arvanitas, René Urtreger and Maurice Vander. Following personal issues, he withdrew from performing for a period of time.

In 1972, he was engaged by the drummer Christian Vander to play piano in his group Magma which he did for two years. Following that, he played with Christian Escoudé, François Jeanneau and others. For several years, he was the regular pianist for the club Riverbop. Here he had the opportunity to play with numerous musicians, including Americans who were in Paris on tour such as Philly Joe Jones and Steve Grossman among others. After that he appeared at the club Dréher in Paris and at Magnetic Terrasse, usually in trio with Alby Cullaz and Christian Vander, but also with Barney Wilen or Jacques Pelzer.

In 1977 saxophonist and flutist Jacques Pelzer, whose daughter Micheline Graillier had married, introduced him to Chet Baker. For the next ten years Graillier accompanied the trumpeter on a regular basis.

In addition, he played with Éric Le Lann, Philip Catherine, Jacques Thollot, Richard Raux, Jean-Pierre Debarbat, Alain Jean-Marie, Paolo Fresu and Pharoah Sanders among others. He also appeared regularly in duo with bassist Riccardo Del Fra, and in trio with Alby Cullaz and Simon Goubert.

In the course of his career, he also accompanied the singers Julos Beaucarne, Jacques Bertin, Maxime le Forestier, Eddy Mitchell, Stéphanie Crawford, Elisabeth Caumont and Stella Vander.

According to Graillier, among the pianists who most influenced him were Bud Powell, Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner, and somewhat later Herbie Hancock in the Miles Davis quintet.[3]

But Graillier has also said of his influences, "Of course, the influences are there, but it is not worth talking about them, they are part of the normal evolution of any musician. A musician simply wants to play, regardless of his knowledge of the language. He is therefore obliged to learn the language that others have developed over decades and this language becomes more and more intelligible over time, just as a kid learns to write. Above all, the influence of the great pianists and musicians is mainly of value in showing one how to find one’s own voice."

In his short autobiography, Le Monde la Musique (The World and its Music), Graillier chose to cite a phrase from Pascal Anquetil relative to his style, "There floats through all his music, a dreamy and sweetly drifting mist. A climate of peace that restores one on a summer night without knowing exactly why."

Xavier Prévost wrote in the Dictionnaire du Jazz, "Michel Graillier constructed an internal dialogue of breathing that knew how to make room for silence."

Francois Jeanneau - 1976 - Techniques Douces

Francois Jeanneau - 
Techniques Douces

01. Autrefois Les Baleines 8:04
02. En Marge 5:52
03. O'Kunide 4:45
04. Techniques Douces 4:27
05. Heliodanse 6:15
06. Le Lynx 9:26
07. Pour Quelques Arbres 5:48
08. Techniques Douces 4:16

All titles composed & arranged by Francois Jeanneau
Recorded at Sysmo records Studio in Paris, june 1976

Frangois Jeanneau - soprano, alto, tenor saxophone
Michel Graillier - piano
J.F. Jenny-Clark - bass
Aldo Romano - drums, percussions

Free-flowing and angular reed work from Francois Jeanneau – a fair bit more soulful than you might guess from the "techniques" in the title! The setting is relaxed and almost informal, but moves along with that subtle sense of groove that often marked the best Owl Records sessions from years back – a rhythmic approach that comes from the flowing piano of Michel Graillier, the punctuated bass of JF Jenny-Clark, and the tight drum work of Aldo Romano. Jeanneau's out sometimes, but mostly just fluidly exploratory – a bit post-Coltrane, but with more space between the notes at times. Titles include "En Marge", "Autrefois Les Baleines", "Heliodanse", "Le Lynx", and "Techniques Douces".

Daniel Schell & Karo - 1990 - The Secret Of BWLCH

Daniel Schell & Karo-
The Secret Of BWLCH

01. Choral
02. Souvenir d'une vague
03. Parfume, mon frere bilingue
04. Soit ilot
05. Le secret de la pyramide
06. Le nouvel an Birman
07. Le Voyageur
He passes the night for the dying of the wind
08. Cwlch se cache
09. Il fouine dans l'eau des havres
10. The secret of Blwch
11. Midir perd l'oeil
12. Het gezin van paemel, opening
13. Papegai, quartet for clarinet and strings

- Dirk Descheemaeker / clarinet
- Jan Kuijken / cello
- Jean-Luc Plouvier / keyboards
- Pierre Narcise / tabla drums
- Daniel Schell / Chapman stick
- Patrick Verstraeten / French horn
- Pierre Van Dormael / guitar
- Jean-Luc Manderlier / keyboards

Halvenhalf Quartet:
- Jeannot Gillis / violin
- Jacqueline Rosenfelt / violin
- Claudine Steenackers / cello
- Wiet Van Der Leest / viola
Choirs and voices:
- Marie-Paule Fayt / Soprano
- Lucy Grauman / Alto
- Bernard Plouvier / Tenor
- Claude Massoz - Bariton

This second album is well in the musical alignment of its predecessor (that means pompously that it sounds a bit like the one before it;-) although with a slight Tango twist (this means that you could dance with your grandma to this album) with some flabbergasting meanders towards more modern classics (this meaning that your jaw drops to the floor and your ears melt and your mind orgasms)

The album's centrepiece is clearly written for century to come is the 8 min+ Soit Ilot with Haut-Voltige choirs. Of course in such an Oeuvre (yessssss!!!!! With a capital if you please ;-), we are not listening to rock anymore, but never mind those details, every symphonic rock will simply love this stuff. A little weirder are the next two tracks with their Asian feels not successfully translated to synthesisers, but Le Voyageur clearly brings back the splendid atmospheres to fall on the other major work: the BLWCH mini-suite cut into four distinct movements - these guys take Univers Zero's music yet another step towards perfection. The last two tracks being strictly classical and rather downplaying the excitement built-up just before.

Relatively uneven, this is one of those albums that could give your musical adventures a real twist and not necessarily the way you would expect it.

Daniel Schell & Karo - 1988 - If Windows They Have

Daniel Schell & Karo 
If Windows They Have

01. Un Celte
02. Remi face au lacis dore
03. Vienna Carmen
04. 3 Moustiquaires
05. If Windows the have
06. Bijna Zomer en ik loop
07. Listen to short waves: je suios dans ce chant
08. Tapi La Nuit
09. Buches/Logs/Holz

- Dirk Descheemaeker / clarinet
- Claudine Steenackers / cello
- Jean-Luc Plouvier / keyboards
- Pierre Narcise / tabla drums
- Daniel Schell / Chapman stick

After the demise of Belgian fusion/Canterbury group Cos, its leader Daniel Schell took a couple years to reform a new group but he changed direction wanted a more acoustic and third world sound. From his love of the early 80's KING CRIMSON 5this was quite obvious in the later Cos album such as Pasiones) he had learned to play the Chapman stick (which bassist Tony Levin was the first one to play to a wider audience). He had recorded a duo album with Brussels-based Dutch singer (but French-singing Dick Annegarn), but was determined to do something quite different than previously.

In 86, his album If Window They Have moved somewhere between JULVERNE's classical "prog" music and UNIVERS ZERO's more acoustic music and OREGON's unique folk-jazz fusion - although one can still detect a few Fripp-Levin influence, the music has nothing to do with KING CRIMSON anymore.

By 90 his second album The Secret Of Blwch, had been recorded - including a more permanent line-up (including buddy of mine Pierre Narcisse on tabla drums UNIVERS Zero's Dirk Descheemaeker on winds and ex-Magma Manderlier on keys) - and is one of the best example of the Belgian chamber prog scene. The third Gira Girasole is still in the same mode, but the mood is even more jumpy/happy but the synths are more present. Since the mid-90's no new recording from this line-up , but the first two albums are certainly the best kept musical secret from Belgium.

This debut album really sets the tone for the rest of the albums to come. Somehow picking up on the mode of music Oregon and Julverne, this amazing record was quite unique back then (even if by today's standards they sound somehow a bit common) and they were at the forefront of Continental Europe's experimental music (all acoustic except for Manderlier's synths) - listen to the weird Bijna Zomer En Ik Loop mixing continuous loop with classical music (layered by Chapman stick arpeggios) or the succeeding Listen To The Short Waves where didgeridoos accompany cellos and the clarinet. But to me, on this album, nothing surpasses 3 Moustiquaires (a pun on the Three Musqueteers) with Narcisse's superb percussions leading the way to repetitititititive heaven. The "Clou Du Spectacle" is definitely the 14 min+ Tapi La Nuit which take its time to develop and meander through your ears filling them with haunting melodies. The whole thing being ended with the superb final number Logs with some astounding cellos - synth drones underlined by some out of this world wooden blocks percussions, grandiose.

All the tracks being composed by leader Daniel Schell (except one co-written by Cos vocalist Pascale Son), this album is a thousand miles away from any Cos album, but somehow it is very much exactly what you would expect from him. Much more than a curiosity, this album is simply a delightful discovery of what Belgian prog chamber can bring you.