Friday, April 17, 2015

Steppeulvene - 1967 - Hip


01. Dunhammeraften - 5:21
02. Itsi-Bitsi - 4:50
03. Til Nashet - 5:21
04. Jensen - 6:39
05. 0-0-0 - 4:58
06. Lykkens Pamfil - 5:39
07. Kvinde Kom Ud (Søren Seirup/Eik Skaløe) - 3:58
08. Kun For Forrykte - 5:19

- Eik Skaløe - lead vocals
- Stig Møller - guitar, vocals
- Søren Seirup - bass, harmonica
- Preben Devantier - drums
- Olav Bennike - producer

Steppeulvene (Danish language for Steppenwolf) was a Danish rock band which despite its short life has become the icon for the Danish hippie music scene. The name of the group was taken from the 1928 novel Steppenwolf by German Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse. Also in 1967, in California, the band Steppenwolf named itself after the novel.

Their only album Hip (1967) was the first rock album with original Danish lyrics, and has attained near-mythological status in the history of Danish rock.

The group was the result of a collaboration between lead singer Eik Skaløe, who had traveled in the Orient in the early 1960s and wrote the Bob Dylan-inspired, highly symbolic and almost surreal lyrics, and Stig Møller (guitar, vocal), who wrote the drawling, psychedelic, folk-influenced music. The other members were Søren Seirup (bass) and Preben Devantier (drums).

A tour in October 1967 came to a chaotic end when a concert was cut short by the police and the group members were arrested for cannabis use. Shortly after being released, Eik Skaløe went on a journey to Afghanistan/Nepal (on the so-called "hippie trail") and was found dead outside the city of Ferozepore near the Indian/Pakistani border in October 1968, apparently after a drug-induced suicide. Back in Denmark the rest of the group attempted to carry on, but, lacking the characteristic Skaløe as a front figure, quickly dissolved.

Atlas - 1979 - Bla Vardag

Bla Vardag

01. Elisabiten (7:12)
02. På Gata (14:10)
03. Blå Vardag (6:56)
04. Gånglåt (2:52)
05. Den Vita Tranans Väg (7:18)
06. Björnstorp (6:17)
07. Hemifrån (7:50)
08. Sebastian (4:31)

- Björn Ekborn / organ, piano, synths, clavinet, mellotron, Rhodes
- Erik Björn Nielsen / synths, mellotron, Rhodes, organ, piano
- Micke Pinotti / drums
- Uffe Hedlund / bass, bass pedals, guitar
- Janne Persson / guitar, percussion

Atlas released one record with the name Atlas and afterwards they changed name to Mosaik and did one record with that name three years after this disc "Blå vardag". This record from 1979 contains eight songs and it was easy for me to like it. Their music has a deep sound and it's filled with instruments and great melodies. Every track is worth listen to but of course I have my favourites. "På gata" has a strong and handsome melody which knows what it want. It happens a lot in this music. This record really shows what symphonic rock is and does that with distinct tunes and great harmonies. "Hemifrån" is another gem which is a musdical journey through time and space. What I miss here is song. I can't really place is in the same level such as Genesis (which they almost sounds like). This is also a record that I maybe will raise higher later on. But now I will give it four strong stars. The lack of song is big. They do it well even without song but I am curious how It would have sounded with vocals included. A very honest record with great symphonic progressive rock, worth liften to. Perhaps it will fit your taste.

Omega Plus - 1969 - How To Kiss The Sky

Omega Plus 
How To Kiss The Sky

01. Unfaithful Woman
02. Spanish Feeling
03. Wild Cut
04. Which Colour?
05. Do You Need Sugar?
06. Voyelles

Claude Engel: Guitar
Marcel Engel [aka Celmar Engel]: Drums
Gérard Levy: Bass

Recorded and released in 1969 in an edition of 1,000 when guitarist Claude Engel (later of Magma and others) was obviously very very young, this presents a pretty cool, exceedingly rare French power trio that combines blues-rock elements with freaky/psych elements in a very attractive way. [Shagadelic]

First ever real psychedelic release in France during the 60's. Omega Plus consisted of 3 session men including Claude Engel whoo's main career started with Christian Vander's Magma after Omega Plus disbanded. One and only 1969 LP now on CD. A mix of Folk, Psychedelia, Blues and Jazz and sung in English. Comes as gatefold hard paper sleeve version.

Featuring Claude Engel on guitar (later with Magma, Dayde, Univeria Zekt and many others), this is generally considered France's first psychedelic record (see also Dickens, Octopus 4 and Popera Cosmic). Interesting to note that Engel himself, on his website at least, does not even reference this album. I don't know why not, as it's not a bad example of the Hendrix psych sound, and with the addition of flute, adds more than the usual copyist acid psych rock that many American band were doing during this time. Also includes one long free rock improvisation that's pretty interesting. A short record, that doesn't even break the 30 minute mark.

Coeur Magique - 1971 - Wakan Tanka

Coeur Magique 
Wakan Tanka

01 - Pacha
02 - Mademoiselle Marie
03 - Scène de Ménage
04 - Le Cocotier Pt. 1
05 - Le Cocotier Pt. 2
06 - Wakan Tanka
07 - Ellocia

Bass – Didier Lessage
Drums, Percussion – Laurent Marino
Guitar, Percussion – Claude Olmos
Vocals – Harry Seur

Recorded from 16 to 30 March 1971 at Studio Michel Magne, Château d'Hérouville.
Gatefold Sleeve

Very good album, and one of my favourite rock releases issued on the French "BYG" record label.
The music is a mix of hard rock/psych, with lots of guitars, and pounding rhythm section. At first listen, I really wondered why this album wasn't better known by the music buying public at the time (label, and marketing obviously), as in my opinion it deserves more recognition today. I hate to make comparisons, but playing it recently, I can't help but hear bits of early Gong circa "Continental Circus" within these grooves, particularly on the opening track "Pacha".

Moving Gelatine Plates - 2006 - Removing

Moving Gelatine Plates 

01. Removing (2:34)
02. Like a Flower (6:18)
03. Egnime (4:54)
04. Comme Avant (4:17)
05. Breakdown (6:31)
06. Nico (6:15)
07. Bellidor (7:12)
08. Waiting for the rain (5:47)
09. Theo (7:44)

- Maxime Goetz / guitars
- Eric Hervé / drums
- Stéphane Lemaire / keyboards
- Jean Rubert / saxophones, flutes
- Julien Taupin / violin, trumpet
- Didier Thibaut / bass, vocals
- Anton Yakovleff / cello, double bass

This must be one of the best comeback albums I've ever heard, I'm always a little hesitant in purchasing an album by a band who's golden era was 30 years ago, especially if I really liked their albums. I'm not sure Moving Gelatine Plates needs any introduction around here since so many people thinks so highly of their two first albums. Their third album "Moving" released in 1980, although contained some good material, is often regarded as subpar to the previous ones, but this is not the case with their latest album "Removing" which proves that Didier Thibault, the man (and voice) behind this band has still got it. This line up is completely new but still manages to sound very much like the old MGP, infact they are not trying to bring the 70's sound again, just the old spirit.

So when you're approaching a MGP album, what do you expect it to have? Fuzz bass, clever arrangements played with wind instruments as an integral part of their sound, fun vocals and overall a humoristic and breezy atmosphere. Well, everything seems to be in order then, you have all the ingredients for one more terrific album from this ultra cool band. As much as we all love those 70's albums, this is not trying to be a retro kind of album, but on the other hand succeeds on being a product of its time. The band's style is pretty much intact and you can easily sense they are much more mature now, the compositions are a little more focused and less experimental and adventurous then before, that of course doesn't mean it's less progy, these guys are far from losing their artistic side. The music this time has less canterbury feel (infact you can say it's almost gone) and more jazzy progressive style. There are no freak out outbursts or any crazy ideas, they are not trying to challenge the listener with sudden breaks or all kind of freaky directions, everything is on the spot, so carefully thought out, and immaculately executed, the songwriting is mature and right and the songs contains a huge amount of small details weaved into the melodies, which I think might take a little time to fully notice and appreciate. While their first two albums had a more complex nature, this album, although still maintaining a certain amount of complexity is trying to focus on delivering a good melody or have a cool theme which the band develops. I can't say which side of the band I prefer, but I certainly like both of them.

As I said the songs are not as complex as before but the band knows how to compensate it by a clever use of layers, the wind instruments contribute so much, and colorfully painting the songs with all kinds of warm colors, from filling the songs with a beautiful background to playing the leads or essentially soloing, this is of course achieved with a respectable arsenal of instruments like saxophone, trumpet, violin, flute, piano and cello, in addition to keys, guitars, bass and drums. Needless to say that this band is incapable of delivering anything weak, the high level of creativity is maintained throughout the entire album. But as much as I enjoy their songwriting and arrangements, what truly wins the jackpot here is the playing itself, which is no less than stellar!! every member delivers memorable hooks played with great passion and feel, just check out "Enigme" a jazzy jam featuring a stunning playful trumpet along with some cool guitar playing. "Breakdown" is another highlight, a progy tune which includes all the instruments weaved inside each other with an inspiring interplay, excellent violin work on this one. I won't go into each song because it will take forever, but I think you get the picture.

I hope Mr. Thibault hasen't said his final words yet and will grace us with at least one more album sometime soon, but in the meantime we have this beautiful album to enjoy. He cleverly surrounded himself with an incredible set of musicians and by this managed to outdo himself and deliver a well crafted album full of great sensitivity. Although it's hard to beat the classics this is recommended not only to fans of the band but to newcomers as well.

Moving Gelatine Plates - 1972 - The World Of Genius Hans

Moving Gelatine Plates
The World Of Genius Hans

01. The World of Genius Hans (14:00)
02. Funny Doll (4:25)
03. Astromonster (6:15)
04. Moving Theme (3:46)
05. Cauchemar (3:46)
06. We Were Loving Her (3:28)
07. Un Jour... (1:25)

Bonus Tracks (From 1980's Moving)
08. Synthème (Bonus-Track CD) (3:28)
09. L'Alchimiste (Bonus-Track CD) (3:20)
10. Les êtres d'or (Bonus-Track CD) (5:50)
11. Ombres (Bonus-Track CD) (3:30)
12. Rire de peine (Bonus-Track CD) (7:07)

- Maurice Hemlinger / organ, trumpet, soprano and tenor saxophone, flute
- Gerard Bertram / electric guitar, vocals acoustic guitar
- Didier Thibault / bass, vocals, 12-string guitar
- Gerard Pons / drums, percussion

Being one of the most relevant bands in the seminal age of French prog, Moving Gelatine Plates was a peculiar musical force influenced by "Third"-era Soft Machine and Supersister, in this way anticipating (to a certain degree) the kind of sophisticated folly that Gong will turn into an essential part of its signature sound. The progressive element abundantly instilled with jazzy overtones, the touch of psychedelia and the patent humor are the three core aspects of MGP's sound: their sophomore effort "The World of Genius Hans" is really worthy of the word genius that appears in the title. Because of the flamboyant styles provided by Helminger on sax and Thobault on bass we can appreciate the influences from Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper, which makes for the powerful SM element in MGP. All in all, it would be unfair to label this band as a mere clone of Ratledge, Wyatt & co., since the ensemble manages to create a refreshing proposal in a global level. The band really knows how to approach the complexity of the musical arrangements with precision and sobriety. Some guitar inputs by Bertram together with some vocal passages remind me of yet another icon of experimental rock on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - that is, Frank Zappa (big band era). With its 14 minute span, the namesake track stands out as a well- ordained mini-epic that goes fluidly through its various motifs. 'Funny Doll' finds the band going for more candid ambiences: despite the fact that the sax and lead guitar lines are noticeable dissonant, this piece is predominantly gracious, closer to Hatfield & the North than to Soft Machine, with an extra touch of Zappaesque humor. 'Astromonster' bears a more mysterious feel, not in a creepy sense, but ethereal: the initial lines on flute and distorted bass are a pertinent initiation to the elaboration of the intricate passages that emerge from minute 3, creating a combination of jolly and hypnotic vibes. 'Moving Theme' digs deeper in the band's extroverted side, and so does 'Cauchemar': comparing both, I feel that the former is more aggressive. 'We Were Loving Her' is based on a series of monochromatic organ layers upon which various effects and ornaments on sax, guitar and bass go floating by. The emergence of a sung section is a pretext for the elaboration of a cohesive arrangement. This particular piece is closer to late 60s psychedelia than to standard Canterbury (if there is such thing, I mean.). The closing track 'Un Jour...' works as a brief epilogue on soprano sax that bears a very lyrical feel: I wouldn't have minded if it had been a bit longer, at least. Anyway, this is all there is and it is fine by me - actually, more than fine, since this albums is a real prog masterpiece in my book. This gem should not be missing in any good prog collection, regardless of the collector's pet sub-genre(s).

Moving Gelatine Plates - 1971 - Moving Gelatine Plates

Moving Gelatine Plates
Moving Gelatine Plates

01. London Cab (7:30)
02. X-25 (2:00)
03. Gelatine (8:10)
04. Last Song (15:20)
05. Memories (3:15)

Bonus Tracks (From 1980's Moving)
06. Destruction (2:47)
07. Tout Autour de Toi (4:13)
08. Frequence Nocturne (4:22)
09. Solaria (3:45)

- Maurice Hemlinger / organ, trumpet, soprano and tenor saxophone, flute
- Gerard Bertram / electric guitar, vocals acoustic guitar
- Didier Thibault / bass, vocals, 12-string guitar
- Gerard Pons / drums, percussion
On Bonus Tracks:
- Didier Thibault / bass
- Jean-Jacques Hertz / guitar
- Marc Profichet / drums
- Jean Rubert / saxophone
- Dominique Godin / keyboards

- Didier Malherbe / saxophone

On their impressive 1971 debut, France's Moving Gelatine Plates create a unique brand of jazz influenced progressive rock. Parts of the album are reminiscent of the music recorded by groups
from England's Canterbury scene (e.g., Soft Machine), but the Moving Gelatine Plates' driving rhythms and catchy thematic shifts set the band apart from their English counterparts. Drummer Gérard Pons pulls the listener along at a frantic pace on tracks like "Gelatine" and "Last Song". With help from the growling distortion provided by guitarist Gérard Bertram, Pons keeps the album firmly grounded in rock. Maurice Helmlinger's jazzy horn work and Didier Thibault's hopping bass lines provide a striking contrast to these rock underpinnings. Although most of the debut is instrumental, some vocal segments do surface. These segments, which are sung in English, are rather brief not surprising, since English was not the band's native language. On "London Cab", the Moving Gelatine Plates even include words from the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice". The lyrics on the rest of the album range from silly to cryptic, but considering the strength of the music, these shortcomings are
forgivable. Overall, the Moving Gelatine Plates deliver a debut that is both intricate and engaging, two features that are absent from so much of the progressive rock from the era.

Although England was one of the more fertile grounds for progressive rock in the early '70s, continental Europe was also home to many groups that contributed to the genre. The Moving
Gelatine Plates were one of the more innovative bands to come out of France during the period. The band's music was marked by shifting themes and alternating rhythms that were often delivered at a frantic pace. Like the groups from England's Canterbury scene, the Moving Gelatine Plates were also heavily influenced by jazz.

The Moving Gelatine Plates were formed by guitarist Gérard Bertram and bassist Didier Thibault, who met at school in Paris during the mid-'60s. Both men were enamored with the psychedelic
sounds of bands like the Doors and the Yardbirds and the duo soon created a group called the Lines. After a series of drummers came and left the Lines, Michel Coulon joined the group. Coulon's arrival marked a shift in sound to a more experimental approach. Coulon also brought the band a new name,
the Moving Gelatine Plates, a phrase he discovered while reading Steinbeck.

Coulon eventually left the band in search of a more profitable career. He was replaced by drummer Gérard Pons, whose formal music training meshed with the band's new experimental direction. Maurice Helmlinger, who played saxophone, trumpet, flute, and organ, soon completed the lineup.

In 1970, the Moving Gelatine Plates coaxed their way onto the stage at a music festival in Le Bourget, France. The band members couldn't afford tickets to the festival, which featured headliners such as Pink Floyd, so the Moving Gelatine Plates played for free in exchange for admission to the other shows. Their performance on a smaller stage in front of 400 people was such a success that the band was asked to play on the main stage for a crowd of 5,000. The Moving Gelatine Plates' appearance at Le Bourget brought them attention from the music press and the band soon had a cult following even though they hadn't released any albums. Their growing reputation also brought them attention from CBS Records, who offered them a contract. At the time, the band turned down the offer because of fears they would have to make their sound more commercial.

After problems getting an album recorded through a minor label, the Moving Gelatine Plates finally signed with CBS in 1971. The band's debut, The Moving Gelatine Plates, was recorded in only six days and CBS released the album in 1971 with little promotion. Despite record sales of only 10,000 copies, The Moving Gelatine Plates received a positive response from fans and the press.

Augmented by a group of session musicians, the Moving Gelatine Plates returned to the studio at the end of 1971 to record their second album, The World Of Genius Hans. The album was released on CBS in 1972, but distribution and promotion problems once again plagued record sales. Like their debut album, The World Of Genius Hans received a warm response from the few critics and
listeners who heard it.

As a result of poor record sales, equipment expenses, and the band's inability to book shows, the Moving Gelatine Plates were soon in debt. Pons eventually had to sell his drums and gave up music altogether. The other members continued with new drummer Alain Clarel, but the band's financial woes quickly resulted in their breakup.

Thibault reformed the Moving Gelatine Plates in 1978 with all new members and renamed the band Moving. In 1980, the group released a self-titled album, featuring guest musician Didier Malherbe of Gong, on the small AMO label. This version of the band folded in 1981.
 -- Andrew Helminger

Bernard Lubat & His Mad Ducks - 1974 - Bernard Lubat & His Mad Ducks

Bernard Lubat & His Mad Ducks 
Bernard Lubat & His Mad Ducks

01. Pappy Thomas (6:24)
02. To Yasmina (6:35)
03. Vendredi Chez Astrid Trassoudaine (5:35)
04. Shouara (7:33)
05. Au Bon Livre (Ode To Malcolm Lowry) (7:25)
06. Mickey Schroeder's Dreams (1:49)

Bernard Lubat: Keyboards
Claude Engel: Guitars
Eddie Louiss: Organ
Francois GImenez: Guitars
Francis Darizcuren: BAss

Backing Vocals – Annie Vassiliu, Christian Padovan, Danièle Bartoletti, Henry Taillourd, Michel Pellay

What is the sound of library music? Indeed can you even say that there is a 'library sound' given that library music covers just about every conceivable style of music?
Nevertheless there is something, some indefinable element that sets it apart from commercially available recordings.
Bernard Lubat's work can be found largely on French library recordings and is inventive and interesting.
How he came to make a record for the hip boutique record label Les Disques Pierre Cardin I am not sure. No doubt couturier Cardin thought it would be a shrewd move to branch out into music and he must have had some adventurous A&R men as, in his label's short life, it released some marvelous, albeit not terribly commercial stuff. As you would imagine each release was thoughtfully packaged and this is no different.
Enlarge the image and have a long look at it. Designed by Emmanuel 'Pinpin' Sciot, I think its a rather beautiful collage that hints at all manner of pop cultural and avant garde interests. And is the face at the centre of the eye happy or shocked, is she laughing at us, or with us, or is she amazed to be seeing us at all?
You probably can't see but the corners of the sleeve have been 'curved' which is a lovely touch for a record cover.
Altogether a very thoughtful piece of design.
The record kicks of with some quacking a la Donald Duck, presumably from some of Lubat's Mad Ducks. However, if I am honest, the quacking doesn't remind me so much of Donald Duck but of the protagonist in The New York Ripper. Another movie/library connection although the film came out in 1982 and the record came out in 1974. Lubat did compose for film and TV as well as for library records, but not I am afraid to say for Fulci's misogynistic effort.
The first track however, is pure gold. Pappy Thomas, largely led by Claude Engel's fuzzy guitar but ably supported by Eddy Louiss on the organ, is a funky slow burning groover that just doesn't seem to stop. If it were in a movie it would be played during the scene where the male lead sees the female lead for the first time dancing in a mod-ish basement nightclub with 'psychedelic' lights playing across her beautiful form. Engel's guitar gets so heated that at one point I wonder if he's actually still playing the same song and hasn't wondered off onto some kind of Hendrix exploitation record. Wigged out man!
After the funky nightclub scene our two heroes have met. To the strains of the next song, To Yashima they drift around swinging London, looking into each other's eyes and making sweet love. The music is light and airy, the wordless vocals drift smoothly moving ever upwards. Eddy Louiss takes his organ work into the swirling, twisting song and also moves ever upwards. Amidst all of this calmness check out the drums - played by Monsieur Lubat the drums are skittish and driving, perhaps pulling away for the wonderful vocal harmonies but nevertheless underpinning the whole. Music for love's young dream.
After the dreamy interlude our boy and girl get back to the important business of solving the crime (whatever it might be) but now they are being chased. Vendredi Chez Astrid Trassoundaine (Friday at Astrid Troussoundaine's) sounds from the title as though it should be another dreamy track. Instead we get funky drumming and more fuzzy guitar attack. Whatever is happening at Astrid's its active stuff. This time Francois Gimenez does the guitar honours and he delivers the goods - as long as what you want are distorted guitar solos. The whole track collapses under the weight of its own freaky fuzzness before, just about, finding its feet with a lovely vibes solo as it fades away into the night.
Side two starts with some more off-putting duck impersonations before heading off into the beautiful Shouara. If our boy and girl want something to listen to while they are having meaningful sex this is the one for them. Again it feature the wordless singing of Annie Vassiliu, Daniele Bartoletti, Christian Padovan, Henry Tallourd and Michel Pellay. Soft guitar and piano accompany our young lovers as they gently celebrate their youth and beauty until some busy drums bring them to a climax.
Just as well they've finished because Au Bon Livre (Ode to Malcom Lowry) is very busy stuff. Malcolm Lowry wrote, amongst other things, Under the Volcano which is without doubt one of the most gut-wrenching depictions of a man's life destroyed by drink. He was also a favourite author of the OuLiPo group of writers and I wonder if that was an influence on Lubat? Au Bon Livre has some fantastic percussion, again courtesy of Lubat which may be an attempt to recreate the Latin-American setting of Lowry's book. There are moments during the song where I think that its one of those 'freak-out' tracks that you usually get on biker soundtracks. But then the inventive percussion comes through, as does the vibes and piano and you realise what an inventive piece of music it is. The piano refrain gets into my brain and is very hard to shift.
Finally, after their drink/drug freak-out our heroes get to the end of the movie. With another shot of mad duck noise Mickey Schroeder's Dreams contains only some clear, aching piano played by Lubat. Whatever Mickey is dreaming about it is a happy dream.
But perhaps not, as the very last sound on the record is a door being slammed. The end.