Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Rufus Harley - 1972 - Re-Creation of the Gods

Rufus Harley 
Re-Creation of the Gods

01. Re-Creation Of The Gods
02. Nobody Knows The Trouble We've Seen
03. This Little Light Of Mine
05. Hypothesis
06. Malika
07. Etymology

Bagpipes – Rufus Harley
Bass – Larry Randolph
Organ – Bill Mason
Percussion – Larry Langston
Saxophone – Rufus Harley

The mere mention of jazz played on bagpipes is guaranteed to get a look of disbelief from most people, but not from listeners who have heard Rufus Harley, especially Re-Creation of the Gods, a 1972 disc that many consider his best. The Transparency label has reissued this record on CD with four extra tracks and pristine digital remastering of the sound.
Rufus Harley, one of the only bagpipe-playing jazz musicians in the history of jazz, is a virtuoso on the instrument, coaxing improvised riff after riff from it. In his hands it sounds like two reed instruments played at once. This very enjoyable and often surprising music is in the soul-jazz vein, with a touch of Eastern sounds, and the combination of organ, bagpipe, percussion and sometimes electric bass works very well. The playing can easily be termed spiritual.

Re-Creation of the Gods is reminiscent of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's later work—eg. Blacknuss, with its mixture of spirituality and soul—and Rufus Harley's bagpipe sounds somewhat similar to the manzella and stritch played by Kirk. Bill Mason's organ is an excellent complement to Rufus Harley's bagpipe and sax. The combination hints at the organ/tenor combos of the late '60s and early '70s.

Although the leader and Bill Mason stand out with their solos, the tight drumming and solid electric bass anchor the music within the soul-jazz tradition and add an earthy quality to the recording. The only track which seems out of place is the 23-second intro (one of the extra tracks), which seems to be from a live show by Rufus Harley's quintet. The rest of tracks do not appear to have been recorded live, nor are they made by a quintet (rather a trio or a quartet).

The liner notes provide short essays on spirituality and quotes from a variety of Eastern religious texts, which fit well with the mood of the music but do not give any further details about the recording. The remainder of the bonus tracks, however, have the same lineup of musicians and are in the same musical vein as the original tracks, so they are likely taken from the same recording session.

The similarity in the musical quality and style does not mean that these tracks are repetitive or indistiguinshable from each other—or formulaic in any way. On the contrary, each one is unique and full of surprises. They are like poems in a poetry jam session; each is unique on its own, but also an inalienable part of the whole.

The few other Rufus Harley tracks that I have heard (from his Atlantic years) seem like prototypes for this record. The ideas are there, but they are not as accomplished or fully realized as the ones on this recording—thus, while they're interesting, they're not as rewarding to listen to as this disc.

Bagpipes and jazz make an unusual combination, but this is a very creative, enjoyable and refreshing soul-jazz record that, while not necessarily groundbreaking, is very rewarding to listen to many times over.

Rufus Harley - 1968 - King / Queens

Rufus Harley
King / Queens

01. Eight Miles High
02. Moon River
03. Love Is Blue
04. Windy
05. King
06. Queens

Bagpipes – Rufus Harley
Bass – Charles Rainey (tracks: A1 to B1)
Congas – Montego Joe (tracks: A1 to B1)
Drums – Jimmy Johnson (tracks: A1 to B1)
Engineer – Bob Liftin, Lew Hahn
Guitar – Eric Gale (tracks: A1 to B1)
Performer [Mamalukembia], Harp [Madagascar] – Nadi Qamar (tracks: B2, B3)
Piano – Richard Tee (tracks: A1 to B1)
Producer – Joel Dorn

There have been arguments regarding whether Rufus Harley meant some of the tracks on Kings / Queens to be humorous. Whether intended that way or not, the average listener reacts to his bagpipe version of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" first with incredulity and then with guffaws. The same is true of the versions of "Love Is Blue" and especially "Windy," a lightweight pop tune that certainly has a unique sound when played on bagpipes fronting a blues band. On repeated listenings, one develops a sense of respect for the amazing skill that makes these cuts as listenable as they are. If they gave Grammys for inventiveness and sheer audacity, Harley would have a closetful. His version of "Moon River" is astonishingly effective despite the fact that the five-note octave of the bagpipe would seem to make this tune impossible for that instrument. If the whole album was made of pop tunes, this would be a novelty album to surpass all others, albeit one that wouldn't get played very often. What makes the album demand repeated play are the other two compositions, which are Harley's own. "Kings" is an extended duet for bagpipe and marimba -- not instruments one thinks of combining as a usual thing, but it's probably obvious by now that Harley thinks way outside the box. The two instruments create an instrumental dialogue that is very similar to an Indian raga, each playing various parts of a theme, sometimes relating to each other in ways that don't connect in any formal way but that work. "Queens," the closing track, is another duet for what sounds like Japanese koto and Scottish bagpipes. This piece is more meditative, with long passages in which one instrument develops an idea while the other accents it or plays a countertheme. These two extended tracks remind the listener that, while Rufus Harley may have played pop tunes on the first half of the album, his roots are in jazz -- and when he sets his mind to it, he plays jazz that can't be mistaken for anyone else.

Rufus Harley - 1967 - A Tribute to Courage

Rufus Harley
A Tribute to Courage

01. Sunny 7:06
02. A Tribute To Courage (JFK) 7:46
03. Swing Low Little Charriot 5:35
04. Ali 4:03
05. "X" 3:32
06. About Trane 7:44

Bagpipes, Flute, Sax, Piano – Rufus Harley
Bass – James Glenn
Congas – Robert Gossett
Congas - Robert Kenyatta
Drums – Billy Abner
Piano – Oliver Collins

Just when you thought you'd heard it all, along comes a jazz bagpipe player. Make no mistake folks, this is more than a joke -- whatever you might think, the cat can play. At first it sounds like some sort of weird organ, but a couple of minutes later you can't mistake it for anything but what it is. Like an organ, though, the bagpipe turns out to be remarkably suited for jazz. With little effort, one man can make an absolute ocean of sound. The groove here is nothing special, a solid soul-jazz feeling. Side one is all bagpipe. Side two is the leader on a number of different instruments. A talented fellow.

Rufus Harley - 1966 - Scotch & Soul

Rufus Harley 
Scotch & Soul

01. Feeling Good 7:22
02. If You Could See Me Now 6:13
03. Taurus The 20th 6:56
04. Scotch & Soul 5:09
05. Passing The Cup 4:02
06. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square 5:01
07. Sufur 4:48

Bagpipes, Flute, Saxophone [Soprano & Tenor] – Rufus Harley
Bass – James Glenn
Congas – Robert Gossett
Drums – Billy Abner
Piano – Oliver Collins

Although Rufus Harley also plays flute, soprano, and tenor on this record, it is for his bagpipe playing that the out-of-print album is most notable. The bagpipes tend to be a drone instrument and Harley cannot surmount the problem of cutting off notes quickly, but he plays his main instrument as well as anyone and is thus far the only jazz bagpipe player. With the assistance of pianist Oliver Collins, bassist James Glenn, drummer Billy Abner, and Robert Gossett on conga, Harley's versions of "Feeling Good" and "Scotch and Soul" are quite unique.

Rufus Harley - 1965 - Bagpipe Blues

Rufus Harley
Bagpipe Blues

01. Bagpipe Blues 2:41
02. Kerry Dancers 5:34
03. Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) 3:58
04. More 6:39
05. Chim Chim Cheree 2:26
06. Sportin' 5:04
07. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child 5:34

Bagpipes, Flute, Saxophone [Soprano & Tenor] – Rufus Harley
Bass – James Glenn
Drums – Billy Abner
Piano – Oliver Collins

Rufus Harley was jazz's first bagpiper, singlehandedly transforming a droning, unwieldy instrument associated almost exclusively with Celtic traditions into a soulful and deeply spiritual element of the modern jazz lexicon. Born May 20, 1936, in Raleigh, NC, Harley spent the majority of his childhood in Philadelphia, where he studied saxophone and flute and at 18 made his professional debut behind bandleader Mickey Collins. Like much of his generation, his life was irrevocably altered by the November 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but Harley was particularly moved by the Black Watch, the Scottish infantry bagpiper corps accompanying Kennedy's funeral procession, and sought to recreate their potently mournful sound via traditional woodwinds. Unsatisfied with the results, Harley finally acquired his own bagpipes at a New York City pawnshop, and in 1964 secured his first gigs at the West Philadelphia nightclub Squeaky's -- audiences were bemused but appreciative, and when a home demo recording found its way to Atlantic Records producer Joel Dorn, the label extended a contract offer. Harley's debut LP, Bagpipe Blues followed in 1966, immediately proving the viability of bagpipes in an improvisational setting; the record was a critical success, and in addition to moonlighting on dates headlined by fellow Atlantic acts Sonny Stitt (Deuces Wild) and Herbie Mann (The Wailing Dervishes), Harley cut three more acclaimed albums for the label -- Scotch and Soul, Tribute to Courage, and Kings/Queens -- which steered his music away from its hard bop origins to the realm of psychedelia-inspired spiritual jazz. With his 1972 Ankh label masterpiece Re-Creation of the Gods, Harley embraced jazz-funk. Despite underground press accolades, the album proved too extreme for the jazz establishment and he did not headline another session for more than a quarter century. He nevertheless remained a staple of the Philadelphia club scene, and for many years headlined a regular Tuesday night gig at the city's 23rd St. Café. Harley also mounted several European tours, and as a self-proclaimed "international ambassador of freedom," he was famed among friends and fan for distributing miniature Liberty Bells, American flags, and copies of the U.S. Constitution during his travels abroad. After guesting on albums as diverse as Laurie Anderson's Big Science and the Roots' Do You Want More?!!??!, Harley finally released his own comeback date, Brotherly Love, in 1998. Sustain followed in 2005. After a long battle with prostate cancer, he died in Philadelphia on August 1, 2006.

Nimal - 1991 - Dis Tanz

Dis Tanz

01. Opa! 4:27
02. Juillet 4:38
03. Fragile Part I & II
04. Pain See 0:54
05. Last Call For Summer 90 3:13
06. Grand Carré 8:02
07. Ein Warmer Schnee-Kuss 2:42
08. Au Nord 4:37
09. Od Tukaj Do Zdaj (D'ici À Maintenant) 6:58
10. A ssez D'assauts! 4:23
11. Dis-Tanz 4:10
12. Ba(A)L 3:33
13.Ce Qu'il En Reste... 4:31
14.Campagnes 5:45

 Bratko Bibič: Accordion, Vocals, Harmonica, Piano, Melodica
Momo Rossel: Guita, Hurdy Gurdy, Bass, Sampler, Bouzouki, Dulcimer, Accordion
Nino De Gleria: Bass
Pippin Barnett: Drums, Percussion
Cédric Vuille, Pierre Kaufmann: Clarinet (6)
Shirley Hoffman-Volz: Euphonium (7)
André Schenk: Bass (2)
Gilles Rieder: Drums (2)

Third and last album from the third stage of the Debile Animal Rayé story. Still based on a strong European folklore music (usually heavily stamped onto Eastern European Circus-like music, this third album failed to take the previous Voix De Surface to a higher level. One must say the Huguenin is not part of this album, and this might be a definitively diminishing factor that could not be filled. Don't get me wrong, if you loved their previous one, you'll still find something to like here, but just not nearly as much. Multi-instrumentalist Rosset is still the leader, but Bratko Bibic's accordion is way too present - and I really don't appreciate accordion. Rossel also let Bibic write roughly a third of the album, and let's face that third is not my favorite either.
Indeed, the album is dragging its feet almost from start to end, with a few jolts of ideas here and there, but those never last long and are too few and rare in between. One must wait for the first real burst (outside the slightly interesting Grand Carré) until the ninth track to get some kind of enthusiastic energy but with the help of the electric guitar and some definitely trickier music a bit out of the ordinary of this album. From that moment, the album seems to pick up a bit more energy: the following Assault and Ba(a)l , the good closing Campagnes and the prophetic Ce Qu'il En Reste (what's left of it) tracks are semi- highlights (but déjà-vu from the previous album), it is too little too late to save the album, even if it ends better than it started.

Although I might appear harsh, especially after Voix De Surface, this album is way too filled with accordion for me to ever like it fully, so I'd rather not even try, past this review. Try thr previous one first, then if you really dig it, then you might want to check this ou, because there is worthy stuff in it as well.

Nimal - 1990 - Voix De Surface

Voix De Surface

01. Une Lucie 5:39
02. In Tenda 5:43
03. Sale Temps, Mais Les Couleurs Sont Belles 5:03
04. Tarotska 3:37
05. Le Soleil 5:12
06. La Marelle 4:58
07. Le 4ème Jeudi De La Semaine 2:38
08. James River 5:07
09. Maligne 2:55
10. Le 2ème Jeudi 3:57
11. Le 3ème Jeudi 3:01
12. Animal Triste 4:05
13. Le Tram 2:53
14. Au Zoo 5:05
15. Un Drame 4:45

Momo Rossel: Guitar, Bouzouki, Keyboards, Bass, Accordion, Hurdy Gurdy
Bratko Bibič: Harmonica
Jean-Vin Huguenin: Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Piano
Tom Cora: Cello, Bass, Accordion
Pippin Barnett: Drums, Percussion

 If you thought you had problems distinguishing RIO from what the Archives call Avant- Prog, things are not about to be simpler if you pick this album up. This project is the second stage of Swiss Momo Rossel and JV Huguenin's (Rio-extraordinaire multi- musician) three-stage musical rocket. After Debile Menthol at the start of the 80's and before L'Ensemble Rayé at the start of the 90's, Nimal is has released three albums, of which this second one is the best-regarded by specialists. Half the album was recorded live in a festival, but you'd have a hard time guessing it, from the quality of the recording but also no public: the odd between tracks spot you hear applause. The live half is much better and livelier than the first studio part. Most likely, this was either two different Vinyls or two separate releases. There are a few new versions of tracks present on their first album.
Just like L'ER, this group uses predominantly acoustic instruments (only a few electric guitars), but the music is much more twisted, much wilder and more challenging for the casual listener. If it could appear that L'ER was a bit light on prog rock contents, Nimal certainly changed that and they sound a bit like a crazier Miriodor crossing Alamaailman Vasarat, the presence of the accordion helping on this last reference. The instrumental music (certainly not described by the album's title) veers from Circus music to atonal (even abstract at times) music to a rather positive (and happy) kind of Univers Zero. Interference Sardine is also not far.

Most of the tracks are quite energetic, some even reaching diabolical and frenetic pace with the cellos going nuts (James River), some even reaching infernal chaos (Animal Triste's start) others are radiant and happy (Le Soleil and La Marelle), but the huge majority of the Rossel-penned tracks are very impressive.

Personally if you ask me, I find Nimal much better than L'ER, even if they will be much less of a cup of tea of your non-prog entourage, but then again as most progheads come from a rock background, chances are that you will not really play L'ER or Nimal to your buddies, but your chances to get laid are better with L'ER. An excellent album, but not one to recommend to newcomers of the Avant/RIO realm, Voix De Surface is Nimal's best shot at Prog history. Haunting and just short of stunning!!!

Nimal - 1987 - Nimal


01. La semaine des quatre jeudi - Part I - IV (10:12)
02. Dimanche (2:46)
03. Animal triste (4:35)
04. La marelle (4:30)
05. Au zoo (4:01)
06. Un drame (2:10)
07. Le tram (1:44)
08. Maligne (3:14)

Jean-Maurice Rossel: guitars, bass, accordion, hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, piano, DX- 100, percussion, sound effects
Tom Cora: cello (6,8), bass (7), voice (2)
Pippin Barnett: (1) drums, percussion
Dominique Diebold: (4) drums
Victor de Bros: (4) piano, prophet
Gilles V. Rieder: (5) percussion
Didier Pietton: (2) soprano

Created in 1987 by Marcel "Momo" Rossel, founder of experimental Swiss band DÉBILE MENTHOL, NIMAL were a kind of RIO supergroup that brought together an eclectic set of multi-instrumentalists from various avant-garde bands: U.S. artists Tom Cora from SKELETON CREW, CURLEW and Pippin Barnett from ORTHOTONICS, NO SAFETY, CURLEW; Jean-20 Huguenin from DÉBILE MENTHOL and Shirley Hoffman-Wolz from Swiss band L'ENSEMBLE RAYÉ; Slovenian artist Bratko Bibic from BEGNAGRAD, plus many others. Stylistically, they mixed their respective bands' styles with that of first-generation RIO bands (HENRY COW, UNIVERS ZERO, AMLA MAMMAS MANNA). Before their dissolution in 1992, they had toured throughout Europe and Canada and had released three albums.

Propelled by shifting folk-dance rhythms and wonderful sound effects, their style borders on world music. Their material is given a dictinct Eastern European, almost Gypsy flavour through the use of the accordion, bouzouki, hurdy-gurdy, cello and various percussion instruments in addition to the usual guitar/keyboards/bass/drum combo. A close comparison would be a slightly more frenzied version of SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA. All of their albums feature relatively short but catchy tunes (a rarity from an RIO band) and plenty of sonic goodies (yes, yodelling CAN be cool!). Of their three albums, "Dis Tanz" is the most varied and energetic but all are worth checking out.

Didier Lockwood - 1980 - Live in Montreux

Didier Lockwood 
Live in Montreux

01. Fast Travel 6:59
02. Flyin' Kitten 6:26
03. Ballade Des Fees (Quartet Without Drums) 4:45
04. Zebulon Dance 3:37
05. ADGC 5:46
06. Four Strings Bitch (Unaccompanied Violin Solo) 3:45
07. Turtle Shuffle 7:25

Bass – Bo Stief
Drums – Gerry Brown
Rhythm Guitar – Marc Perru
Synthesizer [Polyphonic] – Jan Hammer
Tenor Saxophone – Bob Malach
Violin – Didier Lockwood

Recorded in the Casino Montreux July 16, 1980 and Mountain Recording Studio Montreux.
Mixed in the MPS Studio Villingen July 28, 29, 30, 1980.

“After Stephane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty, France now has a third great violin player, His name is Didier Lockwood.” (Liberation, Paris). Besides Grapelli and Ponty, Lockwood’s influences include Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert, John Coltrane, and Frank Zappa. Born in 1956, Lockwood was classically trained, but moved on to rock-inspired jazz at an early age. He followed in Ponty’s fusion footsteps with the use of the electric violin, taking it one step further by experimenting in extending the sounds of the violin.

The 1980 Live in Montreux presents Didier Lockwood at his fusion best. He has multi-Grammy winner Jan Hammer (Mahavishnu Orchestra, music for Miami Vice) along for the ride, as well as the intense, soulful American saxophonist Bob Malach. On Fast Travel, the group performs up-tempo musical legerdemain as first Malach, then Hammer, and finally Lockwood pull out their bag of tricks. Flyin’ Kitten radiates a bouncy melodic rock-inflected ambiance, while Ballade des Fees portrays a haunting, wispy fairytale. With its infectiously gamboling 2-beat feel, there’s a folkish quality to Zebulon Dance; Lockwood’s plucked violin and Hammer’s guitar-like synth explorations are highlights. Four Strings Bitch shows off the violin’s willful eccentricities in a virtuoso one-man performance that ventures from classic and bluesy acoustic play on through to electronic experimentation.

Debile Menthol - 1984 - Live En Europe 1982-84

Debile Menthol
Live En Europe 1982-84

01. Dulcimer
02. Bou de Mou
03. A quoi pensent-ils
04. Cadutta Massi
05. Mort au Dehus
06. Mieux vaut d'Ecker
07. Stamoïde cousu
08. Bim Bam
09. Battre Campagne
10. Mare et moire
11. Avalanche
12. Rien
13. Rose is Coup

A1-4 & B2 recorded at Theatre Dunois, Paris; A5 recorded at Radaii Club, Budapest; A6 & B3 recorded at Bercsenyi, Budapest; B1 recorded at Kulturwerkstatt Kaserne, Basel; B4 recorded at Salle de la Cité, Neuchâtel (1980); B5 & 6 recorded at Vandoeur, Nancy; B7 recorded at Festival de Traverse, Reims

I don't have a list of the lineup for these recordings, but I'll assume it's the core group represented on Battre Campagne: Christian G. Addor, Yvan G. Chkolnix, Jean V. Huguenin, Gilles V. Rieder, Jean M. Rossel, Marie C. Schwab and Cedric P. Vuille. The earlier recordings may or may not also feature Francois Liégme and Patrice Dupasquier... Some help from the visitors with more knowledge than I would be more than welcome!

Debile Menthol - 1984 - Battre Campagne

Debile Menthol 
Battre Campagne

01. Bim-Bam (3:19)
02. Bout de mou (1:45)
03. A quoi pensent-ils? (5:16)
04. Avalanche (5:24)
05. Mieux vaud d'Ecker (3:07)
06. A chacun son accent (4:08)
07. Caduta Massie (3:48)
08. Battre Campagne (7:36)
09. Cul de Sac (3:37)

- Christian G. Addor / keyboards, vocals
- Yvan G. Chkolnix / scratches and screams
- Jean-Vincent Huguenin / petites cordes, grattées soufflées et gros ressorts
- Gilles Vincent Rieder / drums, vocals
- Jeab-Maurice Rossel / guitars, vocals
- Marie C. Schwab / violin, vocals cords
- Cedric P. Vuille / air, cords and noises

Guest musicians:
- Bruno Meillier / saxophone (1)
- Pierre Kaufmann / bass clarinet (9)

Right from the opening moments of this album, we know we are in for quite a ride. Bim-Bam is about as condensed as energy gets, and, as I pointed out earlier, it is combined with great ideas, resulting in an amazing opening song that truly sets the tone for the album (and what a tone it is). The vocals that come on top are as frantic as if not more frantic than the music. Their vocalist, like with Topi Lehtipuu of Hoyry Kone and especially Damo Suzuki of CAN, has the ability to make the music itself make more sense. Sure, he sings in French, but language should not matter when it comes to music (and I happen to like the sound of French, though there really aren't any languages I don't like). The rest of the album is in a generally similar vein as Bim-Bam, but without sounding repetitive. For example, the song A Quoi Pensent-Ils (what are they thinking?) is generally subdued (on the surface), relying more on subtle bass work railether than pounding drums, but it is equally as strange and effective as Bim-Bam. Avalanche takes a new direction altogether, focusing more on combining avant-garde ideals with great melody, similar in nature but not in sound to Frank Zappa's work.

What all of this results in is an album where we are presented with a diverse selection of music sure to give everyone something to enjoy (and, for RIO/avant fans like me, a whole lot to enjoy). They have managed to successfully create a unique sound, one that is enchanting and enticing, always engaging, never boring, and quite rewarding. If you like adventurous music, and don't mind if, at times, it seems strange and "out there," this is the perfect album for you. It probably won't ever be regarded as a defining RIO/avant prog album, but it certainly deserves to be in every prog collection. A very fun album, and highly recommended.

Debile Menthol - 1981 - Emile Au Jardin Patrologique

Debile Menthol 
Emile Au Jardin Patrologique

01. Stamoid Cousu (1:07)
02. Tres Amusant, Major (8:06)
03. Tante Agatthe (1:57)
04. Coupe-Rose (1:55)
05. Spacio-Cib (7:19)
06. Go-jaunit (Bonus track CD-Reissue) (2:32)
07. Rien (1:57)
08. a nos Mamans (4:42)
09. Mort aux Dahus (3:05)
10. La Jupe (5:48)
11. Je regard par la fenetre (3:43)
12. Crash que peut (4:21)
13. Quelle heure il est (Bonus track CD-Reissue) (3:09)

- Francois Liègme / drums
- Patrice Dupasquier/ saxophones
- Cedric P. Vuille / clarinet, guitar, drums
- Yvan G. Chkolnix / bass, guitar
- Marie C. Schwab / violin, vocals
- Christian G. Addor / keyboards, bass, vocals
- Gilles Vincent Rieder / drums, bass, percussions, vocals
- Jean-Maurice Rossel / bass, guitars
- Jean-Vincent Huguenin / guitars, percussions, vocals

Once upon a time in Neuchatel, Switzerland there was this band called Debile Menthol who played Rock In Opposition in the vein of Samla Mammas Manna, Etron Fou and Henry Cow and with a sort of minimalistic approach that reminds Massacre (Fred Frith).
Founded in 1979, this band managed to record only two albums - Emile Au Jardin Patrologique (1981) and Battre Campagne (1984). Both albums were released by RecRec which is a Swiss label that was created in order to release their albums. RecRec has re-issued those two albums together as one release (2-CD case) with bonus tracks (1994).
The first album is rather cheerful sounding (with occasional darker parts), jazzier and has a large lineup consisting of 9 members (playing on violin, sax and clarinet among others). This album can appeal to Samla Mammas Manna and Miriodor fans. The second album had a smaller lineup and the sound changed a bit as well to a more fierce sound (and more similar to the Massacre sound than the Samla Mammas Manna sound, although the eccentric touch of the Swedish band is still there). Overall this is a weird sounding band, which created a mix of quirky rock, punk, fusion, free jazz and plain eccentricity. The lyrics (when there are any) are being spoken (sometimes at high tone) in a non-melodic style (not sung and to me reminds of Massacre and The Clash) in French and filled with satire and humour (as their name might suggests). During their tours the band was under financial and personal stresses which lead to its disbanding.

Recorded in the Fall of 81, Debile Menthol's debut album is very much in advance of its time and was obviously very influential for many group that are developing the Avant Prog genre (whatever that may be) today. From the Quebecois Miriodor, Rouge Ciel and Interference Sardine, to Finland's Alamaailman Vasarat or Uzva, to Belgium's Julverne, X- Legged Sally Hardscore or Cro Magnon etc.: all of these groups owe IMHO a big debt to Debile Menthol's works. Debile Menthol is a 9-man formation (most are multi- instrumentalists), from which will emerge Rossel and Huguenin. For a long recording career.
While Debile Menthol's music is a rather crazy pot-pourri of musical influences and borrowings, they often remain fairly accessible, fun, often going into the bombastic and grotesque folkloric fair music (like the Oktoberfest beer-bingeing music or circus music for example) and I bet you that if she was still alive today, my grandmother could find some of these pieces amusing and might just be tapping her foot along. The album is fairly acoustic (just some synths and electric guitars) and mainly instrumental, with only a few weird French rather-funny vocals in off-voices, but they can get demented as well. In the album highlight A Nos Mamans (To Our Mothers), they sound for a small minute like the Sranglers, if you can believe it. Other tracks can sound like some crazy Devo or Talking Heads (Regarde Par La Fenêtre and Crash Que Peut), but the whole thing being much more complex and as much fun.

Most likely one of the most influential album in the "Avant Prog" genre, given its early release date, and a fun one too. Only for progressive nutheads with a few loosened bolts above the neck level.

Camizole - 1977 - Camizole


01. Extrait N° 1 3:12
02. Extrait N° 2 2:08
03. Extrait N° 3 8:12
04. Extrait N° 4 2:03
05. Extrait N° 5 2:03
06. Extrait N° 6 4:25
07. Extrait N° 7 2:02
08. Extrait N° 8 3:58
09. Extrait N° 9 4:05
10. Extrait N° 10 3:50
11. Extrait N° 11 3:38
12. Extrait N° 12 3:03
13. Extrait N° 13 8:54
14. Extrait N° 14 2:22
15. Charles de Gaulle 3:56

Tracks 1 to 6 recorded at Théâtre de Chartes 26 Nov. 1977.
Tracks 7 and 13 recorded at Romainville 1st Oct. 1977.
Tracks 8 to 10 recorded at Festival de Cantelop 30 and 31 July 1977.
Track 11 and 12 recorded at Grenoble 13 Nov. 1977.
Tracks 14 and 15 recorded at Saint-Cloud 4 Feb. 1977.

Thanks: Olivier Manchion, Gilbert Artman, Guigou Chenevier, Sophie Jausserand, Marie Wolff, Madame Gilot, Guillaume Saurel, Monique Alba and Dominique Doussineau.

Dominique Grimaud (synthesiser, guitar, alto saxophone)
Jacky Dupety (tenor saxophone, percussion, vocals)
Jean-Luc Dupety (drums, tuba, trombone, trumpet)
Françoise Crublé (alto saxophone, guitar)
Catherine Lienhart (violin)
Christian Chanet (vocals)

Improvisational action units that formed in the turbulent aftermath of the May '68 uprisings (see also Red Noise, Mahogany Brain, Barricade et.al.), in their case, it would be the combined influence of Julian Beck's confrontational Living Theater and the piss-taking post-Zappa dada improv rock of Red Noise that would direct their work toward such unruly ends. This eponymous archival CD (they never released anything in their lifetime) was recorded at at French music festival circa 1977 toward the end of their days. I won't even pretend that this is of the same godly caliber as what Grimaud was shortly to get up to with Video-Aventures but it's still a fascinating window into a disappeared Cornell-box universe of idiosyncratic real time sonic assembly.

The French avant-rock Camizole were active for most of the '70s and toured often, and though they were associated with more well known groups like Etron Fou Leloublan and Lard Free, were never able to release an album. The CD consists of tracks recorded live at various dates in 1977, some of which were going to be released by Tapioca before that company folded. Camizole create an improvised form of rock that is very unstructured and free form, and often quite noisy. At times it sounds a bit like Jean Francois Pauvros and Gaby Bizien's No Man's Land, with similar blistering guitar and percussion freak-outs, while other times the group grooves out on rough-hewn rhythms that are no less freaky. Though closer to rock than jazz, the group, who on most tracks are a quartet, throws saxophone, tuba, and flute and some other odd instruments into the mix with the guitars, drums, and synths, and what they lack in chops they more than make up for with energy and creativity. The few vocals mostly consist of percussionist Jacky Dupety yelling off mic barely heard over the din, though "Charles de Gaulle," the only piece with a proper title, has some weird singing from Etron Fou sax player Chris Chanet. The 13th cut really stands out, as Camizole veer easily from melodic jazz to total percussion freak-out, to a humorous oompah bit while the crowd cheers ecstatically throughout. The other tracks are slightly less distinct, but certainly there's some amazing stuff here, and it's a very good thing this thing has now been released rather than to be lost in the vaults somewhere forgotten.