Thursday, January 10, 2008


Isadora, 1976; reissued by ReR; available

15 tracks, 45:11

Ever find something so strange, you wonder why it's not better known just BECAUSE it's so strange? That pretty much sums up ZNR. Perhaps the least startling thing about this album is the sketch inside by none other than Captain Beefheart. Centered around the French multi-instrumentalist duo of Hector Zazou and Joseph Racaille, ZNR also featured Patrick Portella, Gilly Bell, Fernand D'Arles, Andre Jaume, David Rueff and Harvey Neneux. The main sound is centered around early synths (namely the VCS3 and the ARP 2600), acoustic and electric pianos, and clarinets, bolstered by other instrumental contributions on a variety of instruments. The tracks are mostly concise, many clocking in at under two minutes. There are also a few suites, including the standout "La Pointe De Tes Seins Est Comme Un Petale De Pavot". Racaille provides the majority of what few vocals there are; his smooth speak/sing style adds a lot to the music. Zazou's vocals consist of a multi-lingual bit of absurdity and a heavily vocodered rumble. As a point of interest, many of the lyrics seem multi-lingual; bits of Spanish, French, English, etc. all show up in the same sentence. Much of the music is inspired by the great proto-minimalist Erik Satie, while still being uniquely ZNR. Some tracks come across as no wave classical; others are more pastoral and beautiful. The combination of unusual instruments and odd but endearing arrangements makes for a solid listen. An overlooked treasure, and definitely a must for RIO-fans! (It's probably worth noting that the CD reissue reverses the original LP's playing order; thus, tracks 1 through 8 were the LP's B-side and 9 to 15 were the A-side. Not terribly important, but there you have it!)

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