Monday, April 14, 2008


Pôle, 1975; out of print

3 tracks, 41:15

Pôle, 1975; out of print

3 tracks, 44:06

Out of the many obscurities to be found in the Nurse With Wound list, Pôle is one of the most obscure-yet-legendary. A label as well as a musical project, Pôle was established by Paul Putti in mid-70s France. The records were originally sold door to door, which is quite puzzling considering how experimental the sounds within typically were. Pôle's other signings included Mahogany Brain, Pataphonie, and other avant-garde and free improv acts. Howver, Pôle the group was perhaps the most bizarre of all the label's acts. "Group" isn't really the right word; Pôle was more of a loose collective than anything else. KOTRILL, for example, is credited to Pôle, yet Putti and Thierry Aubrun perform two tracks, while the remaining track is solely performed by Daniel Bodon! Bodon's "Osiris" is also very much the shortest track here, being a brief three and a half minutes. It's also the most accessible track, which is saying a lot, since it consists mostly of high-pitched rising-and-falling sine tones and deep bass gongs, with an occasional buzzing sound alternating between stereo channels. "Kotrill" itself is an incredible piece of avant-garde excess. Its seventeen minutes begins with the sound of tapes being wound backwards and eerie synths, evolving into a wondrous mess of musique concrete textures and backward vocals. It continues evolving and decomposing, ending on a highly percussive note surprisingly reminiscent of the end of Can's "Aumgn". This track alone explains what Nurse With Wound liked about Pôle; one could even say some of NWW's work sounds an awful lot like this piece. With "Kotrill" as the opening salvo and "Osiris" the transition, that leaves the twenty-plus minutes of "Villin-Gen" on side two. It's a very nice extended ambient piece that slowly mutates over its vast length from pure drone to more erratic expressions, while a vague rhythm is barely heard in the background. This makes for a completely engaging listen before the final beats of the rhythm fade out. This provides a nice French take on krautrock, and it even manages to blow quite a few contemporary experimentalists away!

Pôle's second album, INSIDE THE DREAM, finds Putti with a new group of collaborators and a slightly altered sound. Putti, guitarist Marc Azad, bassist Eric Dervieu, and vocalist Christian Rouch perform on the title track, which occupies all of side one. After the intensity of KOTRILL, "Inside The Dream" is surprisingly sedate. A gentle acoustic guitar is accompanied by a burbling synth-ish guitar (it really does sound more like an electronic instrument than an electric guitar) and subtle bass, with Rouch's gentle vocals evoking a pastoral image. As the song progresses, the acoustic strums remain, but more dissonant guitar starts to float above it. Towards the end, the acoustics disappear, and the freakish guitar soloing explodes, accompanied by simplistic but driving drumming. This track points forward at much later psych-folk, and even sounds a bit like Flying Saucer Attack. "Outside The Nightmare" opens side two, and is a complete departure from side one. Performed solely by Jean-Louis Rizet, "Outside The Nightmare" is fifteen minutes of analog synth space rock. The synths used are ARPs, renowned for their unique sounds, and it's anyone's guess as to how many are at work here. It sounds like stars slowly dying, which is not a bad thing at all. Also drawing comparisons to a darker take on Klaus Schulze, this track provides a nice counterpoint to "Inside The Dream"'s fairly organic sound. The album closes with "In The Maelstrom", performed by Putti, Rizet, and Pierre Chavigny. All three take up ARPs for this track, and its four and a half minutes provide a perfect end to the album. A bouncing bass pulse anchors the song, with classic retro synth stabs providing color. The whole album is another work of absolute genius.

Pôle only recorded these two albums, and the label was also sadly short-lived. All of the label's releases come highly recommended; a few have been reissued on CD, but sadly KOTRILL and INSIDE THE DREAM have yet to receive this treatment. Fans of Faust, Can, Rev. Dwight Frizzell, Nurse With Wound, et al should find these at all costs.


Mars said...

Prof, I couldn't agree with you more! These records are fantastic and I can't stop listening!! I also highly recommend these other releases on Pôle records: Philippe Besombes - 'LIBRA', Besombes / Rizet - 'Pôle' (yes, that's the title) and Henry Roger - 'Images' (which has the name 'Pôle' placed prominently on the cover art as if it were yet another Pôle record!). Great taste, man.

Prof. ~.a.~ said...

I found IMAGES. Check back soon for the review of that! Glad you enjoy the blog and thanks for the heads up!