Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Pôle, 1975; reissued by Tapioca and MIO; out of print
7 tracks, 75:44
Another stunner from Pôle Records! Actually, some claim that this is a Pôle album, and that its title is BESOMBES-RIZET. However, given that only Jean-Louis Rizet was in Pôle, and only on INSIDE THE DREAM, this probably isn't the case. Just to confuse things further, it has also claimed that Pôle was the backing band on this release! Rizet and Phillipe Besombes (who also had a healthy solo career) perform on keyboards, synths, trumpet, flute, accordion, guitar, and vocals. They are assisted by Françoise Legros on vocals, percussionist Jacky Vander Elstraete, and sax player Alain Petit. At least that's who's credited; even the reissue is scant on exact details. As for the list of keyboards used.... wow! VCS's, ARPs, Farfisas, Crumars, and more all make their appearence, lending their distinctive voices to the proceedings. Needless to say, this means the album is mostly synth-oriented, but the free-jazzy saxophone and drums definitely establish their presence. Originally a double LP, PÔLE is a surprisingly varied album. Comparisons can (and have) be made to that other giant of French experimental prog, Heldon, but Besombes-Rizet are much less ominous than Pinhas and company. The fairly straightforward synth rock of "Lundi Matin" sits comfortably next to the deep drones and oddball touches of the massive "Armature Double". The latter is the second longest track at just over eighteen minutes, with "Synth Soit-il" being just under twenty-two and "Haute Pression" clocking in at eleven minutes. These are very similar to contemporary work by Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. and the like, but they have a distinct character. "Haute Pression" in particular sounds almost like a Klaus Schulze outtake, with an underlying pulse complimented by sharp keyboard runs and subtle variations throughout; what sets this into complete genius is the addition of motorik-influenced drums to the mix. "Synth Soit-il" follows the same path, but with the addition of drums and weird phasing effects (possibly backwards tapes). The remaining few tracks range from just under eight minutes to three and a half. "Rock a Montauban" ends up being the most out of place, sounding like a lo-fi garage rock song. The goofy vocals don't work in its favor, but it has its own oddball charms. What is most impressive is the sheer difference in mood from piece to piece, and the amazing flow of the album. This comes HIGHLY recommended, and is easily one of the best Pôle Records releases. Unlike most of their albums, this one actually got a CD reissue thanks to MIO Records; however, that label has gone under, leaving the CD out of print. Copies can still be obtained through some outlets, and I highly suggest snatching this one up on sight.