Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Heratius, GWENDOLYNE



Frigico, 1978; out of print

10 tracks, 34:17

This is about as obscure as you can get. Heratius was yet another avant-garde French outfit, but rather than the electronic bent of the Pôle Records roster, they favored a sound not unlike Faust; that is, if Faust had more of an outsider tendency. Heratius was comprised of Armand Miralles, Robert Diaz, and the singularly-named Florence*. What they created is an absolutely confusing album. The cover lists only eight tracks, while the label lists all ten. "Les Pelouses" shows up in three seperate forms, possibly explaining this discrepancy. None of these sounds alike, ranging from keyboard and vocal miniatures to a bizarre six-minute rollercoaster of backwards sounds and shifting moods. Actually, hardly any of the tracks are similar to each other, being everything from folky spoken word ditties to experimental snippets. All the vocals are in French, which means of course that a lot is lost on most listeners**. For all I know the songs could have a linking theme. The vocals range from spoken word to odd male falsetto to near-operatic female vox. The music is all over the place, sometimes over the course of one song! Everything from a bluesy guitar lick to heavy organ shows up. If it seems like I'm having trouble describing this, I am. The closest comparisons are the aforementioned Faust, some Zappa, fellow French dadaists Red Noise, and a few of the more out-there avant-prog bands. This won't appeal to everybody, and I'm not 100% sure I completely enjoy it, but it definitely is unique and worth at least a couple listens.
*To the best of my knowledge. This band has EXTREMELY little information available.
**I can make out certain basic French phrases, but not much else.

2 comments:

goeStajer said...

Never heard it before but I'm desperate to find an affordable copy.
BTW, this album is on the NWW-list (as far as i can remember ...)

Prof. ~.a.~ said...

It sure is! A lot of what I review tends to be from the NWW list, if only because nobody bothered to review the material when it first came out.
This was another CD-R copy direct from vinyl for me. It really needs to be reissued with improved sound; the CD-R rip is full of pops and hisses.