Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Red Noise, SARCELLES-LOCHERES
Futura, 1970; out of print*
12 tracks, 38:32
As the cover makes clear, these French eccentrics were HEAVILY influenced by Zappa. The core members on this sole Red Noise LP are Patrick Vian (who later released an excellent solo LP), Phillip Barry, Jean-Claude Cenci, and Daniel Geoffroy, plus two listed guests on percussion and organ. The music contained within is somewhat in the Zappa/Beefheart vein, but with an even MORE bizarre sense of humor, with major free jazz/improv/dada elements that put this in a class by itself. For example, the first track is "Cosmic Toilet Ditty", which is forty seconds of a guy taking a leak, followed by the toilet flushing and a voice saying "Don't forget to wash your hands, listener!" This goes right into "Caka Slow-Vertebrate Twist", which would be a pretty straightforward jazz-rock tune if not for the multiple goofy voices singing in French. Halfway through, the vocals turn into normal English singing (though the lyrics are still VERY bizarre), and the music changes to almost psychedelic folk. This is typical of the album; tracks can be all over the place musically. There are the short "Obsession Sexuelle" pieces, which are mostly screaming echoing horn sounds. The most infamous track is "Galactic Sewer Song", which has gross lyrics ("Smelling dustbins/And poo-poo compost heaps/Your puke-ridden garbage/Is excrement knee-deep") which Nurse With Wound later lifted for "The Poo-Poo Song". The music begins as a gentle strum, but rapidly becomes a jazzy freakout of gragantuan proportions, ending on a truly strange phone call. "Sarcelles C'Est L'Avenir" is also noteworthy; it sounds quite improvised, and ranges over its nineteen minutes from frantic drumming accompanied by gentle flute and guitar feedback, to an organ-led middle stretch, all the way to a weird, almost ambient dub finale, before it finally and abruptly cuts off. None of the tracks seems superfluous, and the album holds together remarkably well for all its dadaist excess. Red Noise would appeal most to fans of Zappa, and probably fans of RIO and avant-prog as well. The heavy use of skronking sax and unorthodox structures may even appeal to the post-punk/No Wave crowd (keep in mind this predated those terms). Needless to say, fellow NWW list junkies absolutely need this; it's easily one of the essentials on that list. It was reissued on CD by Futura, but is now out of print and quite difficult to find*. The effort is ABSOLUTELY worth it.
*Update! Apparently you can still order the CD direct from Futura! Check out http://futuramarge.free.fr/ and see the other (apparently available) Futura reissues as well!