Tom Hayes 14-April-2001 Un Peu de L'Ame des Bandits

Rock in Opposition (RIO), it is often said, is hard to typecast but you know it when you hear it. Aksak Maboul are a walking definition of the movement, yet they sound like no other band as a whole. However, bits and pieces of dozens of styles and groups are obvious. This is the milieu mail-order houses like Wayside favor. And for me Aksak Maboul makes for a fun, and at times, exhilarating listen.

Un Peu de L'ame des Bandits, Aksak Maboul's second effort, contains nine tracks which are all over the map musically. The opener, "A Modern Lesson", has that unique This Heat rocked-out feel with a loose, improvisatory, female vocal style similar to Gutura (an obscure French avant progressive act). This is followed by the two-part "Palmiers en Pots", a relatively traditional homage to 1920's Polish living room dance parties. "Geistage Nacht" is the requisite Zeuhl number with great throbbing bass by Fred Frith and excellent winds work from Michel Berckmans and leader Marc Hollander. Also noticeable here is a pioneering version of what would later be known as "Drums N'Bass" music. A great track! "I Viaggi Formano la Gioventu" is a trip to the Middle East with dumbeg and cello playing traditional scales. Similar in some ways to Agitation Free circa Malesch without the psychedelic guitar. So naturally a distorted noisy punk number ("Inoculating Rabies") would follow, although all through the mayhem are some nice composed bassoon and bass clarinet work. It's all about contrasts with Aksak Maboul! And finally the four part "Cinema" closes with a fantastic early Univers Zero-like chamber rock workout. However Aksak Maboul experiment more with free noise than U.Z. ever did. Also worth noting is the inclusion of some fabulous tortured Heldonish guitar from Frith. The CD release contains a bonus track which recalls the opening track. Overall a very good album and one that is considered de rigueur for RIO fans.

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