Eric Lumbleau    13-July-2001 Il y a des Jours

Part of a holy and wholly ignored French tradition of fey, Art Brut-addled, Rock In Opposition associated fuckery, Hellebore are shot through with the same rich veins of Inspired illogic that riddle the work of Etron Fou Lelouban and Albert Marcoeur, the twin 70s founts for this breed of Gallic musical eccentricity. In the 80s, ground zero for these developments was the Ayaa label and its proprietor, Denis Tagu. With membership in four of this genre's finest outfits (Look De Bouk, Szentendre, Toupidek Limonade and Hellebore), Tagu is truly the grand old man of this terminally obscure contingent. In concord with the practices of his other units, Hellebore's bouts of breezy bonhomie and subtly skewed savois-faire are, on their one and only mid-80s release, repeatedly destabilized by all manner of impish harmonic chicanery. Unlike Tagu's other units however, Hellebore frequently corral all these wayward tendencies into terrain that's often both darker and jazzier than anything else he's had a hand in.

A track like Uminak-Marquis De Saint Cricq presents a virtual catalog of Hellebore's collective strategies, weaving languid threads of intertwining guitar and clarinet filigree before collapsing into a slurry of Contortions-level cacophony, coming up for air amidst tinking rhythm boxes and haunting male choruses, morphing into a wheezing Parisian Cluster plus piano and finally lurching into a discordant march.

Hellebore's paean to the spirit of musical unpeggability is a sonic treasure chest for those willing to look outside the margins.

(Originally published in Alternative Press #151, p.83; reprinted by permission)

Sjef Oellers 24-Feb-2001 Il y a des Jours

Il y a des Jours is a largely instrumental album with both RIO and avant-garde elements. Besides the "usual" rock instrumentation, Hellebore add clarinet, saxophone, and some flute. The result is a beautiful album which is divided into sparse, slightly otherworldly passages and fiery RIO-ish interplay in the best Etron Fou Leloublan tradition. The rather stark, more reflective passages feature either a percussive piano playing style or a droning organ over which saxophone or clarinet lay down riffs or mini solos, while other passages remind me a bit of Fred Frith's solo albums such as Gravity or Speechless. Though Il y a des Jours has several intense passages with the infamous RIO-ish angularity, this may actually be one of the albums in that style that is fairly easy to get into. Fantastic. The CD reissue includes three bonus tracks.

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