|Tom Hayes||20-March-2007||After Life Ė Cauchemar|
After Life are one of those insane rarities, so obscure that itís just now surfacing to the collector market. They were a French group whose only album gained a release in Spain. Turns out someone was digging through an old farmhouse in Aragon and found a stash under the hay, behind the pitchforks....or somethingÖ As for the music, itís one of the most baffling releases Iíve heard in years. On the plus half, thereís a haunting progressive laced sound, with that doomy vibe only the French seem to conjure up. Recalls first album East of Eden or The Visitors, and the vocalist has that gruff voice which is very similar to the guy from Alusa Fallax. Most of these are sung, whispered, or narrated in French. The Visitors influence is not that surprising when one learns that the master of all things obscure is involved: J.P. Massiera. On the downside, and I mean really down, thereís these godawful rock-n-roll tracks, like Bad Company playing the most insipid Deep Purple tunes. Complete with honky-tonk piano, harmonica and badly accented English vocals. Itís not a good A-side, bad B-side situation, but rather they are intertwined for an entirely frustrating listen. Obtain a cheap copy, but donít spend too much time digging for it Ė at a record show or in the barns of the Spanish landscapeÖ.
|Eric Lumbleau||22-March-2007||Les Maledictus Sound|
For years, Jean-Pierre Massiera's name has been the sort uttered in tones of hushed reverence amongst heavy duty psych/prog/experimental vinyl hounds (where originals of his trade hands for over a grand). Composer, arranger and producer extraordinaire, this shadowy figure has had his fingers in many of France's most arcane musical pies, from Visitors' surrealist sympho-prog anomalies and Horrific Child's deranged Igor Wakhevitch-like diversions to J.P.M. & Co.'s discombobulated disco aberrations, but pride of place in his oeuvre (and in the annals of French underground music) goes to his 1968 studio project Les Maledictus Sound. With this brain corroding concoction, he launched not only the first volley from a scene that would soon eclipse the rest of the continents efforts, but also one of the finest.
Conveniently arranged in bite sized morsels, this unhinged amalgam consists of: suave spy movie jazz shattered by Pierre Henry-like electronic splatter, jaunty Love American Style orchestral and brass arrangements, supperclub piano tinkling and whistling, grindhouse go-go grooves and corrosive acid guitar flailing, chipmunk vocals accompanying Dixieland diversions, furious bumble bee fuzz guitar fills amidst Speed Racer-addled electronic swirls, treacly symphonic string swells, massed kazoos, haunted house organ themes and hysterical shrieking, more chipmunk vocals, more acid guitar, more electronic splatter. Well, you get the picture. The lengthy passages of unmitigated kitsch between some of the more mind warping episodes might weary those without resilient funny bones, but you won't find me carping. A topsy-turvy tour-de-force.
(Originally published in Alternative Press #149,
p.103; reprinted by
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