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Cos - Swiß Chalet CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

2.48 | 18 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

While Babel was still very much an excellent first period Cos, Swiss Chalet was indeed completely different, and the very clinical and technoïd artwork clearly announces it clearly. Indeed even if released in 79, Swiss Chalet is an 80's record and the group is now a quartet. Not only has Marc Hollander left (to found Aksak Maboul), but Alain Goutier is only present on the B-side of the album, replaced by a reggae bassist, which will leave heavy traces on his A-side of the wax. The group's image was drastically modernised and the former hippy looks given up for very trendy 80's wardrobes and a mini-soap opera presented on the inner sleeve to accompany what is a loose concept throughout the album. Unfortunately Pascale Son's extraordinary scats are not much present, replaced by more conventional singing which actually fit quite well the reggae ambiances.

After the forgettable short intro called Click, the group launches in a way-too lengthy reggae Gigolo tune spread over three languages (Eng-Fre-Ger), and while of no real interest for progheads, their white reggae is close to The Clash (circa London Calling and Sandinista) and much worthier than UB40 and others. While it obvious that these superb musos are trying their best to make this track a sort of progressive reggae, and in some ways, they manage. Kibaki is another reggae tune but it lacks the previous track's originality, even if remaining quite technical. Achtung TV Watchers is a bit different and in some ways reminds of Talking Heads or even the 80's Crimson that was to come on their final album and Love Robots follows suit. The flipside starts on Wagon, another white reggae, where departing bassist Goutier pulls a credible line, seeming quite comfortable with his fretless bass. The next L'Air De Dolly is dominated by Pascale's almost operatic singing, while L'Air De Rien is a rather strange and disturbing semi-reggae with funny French lyrics. Most of the tracks remaining share the same semi-reggae/pop scheme except for the strange instrumental Liebe, which quite darker and much proggier (in some ways sounding like a chanting Univers Zero) and it is easily my fave track on this album.

Swiss Chalet is anything but a bad album, but compared to their others, it is rather an introduction (or a transition album) to their next opus (Passiones) and as Belgian was an active part of the Eurock movement, Cos was singing in many languages and will be developing the Esperanto concept on their further album. Definitely a good pop music product of its time, mixing reggae, Post Punk, New Wave, but not sharing those styles's lack technical or virtuoso qualities. Best avoided by progheads who are looking for purer prog styles, but if you love late 70's and early 80's pop-rock, this album could just rank among your faves in that genre.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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