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Jannick Top - Soleil D'Ork CD (album) cover


Jannick Top



3.69 | 25 ratings

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5 stars Jannick Top, being the champion of discerning prog bass guitar, is a musician who suffers from applied superlatives - terms like "bulldozing", "tectonic" and infamously, "dinosaur-skinning" are often related to his trademark zeuhl low-end. However, listening to this collection of his own work it might be that, on the famous Magma classics he may have been a little restrained.

"Soleil d'Ork", despite being studded with guest musicians (and if you follow the french scene, you'll know their names) is All About Jannick(TM) and is naturally written with the Kobaian rhythm section in mind. Consequentially, the record is almost totally saturated with funky bass and matches pulse with the ever-beating wardrums of planet Ork. If you're familiar with Magma's "Udu Wudu" then you should be able to recognise this shared song form - those alien disco synth melodies twinned with those trolled vocals while those doomy bass patterns churn and coil across that military drumdropping and the slither of hissing hi-hat, together defining battle anthems that endlessly loop. I do hope you like this formula, because the Wahrgenuhr certainly does.

Luckily, the songs diverge a little; "Epicanthropus Erectus" is a dark cave-groove with curious fiddlings; "Utopia Viva" is a glorious celebration which tests funk positive; "La Musique des Spheres" (a title you might recognise) is a spooky field of spacy-gothic echodrum ambience that feels like the evil-ternative Jean-Michel Jarre as reprogrammed by the Borg. All these songs are very long and don't really deign to conclude in any meaningful way, suggesting, of course, that the people of Ork live a toroid lifespan where they can see through time in both directions - what need is there for an ending when the temptation is there to scry it directly and ruin the surprise? Much more sensible to live the groove eternal.

"Mekanik Machine" is really special and a total treat for Zeuhl-lovers, because THE CORE is present - by the forces of Vander, Top and Blasquiz combined, this becomes the album's true centrepiece, as well as a possible "lost" Magma song. However, although there's even a little electric piano during the pensive moments, thanks to Jannick's direction everything else is light on the jazz and choral fronts, so the tasteful light and shade is foregone, leaving the song to culminate in one big rumbling, shrieking, pounding explosion of classic zeuhl ridiculousness. Again, it doesn't really end so much as become gradually more haywire and frenetic, but that's practically the album's concept (even if I have to attribute it as such myself) and if you've ever wanted to hear Magma being as heavy as a ton of doom metal CDs, come hither.

The title track should be vaguely familiar, and I suspect it's the same piece of music filtered slightly differently. This is a slightly disappointing moment - I wanted to hear it trolled more, or at least distorted beyond recognisability. If anything, it serves as a reprieve between two titanic epics, because you've read the tracklist and you know what comes next...

The man may be more famous for guiding such musical luminaries as Johnny Halliday and Celine Dion slowly around the studio by the hand, but "De Futura" is his true calling card, right? Here it is in a much more peculiar form, bookended by gibbering demonic voices (or possibly cows on motorbikes) and a despondent kobaian monologue, and once we've entered zeuhlspace some of you might be disappointed, as the Orkish funeral march is propped up this time by that most accursed of man's creation - the drum machine. Still, I really think this punishing heartbeat of the future fits the tune well and adds an even more robotic element, and the lack of more subtle drum textures pronounces this version of the epic as "pure" as can be. You may disagree and crave the variety that Mr. Vander always brings; just think of Top's "De Futura" as the original recording reflected on an oil slick.

The final piece, "Glas", is a trek across the dunes of Ork towards a temple of the bells, complete with sand-laden wind bearing down your respirator and distorted, distant everythingness. I'll mention "Hyuponia" here in the hope that someone will understand the reference.

Frankly, you may have noticed by now that this album is perhaps not aimed at your classic moog-rocker, being mostly ambient or doomy for its entirety, and for this reason, I can't recommend it unreservedly. However, I'm giving it a full five stars because it is an essential element of any prog collection also featuring "Kohntarkosz" - if you like doom metal, funk, industrial or power electronics, then doubly so. I'd just like to say that this is my favourite record from another planet.

laplace | 5/5 |


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