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Pascal Duffard - Dieu est Fou CD (album) cover


Pascal Duffard



3.59 | 8 ratings

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4 stars God, this is insane! Well, not really, but it is zany.

No review of this album would be complete without discourse on the lyrical themes of this irreverently titled French album ("God is Insane"). Unfortunately, French is not my lingua franca, and so, perhaps, an analysis of the music shall suffice (well, it won't, but...) However, not being a musicologist, and being rather tone deaf, I shall not be able to offer much in the way of learned observations of the music. Oh, I could bluff my way through it, focusing on tone, rhythm, harmony, and texture to make myself seem semi-intelligent, but instead I shall vaguely focus on my vague impressions, tangential commentary, and share my love of the music. Anyway, if music is the universal language, and French is the language of love, perhaps my love of this French music shall suffice.

This is a very good album to my ear, and this highly collectible and eccentric vinyl obscurity deserves a proper CD release. Since Duffard was able to secure the necessary requirements for such an ambitious and accomplished release with a large and talented group of performers, it is surprising that there is so little information readily available about him. However, he had worked on a project with Pascal Lami before who was quite a popular French pop artist, and so he must have been quite connected within the music industry. Both projects utilized a large array of performers, some of which worked on both.

I might say that this theatrical avant/ folk/ pop/ rock/ jazzy/ operatic/ Zeuhl-related album sounds as if it is Henri Gougaud meets Magma, meets Laurent Thibault, Pierrot Lunaire, and Ripaille. Additionally, I might say that it meets Hellebore, Zao, Ange, Schonberg's Les Miserables, Arthur Brown, Gyorgy Ligeti, Jerry Goldsmith and Claude Francois for a philosophical and ecclesiastical discussion over a cup of tea (champignon infused perhaps) . I could do this, or use a different set of names, but that seems excessively silly and I fear that it would not provide much help besides. Moreover, I would probably miss the best examples! More correctly, and inarguably, it is composer Pascal Duffard meets all those who participated on his project, and with some research on all those names, I could provide a more useful list than the one I presented. Suffice to say, I like to think of this project as an avant French answer to Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Jesus Christ Superstar." Musical theatre of the absurd in another way to describe this dramatic, wacky, and beautiful recording. Whether you think it absurdly good is another matter. Each vocalist plays a role in the pantomime which is unfolding -- from folk/pop to dialogue, to opera to chant, to laughter and ecstasy (each section has a dialogue of sorts with contrasting textures and tone, and the whole album feels cohesive despite jarring interjections/ juxtapositions and diverse musical expression). It seems a terrific concept even if the finer points of the concept elude me.

The album opens with a trippy, spacey piece (a la some music in "2001: A Space Odyssey") with bleeping electronics that would suit some acid-enhancing sci-fiish movie from the late 60's/ early 70's. From there, it moves into dramatic, operatic, weird free jazzy territory interspersed with experimental avant madness and beautiful poignant-sounding chanson and acoustic passages that provide good contrast and a satisfying playfulness. Bombastic, pretty, strange, pretty strange, and I think pretty wonderful. I also discern a delicious sense of irony in the proceedings.

The direction, arrangements, and performers are very good, as is the production. Although I fully want to give it five stars as it's one of my favourite albums, I find the finale a bit of a letdown. I would not expect an epic, majestic finale, but I would have liked it to end on a very dramatic note. Instead, it tails off and fizzles; not necessarily in a bad way, however. It may work well for the concept, but I would have liked something grander (perhaps of the Grand Guignal variety). The way it ends is just a bit too anti-climactic for me. So I give it four stars for the lack of "kaboom." The Earth getting blown up at the end due to a deus ex machina, now THAT'S a finale, but, though a rather Prog concept, may be too Hollywoody (especially if "the guy" and "the girl" were to live happily ever after against all odds). Considering that the vinyl can set one back hundreds of dollars, one may expect plenty of "bang" for the buck! If only there was a sequel....

Logan | 4/5 |


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