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Emmanuel Booz - Dans Quel Etat J'Erre CD (album) cover


Emmanuel Booz


Eclectic Prog

3.68 | 22 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Just by its title (roughly translating to: In What Condition Am I Drifting), the experienced proghead knows this album will be an outstanding and astounding chef d'oeuvre, but by all means don't go expecting anything close to what Booz (he's dropped his first name by then) did before, even if one can tell the artiste's paw is still called Emmanuel. As there is almost 4 years between the last two albums, the cast of musician is obviously quite different, made from a bunch of studio haunts and you'll probably only recognize Didier Lockwood and JL Mahjun, but likely nobody else, unless being French. The music is extremely different than his first three albums, lost somewhere heavy space rock (think Continental Circus Gong) and some Canterbury (think early solo Hillage) with plenty of tape montage twisting the music rather complex. Fasten your seatbelt; there is a rough, wild, but very enjoyable ride up ahead, one that the astounding artwork can only binging to hint at.

Opening up on the sidelong Ode Aux Rats (ode to rats) with a toilet flush and raw guitars, the vocals take on a silly but sinister tone, depicting the lowest human instincts, EB yelling and puking his rage and attitude like a punk would over a Hillage-sounding guitar, itself riding on a savage punkish Gong theme (think Floating Anarchy, here), a weird Zappa comic passage, and constantly changing metres. Booz's spews out his vocals with his tripe and guts like Peter Hammill (VdGG) or Catherine Ribeiro (Alpes) would, and the lyrics are anarchic at possible. By the ninth minute, the track calms down (a bit anyway) on a spacey but not steady ground, where different synth layers intertwine and EB resumes his anger and hatred of dumb rats attitude, but he's not spitting it out anymore as if he doesn't believe in denouncing the cause anymore, finishing on a resounding death throe, with synths layers lingering on for its burial. As you just sat down after the needle hit the wax of the flipside, glass breaks and most of you will jump out of your seat when you'll hear that your cassette tapes is about to get destroyed until you'll realize that there is nothing wrong with your turntable. Indeed a shocking entrance to the 10-mins Symphonie Catastrophique, followed by the no-less disturbing almost screaming and filtered voice of EB over late 70's twee synth lines, but the track settles into a wild brutal groove reminiscent of early Gong over a declaiming and accusatory text, followed by a wild Hillage-like guitar solo. In the closing section comes a very mechanical rhythm dictated by an almost inhuman choir section. The closing Armoire Et Persil (cupboard and parsley) starts on distant thunder and builds up slowly on crowd noise, drum rolls and all a sudden a synth lines gets the ball running, releasing the Hillage/Hackett-like guitar and EB's vocals and his usual madness. Halfway through the track, EB pays homage to Jacques Brel (obviously by looking at his biting and vitriol-laden lyrics, EB is a fan of Le Grand Jacques) by mentioning in a single text a good deal of his best work. The track ends with the same crowd noises.

For the longest of times, Booz albums were unavailable legitimately on CD (there were 3on2 pirates), but recently, both Musea and Belle Antique labels reissued them remastered and in a Mi-Lp format and added bonus tracks with an extended booklet, including lyrics and history. The sole bonus track on the present is a 14-mins Les Morts is relatively close in spirit with the rest of the album despite being from a later date - conflictual infos in the booklet place it from early 80 to 84 and as far as late-80's. No matter its date, it retains a punky atmosphere with searing guitars, manic drums and vocals, and and lyric-wise close to the album it is tagged on. The booklet has a fairly complete history between Le Clochard and the post-third album days, when he dropped music during the 80's (but not totally), to become a blue-collar worker (in the film industry) in phase with his political sensibilities and also becamle an occasional actor in both French and US productions. While a correct command of French is advisable for all of EB's albums, it's not as essential as it would be on Clochard; but this last album is not an easy listen, suffering from an approximate production. But let not these particularities discourage you from acquiring this awesome album, if you love a challenge, this one will be for you.

Review updated in may 2012

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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