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Ange - Le Cimetière des Arlequins CD (album) cover

LE CIMETIÈRE DES ARLEQUINS

Ange

 

Symphonic Prog

3.46 | 131 ratings

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ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer
3 stars And you wonder why they had such a bloody revolution?

(Three and a half stars really)

Music that is this unconsciously eccentric AND welcoming is far too often a rarity these days. We do of course have a multitude of determinedly 'inaccessible' artists who prefer to barricade themselves firmly into the RIO/Avant camp and sharpen their instruments for another attack on culture from behind the relative safety of wilful obscurity.

(Apres Nous Le Deluge Blah blah Blah)

However, there are a breed of souls brave or foolhardy enough to wage the battle against conformity from 'behind enemy lines' as Ange do here. Their assimilation of the artifices and vocabulary of rock is not merely a means to an end, but a sincere expression of their individuality framed in the reference points of our own shared western popular culture.

Mediocrity is, and always has been the enemy.

It seems that those flaky pastries the French, like their prog on the angstsy side and 'Ange' certainly keep the home fires burning brightly here. Their fellow countrymen Arachnoid, Halloween, Magma and Shylock also share a predisposition to an endearing 'excitability' which makes their music brazenly volatile and emotionally charged.

Unfortunately, as my grasp of the French language stalled at the level of schoolboy fluency eg. le chat est sur le mur, I am unable to appreciate the lyrics, which I have been advised are one of Ange's strong-points.

Ain't it ironic that the instructions to open the bandage I can apply to Prog's achilles heel are in French ?

(Sacre Bleu)

Judging by the urgency and rapidity of Monsieur Decamps vocal declamations, we must conclude he has a real bee in his beret (or perhaps maybe even a 'hive' in his lingerie) but I love the urgency of his delivery dearly, and there is no reason to doubt either his passion or sincerity.

'Ces Gens La' - Starts with an unnerving guitar motif, although just a few simple slide bent notes, it carries a weight and foreboding that even Monsieur Fripp would have been proud and reappears later to spooky effect. Thereafter there is a brooding bass line (just 2 or 3 notes) over which Decamps alternatively recites then shouts his bon mots. The quiet/loud and busy/still dynamic can be overused but this band have a fine grasp of when either is appropriate. I'm not convinced the string sound in the background is really a Mellotron but perhaps its been put through some sort of weird effect thang y'all ?

'Aujourd'hui c'est la Fête chez l'Apprenti-Sorcier' - Fantastic sludgy guitar sound on the stereo panned riff and a truly memorable melody on the verse sections. Very atmospheric and haunting developmental section where there appears some beautifully played flute to complement the hushed and whispered vocals.

'Bivouac - 1ère partie' - Apart from the wince inducing quotation from Handel's 'Messiah' which is their first momentary lapse into bad taste, a very sinister and angular song section develops with good use of female operatic 'screams' at climactic points. During one section there are what sounds like some wailing siren 'turn on and off' the Hammond tricks a la Monsieur Emerson. Nice fuzzy organ solo in the vein of Soft Machine towards the end.

'L'Espionne Lesbienne' - (No I ain't going to translate, and stop giggling at the back) This track inhabits a gentler pastoral landscape with strummed acoustic guitar and flute interjections but rest easy, even here there is a maniacal laugh thrown into the mix to keep us in 'squeaky bum' mode.

'Bivouac Final' - Ominous and dark with a claustrophobic tritone in the harmony accentuated by a very accurate Bob Fripp impersonation on the guitar later mutating into a wah wah drenched solo. This is joined by some ethereal fuzz organ which fades out into a simple descending chromatic scale on the strings/mellotron. Beautifully constructed track but like so many of the others on this record it is too short as the strength of the musical ideas warrant further exploration and development.

'De Temps en Temps' - Ange employ a more conventional strong structure here and this offering boasts another very strong and slightly Spanish tinged lydian melody. Dramatic use of timpani and Mellotron in a vaguely Crimsonesque manner but certainly not derivative. Short and very effective guitar 'solo' of sorts, but given how accomplished a player Brezovar obviously is, I wish he had been allowed greater license on this album to really 'stretch out' a lot more.

'La Route aux Cyprès' - Unusually, I actually heard a MIDI file of this track before hearing the original and this is a number similar in feel to the earlier L'Espionne Lesbienne but has a superior melody and is more fully developed and fleshed out than the former.

'Le Cimetière des Arlequins- - the longest track here and despite the opportunities afforded by the larger canvas, Ange do not succumb to the temptation for a lazy and slap-dash finger painting.

Au contraire, its another highly disciplined piece which undergoes various transitions of pace, timbre and tempo before the end. Lovely atmospheric intro with unadorned bass slowly joined by an infectious and insistent incantatory melody. Unfortunately they do repeat this device perhaps once too often and this section drags a bit.

Finally an ominous ascending chromatic scalar passage emerges over which Monsieur Decamps gets himself into an ever increasing lather as the accompaniment gets faster and faster.

And you wonder why they had a player sent off in the World Cup Final?

Momentary lapse of taste # 2 appears with a rather tacky quotation from Mussorgsky's Night on the Bare Mountain but we can forgive them this I'm sure. The ending section is however very unsatisfying as they appear undecided as to it being either another incarnation of the 'fairground big top to fade' cliché or the 'bust child's toy's death throes' approximated here.

This is a very strong album but not perhaps as good as its successor Au-delà du Délire. (being the only other Ange offering I have heard)

This band deserve immense credit for their single mindedness and originality in a field where 'still wet' forgeries of masterpieces are everywhere. No one else sounds remotely like Ange and their boldness and spirit of adventure is something we should cherish dearly. So they get an extra half star for sheer undiluted and uncompromising attitude

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |

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