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Potemkine - Triton CD (album) cover

TRITON

Potemkine

 

Zeuhl

3.56 | 31 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Reduced to a trio, Triton is a very different affair, when compared to its predecessor Foetus. First of all the one-time septet that included a prog-best four brothers Goubin (thus beating GG's three Shulman, but not the Jackson 5 in the non-prog category), is now only a trio, with only two brothers Charles & Philippe (both on piano, but guitar and voices for the former and drums and percs for the latter) and bassist Dubuisson on bass. As you can imagine, these personnel cuts have drastically modified the group's sound, as we move away from the Mahavishnu Orchestra sound (and to a lesser extent Weather Report and RTF) of their debut Foetus and advance well into mostly-instrumental Zeuhlian/Canterbury soundscapes (which were already present but much more discreet), somewhere between Hatfield, Univers Zero, Magma and Vortex. Much of the sonic changes are of course due to the absence of Vidal's violin, but the Zeuhl elements in their music on Foetus have slipped from the joyous Zao to the solemn Magma and the depressive UZ on Triton.

Named on the famously "church-forbidden devil-induced chord", it's easy to see why Potemkine sound became all a sudden much more severe and somber (and sober, but that due to the group's trimming to a trio), as they chose to delve into Varese and Bartok, while keeping the jazz influence alive. The opening track Asyle is definitely UZ-inspired (although the Belgians were just releasing their first album the same year, but they'd been around since 73) and Goubin hasn't much that D Denis would lack or envy. The vocals are sufficiently rare, but in the high register. With the ultra-slow and gloomy Crepuscula (this is sounding like the future Shub-Niggurath), then the most distinctive (and fave of mine) and intricate Loolit II, which a rework of the Foetus track of the same name.

After the GG-esque Chant de Viamor opening the flipside, comes the album's highlight, the 13-mins+ Eiram (Marie in reverse) with tons of interesting passages, including some percussion-only, but the gradual crescendo with the pulsating bass around the fifth and seventh minutes is quite impressive. The second part of the track is much more on Magma's Milky Way, but can remind me of early Eskaton as well.

The first two bonus tracks are taken from the first album Foetus and can be useful to point out the progress between the two works, but most of you will be on the look out for that first (and a bit elusive) album. You'll plainly see/hear the Stravinsky-laden jazz-rock of Mahavishnu Orchestra being one of their huge influences on their debut album. The next two tracks are of even much greater interest, since they're from their debut single recorded three years prior to this album and already hinting at the general Zeuhl/Canterburian musical direction.

Hard to say which of the three Potemkine is the best as they've all got their pros and cons, but in face of the difficulty of finding the debut Foetus (it's always nice to discover a band's oeuvre chronologically), Triton will be also a more likely good start as it features part of that debut album and the very first recordings of the group which much more accessible. Some would also pretend that Potemkine's third album is the better intro, because of the stronger rhythms and more conventional chord structures.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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