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Catherine Ribeiro  & Alpes - Ame Debout CD (album) cover


Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.16 | 37 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars There were many like-minded artists of the day who emerged as a congregation of kindred souls in the late 60s with the sole purpose of creating a new musical paradigm. This fertile era succeeded in artists exploring hitherto unthinkable niches in the form of musical expression and France's CATHERINE RIBEIRO + ALPES which arose out of the 1968 riots and social upheaval. The results were that they became one of the most original and timeless sounding acts of the day having created some of the most unclassifiable and idiosyncratic musical paradigms there was to be heard. Unfortunately they were so far out in the clouds that very few related to their bizarre brand of psychedelic freak folk and rock.

CATHERINE RIBEIRO may have began as an underground actress turned leader of a psychedelic band much like her German contemporary Nico, however RIBEIRO led her ALPES outfit into more Gallic pastures that sounded like a more lysergic version of Bridgette Fontaine delivering psychedelic chansons of medieval folk traditions that crossed paths with contemporary free jazz laced with the confrontational poetic lyrics that was in line with the rebellious spirit of the era. After a debut album under the moniker CATHERINE RIBEIRO + 2BIS, she dropped the second affixation and it become ALPES on the aptly and unoriginally titled "No. 2." However on album No. 3 beautifully titled AME DEBUT ("soul debut") is where it all came together and all the idiosyncrasies that were delivered so well on the first two albums united into harmonic perfection.

AME DEBUT like all ALPES releases was the perfect union of RIBEIRO's poetic and moody stage performances and the musical genius of Patrice Moullet, whose brilliance expanded beyond the mere art of compositional creations. One of the key elements of the band's unique sound was his self-invented musical instruments which gave the ALPES one of the most uniquely recognizable sounds of the entire revolutionary 70s. While these instruments played a huge role from the beginning, on AME DEBUT the mastery of these idiosyncrasies in unison with the folk, jazz and rock elements finally reached the perfect balance. Also new to the band was Patrice Lemon from Gong as well as his brother bassist Jean-Sébastien.

The melodies on AME DEBOUT are downright haunting, suiting RIBEIRO's unique vocal style to a T and nowhere is that more apparent than on the opening title track which findings a hypnotic dueling effect of the percolating percuphone and ethereal cosmophone pacified by acoustic guitar all the while heavily caffeinated with an incessant tribal percussive drive of the bongos which all somehow transverse and straddle the folk melodic drive with a groovy bass and jittery organ. While RIBEIRO is the star for the album's run, the one-two punch of the tracks "Alpes 1" and "Alpes 2" finds the band in the driver's seat with RIBEIRO supplementing wordless backing vocals instead of her frenetic angst filled outbursts that range from subdued to hysterical.

AME DEBUT has the perfect flow of sensual and aggressive moments with focus shifting from the psychedelic cosmic to more down to Earth folk driven numbers such as the closing "Dingue." As with all RIBEIRO albums, the lyrics are exclusively in the French language so for non-speakers the lyrically content will completely be missing, but even if that's the case, the music on AME DEBOUT is utterly divine as all the elements the band had made their own converge into a sublime display avant-garde originality married with beautifully emotionally driven melodies that transcend language and drift into the soul. While almost all RIBEIRO albums are excellent with rich dynamic content, for me AME DEBUT is the one that achieves sheer perfection where all the elements are in the perfect context and where all the ingredients are mixed into a flawless recipe of accomplishment.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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