Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Ange - Guet-Apens CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.02 | 131 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The final classic album by this pioneering French band is also, not without coincidence, one of their best, representing the last flowering of Golden Age Progressive ideology before the Punk Rock revolution pushed it rudely off the musical map (in retrospect doing it an underhanded favor: Prog Rock should never have been a mainstream endeavor, but that's another essay altogether).

I was surprised to learn here at Progarchives that this was their first studio recording in two years, since releasing the popular "Par Les Fils de Mandrin" in 1976 (in between were two live albums and an ersatz "best of" package). Of the original band only the Decamps brothers are left, but since they were always the heart and soul of the group there's no discernable change to the music. The revamped rhythm section might be heavier (or at least were pushed more forward in the mix than usual), and new guitarist Claude Lemet brings an almost arena-rock sound to his playing, although he compensates elsewhere with lots of delicate 12-string guitar work and a little added flute on a few tracks.

But otherwise all the elements of the classic ANGE soundstage are intact, elevated here to new heights of symphonic refinement. Francis Decamps' patented, arctic mellotron sound is all over the album, and brother Christian's celebrated hyper-dramatic vocals are more eccentric than ever, careening in mock-drunken stumbles through "Capitaine Coeur de Miel" and reaching levels of hysteria in "Reveille-Toi" rarely heard outside of an asylum.

I don't have a clue what he's singing about, not speaking a word of French myself: part of the charm of listening to songs in a foreign language is that the vocals, divorced from the baggage of their lyrical meaning, become just another musical instrument in the overall mix. But I suspect there's a concept at work here, judging from the inclusion of what looks like a fold-out board game inside the sleeve of my original vinyl edition (was it somehow reproduced for the CD booklet?).

The instructions seem to follow some sort of narrative mirroring the tongue-in-cheek surrealism of the cover art, showing a neanderthal cave person in an urban back alley waylaying a corporate businessman juggling the Earth on the end of a string. The album title, by the way, translates into something like "ambush", a fact I discovered after a quarter century when I back-checked a French English dictionary just yesterday.

It would be another two years before the band released their next LP, "Vu d'un Chien", of which I recall little from the brief time I owned it except for a surplus of guitars and a lack of melody, a common complaint at the time (circa 1980). Further personnel changes, and even more radical shifts in the cultural barometer, would render the music almost unrecognizable to diehard fans.

A facsimile of the original line-up still tours the nostalgia circuit in Europe, having re- discovered their classic repertoire, better late than never I say. But this was ANGE when they were still fresh: an exciting snapshot of the band at their creative zenith.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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