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Super Freego - Pourquoi Es-Tu Si Méchant? CD (album) cover


Super Freego



3.55 | 13 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Ever since Christian Vander unleashed his adventurous musical visions onto an unsuspecting planet back in the late 60s, the style that was a Carl Orff inspired form of jazz-rock that retrospectively was tagged zeuhl has been studied, copied and built upon ever since. The term which means "celestial" in Vander's self-constructed language which is used exclusively for lyrics on his main band Magma's long lasting career heralded the epic cosmic journeys of Kobaians narrated in musical form. While zeuhl has been many things to many fans, some things have remained rather similar despite whether the artists who have engaged in the style stem from France, Japan, the USA or wherever. In this sub-genre of progressive rock the explorer can expect some sort of alien rock opera sound with repetitive percussive drives, martial bass grooves and stentorian choral motifs hypnotically ratcheting up the tension until some sort of crescendo explodes in all its climactic glory.

Well just when you though you have a genre or sub-genre of music figured out then comes along a band that will totally take it somewhere no one could have ever seen coming. Despite hailing from France, the oddball band SUPER FREEGO came from nowhere, released this sole artifact titled POURQUOI ES-TU SI MÉCHANT (Why Are You So Naughty?) and then disappeared leaving one of the rarest and obscure albums of all the 80s. Having missed the first wave of zeuhl in direct succession to the greater Magma universe that offered a plethora of side projects, the five musicians who made up SUPER FREEGO decided to take zeuhl into the realms of the more contemporary new wave sounds of the early 80s and as the Mutant Sounds blogspot so perfectly states it, SUPER FREEGO sounded like Planet Kobaia met Planet Claire, the latter of which is of course the first track from the first album of the B52s.

The band consisted of Max De Pol (guitar) Hervé Dupon (guitar, keyboards) Karaki (bass, vocals) Rockez Melendy (drums, percussion) M. Skolarczyk (vocals) but also included several musicians playing the horn section which included both Alain Guillard and his brother Yvon both of whom did in fact play with Magma from 1980-82 as well as with Magma spin-off band Weidorje which despite the almost ridiculous nature of SUPER FREEGO's unorthodox zeuhl / new wave fusion album earns the band a place in the greater Magma family tree, however this album is definitely the black sheep of the zeuhl family as it eschews the dark and serious nature of the sub-genre and instead engages in a happy upbeat romp through catchy poppy tracks that feature both male and female vocals as well as an over-the-top "Rocky Horror Picture Show" dramatic flair for that post-punk high camp sound that only existed for a brief moment in time.

While this idea may seem ridiculous, the band was only taking zeuhl into the modern realms much like King Crimson did with its comeback album "Discipline" which emerged the year before. Both are similar in that they utilize a hyper zolo fueled Talking Heads style of incessant percussive drive and tracks that display a contemporary guitar playing style that teases the post-punk angst into more accessible Elvis Costello types of accessibility. The progressive rock antics while not lying in the underpinning of the compositional songwriting nevertheless are quite present and express themselves between the cracks so to speak. While the bass and drums exist in the more rockin' section of the new wave genre, the oddball avant-prog time signatures and vocal tradeoffs certainly take more than a cue from the incessant complexities of any given Magma album preceding "Merci."

What's a miracle is how well this comes together as neither genre is sacrificed for the sake of the other. In many ways this is the exact opposite of a Magma inspired zeuhl album. The album is bouncy and playful and even danceable but most of all this is all done tongue-in-cheek and demands a sense of humor as the seriousness of the zeuhl side of the equation is clearly jettisoned for the more lighthearted straight to the point purposefulness of the more pop oriented new wave. Despite the easy to digest melodies and bouncy hooks, the musicians find ways to incorporate top notch musicianship into the nooks and crannies of the grooves. The horn sections are smoking hot, the instrumental interplay of keyboards and feisty guitars is quite imaginative and the different vocal expressions in the French language are quite eccentric.

As a fan of prog AND new wave i have to say that this one is BRILLIANT! It's apparent that this oil and water approach was too silly for the hardened solemnly inclined proggers who were still in shock from the changes of the music scene and likewise way too adventurous for the fancy free party crowds who only wanted simple pop riffs without all the extra weirdness but for those of us who appreciate such Island of Dr Moreau musical experiments run amok, i'm happy to say that this one is a lost gem that needs to be heard to be believed! The album has so far only seen a single pressing when it was released in 1982 but clearly deserves a proper reissuing since this is utterly unique. Although its closest cousin in the prog world seems to be King Crimson's "Discipline," this one is actually more adventurous with more prog antics stuffed into the new wave packaging. For my ears, this is more than a mere curiosity but fun little album that emerged from between the cracks of two completely unrelated genres of music and for a brief moment in time made them one!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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