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Albert Marcoeur - Albert Marcoeur CD (album) cover


Albert Marcoeur



4.01 | 32 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Often considered the French version of Frank Zappa, that is for those few who have even heard of him, ALBERT MARCOEUR has gained that reputation not so much for emulating the great Mothers of Invention leader but rather for matching him in musical dexterity, unbridled humor and the ability to transcend musical genres that craft music that is so far outside of the box that some may even doubt that this is music at all but alas! MARCOEUR not only crafts melodies albeit buttressed with unconventionalities but displays a sense of wackiness woefully absent outside of the music scene from the 70s when experimental artists were getting all heady.

However despite all the differences from Zappa, MARCOEUR did exhibit some similarities which meant he was one of the few to engage in unhinged freewheeling idiosyncrasies that still almost 50 years later allow his music to sound utterly unique and unlike anything that i've ever heard. And much like Zappa, MARCOEUR was a professional perfectionist who studied his craft from every angle. His journey began at the Conservatoire National de Musique in his native Dijon, France where he studied clarinet and in the early 60s he played in several bands including The Lake's Men.

Beginning in 1970 MARCOEUR worked with the Kapak group as a resident musician in the Studio Frémontel where he met clients such as Jean-Luc Ponty as well as other notable musicians of the era and it was here that he gained an extensive knowledge in the multi-track recording process in the studio. After years of leaning his craft and developing his own warped sense of style, MARCOEUR recorded his own twisted sense of reality and released his eponymously titled debut album in 1974. Graced with cover art of a Frankenstein fusion of musical instruments, the artwork perfectly symbolizes the sounds contained within.

With playful yet manic and complex fueled by energetic quirkiness and avant-garde adventurism, MARCOEUR's debut album is a goldmine of experimental musicianship run amok. With an unorthodox roster of instruments involved, MARCOEUR displays his own eclectic mastery of not only his clarinet skills but also of exotic percussion, pipes, saxophones, piano, bird calls, horns and whistles but also includes a league of lineup musicians featuring trombone, bottles (alto and bass), recorders as well as a chorus of crazy choral singers only this may be considered vocal experimentation rather than singing.

The downside to this one for those who don't speak French is that all lyrics are in that language and play a vital role in the album's absurdity as it's laced in as much humor as it is freak fueled spastic outbursts of avant-prog angularities, however even non-Francophiles can appreciate this as the silliness and playful nature transcends language barriers. Basically this album is a bizarre musical journey unlike any other. It plays out like a Mr Bungle album where things change unexpectedly and the stylistic approach morphs through an ever-changing mix of timbres, textures, tones and time signatures which is all on display with the album's opening track "C'est Rate, C'est Rate" which features a bizarre oddly-timed funk groove with a dissonant guitar riff and freaky tape manipulations along with sporadic percussion and madman vocals en français.

Described as a cross between an unplugged punk band and a carnival barker, one indeed can hear the great Zappa's influence here although MARCOEUR does an excellent job finding his own musical vision. While the instrumentation and avant-prog wizardry are out of the Zappa playbook, the vocal style is much more akin to the schizoid deliveries of Captain Beefheart and the album crafts a nice mix between accessible moments and complete utter unhinged madness. Listening to this it's fair to say that this guy surely must have been on Mike Patton's playlist and has obviously been a major influence for some of the modern avant-prog bands from France particularly the equally jittery bands PoiL, PinioL, ni and Vazytouille.

If you're looking for something unique from 1970s France, don't forget to include ALBERT MARCOEUR on your list with Magma, Moving Gelatine Plates and Ange. This is indeed for fans of Zappa but will also please those who love Henry Cow, Samla Mammas Manna, Aqsak Maboul and Ma Banlieue Flasque. Love it or hate it, you cannot say you've heard any other album like this that crafts a dexterous mix of experimental rock, avant-prog and zolo. MARCOEUR has continued to release many albums over the years and has remained fairly obscure until the age of the internet has allowed his unique musical visions find a new audience. Personally i find this self-titled debut to be as worthy as any of Zappa's craziest moments and despite the all French lyrics, much of the album is dedicated to instrumental workouts that prognosticated the complexities of the world of avant-prog. Excellent!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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