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Archaia - 1976, La Bande Perdue CD (album) cover





3.71 | 3 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars ARCHAĻA only existed a few short years from 1977-79, left its sole self-titled album released on the Choravox label in 1977 and then seemingly disappeared never to be heard from again at least until the progressive rock revival of the 1990s found labels digging up lost treasures from the past and resurrecting their unique musical magic. Such was the case with ARCHAĻA's only official release which was remastered and rightfully re-issued on CD by the Soleil Zeuhl label which has done an exemplary job of reviving long lost zeuhl artists from France's freaky fertile underground of the 1970s and 80s.

This Paris based trio featured Philippe Bersan (vocals, keyboards, percussion), Pierrick Le Bras (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Michel Munier (bass) who were inspired by Magma's rhythmic Teutonic marches of zeuhl rhythms but equally enthralled with the mind expanding world of Gong's psychedelia as well as the bizarre electronic works of Heldon. Together these guys forged some of the most bizarre and freak-fueled musical visions from the entire zeuhl universe easily setting themselves apart from the likes of Magma and its imitators such as Zao and Weidorje. A decades old treat for true psychedelic trippers lurking in the prog underground, ARCHAĻA's debut finally found not only a new vinyl release on Mutant Embryo Records but a proper digital release as well in 2019.

Well also thanks to those true treasure hunters at Mutant Embryo, in the modern era in the final hours of 2021, the label has released 1976, LA BANDE PERDUE which in English simply means "The Lost Tape." These archival sounds predate the official album and only features the original two members Michel Munier and Pierrick Le Bras before Philippe Bersan joined forces. Basically this is a bunch of demos which showcase the band developing its unique style before the more accomplished debut album appeared the following year. This collection of 17 tracks is presented as various acts with with titles appearing as such: "Act 9: Massa Confusa 1." This collection of sounds is every bit as bizarre and out there as the band's official album but amounts to more of a collection of ideas that were thrown against the wall like spaghetti to see what would stick.

Despite the helter skelter approach, 1976 LA BANDE PERDUE features some interesting explorations into the furthest reaches of experimental music that would sound more at home in 1971 rather than 76 when such music was losing ground to more commercial sounds. While this release lacks the cohesive charm of a space journey that the official debut offered, it more than makes up for that in its more expansive exploration of myriad possibilities of where the unlikely marriage of Magma rhythms, Heldon fueled electronica, Arachnoid spookiness and Steve Hillage era Gong psychedelia could lead to. For true fans of this band (which i am), this is a treasure trove of nascent ideas that indicate a number of directions the band could've steered their musical vessel.

These wild experimental tracks sound like something out of an occult ritual. The tracks bridge the gap between Magma inspired zeuhl with all things lysergic along with the more contemporary sounds of synthwave. The opening "Act 1: Chthonos" sounds more like a Krautrock track from Can than anything in the zeuhl universe which points to Germany's fertile experimental scene as another source of inspiration. While clearly not as perfected as the band's sound on the actual album, this archival release is quite engaging its own right given the more expansive approach. Excellent supplemental material for fans but still satisfying for any true trippers as well.

3.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |


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