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Moving Gelatine Plates - The World of Genius Hans CD (album) cover

THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS

Moving Gelatine Plates

 

Canterbury Scene

4.20 | 69 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Here we have one of the greatest albums from the Canterbury Scene, and would you expect any less from a French band? Along with Gong and Magma this band is one of the more interesting and important French prog groups of the 1970s. Speaking of Gong, you can hear some similarities here with them but generally this is more pre-Third Softs influenced. This second album is much better than the first, as good as the debut was. The writing, playing and production are all an improvement. Oh, and that cover! Probably one of the most interesting and iconic album covers in prog rock, I bet more people are familiar with that cover than a note of the band's music!

This features the same line-up as the debut. Once again Maurice Hemlinger flawlessly switches between organ, trumpet, flute and saxes. Supposedly the members were having a lot of financial difficulty and had to borrow instruments from other French rock bands or sell their own. That's the price you pay for trying to make Canterbury style music in early '70s France. Again the lyrics are in English but there seems to be more wordless harmony singing than on the debut. Still lots of great fuzz-bass and wah-guitar.

The 14-minute title track is the highlight of the whole album and one of the best Canterbury epics. Great guitar and bass tones (including wah-bass). Before 2 minutes you hear some haunting "ohh" harmony vocals, this slowly turns into more Gregorian chant like vocals in English; one of the members has a cool deep voice. Gets almost Gong sounding after 4 minutes, not too surprising since both groups are based in France. I love when the sax and guitar play in unison. More great harmony vocals later. Before 11 minutes is one of the best parts with modified organ and wah-bass. This track keeps changing but nothing ever seems forced or out of place. A very flawless epic.

"Funny Doll" is a very jazzy track, almost reminds me of the first Henry Cow album. That is until the vocals come in, then it sounds more like the brass-rock of Blood, Sweat & Tears or early Chicago...except with no brass section. "Astromonster" starts out very Gong-like. Once the fuzz-bass kicks in things get exciting. When the drums enter the band goes into classic Canterbury jamming. In the middle is some awesome drumming with some great organ and guitar. I love the guitar filtered through a Leslie speaker sound, popular in the late '60s/early 70s.

"Moving Theme" begins slowed down then gets sped up to normal speed as the band jams away in full odd-metered jazzy Canterbury fashion with the obligatory fuzz-bass. Features a bit of start/stop playing. As is typical with this group the song changes into different sections (some not long at all) often. "Cauchemar" features what sounds like a harpsichord at the beginning. A very melodic song for the most part. More great guitar/sax unison playing. Later on is more of that great harmony singing, this time doubling the sax.

I like the sustained organ chord that opens "We Were Loving Her." Overdubbed sounds from an unidentified source and fuzz-bass are joined by more oddball sounds. Then the bass takes the band (without drums) into a song with English lyrics. Love the spacey sound in the background. "Un Jour..." is a mellow and laid-back closer with a great guitar tone. Like the previous song, there are no drums. That last song and "Funny Doll" are about the only things keeping this from being a masterpiece. Both are good but not quite as strong as the rest of the album, which is excellent Canterbury. I would rate this a 4.5 (almost masterpiece) but will round down to 4 stars. Highly recommended.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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