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Cheval Fou - Cheval Fou CD (album) cover


Cheval Fou



2.81 | 15 ratings

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3 stars French act CHEVAL FOU was active from 1970 until 1975, with Jean-Max Peteau (guitars, vocals), Stephane Rossini (drums, vocals) and Michel Peteau (guitars, vocals, saxophone) as permanent members and, I assume, at least a couple of guest musicians contributing to the proceedings whose names have been lost in time. They never released anything while active, but in 1994 the short-lived French independent label Legend Music issued a compilation of recordings by the band made back in the early 70's. As the same label reissued Cheval Fou's successor outfit NYL's sole release with additional bonus material at the same time, it is likely to suspect that the label got access to recordings by both these projects at that time. Out of print for a good few years by, this compilation was reissued by new indie label Psych Up Melodies in the fall of 2011.

And this compilation of recordings by Cheval Fou is of a character thaqt makes it a production for the specially interested to seek out. Relatively harsh, slightly primitive psychedelic rock is the name of the game, with a firm emphasis on fireworks drums and tight interwoven guitar constructions with occasional freakout moments. Dual guitar motifs with one dark-toned and a lighter toned contrasting psych-tinged or soloing a common feature, staccato guitar constructions interwoven with the drums another regular feature. In style and expression often closer to the excursions made by German bands at the time, and as such music of a kind and character that might well interest krautrock aficionados.

The backside of the medallion is the quality of the recordings scavenged to assemble this disc. If they are live in studio or live on stage I can't tell, but what's certain is that they weren't made with any thought towards making them commercially available. Most likely time has taken it's toll on the tapes that recorded them too, but at best these recordings corresponds to what you'd get on low quality bootlegs in yesteryear. Two rounds in the studio remastering them to as high a level as possible makes them listenable, some of them even passable, but by and large most people expecting to listen to material at a certain minimum quality will find this album wanting.

That is, apart from final track La fin de la vie. This one exception appears to be a good quality studio recording, and of such quality that I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that at least some of it had been recorded at a much later date. Elegant, repetitive tribal rhythms and spoken words reciting a story of some sort, at first by a child and later by a grown man, with dampened fluctuating instrumental textures placed way back in the arrangements. Some kind of simplistic precursor to later day projects such as Trey Gunn's Quodia project from a few years back. Less refined and in French, but sharing many obvious similarities.

All in all an album for those with a special interest in early 1970's French psychedelic progressive rock, with qualities that should make it an interesting experience for like-minded krautrock fans. As long as they can cope with the rather extreme lo-fi quality that define all but the last track on this disc.

Windhawk | 3/5 |


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