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EMILE JACOTEY

Ange

 

Symphonic Prog

3.65 | 120 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars It' s a bloody shame that non-French speakers cannot completely enjoy the work of this legendary French progressive paragon and have no choice but to rely on the music alone (which isn't too shabby!) and on the dramatic inflections of Christian Decamps sensational voice , which i agree may be an acquire taste. I for one consider him a prog vocal phenomenon. His theatrical lung augments in value when one understands the deep poetry involved, a heady mixture of surly, sarcastic, seedy, salty, sweaty , ribald, bawdy and at times, nearly pornographic words that underline the band's profound disdain for brutal politics, hypocritical religion and any other form of organized control. I went to a French (from France) school called College Stanislas (hmmmmmm!) in Montreal where I graduated in philosophy and literature and I can attest without hesitation that Christian's lyrical work is absolutely top-notch and worthy of the highest accolades. In fact, they constitute a separate source of gratification all together. Their 70s output is remarkable and inspired, we all know how fabulous the classic "Au Delà du Délire" remains today (in my top 5 all-time for some very personal reasons) and this follow-up is no meager slouch or rehashed by-product. The instrumental backbone is cemented by brother Francis' utterly spooky organ, an instrument so exhilaratingly unique and recognizable (only Soft Machine's Mike Ratledge can claim the same fame with his amazing haunting metallic organ). Furthermore, Jean-Michel Brézovar's sizzling electric and acoustic playing performs judicious leaps and bounds (imagine a harsher-toned Hackett). The rhythm section has a serene sense of "thud", a powerful motor that fuels the fire in Christian's voice.

The tracks are all near classics with inspired performances such as the mesmerizing and atmospheric ballad "Sur La Trace des Fées", easily an Ange high watermark that features a heavenly chorus and the emotionally charged quivering voice of the finest pedigree. There is a definite Genesis circa Trespass feel which is a badge of honor when played this convincingly.

The playfully sarcastic and ultra-theatrical "Le Nain de Stanislas" requires a profound understanding of the dwarf-like lyrics as they blend with the slightly oriental circus style. The spoken part is utterly phenomenal, a technique used brilliantly before on the classic Jacques Brel penned "Ces Gens Là" and later, on the Guet-Apens album's lewd " Réveille- toi". The choir section is equally expressive, like some Truffaut movie soundtrack rendered rock with a Brézovar axe spurt.

The wispy "Jour Après Jour" is the bucolic side of the band from Alsace, the words fully inspirational, French poetry at its musical finest, indeed closer to "chanson francaise" but so what? That's who they are!

"Ode to Emile" furthers the mood, a sweet ode to the elegance of old age, the return to one's innocence with some superb lyrical turns ("When winter fools autumn", "The bogs of your childhood" "Wipe the firmament's behind " etc? ) and the music slides in nicely along.

The acme is achieved with the masterful "Ego et Deus", a brawny prog hurricane lush with bluster, spite and dripping cynicism as expressed by the 'in your face" vocal , all shoved along by a devilish organ, delirious guitar. This song should have been further developed with a massive instrumental mid-section, but that's just me wishful hoping.

Two softies , first the waltz-like "J'Irai Dormir.." is typical French prog, a melodramatic, over the top screech, with tons of contrast and hue, suddenly blasted into smithereens by a slithering guitar solo. "Aurelia" is another Elka string organ driven ditty that relies on sexual imagery that perhaps seems bland by today's standards but in 1976. It was stretching the liberal French censor's patience, to say the least.

The other classic track is "Les Noces" a nasty, anti-religious rant of impeccable irony, launching assorted tirades against the marriage "ceremony" featuring a clavinet-like ripple that evokes Canterbury and not Strasbourg! A country-style section, pickin' 'gueetars' and all shows a great amount of "culot" (gall or balls if you like), proving that these guys like to have fun and "frankly, ma'am, don't give a damn!".

"Le Marchand des Planètes" puts this album to rest on a rather experimental note with strange sounds obscuring the simple melody, scratching guitar and pulsating bass dominate freely, with interesting and original results.

Emile Jacotey won't touch the 3 other classics , adding the stunningly raw "Le Cimetiere des Arlequins" to the other two I mentioned here) but contains some memorable moments on a career that stays vibrant in 2012.

4 perverted minds

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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