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Ma Banlieue Flasque - Ma Banlieue Flasque CD (album) cover


Ma Banlieue Flasque


Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 21 ratings

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4 stars Well this baby haven't seen the front page in 5 years! This is yet another jewel sitting in its shell dying to be reissued, I hoped Musea would release this one by now because they did intended on doing so, but that didn't happened yet. Ma Banlieue Flasque are a french quintet who released their only album in 1979. Although they definitely arrived late to the french prog scene, that doesnt mean they compromised on their music in any way or tried to reach the pop market by including lighter accessible songs. On the contrary, this band is much more crazier and demanding than most of their local country bands. MBF didn't invent the wheel but they certainly know how to use it. Their take of eclectic prog is so cool because they are drawing influences from all kinds of places, from Zappa like zany vocals to the amusing interplay of Moving Gelatine Plates, Komintern or simply high energy Gong.

The music is upbeat and sometimes very fast and intricate which means we are looking at a very capable and professional set of musicians. But in spite of the high level of musicianship no one here really steals the show and there isn't even an ounce of arrogance. The remarkable interplay between those guys is very close to the one found in groups like Cherry Five, Cathedral and Yezda Urfa. Aside from the usual instrumentation we have a full time manic Gongish saxophone and some flute too, no keyboards though.

The album is only 35 minutes long but there is so much to enjoy, the vocals are used rather sparsely and is about 85% instrumental, strange that most of the remaining 15% appear in the first track. "13'20 D'happiness" opens the album and pretty much sums what they are all about...Happiness! The first thing you will notice are those weird vocals, and there are all kinds of 'em, very Zappa inspired, but 1.5 minutes through the song the band is going on a long and tasty instrumental including excellent solos from both guitars and sax. 2.5 minutes before it all ends the vocals return for a big finale, it's like something out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. No doubt that this is a good opener but things are even getting better from now on. The rest is simply superb, a mindblowing freaky extravaganza of guitar and sax solos, cool and fast dueling between all and a dazzling interplay that will make your head spin, I think this will take a few more spins to fully appreciate. No dark or strange atmosphere, it's all very playful and so fun to listen to. Don't get me wrong this is still very progressive in the sense that it is constantly changing, the band have no problem to switch to something else and never look back in any given moment. In addition to all of that there's even some Zehul influences (not surprising...) most notably on "H.B.H.V", beautiful stuff really which makes this album even more diverse. It could also be qualified as a jam but not like in the fusion/jazz rock kinda style, the songs are more structured and goes from one part to the other instead of just jaming on one or two ideas. The rhythm section is of course top notch, the drummer is pounding on that splash cymbal like there is no tomorrow and the bass player reminds me of Geddy Lee on too much red bull. As I said it doesn't sound like the band is showing off, they are just good.

Apparently there are two more songs circulating the web that can be heard on myspace, one of them is surprisingly listenable here on the band's page. Strange that it's here because I couldn't find any evident that it was properly released anywhere. It's a very good song (not their best) that can give you a slight idea about what I'm babbling about.

So I can't see how this wouldn't knock anybody that is into the bands I've mentioned or anybody into those obscure wild and furious jams. Unfortunately it will be hard to locate a copy since it wasn't released on CD, but I think it is possible to download legally. An easy 4 stars.

Sagichim | 4/5 |


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