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Emmanuel Booz - Dans Quel Etat J'Erre CD (album) cover


Emmanuel Booz

Eclectic Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Just by its title (roughly translating to: In What Condition Am I Drifting), the experienced proghead knows this album will be an outstanding and astounding chef d'oeuvre, but by all means don't go expecting anything close to what Booz (he's dropped his first name by then) did before, even if one can tell the artiste's paw is still called Emmanuel. As there is almost 4 years between the last two albums, the cast of musician is obviously quite different, made from a bunch of studio haunts and you'll probably only recognize Didier Lockwood and JL Mahjun, but likely nobody else, unless being French. The music is extremely different than his first three albums, lost somewhere heavy space rock (think Continental Circus Gong) and some Canterbury (think early solo Hillage) with plenty of tape montage twisting the music rather complex. Fasten your seatbelt; there is a rough, wild, but very enjoyable ride up ahead, one that the astounding artwork can only binging to hint at.

Opening up on the sidelong Ode Aux Rats (ode to rats) with a toilet flush and raw guitars, the vocals take on a silly but sinister tone, depicting the lowest human instincts, EB yelling and puking his rage and attitude like a punk would over a Hillage-sounding guitar, itself riding on a savage punkish Gong theme (think Floating Anarchy, here), a weird Zappa comic passage, and constantly changing metres. Booz's spews out his vocals with his tripe and guts like Peter Hammill (VdGG) or Catherine Ribeiro (Alpes) would, and the lyrics are anarchic at possible. By the ninth minute, the track calms down (a bit anyway) on a spacey but not steady ground, where different synth layers intertwine and EB resumes his anger and hatred of dumb rats attitude, but he's not spitting it out anymore as if he doesn't believe in denouncing the cause anymore, finishing on a resounding death throe, with synths layers lingering on for its burial. As you just sat down after the needle hit the wax of the flipside, glass breaks and most of you will jump out of your seat when you'll hear that your cassette tapes is about to get destroyed until you'll realize that there is nothing wrong with your turntable. Indeed a shocking entrance to the 10-mins Symphonie Catastrophique, followed by the no-less disturbing almost screaming and filtered voice of EB over late 70's twee synth lines, but the track settles into a wild brutal groove reminiscent of early Gong over a declaiming and accusatory text, followed by a wild Hillage-like guitar solo. In the closing section comes a very mechanical rhythm dictated by an almost inhuman choir section. The closing Armoire Et Persil (cupboard and parsley) starts on distant thunder and builds up slowly on crowd noise, drum rolls and all a sudden a synth lines gets the ball running, releasing the Hillage/Hackett-like guitar and EB's vocals and his usual madness. Halfway through the track, EB pays homage to Jacques Brel (obviously by looking at his biting and vitriol-laden lyrics, EB is a fan of Le Grand Jacques) by mentioning in a single text a good deal of his best work. The track ends with the same crowd noises.

For the longest of times, Booz albums were unavailable legitimately on CD (there were 3on2 pirates), but recently, both Musea and Belle Antique labels reissued them remastered and in a Mi-Lp format and added bonus tracks with an extended booklet, including lyrics and history. The sole bonus track on the present is a 14-mins Les Morts is relatively close in spirit with the rest of the album despite being from a later date - conflictual infos in the booklet place it from early 80 to 84 and as far as late-80's. No matter its date, it retains a punky atmosphere with searing guitars, manic drums and vocals, and and lyric-wise close to the album it is tagged on. The booklet has a fairly complete history between Le Clochard and the post-third album days, when he dropped music during the 80's (but not totally), to become a blue-collar worker (in the film industry) in phase with his political sensibilities and also becamle an occasional actor in both French and US productions. While a correct command of French is advisable for all of EB's albums, it's not as essential as it would be on Clochard; but this last album is not an easy listen, suffering from an approximate production. But let not these particularities discourage you from acquiring this awesome album, if you love a challenge, this one will be for you.

Review updated in may 2012

Report this review (#160763)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was Emmanuel Booz's last studio album released in 1979. It really comes across to me as being paint-by-numbers Prog. Maybe if this was 1973 although it just doesn't feel authentic if you know what I mean. Lots of synths and violins here.The other negatives are the French theatrical vocals as well as the "loud" mix of this recording.Too much treble especially on the first tune.

"L'ode Aux Rats" opens with the sound of a toilet flushing. I know I feel better. I'm reminded of AREA briefly with the instrumental work that follows then it settles in around a minute.Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in and he's yelling the words basically.This is uptempo and loud.Violin and spoken words before 5 1/2 minutes. It's noisy and busy.Violin solo follows then synths take the lead. Vocals are back after 11 1/2 minutes. A breaking glass ends this side long suite.

"La Symphonie Catastropque" kicks in quickly. Some fairly heavy guitar early then we get vocals before 1 1/2 minutes as it settles with synths.Vocals get theatrical.The guitar after 4 1/2 minutes is great as it goes on for a minute. Synths then take over. It settles back 7 minutes in with guitar and vocals.These last 3 minutes are the best part of the album for me. "Armoire Et Persil" has this fusion vibe early with lots of synths.Theatrical vocals join in. Nice guitar before 3 1/2 minutes.

A good album no doubt but not one I enjoy a lot.

Report this review (#305557)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dans Quel Etat j'Erre is Emmanuel Booz's forth and final album, released three years after it's predecessor it marks yet another evolution in style, it seems all his previous works were leading towards this album. What started in 'Clochard' seems now complete, every song included an instrumental part and you could easily feel the interplay between the musicians, here it seems the instrumentals are a crucial element in the music aside with the vocals. This is his most ambitious and progressive album and it feels like a group effort more than a solo album, and not because of the songs lenths, but because of the material itself. The music holds a lot of ideas and puts you on quite a ride with all kinds of twists and turns, overall it's a real roller coaster. Again all previous musicians are replaced with a different larger ensemble, including Didier Lockwood on violin.

Booz chose to ditch his quiet folky roots along with his slow haunting songs, that seemed to be dominating his albums and kind of defined his style, and thought he would focus more on his aggressive rocky side. The music here is very rocky and kicking but also have a spacey side with calmer parts. guitars, synths, violins all shine and creates this wonderful sound. Booz's vocals are manic and passionate as always and even though if you can't understand a word, they are still captivating and you can feel they are not just there, they definitely have a meaning and intention, even if they are about rats!

'L'˘de aux rats' is the main piece clocking at 16 minutes, it's divided in two, the first part has a fast rhythm and is intended to rock your world featuring great hard rocking guitars fused with all kinds of synths sounds and violins all combined together, top that with excellent vocals, each instrument goes in and out of the music and you have a real feel of togetherness as they go from one idea to the next easily, adding some great solos by violin and guitar. It than falls down quietly to the next part with beautiful synth work, all sounds quite spacey. I love the ending very passionate with very calm synths sounds, just beautiful.

'La symphonie catastrophique' is again rocky and as it goes along the music with the vocals are increasing speed and it all gets more intense leading to a fabulous guitar solo and some more jamming. Very Good. 'Armoire et persil' the closing track features very good synth work with a quirky rhythm, this is the place to comment on the excellent drum work, it's always improvising and not just keeping the beat going, it turns to be more symphonic towards the end, very good stuff indeed!!

I wish it wasn't the end of his musical career and it puzzle's me why he never released more albums, he chose to become an actor and was featured in some US movies as well. Don't pass this album before checking it out, it could be a good starting point for those of you who are not familiar yet with this artist, or this energetic, interesting and totally awsome music, It's worth it. The rating is surprisingly low than what i've expected actually and yet again i find myself personally conflicted of whether it's a 4 or a 5, but i'm going with 4, it's 4.3 stars to be exact.

Report this review (#773379)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2012 | Review Permalink

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