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Albert Marcoeur


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars There are few albums that are really and truly groundbreaking in the history if rock, but in its opposition subgenre, they seem to abound. But if RIO was groundbreaking, they had to come from somewhere to base their sounds and directions, and three of them were Soft Machine's Third and Wyatt's End Of An Ear, and Samla Manna Mamma's Maltid. Another is obviously Albert Marcoeur's early works, and certainly his self-titled debut. While Marcoeur has often been cited as the French Zappa, I often found that moderately satisfying and partly exaggerated, not only by the width of their respective works, but also by their

Indeed, both frequently delve in avant-garde music and have a certain sense of humour (although Albert does not have Frank's derision), but Marcoeur's music is not as accessible as Zappa. Marcoeur involves his brothers for choirs with François Breant (see his entry), but his main musical pal is Patrice Tison on guitars, bass and even keyboards when needed, while Albert drums and blows in wind instruments mostly, but explores

I'm a bit of a late-comer to Marcoeur as I'm discovering his works over three decades after their initial release, but I find that I'm filling in an immense void in my musicology, as I also delve in Hector Zazou (still to be included as I write now), whom I would consider Marcoeur's spiritual son. Musically this is not far away from Stormy Six's L'Apprendista, mixed with a bit of Maltid. After the almost punkish C'est Raté, which offers a few grins as the music tries every directions to come back directly to itself, There is an instrumental Simone that starts gloomily over an alarm siren, before ending on a calmer line. Tu Tapes Trop Fort (you hit too hard) seems to be the logical follow-up of C'est Raté, not only sonically (same universe), but lyrically trying to violate a safe.

Appalderie recalls Simone's siren alarm at first before dissonant for the first time on the album and the album's centerpiece Que Le Temps Est Long , a lovely intimate song interrupted by a violently intrusive chorus. The darkest and most impenetrable track is P'tit Champs De Pomme (small applefield) where the music has definitely swung dissonant, and most likely improvised, sometimes reminiscent of Italy's Area. Closing (already!?!) on the album-longest and very percussive Qu'est Ce Que Tu As, (what's wrong with you? In this case) with a slow flute, the track soon embarks on Samla-ian boat and the repetitive staccato rhythms are ending in a surprise way.

Although this album's reputation of being a foundation of RIO (and Etron Fou Leloublan were very influenced by it), Marcoeur's debut album remains very accessible despite the dissonant moment in the second-last track. An absolutely essential album if you want to know about how RIO came to be.

Report this review (#227937)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very short, silly and yet totally inspired album bursting at the seams with weird and wonderful sounds. Albert Marcouer may have been a trained Clarinetist but this recording is far more interesting than this may suggest. In some ways he sounds like Frank Zappa from a few years earlier but is far more experimental, frantic and ridiculous.

Only the French seemed capable of this kind of maniacal goofiness in the early to mid 70's. Thankfully the vocals are recited in that language, leaving me non the wiser as to what's irritating him so much. The vocals are bleated out like a 70's French Film Star. When he sings it's like listening to prog geniuses 'Moving Gelatine Plates'.

This album is similar to 'Etron Fou Le Loublan' another French band who released similar wackiness from the same period. While Krautrock was at it's height in Germany, the French seemed to go in a different direction completely.

Tin cans, horns, pops and squeaks are all condensed into a fast flowing sea of madness, which gets more hilarious the further it progresses. By the end I've got a big 'Cheshire Cat' grin on my face like someone's been tickling my ribs. Sped up tape manipulation of zany sounds only adds to the fun.

It's like watching clowns at the circus in their tartan jackets as their car falls to pieces. The doors falls off, the steering wheel detaches, the engine backfires and the wheels go wonky. None of it makes any sense of course, but it has a light hearted playfulness that is missing from many recordings from this era. If only all music was carried out with such gay abandon I'd be a happy guy.

Report this review (#1393978)
Posted Saturday, April 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Often considered the French version of Frank Zappa, that is for those few who have even heard of him, ALBERT MARCOEUR has gained that reputation not so much for emulating the great Mothers of Invention leader but rather for matching him in musical dexterity, unbridled humor and the ability to transcend musical genres that craft music that is so far outside of the box that some may even doubt that this is music at all but alas! MARCOEUR not only crafts melodies albeit buttressed with unconventionalities but displays a sense of wackiness woefully absent outside of the music scene from the 70s when experimental artists were getting all heady.

However despite all the differences from Zappa, MARCOEUR did exhibit some similarities which meant he was one of the few to engage in unhinged freewheeling idiosyncrasies that still almost 50 years later allow his music to sound utterly unique and unlike anything that i've ever heard. And much like Zappa, MARCOEUR was a professional perfectionist who studied his craft from every angle. His journey began at the Conservatoire National de Musique in his native Dijon, France where he studied clarinet and in the early 60s he played in several bands including The Lake's Men.

Beginning in 1970 MARCOEUR worked with the Kapak group as a resident musician in the Studio Frémontel where he met clients such as Jean-Luc Ponty as well as other notable musicians of the era and it was here that he gained an extensive knowledge in the multi-track recording process in the studio. After years of leaning his craft and developing his own warped sense of style, MARCOEUR recorded his own twisted sense of reality and released his eponymously titled debut album in 1974. Graced with cover art of a Frankenstein fusion of musical instruments, the artwork perfectly symbolizes the sounds contained within.

With playful yet manic and complex fueled by energetic quirkiness and avant-garde adventurism, MARCOEUR's debut album is a goldmine of experimental musicianship run amok. With an unorthodox roster of instruments involved, MARCOEUR displays his own eclectic mastery of not only his clarinet skills but also of exotic percussion, pipes, saxophones, piano, bird calls, horns and whistles but also includes a league of lineup musicians featuring trombone, bottles (alto and bass), recorders as well as a chorus of crazy choral singers only this may be considered vocal experimentation rather than singing.

The downside to this one for those who don't speak French is that all lyrics are in that language and play a vital role in the album's absurdity as it's laced in as much humor as it is freak fueled spastic outbursts of avant-prog angularities, however even non-Francophiles can appreciate this as the silliness and playful nature transcends language barriers. Basically this album is a bizarre musical journey unlike any other. It plays out like a Mr Bungle album where things change unexpectedly and the stylistic approach morphs through an ever-changing mix of timbres, textures, tones and time signatures which is all on display with the album's opening track "C'est Rate, C'est Rate" which features a bizarre oddly-timed funk groove with a dissonant guitar riff and freaky tape manipulations along with sporadic percussion and madman vocals en français.

Described as a cross between an unplugged punk band and a carnival barker, one indeed can hear the great Zappa's influence here although MARCOEUR does an excellent job finding his own musical vision. While the instrumentation and avant-prog wizardry are out of the Zappa playbook, the vocal style is much more akin to the schizoid deliveries of Captain Beefheart and the album crafts a nice mix between accessible moments and complete utter unhinged madness. Listening to this it's fair to say that this guy surely must have been on Mike Patton's playlist and has obviously been a major influence for some of the modern avant-prog bands from France particularly the equally jittery bands PoiL, PinioL, ni and Vazytouille.

If you're looking for something unique from 1970s France, don't forget to include ALBERT MARCOEUR on your list with Magma, Moving Gelatine Plates and Ange. This is indeed for fans of Zappa but will also please those who love Henry Cow, Samla Mammas Manna, Aqsak Maboul and Ma Banlieue Flasque. Love it or hate it, you cannot say you've heard any other album like this that crafts a dexterous mix of experimental rock, avant-prog and zolo. MARCOEUR has continued to release many albums over the years and has remained fairly obscure until the age of the internet has allowed his unique musical visions find a new audience. Personally i find this self-titled debut to be as worthy as any of Zappa's craziest moments and despite the all French lyrics, much of the album is dedicated to instrumental workouts that prognosticated the complexities of the world of avant-prog. Excellent!

Report this review (#2477681)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2020 | Review Permalink

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