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Etron Fou Leloublan - Les Poumons Gonflés CD (album) cover

LES POUMONS GONFLÉS

Etron Fou Leloublan

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Greger
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN is an experimental and very original band from France. The band was founded in the seventies and belongs to the more unconventional side of the rock genre. Their music is a blend of avant-garde, free form jazz, progressive rock and RIO (Rock in Opposition), a movement that they were an important part of. There are reminiscences to CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, Frank ZAPPA and the many outstanding releases on the Cuneiform and Gazul labels.

ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN's fourth album "Les Poumons Gonflés" was originally released on vinyl LP in 1982 on the label Turbo Music (TMSA 3301). The album is a thrilling experience recommended to lovers of the above-mentioned bands and if you normally into Cuneiform's and Gazul's releases.

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#29083)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars For their third studio recording and fourth album overall, EFL presented their most refined and diverse collection up to that time. With subtle production by Fred Frith, their breakneck collision of French chanson and the rhythmic implications of the Magic Band, here takes on the additional inspirations of Nino Rota, musique concrete experiments, and fellow RIO alumnus, Sweden's Zamla Mammaz Manna.

The title Les Poumons Gonfle (Lungs Filled with Air) is borrowed from Baudelaire's La Musique, which finds a potent musical setting here. In new recruit, Jo Thirion, the dynamic team of Ferdinand & Guigou find a foil worthy of their unique talents. Her compositions and stabbing percussive organ playing brings a new level of depth to the organic precision of high tuned, strummed bass guitar and oblique skittering drum melodies, rounded out by the lyrical saxophone of Bernard Mathieu.

To paraphrase what Carla Bley once wrote about EFL, in their development they moved from raucous, screeching free rock to layering exclamatory vocals over shifting repetitve figures, like a punk Fred Rzewski with Sun Ra on the organ. This worthy effort is the transitional recording, but any review would not be complete without a mention of Ferdinand Richard's Novel Roman like narratives full of word play and puns, humor and absurdity with an underlying melancholy. For me he is rock's answer to Raymond Queneau.

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Send comments to gidouille (BETA) | Report this review (#58677)
Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4.5 stars

In which les 3 fous became 4 with the arrival of keyboard player Jo Thirion, and for the first and only time they had the same sax player for 2 consecutive albums. In addition to the expanded line up, EFL's fourth full length release saw the emphasis shift to relatively short, focused songs and in many ways saw them realise the abundant potential that they displayed on their early albums.

The fundamentals of EFL remained in place, despite the changes. Guigou Chenevier and Ferdinand Richard continued to play their Beefheart style rhythms and declaim their bizarre, surreal lyrics and narratives, which saxophonist Bernard Mathieu roamed around in the spirit of free jazz players everywhere. Jo Thirion added something of a new wave sensibility with her Farfisa playing, alternating between skeletal chords and spidery right hand runs which played off against the sax or vocal melodies. Whether the additional instrument was necessary is debatable, as EFL had always been good at getting the most from their minimal resources, but as a quartet their manic energy was channeled without being compromised. The second half of the album contains two outstanding tracks; Chrisitine revisits a piece from their previous live album and features Guigou Chenevier joining Bernard Mathieu in a tenor sax duet for the song's lengthy coda, while Those Distant Waters features their first English lyrics, delivered a la Inspector Clouseau and as surreal as ever. The sound is further complemented by occasional piano, trumpet and backing vocals by Jo Thirion, and producer Fred Frith adds violin and guitar to a couple of tracks (EFL played on Fred Frith's Speechless album at around the same time).

EFL's early output was sometimes frustrating, with raw inspiration jostling with indulgent noodling, or surreal routines that may have worked well on stage but didn't stand up to repeated listening on a studio release. Les Poumons Gonfles captures the best elements of their early work and manages to inject some discipline into the proceedings without spoiling the fun. This album will appeal to anybody who enjoys the lighter RIO of Sammla Mammas Manna and Fred Frith's Gravity and Speechless albums, or the jazz tinged absurdities of The Muffins and early Soft Machine. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#135501)
Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rating: A-

Avant-garde progressive music has always made room for jokers, from the notorious Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa to the multitude of largely unknown bands for whom it's obvious that, if nothing else, they had a lot of fun producing the music. Along with The Residents and the two mentioned above, Etron Fou Leloublan were among the biggest tomfoolers of them all. On their debut, they wrote an eighteen minute epic around a fairy-tale ode to a rabbit.On Les Poumons Gonfles, none of that humor is lost, musically or lyrically ("Christine" has lyrics about doing nefarious deeds with a woman's undergarments).

More important than that affirmation that Etron Fou Leloublan is still producing the crazy [&*!#] of the white wolf - the English translation of their name - is that they have, on Les Poumons Gonfles, honed their music to the highest level it would ever see and, as a result, produced their masterpiece. They are no longer a threesome, as Jo Thirion has joined on keyboards. Whether its her entrance into the band or the fact that it was the first (and last) time the band kept its saxophonist for two consecutive albums, Les Poumons Gonfles is Etron Fou's most focused, accessible release.

Of course, take the word "accessible" with a grain of salt. It's more accessible than their other work not because it's less out there, but because it is tighter and more focused. Indeed, "Christine" has Etron Fou's tightest grooves, which makes it fairly approachable (and indeed one of their best songs), but it still has a section where it explodes into manic yelling, dissonant saxophone whines, and drums that give new meaning to the phrase "off the wall." And "Christine" is the rule on Les Poumons Gonfles, not the exception. "Nicolas" opens the CD with one of the band's catchiest melodies, and "Nicole" finds itself quite beautiful, at least by Etron Fou Leloublan. And, in case there was any doubt about Guigou Chenevrier's formidable drumming abilities (which are the highlight of the CD), there is "Exposition Universelle", a just under two minute drum solo that manages to show off without sounding pretentious, and, more importantly, it actually sounds really good and is a valuable asset to the CD.

Anybody who's looking to get into Etron Fou Leloublan would do well to start with Les Poumons Gonfles (or the follow up, Les Sillons de la Terre), as it's their tightest, most accessible, best CD. It has impeccable musicianship, tremendous flow, and strong songwriting. It's catchy and quirky, humorous enough to sound like Etron Fou Leloublan, serious enough to sound professional. It's a snapshot of an excellent band at the top of their game, and no music collection is complete without it. An essential masterpiece.

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Send comments to Pnoom! (BETA) | Report this review (#164160)
Posted Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars. In my opinion this is ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN's best release. It's almost like they decided to get serious (not completely) and create music where the listeners focus would be on their very impressive talents, instead of being side tracked by lots of silliness. In light of that you can see why they brought in Fred Frith to produce the album and help them out on various levels, including playing on a couple of tracks (guitar and violin). I think Fred deserves a ton of credit for how amazing this record sounds, so powerful and clear. This would be Jo's first album with the band and she rips it up on her Farfisa organ and adds some trumpet and lots of piano as well. I should mention that there are some great pictures of Fred and the band in the recording studio and playing live.

"Nicolas" is such a catchy track and there is so much going on. I like the vocals too. The sound gets more intense before 2 1/2 minutes. An impressive instrumental display a minute later. They slow things down on the next track "Mimi". Reserved vocals to open. Electronics and more passionate vocals follow. Emotional. It settles back as he speaks the lyrics. "Exposition Universelle" is a short instrumental that features drums, percussion and other sounds that come and go. "Nicole" is dominated by sax, drums and bass early as vocals join the party. This isn't very melodic but i'm impressed. Organ comes in followed by vocals 4 minutes in. Nice bass too. "La Musique" is such a pleasue to "listen" to with all those intricate sounds weaving in and out and around each other.Then it changes when deep vocals arrive before 1 1/2 minutes. Amazing sound ! Intense and powerful.

"Christine" rocks out pretty good. Vocals a minute in. Love the guitar (Fred). It settles before 2 1/2 minutes with spoken words and choas. Kicks back in at 3 minutes. Intense 4 1/2 minutes in then bass and sax take over and vocals return. "Those Different Waters" opens with experimental sounds as filtered vocals come in. I can't help but think of Inspector Clouseau when he starts to talk with that French accent (haha). It changes 2 1/2 minutes in to the end with horns. "Upsalla" is a 2 minute track that opens with some great bass and drums. Keyboards and sax join in as well. "Prefero" has this incredible sound that is so full and rich as sax plays over top. Spoken words 1 1/2 minutes in. That good beat with sax is back as contrasts continue. "Pas L'sou" again opens with drums and bass as sax comes in then spoken words. Some dissonance before a minute then they get a little silly. Hey they did well to contain it this long. Contrasts continue.

I can't say enough good things about this album. A masterpiece from the eighties.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#213065)
Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The French representatives of Rock in Opposition. If you love craziness and dada-ism...

This album is for you. Regarded by many as Étron Fou Leloublan's chef-d'oeuvre, Les poumons gonflés is probably the most accessible album of Étron Fou's catalogue, and even maybe the most accessible Rock in Opposition album ever recorded.

Being the first album to be produced by Fred Frith (who even played on two pieces), and on which ÉFL would feature as a quartet (Chenevier, Mathieu, Richard, Thirion), the album was necessarily going to be different. Yes, it is different. Yes, they had evolved. But still, their instantly recognizable sound is part of the music.

On Les poumons gonflés, the "Mad Excrement" is a raconteur. Every song is a story told by a madman, but an interesting madman. Again, expect funny, crazy and twisted stories. This record also features lots of exploration. One song is close to a nursery rhyme (Pas l'sou), one is a beautiful poem by Baudelaire put into music (La Musique), another is a very short avant-garde piece (Exposition universelle. There is also an experimental song sung in English (Those Distant Waters) and a jazzy ballad sung in Italian (Io Prefero). Mimi is a song about a man who wants to conducts Mimi's "big machine" and Christine is the story of a mother who lost her son, Jean-Claude, in Marseille's train. As I said, lots of weirdness involved here.

This album is great, certainly an excellent to your collection. I would tend to say Batelages is a better album, but this album is a probably better as a starting point.

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Send comments to Tsevir Leirbag (BETA) | Report this review (#274024)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After four years, that I supposed were spent touring and adjusting the lineup, Etron Fou Leloublan finally managed to hit all the right notes with the release of Les Poumons Gonfles! Featuring ten relatively short and well-balanced compositions that sound like they have been worked on for quite some time, this album can't be called anything but a highlight of the RIO movement!

The more hardcore fans of RIO music might dismiss this album for not being as challenging as the band's two previous releases but I doubt that even they would be unhappy with an album like Les Poumons Gonfles for its excellent share of material and skilled execution. The lineup from the live album En Public Aux États-Unis d'Amérique has now been expanded by multi-instrumentalist Jo Thirion and Fred Frith, who just departed from Henry Cow/Art Bears, plays on two of the tracks. Frith's guitar work really makes a huge impact on Christine that sounds like a well though-though performance of what otherwise sounded like a wild experimental jam on the 1979 live album.

My favorite moments come in the likewise sounding Nicolas/Nicole which have surprisingly little in common with each other. The first one is more of a crazy performance that we've previously heard from Etron Fou Leloublan on their previous studio albums, but this time the performance is much more concise and doesn't overstay its welcome, on contrary, making me want to scream for more! Nicole is a much smoother composition that does start of like a wild Avant-Prog track but the main portion of it is much groovier and actually reminds me slightly of a pumped up version of Roxanne by The Police!

The high note conclusion of Pas'l'sou, that manages to shift into a waltz on a few occasions, did catch me off guard the first time I heard it, but isn't that what challenging bands suppose to do? Les Poumons Gonfles is definitely the best introduction to Etron Fou Leloublan even though it might not be all that representative of their early material. Still, if you only plan to hear one album by each of the original RIO bands then this is definitely the album to pick from Etron Fou Leloublan's discography.

***** star songs: Nicolas (4:07) Nicole (5:41) Pas'l'sou (3:14)

**** star songs: Mimi (2:59) Exposition Universelle (1:44) La Musique (3:03) Christine (6:42) Those Distant Waters (3:17) Upsalla (Chenevier) (2:07) Io Prefero (4:30)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#297404)
Posted Saturday, September 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post Rock Team
4 stars Etron Fou Leloublan (whose name is supposed to translate as "mad sh*t, the white wolf") were one of the original bands of the Rock-In-Opposition movement. Their sound was probably the farthest from the other RIO bands, originally being a mix of punk, jazz and French music hall, with a whole lotta avant weirdness added to the mix. This is their third album, released four years after the second. The punk and avant-garde influences are not quite as strong here and a keyboardist is added. The one and only Fred Frith guests on this album playing guitar and violin.

One of the biggest influences on the band's sound seems to be Captain Beefheart. The group is less goofy and oddball here than on the first two albums. The production is better and the organ fits in well with the sax, bass and drums. "Nicolas" has sax skronking and repeated guitar chords joined by bass and oft-kilter drumming. Then harmonized vocals. Later switches to a more punk sound with sax soloing. I like the sound of the organ and bass playing in unison here. All of a sudden changes to a more upbeat and jazzy section. "Mimi" has nice repeated piano and offbeat drums and bass being joined by some very French vocals. Changes chords and gets more sunny sounding with what sounds like synth squiggles. Followed by a part where there is talking instead of singing with some great brass.

"Nicole" starts off all dissonant and repetative, then switches to a part with talking backed by busy drumming and a 3-note bassline. Changes to a fast dissonant section with more talking. The organ starts to solo. The song returns to the the beginning part, then goes through the next two sections again. Later some crazy organ playing before it changes to a new melodic, upbeat section that almost sounds like reggae. The vocals are now more traditionally sung. Lovely sax solo. Love the piano chords. "La Musique" starts with dissonant atonal guitar playing that gets joined by some very melodic classical sounding organ, piano and bass. Switches to a fast repeated piano note and steady bass string picking with a slowed down voice talking over top. You hear a gong and then some steady snare drum and cool overdubbed organs fighting with each other.

"Christine" has an organ drone get some drums and sax playing freely added to it. Then the drums play a steady beat and the bass comes in. Oh man, that bass sound! I absolutely love the sound of the bass here; it's so sexy and dangerous. Vocals come in. The sax plays a hypnotic 2-note sequence here. Changes to a part with talking and no drums, just dissonant guitar and organ. Comes back to the great bass section. All of a sudden halfway it changes to a part where the bass goes higher and higher up the fretboard while the other instruments and vocals are more cacaphonous. Music stops briefly then a riff on guitar and bass with sax and vocals joining in.

"Those Distant Waters" not only has an English title, but the lyrics are in English as well. Crazy guitar string noises can be heard before eerie organ comes in. Then a voice that sounds like the person is in a spacesuit or something. Oddball effects that sound like they were done on a synth come and go. Some jazzy bass, sax and drums afterwards. "Uppsalla" has some really wonderful melodic organ and sax before it goes into some kind of Middle-Eastern jazz. "Io Prefero" has vocals in Italian. Nice drums and bass playing before it switches to a section with some kind of percussion and the spoken vocals begin. Both parts get repeated. "Pas'L'Sou" is a very French sounding song with spoken vocals. Features skronking just to add some flavour.

My favourite album from EFL and probably their most consistent. This was released in 1982 and you won't find too much music that was as experimental and "progressive" as this back then. Definately one of the better prog albums of the 1980s. The next albums are similar but not quite as good as this. A great introduction to these French weirdos. I feel this deserves at least 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#396612)
Posted Tuesday, February 08, 2011 | Review Permalink

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