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THE WORLD OF GENIUS HANS

Moving Gelatine Plates

Canterbury Scene


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars Easily one of the most interesting group to come out of France in the early 70's along with Magma and the GonG galaxy , MGP's second album is certainly impressive having gained in writing ability what they have lost in enthusiasm. The ever-excellent Musea booklet explains the whys and hows of their relative success (and the lack of greater success), but these guys missed the golden opportunity to strike it big! Bankrupted right from the start (the bassist never even owned his bass and the drummer and KB player were forced to sell their instruments afyter the release of this album) , the lack of finances was probably the only reason for their failure because, talent they cretainly had!

The tiltle track , the monster 14 min+ World of Genius Hans is probably their magnum opus displaying excellent capabilities from all musicians even for guitarist Bertram - which had appeared a bit short on the previous album. But clearly the star of the show is Hemlinger and his never ending switch from trumpet to saxes , flutes and Kb works. Astromonsteris yet another highlight and Moving Theme is without a doubt a leftover of lenghty concert improvisations. The album ends on a calm note with a short sax-filled Un Jour... This is the only track to have a french title in their first two albums , but as in all cases , their vocals were sparse and in English and generally very Canterbury-like.

The bonus tracks are from the much later album they recorded as Moving. One might have feared that they would be bothersome (especially that they date from 1980), but nothing to worry about: although they are noticeably different (especially vocal-wise as they are much more present and in French) and have a vastly different line-up, they remain in spirit with the the first two albums.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#47761)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For their second release the band employed some guest musicians in the studio to add backing vocals, bassoon, trombone and vibes. I think it's fair to say that this is a more polished and mature effort. It took me a long time to get into this album. That was a surprise to me given my adoration for their debut. It just seems to lack the energy, enthusiasm and freshness of the debut. Check out the album cover ! Craziest picture you'll ever see.

'The World Of Genius Hans ' is the 14 minute opener and best track on the record. It doesn't measure up to "Last Song" from their debut but it is incredible nonetheless. It opens with some heavy fuzz bass as some funky guitar comes in. Sax takes over before some angular guitar joins in. A lot of sounds jumping in and out. The sax by now is dissonant. Vocal melodies, as drums fire off some rounds. Vocals arrive after 3 minutes. It sounds like a Zappa tune after 4 1/2 minutes and the drums and guitar to follow are excellent. Horns come and go. We get a calm 6 1/2 minutes in with lots of atmosphere. A nice sax solo 8 minutes in as drums beat and bass throbs. Organ 11 1/2 minutes in followed by trombone. The tempo picks up a minute later.

"Funny Doll" is a jazzy track that builds with drums and horns leading the way. Some fuzz bass before vocals and flute arrive 1 1/2 minutes in. Some prominant bass after 2 minutes. "Astromonster" features vibes early as sounds are added. The tempo picks up 2 minutes in. The guitar and drums sound great 3 minutes in. It calms down before it ends. "Moving Theme" is an uptempo track that is so impressive. The interplay and sound is fantastic ! It does settle down but they still amaze. "Cauchemar" features a lot of tempo shifts as bass, sax and drums lead the way.The vocal melodies 2 1/2 minutes in are a nice touch. Another great tune. "We Were Lovin' Her" is different as we get a spacey soundscape for the first 2 minutes including some fuzz. Some weird vocals come in although the spacey vibe is still presant. "Un Jour..." is a short instrumental to close the album.

Not as dynamic or impressive as the debut but well worth picking up. I found this one to be a grower. It grew to 4 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#160020)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Being one of the most relevant bands in the seminal age of French prog, Moving Gelatine Plates was a peculiar musical force influenced by "Third"-era Soft Machine and Supersister, in this way anticipating (to a certain degree) the kind of sophisticated folly that Gong will turn into an essential part of its signature sound. The progressive element abundantly instilled with jazzy overtones, the touch of psychedelia and the patent humor are the three core aspects of MGP's sound: their sophomore effort "The World of Genius Hans" is really worthy of the word genius that appears in the title. Because of the flamboyant styles provided by Helminger on sax and Thobault on bass we can appreciate the influences from Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper, which makes for the powerful SM element in MGP. All in all, it would be unfair to label this band as a mere clone of Ratledge, Wyatt & co., since the ensemble manages to create a refreshing proposal in a global level. The band really knows how to approach the complexity of the musical arrangements with precision and sobriety. Some guitar inputs by Bertram together with some vocal passages remind me of yet another icon of experimental rock on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - that is, Frank Zappa (big band era). With its 14 minute span, the namesake track stands out as a well- ordained mini-epic that goes fluidly through its various motifs. 'Funny Doll' finds the band going for more candid ambiences: despite the fact that the sax and lead guitar lines are noticeable dissonant, this piece is predominantly gracious, closer to Hatfield & the North than to Soft Machine, with an extra touch of Zappaesque humor. 'Astromonster' bears a more mysterious feel, not in a creepy sense, but ethereal: the initial lines on flute and distorted bass are a pertinent initiation to the elaboration of the intricate passages that emerge from minute 3, creating a combination of jolly and hypnotic vibes. 'Moving Theme' digs deeper in the band's extroverted side, and so does 'Cauchemar': comparing both, I feel that the former is more aggressive. 'We Were Loving Her' is based on a series of monochromatic organ layers upon which various effects and ornaments on sax, guitar and bass go floating by. The emergence of a sung section is a pretext for the elaboration of a cohesive arrangement. This particular piece is closer to late 60s psychedelia than to standard Canterbury (if there is such thing, I mean.). The closing track 'Un Jour...' works as a brief epilogue on soprano sax that bears a very lyrical feel: I wouldn't have minded if it had been a bit longer, at least. Anyway, this is all there is and it is fine by me - actually, more than fine, since this albums is a real prog masterpiece in my book. This gem should not be missing in any good prog collection, regardless of the collector's pet sub-genre(s).

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#175006)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars An interesting addition to the Canterbury scene from France.

The name of the band kind of gives away the game here. It is jazz/fusion Canterbury scene prog. Those who think SOFT MACHINE and GONG is as far as you can go in the direction of fusion/jazz, this album will take you even further into the fields of unearthly jazz and avant garde.

The sax reminds me about SOFT MACHINE. The bass is not millions of miles away from GONG. The music is in the same direction, just a lot more jazz. The interplay is mostly very impressive and full of small, very interesting details. The mood is nice. Overall; this is a very challenging album. This is also a very nice album with small details like a choir as a bonus. It manage to keep my attention. The title track is very good with it's changing themes and moods.

I have to admit that this album is probably too left-field avant-garde for my tastebuds. But I still likes it in my own way. PA is right to brand it as a hidden gem, well worth exploring. I believe most Canterbury scene fans will like what they get here. Like I do.

3 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#218676)
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Good old Moving Gelatine Plates!. A first rate 'Canterbury' band from France who sound very unusual. I can't go any further without mentioning the wonderfully bizarre front cover... One of my all time favourites. A pig in a bomber jacket, smoking a fag with parsley on it's head and also stuffed up its nose is the stuff of genius... Genius Hans.

Music wise, the band are very tight. There's a fair bit of of jazz rock involved. The title track has some great vocals and also some very 70's keyboards which fit in brilliantly. Things are pretty much similar to their first self titled album. This one however just does it for me. At times it sounds like late night Jazz followed by 'Test Card transmission Music' cheese.

There's some decent vocals on track two which devolves into 'Two Ronnies' jazz malarky briefly.

An uplifting album which bounces about randomly over the place but which always seems to fall back together again beautifully. 'Moving Theme' pretty much sums up this strange album - beginning with some backwards tapes and transmogrifying quickly into jazz rock styled madness.

Now... here's where the big problem lies in giving 'World of Genius hans' a rating. The last third is taken up by half of the following album 'Moving' from '80. As an entity in its own right it's brillant, sounding like Sammla Mammas Manna at many points. I may even prefer this to the disc I'm reviewing presently. There's lots of French vocals and pretty instruments involved, sounding quite different from the '72 album

Does this mean I'm reviewing 'World of Genius hans' or 'Moving' ?

Baahhh! It's very confusing. The last 20 minutes push this recording to a perfect five stars. In an unusual way the tracks from the '80 album sit very comfortably with the original LP from '72. But it means I can't review 'Moving' on it's own.

I love weird and wonderful album and would recommend it to all prog fans.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#296170)
Posted Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This one is slightly better than the group's debut, but there's not much to tell them apart. Once again, the Canterbury scene is the primary inspiration - particularly Soft Machine before that band took a turn into po-faced jazz, with Caravan also peeping through here and there and a bit of Zappa-esque humour to boot (check out that album cover - Cow Mask Replica, anyone?). This album sees them broaden their musical horizon a bit, the first track opening with a furious bassline which sounds like the more progressive end of the funk scene before developing into a Canterbury epic, but they don't diverge from the first album's approach so greatly as to alienate anyone who enjoyed that one. These first two Moving Gelatine Plates albums are essential listening for anyone who needs reminding that the Canterbury scene extended well beyond Canterbury.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#490035)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post Rock Team
4 stars Here we have one of the greatest albums from the Canterbury Scene, and would you expect any less from a French band? Along with Gong and Magma this band is one of the more interesting and important French prog groups of the 1970s. Speaking of Gong, you can hear some similarities here with them but generally this is more pre-Third Softs influenced. This second album is much better than the first, as good as the debut was. The writing, playing and production are all an improvement. Oh, and that cover! Probably one of the most interesting and iconic album covers in prog rock, I bet more people are familiar with that cover than a note of the band's music!

This features the same line-up as the debut. Once again Maurice Hemlinger flawlessly switches between organ, trumpet, flute and saxes. Supposedly the members were having a lot of financial difficulty and had to borrow instruments from other French rock bands or sell their own. That's the price you pay for trying to make Canterbury style music in early '70s France. Again the lyrics are in English but there seems to be more wordless harmony singing than on the debut. Still lots of great fuzz-bass and wah-guitar.

The 14-minute title track is the highlight of the whole album and one of the best Canterbury epics. Great guitar and bass tones (including wah-bass). Before 2 minutes you hear some haunting "ohh" harmony vocals, this slowly turns into more Gregorian chant like vocals in English; one of the members has a cool deep voice. Gets almost Gong sounding after 4 minutes, not too surprising since both groups are based in France. I love when the sax and guitar play in unison. More great harmony vocals later. Before 11 minutes is one of the best parts with modified organ and wah-bass. This track keeps changing but nothing ever seems forced or out of place. A very flawless epic.

"Funny Doll" is a very jazzy track, almost reminds me of the first Henry Cow album. That is until the vocals come in, then it sounds more like the brass-rock of Blood, Sweat & Tears or early Chicago...except with no brass section. "Astromonster" starts out very Gong-like. Once the fuzz-bass kicks in things get exciting. When the drums enter the band goes into classic Canterbury jamming. In the middle is some awesome drumming with some great organ and guitar. I love the guitar filtered through a Leslie speaker sound, popular in the late '60s/early 70s.

"Moving Theme" begins slowed down then gets sped up to normal speed as the band jams away in full odd-metered jazzy Canterbury fashion with the obligatory fuzz-bass. Features a bit of start/stop playing. As is typical with this group the song changes into different sections (some not long at all) often. "Cauchemar" features what sounds like a harpsichord at the beginning. A very melodic song for the most part. More great guitar/sax unison playing. Later on is more of that great harmony singing, this time doubling the sax.

I like the sustained organ chord that opens "We Were Loving Her." Overdubbed sounds from an unidentified source and fuzz-bass are joined by more oddball sounds. Then the bass takes the band (without drums) into a song with English lyrics. Love the spacey sound in the background. "Un Jour..." is a mellow and laid-back closer with a great guitar tone. Like the previous song, there are no drums. That last song and "Funny Doll" are about the only things keeping this from being a masterpiece. Both are good but not quite as strong as the rest of the album, which is excellent Canterbury. I would rate this a 4.5 (almost masterpiece) but will round down to 4 stars. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#502040)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2011 | Review Permalink

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