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Vortex Vortex album cover
4.18 | 59 ratings | 3 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Haroun'thasckouack (10:40)
2. Ahsquoumboum (6:55)
3. Delicieuse Creature (14:32)
4. Abominable Creature (1:10)

Total Time: 33:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Jean-Pierre Vivante / Fender Rhodes piano
- Gérard Jolivet / saxophone
- Jeff Trouillet / flute, percussion
- Jacques Vivante / bass guitar
- François Gerald / drums

Releases information

LP JBP ‎- 463 (1975, France)

2xCD Le Triton - TRI03508 (2003, France) Together with 2nd album from 1979

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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VORTEX Vortex ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

VORTEX Vortex reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by VanderGraafKommandöh
4 stars French instrumental avant-prog band Vortex's debut album is a wonderful, jazz-fueled album, featuring lots of impressive flute, saxophone and Fender Rhodes piano throughout.

The opener Haroun' Thasckouack is a great start to an impressive album and if you like this track, you will like the rest of the album. It is a chamber-rock orientated track, but stripped bare a little, it is not as dark and avant as they would later become. The standout piece for me is Délicieuse Créature, which always keeps my ears on their toes. The intro to this track reminds me of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Our Favorite Things", yet I am not sure if it is coincidental. The Fender Rhodes playing of Jean-Pierre Vivant is most notable, yet the whole band keep everything together superbly and the bass playing is also sublime, subtlely being played in the background, yet actually being very prominent to the overall sound; for me, this is the sign of an excellent band with lots of ideas. On Ahsquoumboum the bass playing becomes more prominent and the band play a slight jazzed-up Eastern sound.

As for avant-prog moments, well there are a few of them, but this is mainly impressively well composed jazz pieces with avant and prog leanings in small amounts. They remind me a little of Jenkins/Ratledge era Soft Machine in places, yet without the Holdsworth/Etheridge guitar playing, which is intriguing, as the Vivant brothers were more likely influenced by Third era Soft Machine (they started their careers in a Soft Machine covers band). They also have a distinct influence from 20th century composers, such as Olivier Messiaen, Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartók, which underpins their more obvious jazz fixations.

Even though this is very little related to progressive rock, it is a wonderful album to listen to. The band would get much more avant-prog orientated on their follow-up album "Les Cycles de Thanatos", dropping their jazz rock forays and incorporating a darker, more psychotic chamber rock sound.

My copy of "Vortex" features two bonus tracks, the first of which, C'est Cool, Raoul, is a tremendously slow and often haunting piece and much more akin to progressive rock than the previous tracks. The Chinese cymbals at the beginning add a nice bit of atmosphere here, as does what sounds like a 'cello (not credited as such though). Infact, it reminds me of Italian progressive rock at times, with the melancholic atmosphere.

The other bonus number is Prolégo 1, a faster, more bass orientated track, with lush and fluid flute and saxophone throughout.

This is an excellent introduction to a much forgotten band with a lot of power in their playing and incorporating a lot of thought in their compositions. Their follow-up, as stated, continues on in a different vain, yet if they had never released it, this album would be classed as a masterpiece of chamber rock and jazz.

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars Recorded in the summer of 75, Vortex's self titled is one of the most accomplished Jazz-rock inflected prog rock from that era and came from France's second city. Still nowadays regarded as the country's best kept secret, Vortex only recorded two albums throughout their decade of music adventures that saw the group come from Testu Band to Urantia the Vortex. This debut album must be seen nowadays as an absolutely essential piece of RIO, clearly preceding Art Zoyd and Univers Zero by a good 18 months headstart. Indeed, the Vivante brothers' group was always scared of being compared to Magma's spectre

Starting on the rather startling (compared with the rest of the album's more sombre material) Haroun' Tasckouack opener the psychedelic jazz rock that seemed to ogle towards Out Of Focus, with its sax and flute works over Fender Rhodes and slowly evolving rhythms. The Ahsquoumboum is very different, borrowing a Kobaian rhythm, but keeping the sax Out Of Focus, but not out of tune.

The 14-mins+ Délicieuse Créature track starts out again a bit in the OOF mode, but soon veers in a chamber rock but in a solid jazz-) rock vein with Vivante's great Fender Rhodes (being reminiscent of Ratledge or Jenkins >> Soft Machine and Nucleus respectively) underlining the whole pedestrian march, somewhere between Magma and Zoyd, yet keeping an excellent psyched-out flute and sax duo around. As an afterthought, the closing but all too short Abominable Créature is a good outro, ending in a near chaotic free jazz.

The reissue of this album comes with two bonus tracks, which add much value to anotherwise rather short album. The superbly slow eastern-sounding chimes'n-all track of Cool Raoul is an absolute joy and a slow evolving thing subtly evolving to another Nuclueus- Soft Machine and Out Of Focus wild track, before slowly reverting to its quieter entrance. These almost 12 minutes bonus could be even better than what the rest of the album had to offer. Prolégo 1 is a more Zeuhlian monster, even if the

An amazing album that can be likened to Out Of Focus, but heading out in a more Zeuhl-ish direction than the breass heavy German group's direction. Vortex's self-titled is definitely one of the most stunning album around from France in the 70's.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I don't think there is any question that this is a very significant record in the Rio / Avant-Prog genre. As Sean Trane mentions this came out before both ART ZOYD and UNIVERS ZERO's debut albums. That alone makes this a special record. Three of the Five guys in this band were in a band previous to this that played a lot of SOFT MACHINE songs, and you can hear the jazz influence throughout this record. There is no lead guitar, but it is very much flute and sax led with piano, bass and drums filling out the sound.

"Haroun' Thasckouack" has some nice drumming in the intro before it calms down a minute in. Piano, light drums and flute 2 minutes in as the sound is building. Sax joins in and we have a great sound 5 minutes in, especially the drumming. The flute then returns with sax to a full sound. Check out the bass before 7 minutes with flute and drums. A calm after 9 minutes is brief. What a ride that was ! "Ahsquoumboum ' is darker with sax,drums and piano to begin with. Flute joins in. Sax and heavy drums 4 1/2 minutes in. "Delicieuse Creature" is the longest track at almost 15 minutes, it opens with a sax/drum melody before a calm with flute takes over. This contrast continues. The flute and sax melodies are so impressive.

"Abominable Creature" is a short track with some dissonant moments. Very much a group effort on this one. There are two bonus tracks beginning with "C'est Cool,Raoul" a slow moving affair that begins with the flute leading the way with some percussion. The sax starts to take over and the tempo picks up after 5 minutes as the drums come in. The tempo shifts a lot from here on in. The last couple of minutes are the best part of the song as it becomes quite solemn with a SINKADUS flavour(flute). "Prolige 1" opens like a house on fire with sax and drums leading the way. It calms down quickly as piano becomes the focus until the flute arrives. The tempo picks back up as sax returns.

This is an essential record to add to your Rio / Avant-prog collection. Sort of a landmark really when it comes to this style of music.

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