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Jean Cohen-Solal


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Jean Cohen-Solal Musiques et Instruments Insolites: Flute Libres  album cover
4.04 | 14 ratings | 3 reviews | 29% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1- Concerto Cyclique (9 :03)
2- Raga Du Matin (3 :57)
3- Matière (2 :23)
4- Quelqu'un (17 :07)

Line-up / Musicians

Jean Cohen-Solal / flute, contrabass
Serge Franklin / sitar
Marc Chantereau / tabla

Releases information

original: Daphy (69.504 U, 1971)
reissue: Mio (025, 2003).

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
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JEAN COHEN-SOLAL Musiques et Instruments Insolites: Flute Libres ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(64%)
Good, but non-essential (7%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JEAN COHEN-SOLAL Musiques et Instruments Insolites: Flute Libres reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars If you like your prog adventurous and your flute experimental, no doubt you'll love J C-S's debut album. Although the artwork might be bland, believe me it's not representative of the music inside it. Indeed just four tracks in this album, three of them on the first side being still being accessible, while the sidelong corker filling the flipside is completely obscure and

The opening Concerto Cyclique is a sweet enthralling intro to the album, but by the mid-track, JC-S's flutes are completely insane, doubled tracked, saturated, free flowing with absolutely no rules except for the metronomic cymbal, before Solal takes us back into "normality" for the last third of the track; more or less normal, because the "damages" are irreversible. As indicated by its title the Matin track is indeed a raga and particularly well played with the flute piercing the usual monotony of a raga. Matière is an almost entirely flute thing, with multi tracks, wah-wah pedals echoing sounds, rhythms and brooding texturing melodies, almost abstract but still melodically "safe".

The flipside is a scary sidelong piece of music as it will astound you of the sounds extracted from a woodwind. There is a mystical feel given to the track as well, with the "musique concrete" ala Stockhausen or Cage, while there are birdsong flute sounds whistling perkily over spacey cymbal scrapes and gloomy cosmic atmosphere. That 17-mins track Quelqu'un is a haunting and spooky track, which is sometimes reminiscent of the early Tangerine Dream (Zeit), Kluster, Popol Vuh (Aftenstude), but not sounding copied, because of the Martenot waves sprawled over the track. In the MIO Cd reissue, there is an updated version of this track, shortened and not quite as gloomy.

A very interesting release that a lot of krautrock groups would've easily made their own, Flutes Libres is a difficult but rewarding acquisition that will reveal all of its charms over the successive listens.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Woodwind with a phoenix up its backside

The main problem with the flute in a rock setting is arguably Ian Anderson. His majestic stork stands and his larger than life persona all tooted out through this breezy woodwind, is something that resonates with people. It is something that is remembered, in fact so much that bands that feature a flute on a regular basis often get labelled as Jethro Tull wannabes. Well there are other ways of approaching this instrument. Just putting this album on will open up an entirely different world of sounds and tapestries that in no way, shape or form harks back to our most beloved humanized stork.

Jean Cohen-Solal was born in 1946 and already at the age of 10 he was attending musical studies at the national academy in Nimes. Although he majored in the flute, he was no slouch on the double bass, which again points a finger towards his inexhaustible quench for music in all of its facets. This natural curiosity ultimately spurred him on to study counterpoint, harmony, chamber music and orchestrations. He went on to hone his skills at the academy of Versailles, where all of these fascinating inputs slowly came together to form some kind of esoterically charged musical beast.

All in all Solal is what I'd call a craftsman. He learned about music the hard way, and speaking from a personal point of view, I have actually always went for the opposite musicians such as the Jimi Hendrixes and the Eddie Van Halens. The self taught prodigies who sleep with their instruments and learn secret musical languages on their own. However, I must admit that I am completely smitten by this man and the sheer power and ingenuity of his playing. If you thought the flute was a silly hippie accessory or a side dish of Jethro Tull then think again matey. It can be whizzing, ugly, soothing, violently bobbing, heretic, almost robotic, clean as a baby's bottom and strangely rhythmic in nature. All of these different traits are fascinatingly conveyed on Flute Libres, which quite aptly named simply means The free flute.

There are a multitude of different genres coming together on this debut album, and straight away you get the impression that you certainly aren't embarking on a clear cut symphonic quest. As a matter of speculation, I'd deem the first one here to be a French psychedelically charged take on Krautrock. It wields a powerful sweaty rhythm section that takes the simple melodies of the flute and transform them into a dirty, funky and meaty hook. I instantly fell in love with this record the first time I heard this tune.

Without further ado and with nothing insinuated, we are flown halfway across the globe and the music is now remarkably Indian and folk laden. Two short tracks that intertwine Middle- Eastern and Indian cultures around the man of a thousand breaths and his woodwind. They work as a midway section for the audience to catch their breaths and prepare for the last musical frontier.

Finally the closing experiment takes you to those dark and brooding planetary soundscapes, where only acts like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze did roam. It is music that dissolves and lingers simultaneously on the wind - like throwing sea salt on your lover's tongue and watch it disappear slowly - absorbing - disintegrating into the dark red flesh in a macabre and yet very beautiful manner. It is not a long way from the music you'll get from Cage and Stockhausen, and even though I don't particularly like or endorse the label "musique concrete" - mainly because it bears connotations with unfathomable music, and name wise actually never really gets close to any sort of plausibly description, - even so, I must confess that this last track flutters away on similar paths as the aforementioned musical concrete builders. If you however despise every single note and gesture done by either one of these during their "experimental sprees", then you'd do yourself good in listening to Solal's version of disintegrating music. Just his way of playing the flute on this final track has me thinking: Shoals of flying fish equipped with minuscule windy kazoos and jet packs. Or perhaps my favourite image of this effervescent and experimental track is the interplanetary fighter-plane space birds and floating sand dunes in mid air.

Flute Libres is recommended to seekers of experimental music, lovers of Krautrock and the odd flute aficionados that revel in this instrument's floating and oceanic character.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Well if your into the flute (and who isn't really) you will love this album. After all the title of this album means "Free Flutes". Jean Cohen-Solal won many international awards for his playing back in the late sixties and early seventies, and has taught flute for many years as well. Obviously being into Progressive Rock i've heard my share of flautists over the years but I have never heard anything like this. It's interesting that this album is listed under Rio / Avant as well, mind you it is quite experimental at times.

"Concerto Cyclique" builds to a catchy sound before a minute with the flute playing over top. A change 2 1/2 minutes in as we get cymbals only then other sounds start to come and go as the cymbals continue. Some crazy sounding flute at times here. Another change 5 minutes in as a catchy rhythm takes over. Organ too and of course flute. Just a great sound here. "Raga Du Matin" is mostly sitar, tablas and flute in this Raga influenced track.

"Matiere" is a short piece with mostly flute expressions and percussion. "Quelquun" is the over 17 minute side long suite to close out the record. A haunting start and man you better get used to it. Flute, percussion and organ and more standout here. A fuller sound after 3 minutes and it's still haunitng. Check out the eerie flute after 6 minutes. So cool. Some suspense around 8 1/2 minutes then it settles back to that haunting mode the rest of the way.

This is just one of those albums that is different and interesting enough to make you feel like you have discovered something very special. Easily 4 stars for this 1971 release.

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