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Etron Fou Leloublan


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Etron Fou Leloublan Batelages album cover
3.44 | 65 ratings | 9 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. L'amulette et le petit Rabbin (18:07)
2. Sololo Brigida (3:18)
3. Yvett'Blouse (0:26)
4. Madame Richard - Larika (9:23)
5. Histoire de Graine (11:20)

Total Time: 42:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Ferdinand Richard / cordes, vocals
- Chris Chanet (alias Eulalie Ruynat) / cuivres, vocals
- Guigou "Samba Scout" Chenevier / percussions, choir

Releases information

LP Gratte-Ciel CIEL 2001 (France)
CD Musea FGBG 4212.AR - 2006

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN Batelages ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN Batelages reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog-jester
2 stars Now hide your rocks and let me explain my 2 stars.Yes, I ain't a RIO/Avant fan...but it's only MY point of view, isn't it?

ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN is a band from France. They're all - a fatal coincidence - Frenchmen and sing - now, stop shocking me! - in French. One can hardly call THIS singing - actually, voice is just another instrumenta and I don't what the hell it's singing about. The voice itself is an agonizing beast of declamating Hammil and chanting Morrison mixed together - but not that good surely. Musically EFL is definetely an Avnt Rock band - very humoresque and quirky (imagine ZAPPA playing MARS VOLTA cover!!!). Sounding rather hollow (the band consists from a drummer, a sax-player and a 6-string bass player/singer), it'll took several listenings to get use to their rough and agressive (almost proto-punk!) manner. Only first track (18 minutes long) offers OBVIOUS melody - it begins with it - others lie somewhere in between the improvised ("composed spontaneously") bits and prepared jams. The further you get the stranger music you'll have: second bit is a drum solo, third track is a 23-second long march based on two-notes bass-line...The side B opens with 9-minute instrumental number (jamming on 3-4 themes) and ends with 11-minute half-bearable "chant". It's doubtfully you'll be listening to it daily.

In conclusion I must say that in Avant Art the FORM (or the attitude) becomes sometimes more important than the PLOT.Bearing this formula in mind and appreciating EFL's masterity and sense of humor, I give them these deserved 2 stars - this is not kind of music you'll listen to all the time, but it's worthy as an example of experimental Art. After al, RECOMMENDED - try it!l

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Etron Fou Leloublan were the most eccentric of the decidedly odd bands in the original RIO movement. For some years they functioned as a trio with rhythm section Ferdinand Richard (bass, guitar, voice) and Guigou Chenevier (drums, sax, voice) and a rotating cast of saxophonists/lead vocalists. In their early years the frontman was Chris 'Eulalie Ruynaut' Chanet, a talented comedian as well as a musician. This was the line up that started their career opening for Magma and recorded Batelages, their debut album, generally considered to be their least accessible.

It opens innocuously enough, Ferdinand Richard playing some fairly tasteful fingerpicked guitar while Guigou strokes the cymbals - then the drums strike up a Beefheart style beat, Richard strums a frantic proto punk rhythm and Eulalie starts declaiming the lengthy narrative that winds its way through the opening 18 minute epic L'Amulette et le Petit Rabin. After about 5 minutes Richard switches to bass, Chanet starts blowing some very free tenor sax and the ensuing instrumental passage sounds like it was recorded with the three musicians were in seperate rooms, quite possibly on seperate continents. In fact, it all works rather well - Richard and Chenevier formed an unorthodox but highly skilled rhythm section which doubtless inspired Ruins, with Chanet's freeform voice and sax meandering over the top of it all. The piece switches between vocal and instrumental interludes and will either enchant or infuriate. The second half of the album is more instrumental but equally bizarre - it starts with a drums/percussion piece, followed by 22 seconds of Yvett' Blouse. Madame Richard/Larika opened side 2 of the vinyl original and is a lengthy piece which is probably the most recognisably RIO style piece on the album, with the sax played through effects pedals at some points. Histoire de Graine closes the proceedings, with vocals by Richard and very much in the style of the opening track.

Batealges is a very raw piece of work, but the talent of the three performers is obvious and there are some excellent passages of free jazz/rock lunacy if you're prepared to persevere with it. Captain Beefheart is the most obvious reference point, although if you can imagine Henry Cow getting very drunk and jamming with a stand up comedian that will also give you some idea of what to expect. Understanding French isn't necessary, and may even be an advantage as the vocals become just another instrument. Following this album Chanet left, later to join Urban Sax, and EFL would acquire a new frontman for the next stage in their career. As uneven as it is there's plenty of inspiration in evidence, and lovers of the truly surreal and bizarre will enjoy it. If you're not already a fan either of the band or RIO in general, start with one of their later albums; otherwise jump right in, but don't say that you weren't warned!

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Of all the signataires of the RIO chart, EFL was one of the younger bands (along with UZ), having released their debut album in 76 and to say the least, it was an amateurish release in terms of production (although in some ways it's remarkable as well). The group's backbone is the rhythm section, while the sax frontmen will change after almost every album, even if it is Chris Chanet, the present sax player, that started this group in Grenoble (France's main Alp city) and had them play their first concert in a Magma support slot. Back in 74.

Their debut album sees the group's spectrum ranging from a very raw Gong (Malherbe-like sax, cosmic/dementia bruitages and non-sensical humour) to an almost punk brutality. I would even add to the Gong that the EFL continuing pair of Chevenier (drums) and Richard (bass & the occasional guitar) is at least on par with a few GonG's ever-changing rhythm section. Indeed Chevenier's mastery of the drums and other percussions allows him to have even two drum solo sufficiently entertaining for this proghead's usual skipping/zapping tolerances. While their 18-mins "epic" Amulette, followed by the 3- mins drum solo Sololo Brigida is certainly worth a listen, it's mostly side 2's tracks that will hold more interest.

Apart from the slapstick ultra-short Yvette's Blouse (and what's inside), there is only two more tracks, even if one is divided. Indeed Madame Richard (mostly likely Ferdinand's mommy) holds some rather dissonant mood before finally finding its demented plot straight, with Malherbian improvs and Pixie rhythms by the time it is called Larika. The closing 11-mins Histoires De Graines returns to the rough madness of the previous Amulette track with their drunken Beefheart rawness and a Hammillian way of unleashing a sonic chaos.

It's obvious that a good mastery of French is a plus for enjoyment of EFL's oeuvre, but the singing is always clearly intelligible that even those with a lesser French should follow the lyrics in the booklet without much problems. Not that these lyrics are that profound at all, they're often verging on the silly, despite the usual force at which they're delivered, going as far as shouting or yelling, not that there is that much of texts into this debut album, rather than in their follow-ups. In either case, I find Batelages quite interesting and despite its GonG influences, its definitely one of France's mosrt remarkable debut album. Definitely worth a shot, but be warned.

Review by Rune2000
3 stars The first album from the original Rock in Opposition band Etron Fou Leloublan is quite different from some their later more popular works, like Les Poumons Gonflés, and instead actually reminds me more of the early Rush records!

Of course my comparison of Etron Fou Leloublan to Rush has very little to do with how these bands sound and much more with the development of their individual styles. Both of them began their relation to progressive rock music with lengthy spliced-up suites. Rush did so with compositions like By-Tor And The Snowdog, The Necromancer and The Fountain Of Lamneth where they clearly stated their intention of writing experimental rock music with instrumental virtuosity. Etron Fou Leloublan basically did the same with the release of Batelages.

In spirit, this is a very ambitious and well-executed record featuring a band that knows exactly what they want with their music and try to achieve just that. Unfortunately, just like the early works of Rush, I lack the fluency that would make this material special for me. Granted that this is a common fault of early albums and most such releases instead manage to make up for lack in the structural songwriting department by substituting it with raw energy and exceptional creativity. This is definitely the case with Batelages, but unlike most other bands who lose their spark after a few releases, Etron Fou Leloublan managed to uphold all of these qualities throughout their career while constantly improving their songwriting skills.

Lengthy pieces like L'amulette Et Le Petit Rabbin, Madame Richard - Larika and Histoire De Graine are all nice experimental explorations of that perfect mood and setting but they inevitably also become an exercise in excess where the young inexperienced band just doesn't know when to pull the plug and call it a day. There is definitely enough ambition on Batelages and Rush's early albums but composition-wise both bands achieved far more further on in their careers.

**** star songs: L'amulette Et Le Petit Rabbin (18:09) Yvett'Blouse (0:28) Madame Richard - Larika (9:25) Histoire De Graine (11:20)

*** star songs: Sololo Brigida (3:19)

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars Etron Fou Leloublan are a band in the RIO movement that are as notable as Henry Cow, Univers Zero or Samla Mammas Manna. But that doesn't mean that EFL aren't unique in their own right. The dissonant, freeform capabilities of the genre appear in EFL's music, but so do punk and Latin music to a degree. The penchant for French humour is the wild card, and unless one understands the French language pretty well (I don't, unfortunately), expect to find yourself lost.

Starting at the end, the last two big numbers (''Madame Richard'', ''Histoire de Graine'') have loads of dissonant sax lines and absolutely bonkers percussive lines in the middles. The latter track has a beautiful bass-chord driven beginning that sparks interest. During the crazier section, it's hard to understand that all of that noise comes from just a bassist playing chords, a percussionist and a saxophonist. Unfortunately, this freeform stuff is what might drive most progsters nuts.

There's an epic here in the opening track, and it features punk-like shouting in the beginning, loads of bass chords that sound like guitars and Latin music excursions. The problem is that the epic is way to fragmented; sometimes ideas simply fade out and there's just a bit of French comedy in dry time until the next idea comes.

''Solo Brigada'' is another percussion solo that doesn't make that big of a splash, ''Yvett' Blouse'' is way too short considering the idea the band had going. EFL through BATELAGES is mainly for those with a soft spot for RIO, but some of the more accessible ideas are likely to attract newcomers to the genre moreso than the modern classical avantness of say Henry Cow. A little too much disjointedness keeps BATELAGES from being in the upper strata of RIO albums.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars ETRON FOU LE BOUBLAN literally means "Crazy [&*!#], The White Wolf" in French and what a suitable zany moniker for one of the bands to emerge in the 70s that would be a part of the Rock In Opposition (RIO) collective initiated by the equally alienating Henry Cow. This band emerged from the Grenoble area near the French Alps in 1973 but didn't get around to releasing their debut BATELAGES (French for "fares") for four more years. The band was initiated by sax player Chris Chanet but become more of the playing ground of the other founding member Ferdinand Richard who was one of the more experimental sound seeking members who would steer the group towards the ultimate avant-garde setup and mentor of the metronomic where he employed his famous double stops, crazy chord changes and onomatopoeic sound effects.

While the term Rock In Opposition has become somewhat synonymous with avant-prog, in the beginning it solely referred to the bands that played in the Rock In Opposition performances. In general these groups all had a few things in common despite the stylistic differences. They were all very experimental with traces of classical, jazz or chamber rock and excelled in creating bizarre music with great complexity. ETRON FOU LE BOUBLAN met all these criteria but stylistically was an anomaly even within this avant- garde movement.

First and foremost ETRON FOU LE BOUBLAN exhibit a healthy sense of avant-prog with excruciatingly weird angular rhythms and melodies however it is fortified with a vigorous infusion of not only jazz-fusion but a snotty sort of art punk as heard in the nasty guitar delivery and emphatic vocal attacks. I'm also hearing a distinct relationship perhaps due to similar geography with the vocal style of Catherine Ribeiro in the lyrics in how Richard belts them out in the same sort of contemplative yet forceful manner (not to mention the folk melodies underpinning certain segments). The music on the album consists of only five tracks with the first one going all out hitting the eighteen minute mark and transversing many different styles and moods whether it be the art punk rebellion, the jazzy bass driven parts or the frantic vocal outbursts. The reeds also give it sort of a klezmer type of feel at times as well. While all the lyrics are delivered in French, it's rather the emphasis on the lyrics that conveys more of the mood than the lyrics themselves (in case vous ne parlez pas français).

It basically boils down to the fact that ETRON FOU LE BOUBLAN share the same sort of anarchic visionary revolution that the punk scene was unleashing upon the world the very same year instead of giving the prog world a big middle finger, ETRON FOU LE BOUBLAN was redirecting this social angst to suit the needs of the current trend. Call it a form proggy punk snobbery if you will, but this musical expression certainly served a purpose as to bridge the two disparate musical worlds for those who felt torn between the love the old in terms of musical complexity and escapism and with the urgency of taking a political stance while being grounded in the here and now in the new emerging world surrounding them.

While the band would first play live in 1973 with Magma (simply as ETRON FOU), they would go through some personnel changes before arriving as a trio on this debut which would succeed in getting them invited by Henry Cow to join the very first Rock In Opposition festival in March 1978 at which time Francis Grand would have replaced Chanet on saxophone. They would play on future RIO festivals and would also work with Fred Frith throughout the 80s but it was this debut BATELAGES that would get them the invitation into the RIO club where they displayed their strange new mix of avant-prog sensibilities infused with a modern punk rock attitude. While Henry Cow, Samla Mammas Manna and Univers Zero would continue on to gain international recognition, ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN is one of the original six (along with Stormy Six) that wouldn't retain as much recognition over the years.

Perhaps it's because they were in a bizarre cross current of two disparate musical movements but nevertheless, they forged a rather unique sounding album that sounds exactly like what one would expect if you hybridized a fully fledged early 70s experimental prog album (albeit quite French) with a late 70s art punk band. Perhaps not as enjoyable as the best the RIO movement had to offer on heavy rotation but nevertheless this a veritable treat for anyone who is craving something utterly unique and a historical artifact that sounds like no other. This one is chock full of energetic disregard for musical norms without resorting to purely atonal noise or angular riff attacks (well most of the time!) Lots of regional folk melodies nestled in the mix as well and the album is well paced with different moods, textures and genre shifts that make it a truly smooth flow that warrants more respect as a founding RIO entity. I love it myself!

Latest members reviews

5 stars Probably one of the best debuts in the history of music In 1973, Étron Fou Leloublan was opening for Magma. For sure, it was a promising band. Batelages is Étron Fou Leloublan's first album, released in 1977. Even if not considered as their best by many lovers of the genre, I think this album i ... (read more)

Report this review (#274023) | Posted by Tsevir Leirbag | Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars There is some kind of war going on, and this album hurts a little too much. It's not a masterpiece, but it is certainly unconventional, which is enough for anyone to give it a listen, I guess. However, if you are new to this kind of RIO, I'd advise starting elsewhere. EFL have many other release ... (read more)

Report this review (#170651) | Posted by kabright | Sunday, May 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rating: B Etron Fou Leloublan are widely loved for their later releases, most especially Les Poumons Gonfles, which is a masterpiece of avant-garde progressive rock, and one of the greatest CDs from any of the bands associated with Rock In Opposition. When it comes to their debut, however, opi ... (read more)

Report this review (#164151) | Posted by Pnoom! | Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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