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Alco Frisbass

Eclectic Prog

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Alco Frisbass Le Bateleur album cover
3.94 | 152 ratings | 5 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Soufre et mercure (9:33)
2. Le Bateleur (11:24)
3. Arcane majeur (7:13)
4. Les cartes vivantes (8:09)
5. Ombre Terre (7:54)

Total Time 44:13

Line-up / Musicians

- Fabrice "Chfab" Chouette / guitar, keyboards, synth
- Patrick "Paskinel" Dufour / keyboards, synth, drums programming
- Frédéric Chaput / electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, synth, percussion

- Jean-Luc Payssan / guitar (4)
- Eric Rebeyrol / cornet (1,4)
- Thierry Payssan / piano (1,3,4)

Releases information

CD Fading Records - FAD-027 (2018, Italy)

Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ALCO FRISBASS Le Bateleur ratings distribution

(152 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

ALCO FRISBASS Le Bateleur reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars AltrOck's almost-Canterburians are back with their sophomore album and it will not disappoint those who loved their first album. I, however, continue to be disappointed with the lack of full commitment to one style and lack of engaging themes over the course of an entire song (which continue to be long [inexplicably though not necessarily unjustifiably so]).

1. "Soufre Et Mercure" (9:33) a song heavily doused in thick, chunky bass and swirling organ play, this is Zeuhlish! Nice keyboard work throughout but the electric guitar chord play is a weak spot. The third minute's Spanish-theme is also a bit disconnecting. Still, the mood remains dark and heavy, even through the Renaissance-themed section in the seventh minute. (8/10)

2. "Le Bateleur" (11:24) a basic and likable jam presents itself and then tries to get quirky and funky. Very nice keyboard work in the third minute. Also, a very engaging acoustic guitar-based section in the eighth minute that develops into a great GENESIS-'-la France section before decaying into boring and mundane. (8.5/10)

3. "Arcane Majeur" (7:13) nice jam with sections ranging on chaotic interspersed within a highly engaging and melodic tune. Things go downhill a bit once the piano enters. (9/10)

4. "Les Cartes Vivantes" (8:09) simplistic rhythm base from bass, drums, and keys with guitar and keys and cornet taking turns to lead with the melodies above. Awesome section with electric piano soloing over bass and R&B rhythm guitar in the seventh minute. (8/10)

5. "Ombre Terre" (7:54) the most Canterbury-sounding song on this round of ALCO FRISBASS tunes; very Hatfield and The North The Rotter's Club-inspired. The only problem is that it never really rises to that level of excitement or refreshing originality as one would hope, yea, the second half even starts to elicit feelings of irritability or disappointment. (8/10)

Four stars; a solid contribution to the modern instrumental progressive rock catalogue.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars Le Bateleur is the second album by this amazing French prog duo. Once again out to challenge the listener with their constant changing throughout each piece leaving you wondering what they'll do next, and it's always something amazing. They may go Canterbury in one part, then give a wonderful spacy synth solo that sounds straight out of the 1970s to Camel-like guitar passages, RIO and Zeuhl type stuff in another passage, symphonic prog parts as well. What I love is the seriously retro approach these guys do. Lots of great analog synths, although the Mellotron is sampled, although still well done. I love how complex and challenging this music is, but they also manage a wonderful flow without ever sounding choppy or abrupt. This is the type of prog I've been looking for, not some overlong boring stuff with scarcely any good ideas (a problem I leveled at many prog releases since the 1990s), but totally wonderful and engaging material. Some may complain that it's a bit too all over the place, but not me as it all sounds like it's all put together very well. Although nothing like Änglagård or All Traps on Earth, they too do that "do one thing, go on to the next" approach. This is truly an amazing album, and don't forget to check out their debut, which is just as amazing!
Review by Rivertree
5 stars Now I really caught fire! The second album from this French band, heavily canterbury, zeuhl and symphonic infected. Recorded at different places like Paris and Rennes, 'Le Bateleur' comes completely instrumental, a fireworks of finesse and virtuosity, you bet! A rare occasion where I do not really insist on an acoustic drum kit aboard. Yeah, precisely programmed percussions are given here, though not really to recognize, at least regarding my sentiency. The band's core, consisting of Fabrice Chouette and Patrick Dufour, has been enhanced due to Frédéric Chaput on this occasion, another prolific multi-instrumentalist. And three out of the five tracks are also showing some notable guest musicians. While missing any lyrics it's quite impossible to reach for a possible conceptual background. Anyway, 'Le Bateleur' (The Magician) is seeking into mankind's Middle Ages somehow, that would be the message of the cover picture at least, which was created by Dario D'Alessandro.

It's not possible to highlight any particular track, as this affair sounds that rounded overall. Tricky compositions are put on the album, sophisticated, and not too avantgardistic respectively weird in the end. Hereby they are grooving a lot, the wonderful organic flow is striking overall, a bit early Genesis influenced. All the utilized instruments are wonderfully complementing. It's all perfect! Anyway, I solely can bump this, just get your own impression, visit the label's bandcamp site to have a try. While occasionally listening to this since last year the album has turned out to be another real grower for me, sooner or later evolving to an essential listening pleasure. If not done yet, at least everybody who will appreciate the All Traps On Earth debut should necessarily enter here too.

Review by patrickq
3 stars Alco Frisbass is classified as "eclectic prog" on Prog Archives, but at least on Le Bateleur, they play a jazz-influenced brand of progressive rock which is perhaps deserving of its own category.

The first track, "Soufre et Mercure" ("Sulfur and Mercury," two of the three ancient elements of alchemy*) opens with five and a half minutes of heavy prog: somewhat disorienting synths and guitar over an odd time signature. But after a short interlude, the next twenty-four minutes - - beginning with the closing section of "Soufre et Mercure" and extending through the first two minutes of "Les Cartes Vivantes," ("the Living Cards," i.e. the Tarot deck) is what I'd call progressive jazz, largely performed on guitar, bass, and synthesizers (including some very nicely-done drum programming). Only in the final minutes of "Ombre Terre"** does the heavy prog return in the form of a woodwind vamp à la Van Der Graaf Generator or King Crimson.

The performances are very good. In particular, Frédéric Chaput's measured bass playing on "Arcane Majeur" (referring to the trump cards in a Tarot deck) and "Le Bateleur" ("the Juggler," referring to an old Tarot card) is excellent. The sound - - especially the audio mixing - - is also as fantastic as an album recorded in 2018 ought to be. The relative shortcoming of Le Bateleur is in the composition. While the first and last songs have some well-written passages, much of the rest of the album consists of improvisation over chord sequences whose averageness is difficult to counteract with even the most inspired soloing.

As you can tell, the song titles imply a diffuse theme involving the mechanisms people used in the early modern era to connect with the supernatural. The album art clarifies this a bit; "le bateleur" literally means "the juggler," but sometimes with the connotation of a swindler (the connection here is to the sleight-of-hand of a magician). In tarot the Juggler is an older form of the Magician card. In the art of Tarot de Marseille, le bateleur stands behind a table as the character does on the cover of this album. The group's name is a further hint. "Professor Alcofrisbas" was an invention, and possible alter ego, of French filmmaker Georges Méliès (1861-1938), the director of the 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) - - the one with the iconic sequence in which the Man in the Moon uses a telescope to watch an approaching space capsule, which hits him in the eye. Méliès began his entertainment career as a stage magician. And that's the head of Méliès on the juggler's table on the cover of Le Bateleur. (I think that's also him on the cover of the band's debut album.)

Alco Frisbass doesn't use many devices on Le Bateleur which invoke magic or the supernatural. Maybe this was a good idea; composing in unusual scales or using ethereal synthesizer patches could wind up sounding campy. On the other hand, in the absence of lyrics or any online explanation I could find, the music is apparently unrelated to the song titles or artwork - - so if you're looking for an album about fortune-telling, magic, alchemy, the Tarot deck, etc., you'll have to keep looking.

In all, Le Bateleur is a good album, but not one which distinguishes itself from many other recent works which mix heavy prog and jazz while paying at least some homage to 1970s prog-rock.


*Sulfur represented the soul and mercury the spirit. What's missing here is salt, the body.

**The words "Ombre Terre" translate as "Shadow Earth;" I'm not sure how this title relates to illusion, magic, the Tarot or to the other song titles.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I really hesitated in picking up this band's debut back in 2015 considering that they were a duo with both playing keyboards and synths mainly with some guests helping out. Also the biggest issue for me was that this was a download only at first, no physical release. I had a friend get it then I put it on a disc so a cdr. Well I promptly got blown out of the water with what these two guys had created. Yes a Canterbury vibe at times(wordless vocals and distorted organ) but mostly a melancholic album with guest violin and mellotron adding a lot.

"Le Bateleur" is different as the violinist wasn't asked back(haha) but they are now a trio. I shouldn't have been surprised that the newest member mainly plays synths and keyboards like the other two should I? This is a more vibrant record, more energy and depth. That Canterbury vibe is all but gone in my opinion and the bass sounds much better, more upfront(love it). Mellotron is back in black and we get some guest cornet, piano and guitar on a few tracks. This album is infectious to say the least, I imagine them having a blast playing a lot of this stuff. And can I just shout this out right now "Patrick Dufour is wearing an ANEKDOTEN "Gravity" t-shirt!" I want that! I love this band!

"Soufre Et Mercure" open with dark sounds that are joined by a heavy bass line as drums and keyboards are added. Guitar before a minute. It settles with piano but not for long then the cornet solos over top. So much going on. Mellotron before 4 minutes as it settles. Kicks back in to a powerful soundscape. Contrasts continue with those brief relaxed sections coming and going. "Le Bateleur" is more mid paced with spacey synths and mellotron early. Mellotron at 5 1/2 minutes with huge bass lines is what I dream of. Some laughter after 6 minutes and I'm laughing too. This is so good! The guitar rips it up after 10 minutes.

"Arcane Majeur" is the shortest piece at just over 7 minutes. Sounds pulse and beat before it all starts to move after a minute and pick up in tempo with synths over top. How uplifting is this at 2 1/2 minutes. How do they do it? Great sound after 5 minutes as well with the keys over the rhythm section. "Les Cartes Vivantes" is a rich sounding piece that grooves with synths over top. This might be my favourite song on here. The melody after 2 minutes reminds me of an Ibrahim Maalouf tune. Cornet here though and it gets dissonant. The closer "Ombre Terre" features the only trace of Canterbury in my opinion with those distorted keys early on. Huge bass 3 1/2 minutes in and later before 5 minutes shaking the soundscape. Fripp- like guitar just before 6 minutes. Guitar over a very deep sound 7 minutes in.

Different from the debut but you know it's the same band I'd say. I prefer the debut but am in the minority on this. Not much to chose between the two as both are amazing in their own ways. Closer to 4.5 stars.

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