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Heldon Électronique Guérilla album cover
3.56 | 67 ratings | 7 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Zind (2:18)
2. Back to Heldon (8:31)
3. Northernland Lady (6:57)
4. Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68 (Le voyageur) (4:22)
5. Circulus Vitiosus (8:43)
6. Ballade pour Puig Antich (révolutionnaire assassiné en Espagne) (2:19)

Total Time: 33:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Richard Pinhas / AKS Synthi, 1954 Gibson Les Paul guitar, composer

- Alain Renaud / rhythm guitar (3)
- Georges Grünblatt / VCS3 synth (4)
- Patrick Gauthier / piano & VCS3 synth (4)
- Pierrot Roussel / bass guitar (4)
- Coco Roussel / drums (4)
- Gilles Deleuze / spoken word (4)

Releases information

Artwork: G. Muguet

LP Disjuncta ‎- 12/13 (1974, France)
LP Bureau B ‎- BB 280 (2018, Germany)

CD MSI ‎- 14239 (1991, France)
CD Captain Trip Records ‎- CTCD-531 (2005, Japan) Remastered by Souichirou Nakamura

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HELDON Électronique Guérilla ratings distribution

(67 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

HELDON Électronique Guérilla reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars I rounded up this rating to the upper star , making it four. This first album actually deserves it but is not an immediate pleaser but gets discovered gradually with much pleasure. One must understand that Heldon is not really a banmd but more like Richard Pinhas's project although he will have long standing collaborators that could be seen as bandmates.

This first album was definitely a slap in the face of most French rock fans much like Magma's debut had the same effect. But Heldon is nothing like Magma apart for the adventurous spirit of their respective music. Heldon concentrates on minimalism and electronic music and might be compared to Tangerine Dream where Eno and fripp would've joined up also. Throughout most albums , exc ellent and violent, passionate drumming is also of much interest. All albums save one have a very hypnotic, fascinating evolution of a small riff slowly but mercylessly metamorphosing itself constantly. Among the influences here would be Terry Riley , Philp Glass and other masters of the genre. This debut is not as accomplished as future albums (Rêve or Interface) but shows the genesis of one of the wildest artist featured in the Archives.

Much worth the investment and investigation .

Review by Modrigue
4 stars A convincing experimental debut from the french experimental band. HELDON's style mixes trippy electronic textures with fripp-ian guitar playing. Contrary to most of contemporary musicians of the genre during the 70s', HELDON's music is not light, but rather dark and frightening. Some tracks are guitars dominated, while others are played only synthetizers. The result is pretty innovative and truely enjoyable.

The album opens with "Zind", which directly sets the atmosphere up with smooth electronic distortions to introduce the highlight of the record, "Back to Heldon". This track is really groundbreaking for its time and will transport you to another galaxy. Superposed waves of keyboards with floating guitar solos are epic and reminds by moments the end of PINK FLOYD's "Welcome to the Machine" (which will be recorded one year later!). The second part of the song is much more experimental, in the vein of KRAFTWERK's "Radio-Activity". Unique and mindblowing! "Northernland Lady" arrives as a quite ambient relaxing track with surprising sounds. The next track, "Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68", (Georges Marchais was a french politician) is rather guitar dominated and features the politician talking over a slow psychedelic riff. Strange... There comes "Circulus Vitiosus", the little brother of "Back to Heldon". Similar in spirit and sonorities to his brother, the tune is the most tortured track of the disc. It ends with "Ballade pour Puig Antich", featuring a small guitar theme over vaporous synthetizers effects.

"Electronic Guerilla" is one of the best albums from HELDON. With their first record, the band clearly establish themselves as true innovative musicians, differing completely from other musical directions that were taken by other electronic acts and in advance of their time. Strongly recommended to spacey and adventurous music explorers!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars When it comes to HELDON's seven studio albums from the seventies I like the first two and the last two the best. This is the debut from 1974 and as the liner notes say "All tracks made by Richard Pinhas with an AKS synth and a 1957 Gibson Les Paul". He does get some help with rhythm guitar on one track, and a lot of help on "Ouais Marchais Mieux Qu'en 68".You should see the picture of Richard in the liner notes, that might be the best "fro" i've ever seen ! Richard dedicates this album to Robert Wyatt. Very cool.

"Zind" is a fairly straight forward number with synth sounds coming and going while we get this constant hum. "Back To Heldon" opens with what sounds like a sequencer as spacey sounds flood the soundscape.This sounds really good. The guitar is making some noise as well. Interesting sounds after 5 1/2 minutes. "Northernland Lady" is the best of the first three tracks. We get this relaxed rhythm guitar as angular guitar from Pinhas comes in. Electronic sounds also fill out the sound.

"Ouais Marchais Mieux Qu'en 68" is where we get a lot of guests helping out including Patrick Gauthier on piano and synths. Guests also add some bass, drums, spoken words and more synths. It opens with drums and guitar as spoken words join in. When the words stop the elctronics come in.This contrast continues. Love the sound of this tune. "Circulus Vitiosus" builds and then these melancholic synths come in. Just an incredible sound here including the guitar. It gets pretty intense late. "Ballade Pour Puig Antich" opens with what sounds like steam letting off over and over as the electronics twitter.The guitar comes in gently. Fantastic !

This was an important Electronic album in France back in 1974, and Pinhas would go onto become the biggest star of this genre in his home country.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars This "Électronique Guérilla" is only four years too old to have met the debut of the European start of the electronic genre.

This debut is very much the effort of one man. Their leader and main composer Richard Pinhas: the head, brains and hands of the band. To depict the music that you can expect here is not easy: it isn't as experimental as the early "Kraftwerk" nor is it as spacey and cosmic as TD or Schulze.

The music is quite specific on its own and deserves full attention if you like sonic ambiences and weird conjunction of musical themes. I am not a deep fan of this debut, but one has to acknowledge that the French scene didn't produce a lot of similar bands in these remote days. Jarre being another one, but scoring much higher in the charts and playing a different type of music after all.

The first, and only, song with "vocals" is featured on the flip side of the original vinyl: "Quais Marchais, Mieux Qu' En 68": it is also the most accessible (if only this word can be applied to any of the tracks from this album). Weird text only understandable if you are fluent in French (and even so?).

This album is not easy to approach: somewhat minimalist, somewhat experimental ("Circulus Vitiosus"), but not at all commercial neither melodic for a ?cent. In other words: this album is challenging and will only attract the ones amongst you who are open to discover new paths of electronic sounds.

Three stars.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Heldon's debut album finds Richard Pinhas taking the lessons of Fripp and Eno's No Pussyfooting approach, combining as it does an electronic approach derived from the likes of Klaus Schulze and other electronic bands emerging from the Krautrock scene on the one hand and the guitar stylings of Robert Fripp on the other. The result is an album which, admittedly, is rather derivative, but shows Pinhas as a capable guitarist and synth wizard and sets the scene for what is to follow. The best songs are the middle ones on each side - Back to Heldon and Circulus Vitiosus - which are extended guitar/synth jams, whilst the other songs aren't quite so interesting. On balance, there's a lack of pussyfooting - papa Fripp would be proud - but also a lack of innovation on show. Still, it's very listenable.
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Guitarist Richard Pinhas made no secret of his radical politics, and the first album from his new musical collective likewise must have sounded like an act of protest in 1974. To Pinhas, art was both a mirror and a hammer, and in this initial outing he wielded both with sometimes clumsy enthusiasm.

A few of the track titles boldly proclaimed his activism (one namechecked the head of the French Communist Party; another was dedicated to a Spanish anarchist recently murdered by the Franco government). But the music itself was even more rebellious, at least by 1974 standards: primitive electronica with (King) Crimson-colored guitar embellishment. Like Italy's Franco Falsini (main man of the band SENSATIONS' FIX) Pinhas was outspoken in his admiration of ROBERT FRIPP, sometimes to an almost parasitic degree. But his own musical style was actually closer aligned with the Krautrockers of the time, perhaps more so than a Frenchman would care to admit.

Instead of employing his synthesizer like a steroid-injected lead organ, Pinhas and crew used the new equipment more for texture and atmosphere, although here it sounds like they were learning on the job, while the tapes were rolling. Fully half the album shows evidence of overexcited knob twiddling, mostly during the two longer tracks: "Circulus Vitiosus" and the self- titled "Back to Heldon". By comparison, the understated guitars in "Northernland Lady" and "Ballade pour Puig Antich" hide their age remarkably well. Ditto the hypnotic monologue of 'Quais Marchais...etc", the only selection to feature a drummer.

It's safe to say the album isn't as fresh as it used to be, partly because the cybernetic repetition of all those sequencers was already becoming a cliché in 1974. But looking back from our current age of digital conformity there's still plenty to admire here, beyond the now somewhat charming naïveté of the technology itself. Age and distance may have blunted the album's political convictions, but here and elsewhere the music of Heldon anticipated modern trends in ambient drone culture by several decades.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars HELDON was formed in 1974 as the creative musical project of Richard Pinhas who at the time was only 22 years old and just about to finish his PhD in philosophy however his secondary passion was the world of progressive rock and electronic music with a special interest in the Krautrock sounds of the German scene as well as the contemporary electronic sounds that Robert Fripp and Brian Eno were conjuring up across the channel in England. A self-taught writer and recording artist, Pinhas caught the attention of the E.G. label which was home to King Crimson and Roxy Music but when he discovered that they would not release his music that would become his debut album ÉLECTRONIQUE GUÉRILLA, Pinhas decided to take measures into his own hands and start his own Disjuncta label.

To his surprise the album quickly sold 19,000 copies which forced PInhas to make a major decision, either to finish his academic studies or to jump into the world of recording music. Luckily he chose the latter and in the process also formed his own independent record label that would host other artists such as Zao and Gede Manik before becoming Ursus Records in 1975. The name HELDON came from a location in Norman Spinrad's 1972 sci-fi novel "The Iron Dream." ÉLECTRONIQUE GUÉRILLA was pretty much a Pinhas only affair but a few guests appeared including Gilles Deleuze who was one of France's early pioneers of experimental space rock and heavy psych. His narration of Friedrich NIetzche's "The Voyager and His Shadow" can be heard on the track "Ouais Marchais mieux qu'en 68 (Le voyageur)."

While HELDON would become France's quintessential experimental electronic artist, on ÉLECTRONIQUE GUÉRILLA Pinhas incorporated the German sounds of Krautrock with rhythm guitars and bass along with the tripped out electronic effects that were inspired by Fripp & Eno's "Pussyfooting" which featured oscillating loops of sound that recurred in cyclical trajectories however HELDON crafted a much more interesting album to my ears with more variations than "Pussyfooting." The short album only clocked in at 33 minutes but offered a bonafide transcendental journey into the inner reaches of outer space as well as those of the inner world. The album provided a psychedelic palette of sonic symbols that were inspired by PInhas' philosophical studies although to most of us the connection remains aloof.

While considered an anomaly in the HELDON canon, ÉLECTRONIQUE GUÉRILLA was a triumphant beginning for the prolific PInhas who would carve out an entire career based around the electronic sounds presented on this debut. This album differs from those that follow due to the alternating guitar parts with the keyboards and synthesizers. There is also percussion to be heard from time to time but the star of the show here is the multi-layered looped and sequenced synthesizer patterns that provide bizarre syncopations decorated with surreal tones and timbres. Perhaps not as original as what came after but ÉLECTRONIQUE GUÉRILLA remains a monstrous beauty of electronic drenched space rock in its finest form. Personally i find this much more interesting than many of the Fripp & Eno contributions even though this was heavily influenced by their collaborations.

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