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HELDON

Progressive Electronic • France


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Heldon picture
Heldon biography
French band formed in the 70's by guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Richard Pinhas (sometimes called the 'French Fripp'), synth player Patrick Gauthier, drummer François Auger and scores of other musicians dropping in and out over the course of six albums between '74 and '79. Their sound could best be described as a mixture of Frippian guitars with the cold, icy prog of KING CRIMSON and the hypnotic drones of CAN over a harsh, aggressive electronic background.

Their six first albums range from fairly spacy and quiet ("Allez Teia") to brain-searing sonic attacks ("Interface"). The easiest one to get into and most recommended to neophytes is "Stand By", their strongest effort todate. It is the least chaotic and most CRIMSON-like of the lot yet still features Pinhas' frenzied/tortured guitar play that verges on heavy metal in spots, complete with growling bass and guttural vocals. In 1998, Pinhas has tried to revive the band with an album called "Only Chaos Is Real", featuring French SF-writers Maurice Dantec and Normand Spinrad (their voices digitally treated) as well as trash singer David Korn. This album isn't quite in tune with the rest, sounding more like 'punk meets techno'. Overall, the music of the original six albums is dark and cold, yet fascinating and intense. It combines the elements of the French and German schools of electronic into something uniquely. HELDON.

Fans of WEIDORJE will likely enjoy thieir material. Certainly not recommended to fans of Jean-Michel JARRE.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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Buy HELDON Music


Stand ByStand By
Souffle Continu 2018
$18.47
$25.00 (used)
Agneta NilssonAgneta Nilsson
Bureau B 2018
$9.00
$13.97 (used)
ThirdThird
Bureau B 2018
$12.00
$19.27 (used)
Electronique Guerilla (Heldon I)Electronique Guerilla (Heldon I)
Bureau B 2018
$12.55
$12.02 (used)
InterfaceInterface
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
$17.98
$23.17 (used)
Un Reve Sans Consequence SpecialeUn Reve Sans Consequence Speciale
Souffle Continu 2018
$18.45
$24.80 (used)
Allez-Teia (Heldon II)Allez-Teia (Heldon II)
Bureau B 2018
$18.34
$24.18 (used)
Heldon . 6 . InterfaceHeldon . 6 . Interface
Souffle Continu 2018
$18.44
$24.80 (used)
Live Electronik Guerilla: Paris Concert 1976 - 75Live Electronik Guerilla: Paris Concert 1976 - 75
Limited Edition
Captain Trip 2009
$58.98
$29.29 (used)
Live in Paris 1975Live in Paris 1975
Souffle Continu 2015
$46.19
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
HELDON-THIRD (IT`S ALWAYS ROCK N ROLL) (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $51.36 Buy It Now
Heldon - IV LP US 1978 Mint sealed # Richard Pinhas # Space Rock / Ambient USD $65.51 Buy It Now
HELDON / Electronique Guerilla JAPAN SHM-CD Mini-LP w/OBI BELLE-121954?NEW!! USD $42.00 Buy It Now
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Heldon - Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale [New Vinyl LP] USD $24.02 Buy It Now 50m 5s
Heldon - Heldon . 6 . Interface [New Vinyl LP] USD $23.84 Buy It Now 50m 9s
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Heldon - Japan Mini LP CD Electronique Guerilla - Prog Captain Trip CTCD-531 USD $39.00 Buy It Now 9 days
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Heldon IV, Agneta Nilsson, Vinyl LP Record Album, Limited to 500, New USD $37.00 Buy It Now 16 days
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HELDON Stand By JAPAN CD KICP-2713 1993 OBI USD $46.49 Buy It Now 17 days
ALAIN RENAUD: Renaud 1975 LP French Prog Psych Heldon Guitarist NM Vinyl URUS USD $32.00 Buy It Now 17 days
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HELDON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HELDON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.55 | 51 ratings
Électronique Guérilla
1974
3.44 | 44 ratings
Heldon II: Allez Teia
1975
2.95 | 33 ratings
It's Always Rock And Roll
1975
3.73 | 48 ratings
Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson
1976
3.25 | 35 ratings
Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale
1976
3.64 | 52 ratings
Interface
1978
3.92 | 88 ratings
Stand By
1979
2.09 | 14 ratings
Only Chaos Is Real
1998

HELDON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Well And Alive In France: Live In Nancy 1979
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live Electronik Guerilla: Paris 1975-1976
2006
3.75 | 4 ratings
Live In Paris 1975
2015
3.75 | 4 ratings
Live In Paris 1976
2015

HELDON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HELDON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HELDON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Soutien à la RAF
1975
4.00 | 1 ratings
Perspectives
1976

HELDON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Stand By by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.92 | 88 ratings

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Stand By
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 183

Heldon is a French band formed in the 70's by the guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Richard Pinhas. He is sometimes called as the 'French Fripp''. The name of the band was taken from the 1972 novel 'The Iron Dream'', by Norman Spinrad. Heldon can be identified with their creator and leader Pinhas. He was a passionate about science fiction novels, a theme that will often recur in his career, and he was also a great passionate of music. Pinhas began by absorbing Jimi Hendrix as an adolescent, leaving that behind at the beginning of the 70's, after having heard what Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock were doing with synthesizers. And it was then that he discovered the duo Fripp and Eno.

It was in 1974 that Heldon released their debut studio album, ''Electronique Guerilla''. The main idea was to rock and roll on electronic machines. Pinhas was, of course, playing electric guitar, but he was also interested on synthesizers, the A.R.P., VCS 3, and Moog. This was the beginning of the 70's. Heldon released some very important studio albums among which a trilogy that started with the sound of 'Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale'' continued with 'Interface'' and was concluded with 'Stand By''. In total, between 1974 and 1979, seven important albums were released by Heldon.

'Stand By'' is their seventh studio album and was released in 1979. The line up is Richard Pinhas (guitar, Moog, Polymoog, vocoder and electronics), Patrick Gauthier (Mini-Moog, piano, Polymoog and keyboards), François Auger (percussion and Kolossal percussive), Didier Batard (bass), Klaus Blasquiz (voices) and Didier Badez (sequencer).

'Stand By'' was Heldon's last studio release. However, in 1998 it was released an eighth studio album 'Only Chaos Is Real'', with slightly different personnel. Of the traditional line up only Pinhas was present. But, this is an album that cannot be considered belonging to their classic era. It's a strange cross of punk vocals, techno beats and the usual repetitive minimalism. It even doesn't approach at the concept of Heldon. I don't know why Pinhas reformed this band.

'Stand By'' features the classic trio line up with Auger, Gauthier and Pinhas, with some additional assistance from Batard, Badez and the help of Blasquiz of Magma. With 'Stand By'', Heldon truly stands out as a band of the musical experimentalism in the 70's. Heldon successfully blends and incorporates the influential, innovative and original music of their time that expresses the musical freedom and boundary pushing that thrived during those times. You'll hear elements of the 'Berlin school'' electronics (Tangerine Dream), jazz fusion, hard rock chord changes and blistering guitar solos that reference everything from Jimi Hendrix to Robert Fripp in his King Crimson's days. But you'll also can hear something no one else ever gave you, and that is Heldon's own sound. No matter how, but they sound like Heldon.

About the tracks, 'Bolero'' is a good example of what we could play with a guitar and a synthesizer in the 70's. 'Bolero'' is a 22 minute suite based on the classical bolero's formula. 'Bolero'' can be considered, in my humble opinion, as one of the best pieces of electronic music ever released. The expansive 'Bolero'' is a reminiscent of the Berlin school music, but with a real rhythm section and some Blasquiz vocals. Pinhas lays back on the guitar on this release, particularly in the latter stages, wisely serving the compositions even when it means a lesser showcase for his own abilities. This is a track with a bunch of some of my favorite things on prog. 'Une Dr'le De Journ'e'' is the shortest track, but still is a very complex track. Sometimes, if I don't pay attention, I actually think this is something from Vangelis during his 'Heaven and Hell'' album. It plays up the electronic and minimalist elements a bit and has an amusing Magma vocal line not atypical of French progressive rock bands, in general. The title track starts like a great heavy rocker from the early progressive rock bands, in King Crimson's vein. Then the guitar takes over and we get a great jam. Then a little Yes' like interlude, with great drumming of Fran'ois and then the last part goes off into outer space. With track 'Stand By'' Heldon managed to create one of the heaviest songs of the 70's. It's full of metal, futurist synthesizers and drudging base lines that creeps slowly at first and ends up with guitar and hard yet precise drumming.

Conclusion: 'Stand By'' has to be hailed as Heldon's signature work. It contains everything that is good about Heldon. It's Heldon in their mature glory and perhaps no other band was able to toe the line between electronic and progressive rock. Progressive rock drums, bass and guitar blend and merge with bass synthesizer pulses and arpeggios, jazz keyboard solos ride overtop jittery electronic sequences, compositions move from dark moody electronic soundscapes to frantic, pulsing rhythms and then transform into improvisational jams or spacey laid back passages embellished with slithering, smoking guitar solos. This is Heldon at their most experimental and aggressive originality. This is Heldon at their most focused and purely stated. 'Stand By'' is an outstanding document of one of the good things that happened in the 70's. It's compelling and satisfying. Really, this is Heldon at their very best and you owe it to yourself to hear it.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Stand By by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.92 | 88 ratings

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Stand By
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars (A translated chapter from my prog book.) The electronically oriented instrumental music of HELDON has been described as a cross between the hypnotic nature of CAN and the cold experimentalism of KING CRIMSON. It centres around the combination of synths and electric guitar, like in the case of Fripp & Eno. The frontman Richard Pinhas started his musical career already in the late 60's, but his first bands went nowhere. In 1973 he founded his own little record company that released first four Heldon albums. The innovative debut Electric Guerilla (1974) was followed by more ambientish, Terry Riley -spirited Allez Teja (1975). It contains a track named 'In the Wake of King Fripp', making it clear who was Pinhas's primary idol.

The double album It's Always Rock'n'Roll (1975) is not entirely very convincing, whereas Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson (1976), named after a girlfriend, is graced with a solid band sound and is the best album that far. Since then Heldon's music became more and more disturbing and demanding, but the sixth album Interface (1977) can be regarded as a step forward, production-wise.

Perhaps the most recommendable one, at least for the unacquainted listeners, is Stand By which remained the final work up until the rather weak comeback album Only Chaos Is Real (1998). Multi-part composition 'Bolero' contains here and there a march-like rhythm. It has not much to do with the famous Maurice Ravel piece of the same name. Sounding relatively soft, it's among the most accessible pieces of Heldon; from the fourth minute onward the sound resembles quite a lot of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze with all the sequencer pulsating.

'Une drole de journée' with an intense tempo is actually electro-jazz, into which Klaus Blasquiz from MAGMA adds some zeuhl- like voices. Aggressively heavy title track goes even further away from typical electronic music, giving the leading role to a roaring electric guitar.

For those who enjoy Heldon one can recommend also another French group, Lard Free, that made three Krautrock-spirited albums in 1973 - '77. Richard Pinhas has also released numerous solo albums.

[On my rating: I haven't returned to this album, or Heldon in general, very often, and subjectively speaking it would hardly deserve more than three stars from me, but I believe it to be among Heldon's finest works and so it's four stars.]

 Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.25 | 35 ratings

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Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

2 stars A dream... or a nightmare?

2.5 stars

Whereas HELDON polished their musical style on their previous album, "Agneta Nilsson", this fifth opus is rather experimental and heteroclite. It displays violent, cold and chaotic soundscapes. "Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale" is also the band's first studio release to feature its definitive 70's line-up, with ex-MAGMA bassist Janick Top as a guest musician.

The first half of the record is quite noisy. "Marie Virginie C" is a dissonant electro rock track. It contains ferocious guitars, frequency generators, a gong, and souns like a machine went mad, destroying everything standing in its way. The ambient "Elephanta" is a jungle mess of electronic and acoustic percussions. It may resemble concrete music.

The second half is more listenable. The sinister and pachydermic "MVC II" reuses the electronic loop from "Marie Virginie C", however in a much slower tempo. It may bring respiration during the listen, but does not contain many variations and becomes quickly repetitive. Finally, Pinhas and co. return to their usual style with the 15 minutes "Toward The Red Line". This composition is simply one of HELDON's bests and most futuristic. Furious rock and drumming supporting dark, frenetic, hypnotic synthesizer sequences. This is the track featuring Janick Top.

Even for lovers of the band, this fifth album will divide people. Some of them will love this experimental, disharmonious side, others will skip most tracks after a few minutes. If you're looking for heavy psych electronics, only the very nice "Toward The Red Line" matches your wishes.

My least favourite HELDON studio album from the 70's.

  Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.73 | 48 ratings

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Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Interesting perspectives

3.5 stars

HELDON's best studio album of the intermediate 1975-1977 period. After the fripp-ian stop of "Allez-Teia" and the experimentations of "It's Always Rock And Roll", Richard Pinhas and co. manage to emancipate from their influences and define their musical identity. "Agneta Nilsson" marks the return of a more important use of sequences since "Electronique Guérilla", and shapes the dark, oppressive, hypnotic electronic style typical of the french band.

"Perspective I" opens the disc with a very slow, somber, spacey synthesizer-dominated soundscape. This music could be related to drone. Mesmerizing. "Perspective II" features mainly a short sharp sequence, reminiscent of TERRY RILEY. My least favorite passage is "Perspective III". A dark oppressive loop supporting a chaotic distorted guitar solo. This track has not many changes, and is a bit too long and repetitive.

As its title may suggest, "Bassong" is the intruder here. Despite its strong KING CRIMSON's "Red" atmosphere, this short pause is welcomed during the listen, as it brings respiration in the middle of the album. The 22 minutes long "Perspective IV" suite starts with an ambient guitar introduction and strange sound effects. It then reuses the sequence theme from "Perspective II", but after evolves into a very original space electronic rock jam with energic drumming. The keyboards sound even sometimes jazzy! Be careful, the ending is quite sudden. Undoubtly the best track of the record, with "Perspective I", announcing HELDON's future musical direction.

Despite weaker and lengthy passages, this fourth effort shows HELDON shaping their own somber, oppressive synthetizer-rock style. As quite representative from the french band, "Agneta Nilsson" may be a good album to start with. Recommended if you enjoy dark, claustrophobic, repetitive electronic music.

 Heldon II: Allez Teia by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.44 | 44 ratings

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Heldon II: Allez Teia
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars HELDON's tribute to Robert Fripp

3.5 stars

Where as HELDON's first album was rather electronic and refreshing, the second effort "Allez-Teia" is more rock-oriented. Its violent cover contrasts greatly with the peaceful and relaxing nature of the music. More precisely, the style is very simlar to Fripp & Eno's "No Pussyfooting", released two years before. Richard Pinhas pays a warm tribute to its idol Robert Fripp here, which makes you wondering if you're really listening to HELDON. The important usage of the mellotron and VCS 3 reinforces this impression.

"In the wake of King Fripp" is oviously a reference to KING CRIMSON's second opus and its leader. A calm and soothing opener. The peaceful acoustic "Aphanisis" displays a pastoral ambiance. "Omar Diop Blondin" is dedicated to Robert Fripp. Still soft, this track is supported by Pinhas' distorted guitar. First genuine electronic moment of the record, "Moebius" features a short synthetizer sequence more typical of HELDON.

The 12 minutes track "Fluence" is the longest. The first eight minutes are mainly ambient, with sonorities sometimes reminding TANGERINE DREAM's "Phaedra". The end part reuses the short sequence from "Moebius". Enjoyable, but a bit long and repetitive. "St Mikael Samstag am abends" is more varied and interesting. This composition waeaves a mysterious, dark and spacey soundscape, with drone sound effects, guitar and mellotron. The ending track, "Michel Ettori", is a soft acoustic guitar piece, rather anecdotic.

Apart in HELDON's discography, "Allez-Teia" is their least electronic and representative album, however also their softest and soothest. Without the band's typical ramshackle, tortured ambiance and hypnotic loops, this unusual record is also their most accessible.

Let's go straight to the point: if you enjoy Fripp & Eno's "No Pussyfooting", you'll like "Allez-Teia". The reference sounds sometimes too apparent, nonetheless it can be a good entry point to discover HELDON.

 Stand By by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.92 | 88 ratings

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Stand By
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If I could think of an album in the electronic/prog category, that would appeal to non-followers of this world, it will be undoubtly "Stand By", one of Heldon's best works. This one alone travels the routes, that somehow, now are such a novelty. Having listened to a lot of new bands of the after Porcupine Tree (Steven Wilson) era, I went back in my collection to re-listen to this 1979 Heldon project. I was right, this work outlined a lot of what now are considered "new" Prog genres. Outlined and predicted in those early years. Of course there is no sticking to a particular genre, but pre-defining, at least four different ones (neo-prog, post-math, post-metal, heavy-prog and brushing with the Canterburies, eclectics, and Rio/AGs, or simply Hyper/crossover). Now, that all this can happen in a 3 song album that lasts less than 45 minutes, is something to praise and recommend. This was done, of course, without that kind of irrelevant purpose. It has to do more as an outgrowing development in basically Richard Pinhas ( Heldon's headmaster) compositional skills. This record is a consequence of this and it shows it entirely. Mr. Pinhas just the year before released one of his best solo works "Chronolyze" and Heldon's "Interface". He was on a streak of high creativity and "Stand By" by luck (for us), got the best of that. Therefore each song travels simmultaneously a different route, never felt until you are there in the middle of each song, and realize that Heldon's language is covering a lot of spaces, which at the time were non strictly electronic/prog material and now could even be considered new. WOW! ****4.5 near to perfect and way ahead of its own time in the Prog world, PA stars.
  Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.73 | 48 ratings

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Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Heldon's fourth studio album can be a challenging experience, even for listeners not unfamiliar with the band's extreme musical agenda. But it was here that Richard Pinhas finally distilled the influences he always openly acknowledged (the minimalism of FRIPP & ENO; the synthesized frontiers of contemporary Krautrock) into something uniquely his own.

All but one of the album's five tracks are named 'Perspective', a necessary requirement for hearing the album without losing hold of your sanity. (The odd man out is the three-minute 'Bassong': a gently unplugged cleansing of the aesthetic palate before the side-long sonic nightmare of 'Perspective IV'.) Compared to other Heldon psychodramas it's a relatively subdued endeavor, at least over the first half of the album. But the uneasy quiet of Side One (in vinyl terms) does little to mask the undercurrent of menace lurking just beyond earshot, like a slowly burning fuse snaking toward the keg of TNT hidden on Side Two.

'Perspective I' lights the match with subtle authority, underneath a near-subliminal yet melodic fog of ominous synthesizers. And no Heldon album would be complete without a nod to the radical politics of the era, here reserved for 'Perspective III', subtitled 'Baader Meinhof Blues': an act of musical agitation built around some of the most distinctive guitar work yet heard from Pinhas, improvised over an urgent, aggressive sequencer pattern. The band's range is even better revealed in the episodic 'Perspective IV', filling all of Side Two on the original LP. Two of its three sub-sections borrow their titles from the previous Heldon album, 'It's Always Rock and Roll' (1975), but don't expect to hear any similarities between them.

Hardcore Heldonistas might remember the calm, aquatic guitars of the 1975 'Virgin Swedish Blues', suggesting a gentler variation of Fripp & Eno's 'Swastika Girls'. But for its encore appearance here (perhaps meant to counterbalance the earlier 'Baader Meinhof Blues') the track becomes a cathartic, one-chord blitzkrieg of furious jamming, finally allowing the rhythm section to slip its leash and go on a bloody rampage. The medley concludes with the hyperactive 'Psylocybine', taking its name, all-too appropriately, from the scientific term for psychedelic mushrooms, and ending with the abruptness of a severed lifeline.

The schizophrenic attack of the album's latter half is impressive, but the quieter opening tracks are no less confrontational, pioneering an ambient/industrial style years ahead of their time. It all adds up to the perfect adventure for intrepid fellow travelers willing to brave the outer limits of inner space electronica, well worth the effort needed to survive it from start to finish.

 Heldon II: Allez Teia by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.44 | 44 ratings

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Heldon II: Allez Teia
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Don't be misled by the cinéma vérité brutality of the cover art, better suited to a Dead Kennedys LP than to a European Prog Rock album circa 1975. The second studio effort by guitarist Richard Pinhas and friends is (most of the time) actually a surprisingly mellow, almost soothing experience.

The album saw Pinhas continuing his efforts to erect a musical shrine honoring his role model Robert Fripp, believe it or not going so far as to name the album opener "In the Wake of King Fripp" (I can imagine the Crimson King shaking his bespectacled head in polite embarrassment). The track is one of several gorgeous pieces of music here, a gently unfolding study of subtle, hypnotic electric guitar textures and understated mellotron strings.

But elsewhere the album can be almost ridiculously imitative. The oddly titled "Omar Diop Blondin" (named after a militant Sénégalese activist) is an unashamed rip-off of the title track from the FRIPP & ENO album "Evening Star", released earlier the same year. The silver lining is that Pinhas could handle his guitar (and his synthesizers) with as much sensitivity and almost equal skill as his idol across the English Channel, adding a near- Krautrock awareness of radical experimentation that Fripp himself might have endorsed.

That more Teutonic side of Heldon surfaces on the album's flip side, notably during "Fluence: Continuum Mobile / Disjonction Inclusive". The name may not have the same obsequious ring as "In the Wake of King Fripp", but it's still one of the great Industrial- Ambient synth-rock track titles of all time, perfectly matching the cinematic drone of the song itself. Even better is the dark but melodic mood piece "St. Mikael Samstag am Abends": another musical refugee from the other side of the River Rhine (a better name for it might have been "In the Wake of King Froese").

There isn't a drum within earshot to interrupt the (sometimes uneasy) calm throughout the album, and the two brief interludes of unadorned acoustic guitar sound almost alarming from such a notorious musical provocateur. You'll have to look elsewhere for the usual Heldon electroshock therapy; this one has the alluring bedside manner of a well-disguised boa constrictor.

 Électronique Guérilla by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.55 | 51 ratings

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Électronique Guérilla
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Stand By by HELDON album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.92 | 88 ratings

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Stand By
Heldon Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One of the first and most powerful examples of where progressive rock and early electronic music collide with vigor.

Stand By is a mammoth of purely interesting electronic rock that shows definite talent in the musicians, but, in my opinion, doesn't always work. The intent and promise is there, but kind of seems too overly epic for its own good.

Immediately, it becomes obvious that this album is very powerful as "Bolero" pounds its way through the speakers with a Mahler- or Shostakovich-esque force combined with an increasingly ham-fisted Force Majeure-like acoustic percussion. It's not a bad track, and has a very commendable amount of worthy proggy moments, but it often seems too unrelentingly epic to the point where they seem to be trying way too hard to be so much more rock than is necessary. Also, I really think Pinhas is a great and innovative guitarist, but I'm not sold on the post-Hendrix soloing method he employs during the last half of the track. There are also a few funk-ish moments that sound similar to what a Tangerine Dream/Goblin collaboration may have sounded like, which doesn't really work too well in my opinion.

"Une Drole de Journee" is slightly more subdued in needless synth orchestral epicness, but this is dampened by the continuously heavy-handed drummer and wonky avant-rock moments. This track is very disjointed in composition and is abound with arbitrary confusion, like the opening vocals that start this track of sounding like an electronic zeuhl experiment (which could honestly be done successfully if given more attention) and a random moment of empty bubbling that serves no purpose.

The title track is the heaviest and rockiest track on the album, strong with the sharp electric rock guitar soloing and pounding drums flowing at a pace similar to most sludgy doom metal. It doubles its speed near the half way point and becomes a noisy and flashy metal showoff powerhouse that simply sounds like self-destruction. However, the bass on this track is very thick and intense; it sounds great and is the single most interesting element of this track, but it doesn't save the song entirely.

This was my very first Heldon album and I've been listening to it off and on for almost two years now, and I feel bad that it hasn't grown on me at all considering the amount of praise it has received. Regardless, it does have its moments. Their other, less heavy albums seem more interesting and compositionally complete, but I do think Stand By is a good jumping off point for fans of progressive rock looking to get into progressive electronic, only because of it's profound rockiness.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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