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ARTCANE

Eclectic Prog • France


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Artcane biography
Very little is known about this four-piece French set who released one album at the tail end of prog's 'golden age', and then disappeared from the map. They were: Daniel Locci on drums, Jack Mlynski on guitars and vocals, Stanislas Belloc on bass and vocals, and Alain Coupel on keyboards and vocals. Their 1977 LP entitled "Odyssée" has apparently never been released on CD and is likely to be quite rare.

Some have described the album as the French "Larks' Tongues in Aspic", no doubt thanks to guitarist Mlynski's Frippian style which (precariously) straddles the line between homage and plagiarism. Alain Coupel's synth play, however, is noticeably un-CRIMSON like and the band does show some originality and an obvious desire for experimentation; yet the overall feel of the album is still 100% KC, especially the 16-minute epic that opens the B side of the LP. Not exactly "the" classic some vinyl collectors would have you believe, but certainly better than your average obscure symphonic progger from the vaults. A very enjoyable ride only the most resentful CRIMSON fans would shun.

KING CRIMSON as well as fans of SHYLOCK and PULSAR will want to check the album out if (a big "if") they can get their hands on it.

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

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3.63 | 79 ratings
Odyssee
1977

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ARTCANE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by DangHeck

4 stars French King Crimson Obsessives Create Heavy Prog with an Avant-Electronic Touch

Thanks is due in great part to Mr. Dereck Higgins. He is a great (and regular) source of Prog Obscura and so much more. His YouTube channel is simply called 'dereckvon', for those unfamiliar.

Released 1977, Artcane's sole album, Odyssee [No, ye other ignorant English speakers, this is not a play on words. Just French haha], was released, in my view, squarely in the second-wave of Progressive Rock. And it strikes as an incredibly long album for the vinyl medium, at a whopping 57 minutes! Nearly an hour long and consisting of, to me, a happy mere 6 tracks.

The title track, "Odyssee" starts us right off. Heavy and interesting enough to immediately catch your attention for what's to come. The keys and guitar, for the most part, ride right alongside one another and the soloing is wonderful. The middle is quieted in stark contrast, with acoustic guitar and very nice vocals in their native French. The synthesizers are awesome! The drumming should also not go unmentioned. Great opener.

I'm not so perturbed as certain other past reviewers (haha, sorry, my goyim) by the blatant KC lifts (sure, they copied or made heavy reference) [at least somewhat] on "Le chant d'Orphee" and [supposedly] more-so on "Novembre". What about the 'greatest form of flattery', guys?... And anyways, these are otherwise great songs (especially the former, in my opinion) that don't necessarily sound like anyone else (certainly not like KC wholly). Still worth your time. Masters of dynamics and use of space. To reiterate, "Le chant..." is certainly where it's at for me.

A futuristic synthesis is embraced wholly, turning things around, on the lengthy "25eme anniversaire" (at 16-minutes' length). And this is the "25th anniversary" of what exactly (glancing back to 1952)? Queen Elizabeth II's inauguration as Queen of the UK?... Are they fans of the Oslo Winter Olympics haha? Or perhaps it's the first British nuclear weapon detonated? Or even the first US detonation of a hydrogen bomb?! A higher likelihood haha. The only super major event involving France is their cofounding of what would become the EU. Who knows? Does anyone care haha? To the track at hand, though, nothing will really happen for anyone who's not a fan of Ambient or 'Progressive Electronic' music for its first 5 minutes. The first bits of interest for me began around minute 7. The guitar solo at minute 10 felt like a 'Finally!' The track does only get better, yet it didn't reach the coveted (haha) 'very good' category for me. I wasn't much happier, really, to be hearing "Artcane 1" thereafter... Until the very end, it's pretty but offers little. So, the ending: great groove, great melodic guitar solo. It's very cool, at least...

And so finally, we have "Nostalgie". A live recording, it has a rougher production than the rest, but it does go to show their abilities as band. It's the second longest track at over 15 minutes. The verse(s) are fine enough, but the best is the bass and the synth. A lot of tension here. It's near the 5 minute mark where it seems they may have spliced two performances together, as the audience enters and fades away. Overall, very impressed by this composition, despite its frankly-not-totally-horrible production. A surefire highlight.

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars An obscure and unknown album from the French progressive scene remaining unknown. There are typical French elements such as dramatic vocals, enigmatic use of keyboards, and occasional vocals. Overall, slight lack of progression and compositional skills prevents this album from being exceptional although it remains original.

The first energetic guitar-driven instrumental is promising. "Le Chant d'Orphee" is one of the few sung songs but it does not save the song from being average with only guitar.

Symphonic mood is entered in "Novembre" with repetitive guitar and synth loops but guitar is similar to King Crimson 70's era and then there are more Rock Progressivo Italiano moments with keyboards. Drums and bass also show decent robustness to support challenging guitar. "25 anniversaire" continues in the dark KC mood with Canterbury-inspired busy rhythm.

"Artcane 1" is the longest truck but not surprisingly, also the most repetitive one. It presents an ambitious band with decent playing abilities but enough music ideas to be incorporated into 16 minutes. Synths conjure a mellow but very serious mood turning into a synth loops. After the 5th minute, the music changes to typical French symphonic prog a la Pulsar to shift into dark acoustic moment. Then the album duet between guitar and drums takes over peaking just before the end with furious fusion drumming pattern joined by solid keyboard virtuoso notes.

"Nostalgie" is a suitable haunting end to this uneven but varied album. Somewhere between 3 and 4 stars.

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Odyssee" is the debut full-length studio album by French progressive rock act Artcane. The album was originally released in May 1977 through the Phillips Label and itīs the bandīs sole album release. Itīs one of those albums, which has been a collectorīs item for years, as it wasnīt until 2014 that Great Barrier Records picked it up for a CD reissue. Artcane is a four-piece consisting of Daniel Locci (drums, percussion), Jack Mlynski (guitars, vocals), Stanislas Belloc (bass, vocals), and Alain Coupel (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals).

Stylistically the material on the album is a relatively heavy type of progressive rock and a King Crimson influence is heard throughout. Thereīs an Italian influence in there too though, and the album is generally pretty dynamic, with both edgy aggressive rhythms and more mellow spacey moments. "Odyssee" is an almost entirely instrumental release save for "Le Chant D'orphee" and "Nostalgie", which both feature French language vocals. The vocals arenīt much to write home about, but they are great for the variation of the album. The centerpiece of the album is the 16 minutes long "Artcane 1", which is quite the dynamic track, even displaying the band toying with electronic sounds. The real assets here though are the edgy fusion influenced rhythms, the energetic guitars, and the synth work.

The musicianship is obviously strong, but the sound production is a bit thin. Especially the guitars feature a thin fuzzy tone, and the music could certainly have prospered from a more rich and organic sounding guitar tone. So "Odyssee" is an album with both positive and slightly negative features. The songwriting could have been slightly more memorable too so all in all a 3 star (60%) rating isnīt all wrong.

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by maryes

3 stars 3,5 stars !!! I must say about ARTCANE "Odyssee", which at first time that I heard the album, my impression wasn't good . I think this album is monotonous and repetitive... but according to the time pass I start a more contemplative way of music appreciation and now I think this a good work ! The music is really very ecletic, mixing something like ELOY's space-prog style, as in the case of the first track "Odyssee". The track 2 " Le Chant D'orphee" reminds their countryman of ANGE. The track 3 "Novembre" and track 4 "25th Anniversaire" shows a clear KING CRIMSON influence. In short, although I can't consider a master piece nowadays I think that this album deserves a place in my collection !!! My rate is 3 stars !!!
 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another one-hit wonder created a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away(the 1970s) this impressive slice of Crimson-style prog provides yet more evidence of the febrile scene that existed throughout France during the genre's golden years, producing groups such as Magma, Mona Lisa, Pulsar and Ange to name but a few. Now we can add Artcane to the list. Issued by the French wing of major label Phillips in 1977 - same label as Ange - 'Odyssee' came very late-in-the-day for a full-blown prog-rock record, which also explains why it disappeared without trace. By 1976 the awful punk rebellion had fully taken hold of the British music scene, exerting an grim, vice-like grip that suffocated creativity. In France, however, it would take another year for this darkness to arrive, and it was during this period that some of the great French prog-rock albums were created, such as Ange's 'Guet-Apens' and the seminal concept album 'Halloween' by Pulsar. 'Halloween', of course, has an international reputation, and is widely considered a classic, yet despite being recorded in optimum conditions, with a large budget and plenty of time, the label refused to spend any money on promotion. Pulsar had, in effect, gone away to the countryside for two months to record 'Halloween' with the full backing of the label; by the time they returned the musical landscape had drastically altered. The label had changed management and direction, prog was out, punk was in. It was the same for everyone. This then begs the question: Did the same happen to Artcane? Probably, yes. But frustratingly we'll never truly know, such is the mystery surrounding the albums creation, and the quality of 'Odyssee' only heightens that sense of frustration, because here was a young group with talent. Often compared to King Crimson and, sometimes, VDGG, Artcane definitely belong in that category, yet they are no mere copycats. Featuring the quartet of Jack Mlynski(guitar, vocals), Alain Coupel(keyboards, vocals), Stanislas Belloc(bass, vocals) and Daniel Locci(drums), 'Odyssee' begins in glorious fashion with the high-intensity title-track, a thunderous, foot- stomping opener that brings to mind 'Red' with it's brooding guitars and rumbling bass thuds. It's a grandiose, almost cinematic start, though one that is tempered by the more restrained 'Le Chant D'orphee'. Featuring a more meditative ambience and an ominous tone, the nine-minute 'Novembre' takes a few minutes to warm up, yet it is worth the wait as the quartet gradually feed off one another to create a thrilling explosion of instrumental power. The album's key piece, however, has to be the lengthy epic 'Artcane 1'. Coming in at around sixteen minutes, this is a dark and deftly-woven piece of music, featuring all four members on vocals, which alternates between soft moments of ethereal spookiness and jagged rock assaults, drummer Locci expertly holding the quartet together with his precise rhythmic patterns. Definitely worth a place in any serious prog collecton, 'Odyssee' is a remarkable debut album from a youthful and inexperienced group. A product of the curiously underrated French prog scene of the 1970s - a scene that definitely deserves more kudos - Artcane is a genuine lost classic. Fans of King Crimson, Ange, Pulsar and VDGG are urged to investigate. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2015

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A bizarre croaking raven-like guitar screeches through the night with mighty flaps of its rhythmic wings , creating a sombre and distressing angst that is utterly delicious and innovative, though a heady KC Larks Tongues period influence is not only obvious , it flirts with adulation. Artcane is a 1977 French one-shot wonder, here today, gone tomorrow band of immense talent and hence an overt iconic attitude is fully deserved. Jack Mlynski has his Frippoid fingers firmly wrapped tight around his fretboard neck and though he is far from the master (isn't everybody), the style is quite compelling. The keyboards add a slight symphonic sense while the bass/drum tandem hold up well with some profound rhythmic drive.

The overall sound is appropriately murky (like Shylock, Pulsar, Pentacle, Atoll, Ange and Mona Lisa), something I personally value in the French progressive school. There is a sombre attitude, a typical de Maupassant (The French Kafka or E.A. Poe) sense of paranoid foreboding that offers up extremes and contrasts, the KC riff on the otherwise magnificent "Novembre' is virtually plagiarism, complete with the Muir-ish percussion. But its soooooo cute, the wispy Alain Coupel synthesizer really cutting a large swath, Belloc's bass roaming like some crazed 'Horla' (ah, look it up! ) and drummer Daniel Locci doing his best BB imitation. Obviously the focus is on the heavenly guitar, as Mlynski shreds, tortures and restrains his monster with considerable aplomb. I just adore this dark, moody style!

"25' Anniversaire" is slightly deranged, more of the same somewhat disjointed lunacy that constantly veers from simplicity to dissonance and back, but when Jack does the classic "LTiA part 2 " riff , you cannot help but to smile! He just takes a slippery solo that fizzes, fuzzes and sizzles like some acrobat on ephedrine.

But the 'piece de resistance' is the massive "Artcane 1", a shimmering 16 minute monster that could rival the classic Shylock epic "Ile de Fievre" for its blatant audacity, complex adventurism and stellar creativity. After an ambient intro, the clock starts ticking on a bright passage of flute synth, very atmospheric and even a tad minimalist/robotic that wishes to induce a sense of hypnosis and placid mental focus. This is almost in Pulsar territory, heavily spacey and unhurried, with just a twist of doom and gloom. Plenty of room is giving to some fiery soloing and letting loose on a variety of levels.

Short, gloomy, dense and evocative, this is one of those rarities that define a true collector's need for unusual treasure and defining the incredible depth of progressive rock's iconic history. The vast amount of these one-shot wonders (forced by a prissy and highly manipulative market) clearly highlight the value of idiosyncratic historical monuments that litter the 50 years of prog's catalog. This is definitely one of the 'need to have' albums though not perfect by any stretch, just very 'je ne sais quoi' special. Lovely cover too.....

4 esoteric expeditions

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by João Paulo

4 stars A French band with a single album made in seventies. We can listen some other influencies of other bands just King Crimson, Magma, with some psichedelic parts. Most intrumental parts have a good music moments and just a single part is singing with lyrics in French but nothing special. The keiboards have a important work with some sounds of a sintetizer (the possible in that time), that made the psichedelic vein. The guitar have some good solos and some good arrangements. We can listen a intricate and complicated music but melodic, in the vein of music made in 70 decade. A mature album, and a good music work for those that like the music of this time. 4 stars because it's not a boring album and the musicians have a good sinergy in the tracks.
 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by AdamHearst

2 stars This obscure French band's one and only album is good, but far from great. It definitely has it's moments but tends to wander aimlessly through long, boring, uninspired instrumental sections.

The album starts off on an extremely strong note with the aggressive and heavy guitar-dominated instrumental 'Odyssee'... this introductory track leads perfectly into the next song 'Le Chant D'orphee'. This is, by far, the best song on the album... it has a creepy atmosphere and is quite dark and brooding. The vocals (all in French) are very good as well, and have a somewhat histrionic approach similar to Ange, but not quite as over-the-top.

After the first two excellent songs you feel like you're in for a real treat... but the following few songs are seriously disappointing. My main gripe is the the extreme vocal deficiency that sets in; from 'Novembre' on this is almost entirely instrumental... a very bad choice by this band. Their players are far from virtuosos, and I think they would have been better off focusing on writing more compact song-oriented material... these endless solos are far from impressive in my opinion.

The centerpiece of the album is the epic 'Artcane I' which starts with five minutes of esoteric ambience from repetitive and mesmerizing synth and guitar lines... it has a similar effect as the intro to King Crimson's 'Larks Tongues in Aspic, part I' and even reminds me a bit of Goblin on some of their horror film scores. When the drums and the rest of the song finally kick in, it is one of the most powerful moments on the record... the raging drums snap you back to reality after the hypnosis session that was the first 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the song has far too few interesting ideas to warrant it's extended duration. This just drags on and on... some vocals were definitely needed here to keep things interesting.

'Nostalgie' is a beautiful Folk-Prog song with lovely vocal melodies and serene acoustic guitar playing... i really wish more of this album had this song's emotional impact; it creates a very sullen and somber mood, and creates a feeling of sad nostalgia and deep contemplation. Why, oh why, couldn't this band have made a whole album more in this style?!

In summary: this could have been an amazing gem of an album, but after an initial promising start it goes downhill fast and becomes a huge letdown. This band had great potential, but in my estimation they squandered it trying to be something they didn't have the talent to be (namely: King Crimson).

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This one is even better than advertised. Released in 1977 on the Philips label, this French band blesses us with an almost all instrumental album(except for two songs) with some excellent guitar (ala Fripp) and a lot of spacey synths much like fellow French band CARPE DIEM. There is a darkness about this album that really draws me in.

The title track "Odysse" opens with spacey synths and pounding drums. I am addicted to the main melody, I may need an intervention, this is so good. Check out the guitar ! This is way too short, but what a way to open the album. "Le Chant D'Orphee" opens with acoustic guitar and spoken words. Drums and vocals join the guitar. This theme is repeated before the song veers off in another direction 2 minutes in. Spacey synths (i'll be saying that a lot), bass and some crisp drumming take over. I just love this section. A heavy guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Novembre" is an over 9 minute instrumental. After an intense intro we get some atmosphere as synths provide a solemn melody. Drums come pounding in after 2 minutes. Again they sound so crisp. Guitar joins in and this is heaven ! Dark and heavy with some Fripp-like angular guitar lines. Thankfully this goes on and on for almost 10 minutes. Just a fabulous sound.

"25' Anniversaire" opens with an uptempo melody before calming down quickly. Acoustic guitar with spacey synths are pushed aside by a raw sounding guitar melody that reminds me of KING CRIMSON's "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part II". The drumming really shines. The guitar style changes as we get some terrific solos the rest of the way. "Artcane 1" is over 16 minutes in length,the longest track. A spacey atmosphere for about 5 minutes with some electronics. Drums then arrive and the synth melody stops. The drums stop 7 1/2 minutes in and are replaced by acoustic guitar and spacey synths. It's building. Keys replace synths and drums replace guitar 8 1/2 minutes in. Guitar is back after 10 minutes. Synths return 14 minutes in. My only complaint is that this song has worn out it's welcome with me before it's over. "Nostalgie" opens with spacey keys that are joined by acoustic guitar. Vocals are reserved. Synths come and go. This is a mellow track until 4 minutes in when electric guitar, bass and drums make some wonderful noise. A great way to end the song and the album.

This was the only album they recorded unfortunately. If you can find it don't hesitate. A real gem.

 Odyssee by ARTCANE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 79 ratings

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Odyssee
Artcane Eclectic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's no mystery which band influenced this one-off French quartet. "Novembre" features a modified "Starless and Bible Black" riff as its main motive, while "25e Anniversaire" plunders the main guitar riff from "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part 2".

Plagiarism aside, this band manage to eventually carve out their own personality on the lengthy "Artcane I", which takes up much of the real estate on the album's B-side. With intriguing synthesizer textures and minimalist references, it's a wistful reminder that this band could have achieved something grand if they lasted long enough to record a second album. As it is, we'll never know.

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