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RIO/Avant-Prog • France

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Wapassou biography
Wapassou is one of those hard to classify prog group, not really on the rock side of prog, but it would be a shame not to include it, the same way Art Zoyd or Univers Zero are in the archives. Their music is a mix of classical with meditative (almost hippie) moments and spacey ethereal music. Their line-up is just about as unconventional as there is no drums and bass guitar, concentrating between violin, electric guitars and organs. Sounds intriguing? Well it is.

Their first album is still a rough draft of their music to come, but by 76, they were really settled down with their unique sounds somehow between Popol Vuh, Catharsis, Univers Zero and Opus Avantra. Messe En ré Mineur is a double album, and was quite an artistic success. Understandably so, Wapassou repeated the formula for their next two albums with the same kind of success, those three albums apparently forming a trilogy (which have been re-issued by Musea). They had quite a bit of gigs for a period of three years, which left them quite exhausted by the end of the decade.

The group went on to record one other album on a different label then folded as the decade unfolded into the next one.

bio written by Hugues Chantraine

Why this artist must be listed in :
Similar to Univers Zero and Art Zoyd

1. Wapassou - 74 - Prodisc PS 37342
2. Messe en Ré Mineur - 76 - Crypto ZAL 6401- Musea FGBG 4111
3. Salammbô - 77 - Crypto ZAL 6437- Musea FGBG 4112
4. Ludwig - 79 - Crypto ZAL 6477- Musea FGBG 4113
5. Génuine - 80 - Sterne STE 26.512

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WAPASSOU discography

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

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

3.10 | 31 ratings
3.80 | 43 ratings
Messe en Ré Mineur
3.03 | 29 ratings
3.77 | 30 ratings
Ludwig - Un Roi Pour L'Eternité
2.20 | 5 ratings
4.00 | 3 ratings
Lac D'argent

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

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Wapassou by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.10 | 31 ratings

Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars A fascinating debut album from a male and female member Seventies musical collective with a skewed split personality of styles and sounds, French group Wapassou would eventually become an avant-garde/chamber prog/rock-in-opposition act of note in the second half of that decade. But while there's the first emerging signs of that on their self-titled first album from 1974, the band were also experimenting with psychedelic, Krautrock, folk, raga and symphonic passages, making for an exploratory work searching musically in so many teasing little glimpses of schizophrenic directions.

Opening instrumental `Melopée' is a melancholic but wistful searing violin, flute and classical guitar folk rumination, keyboards shimmering gently with restraint in the background. The churning and senses-rattling `Rien' races in and out of a wealth of fascinating little themes in almost eleven minutes, Karin Nickerl's breathy pained vocal both reflective and weary over despondent piano, straining synths and scratchy violin responses. The piece quickly turns frantic and dangerous as electric piano and manic acoustic guitar picking grows in urgency, and pulsing electronics and mischievous droning organ brings a nightmarish mood. `Musillusion' closes the first side and is a shorter medieval-flavoured folk lament with droning choir-like vocals, Karin's slightly flat voice giving the piece an eerie despondent quality.

After a first side that was entirely devoid of drums altogether or anything except the lightest of percussive elements, the symphonic `Châtiment' maintains a nicely clipping beat (with almost an accidently modern trip-hop kick to it decades too early!) as Karin's breathy spoken-word purr drifts in and out of aching violin, dancing flute and spectral Ange-like keyboards. The almost fourteen- minute instrumental closer `Trip' sounds like nothing else on the disc (partly due to the addition of several guest musicians), with a Krautrock, raga and psych-rock flavour to the constant spacey electronic drones, lengthy jamming keyboard runs over lively drumming, hypnotic percussion and relentless snaking bass. Acid-fried electric guitar jamming simmers in the background, and sitar groans to life and builds wildly in the climax.

Oddly (and rather frustratingly, because there shouldn't be this kind of `re-writing of history'), the reissue licensed from Musea Records not only adds two instrumental recordings from a 1974 single to the front of the album (they should at least be tacked onto the end of the disc as `bonus tracks'), but it fails to even list them on the back cover. A bit of internet sleuthing reveals they are `Femmes-Fleurs', an easy to enjoy mix of plodding electronics and fuzzy distorted guitars that remind of the title-track opener of Pink Floyd's `Obscured by Clouds', and `Borgia', a throwaway but upbeat jig-like psych-lite rocker full of sprightly Hammond organ and spirited violin.

Initially confusing on first listen, `Wapassou' proves to be an unpredictable and exciting curio if you can connect with the somewhat gloomy mood of the pieces. Each track has a sparse, low-key production and is full of interesting (if not always the most skilled) playing, and there's a constant tasty roughness and natural fragility to the entire set that creates a very permeating and highly distinctive atmosphere. Don't instantly dismiss the album, let it take its time to reveal its precious secrets, and you'll likely find a welcome little unexpected gem.

Four stars.

 Messe en Ré Mineur by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.80 | 43 ratings

Messe en Ré Mineur
Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In mid-70's Wapassou were discovered by Jean-Claude Pognant and his Crypto label, which signed the band for the next three albums.The second album of the trio was recorded at the Azurville Studio in July 1976, no bass help by Jean Pierre Schall this time, instead they had recruited a female singer named Eurydice and engineer Fernand Landmann, who played some acoustic parts in the first album, is listed among the members.The album was titled ''Messe en re mineur'' and released the same year.

This was actually a 40-min. suite, broken in two parts due to the limitations of a vinyl press, presenting a mix of Chamber and Psychedelic Rock sounds with Classical references, a bit similar to the mystic deliveries of Italians SAINT JUST and the already mentioned cross-references with CATHARSIS' haunting sounds.But unlike other bands the sound here is exclusively driven by the keyboards/piano, guitar and violin with no additional equipment.The result is a bizarre, atmospheric journey with Classical and Folk touches and a pretty experimental attitude, based on the calm chord progressions of the guitar and the odd soundscapes, produced by the keyboard and violin isolations.Very unique music with a progressive/experimental spirit, which overcomes the lack of a richer sound with the display of ethereal melodies, symphonic soundscapes and psychedelic textures with Eurydice adding an extra dimension with her angelic, wordless choirs.The music is pretty mellow with totally acoustic passages and rare electric explosions, basically structured around Freddy Brua's old-styled organ and the eccentric combination of choirs and violin drives.I could say that there are even some Gothic- and Medieval-like colors throughout the listening, which comes as genuine and deeply personal as a whole.

Even if this is not your cup of tea, ''Messe en re mineur'' deserves your attention for being an album of its own taste at the very end.Classical/Folk/Avant Music with a mystical mood.Recommended.

 Wapassou by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.10 | 31 ratings

Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

3 stars A strange debut drom the obscure french band Wapassou. This is hard to rate. This band have no drums and bass guitar, only keys, electric/acoustic guitar, violin, and the haunting vocals by Karen Nickerl. But this first album includes some additional instrumental, like flutes, bass, clarinets, drums and percurssion. The album art is very interesting, even without colours. The Wapassou's self-titled have an ethereal feeling but drowned deep into psychedelic rock. Trip, the ending track, is the best song of the album.

It have some boring and uncatchy parts. Even good, it lacks something, the band wasn't prepared for a great record yet.

 Wapassou by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.10 | 31 ratings

Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Unique and obscure 70's French Chamber Rock trio,hailing from Strasbourg.The main core of the band had no rhythm section and included female guitarist/singer Karen Nickerl, violin player Jacques Lichti and keyboardist Freddy Brua.However on their self-titled debut from 1974 there are several session help on a few tracks, including some bass, flutes, clarinets, drums and percussion.The album was originally released on Prodisc, both the Musea and Belle Antique CD reissues some years later include the two tracks of their single ''Femmes- Fleurs / Borgia'' from the same year.

The original opening ''Melopee'' is a haunting number of mellow Chamber/Classical music with flutes and violins on the forefront,pretty hypnotic but quite engaging.With the long ''Rien'' the band mixes impressively Psychedelic and Chamber Rock: dark organ sounds, acoustic passages with scary violin parts and emphatic vocals by Nickerl present the really personal face of the band.''Musillusion'' is on the folkier side of things thanks to the combination of acoustic guitars and violins with some symphonic sections added and Nickerl again in good form.''Chatiment'' is the first track to contain the slow drumming of Jean-Michel Biger, again a nice blend of organ-driven CATHARSIS-like Psychedelic Rock and violin-driven Chamber music, supported by the expressive narrative vocals of Nickerl along with a great flute section by Geneviève Moerlen towards the end.The long closing piece ''Trip'' features also the percussion work of Pierre Moerlen's brother Benoit in a track which sounds like an extended psychedelic jamming with the fiery organ solos next to the drums and percussion before finally takes some short of ANGE flame, where organ and electric guitars combine nicely.The end of it belongs to the sitar sounds of Christian Laurent.

Notice that the Musea CD reissue however will open with the two tracks of the band's 1974 single.''Femmes-Fleurs'' is a typical organ-led Psychedelic Rock cut with a steady hypnotic groove and a decent electric guitar performance, while ''Borgia'' contains some more dynamics,sounding though stylistically quite dated despite the nice organ solos.

A good mix of Psychedelic and Chamber Rock by a band with a sound of its own.Today the album has lost much of its freshness, possibly due to the lack of some true energy, but still surprises with the decent concept of combining two different music approaches.Warmly recommended.

 Messe en Ré Mineur by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.80 | 43 ratings

Messe en Ré Mineur
Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Rune2000's review of this album absolutely hits the nail on the head with the comparison to Mike Oldfield's work. Wapassou's Messe en Ré Mineur is a single side-long piece - just like all of Oldfield's work to this point (if you overlook On Horseback from Ommadawn) - and often the use of guitar and keyboards will show the influence of Oldfield's work. But at the same time, because the piece is performed by a full band lineup and relies less on using the studio to create a perfectly engineered and crystal-clear sound, it's different enough from Oldfield's work to consider in its own right. The different recording techniques involved result in a more naturalistic, warm and intimate sound than Oldfield often attains, and there's a "live in the studio" air to things which makes the work a particularly impressive accomplishment.
 Messe en Ré Mineur by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.80 | 43 ratings

Messe en Ré Mineur
Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars All my recent Mike Oldfield reviews really made me want to revisit this relatively obscure little gem of an album by the French band Wapassou. Messe En Ré Mineur is an album consisting of one continuous 40 minute track. The reason why this lengthy suite reminds me so much of Oldfield's escapades from the '70s has to do with the absence of drums and pure bass lead, although both keyboards and guitar carry enough bass in their arrangements to keep its absence almost unnoticeable. The biggest difference to Oldfield's recordings comes from the fact that the music never seems formulaic and overproduced, plus I generally believe that four minds can produce more exciting music than one will ever be capable of!

The music itself is highly atmospheric with a definite Space Rock flavor added to the mix. I'm not sure that this particular release has anything that would resemble Avant-Prog on it so everyone who doesn't necessarily enjoy the genre can still safely check out this album. I get a big kick out of this album's unpredictability while it still always manages to keep the underlying groove going while adding new layers of sound with every new section of this lengthy piece. The keyboard sound does have a definite advantage compared to the rest of the instrument arrangements but, I personally, wouldn't have it any other way!

Messe En Ré Mineur is an album that I really think can have a much broader audience compared to the one it has relieved so far. I'm looking especially at all the prog loving Mike Oldfield fans out there who have praised albums like Tubular Bells, Ommadawn and Amarok. You guys should definitely give this release a shot! I know that it can feel like a drag seeking out an obscure album like this one but, in the end, it will be a much more rewarding experience than purchasing one of the lesser Oldfield albums just for the sake of not abandoning your comfort zone.

**** star songs: La Messe En Ré Mineur (39:23)

 Messe en Ré Mineur by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.80 | 43 ratings

Messe en Ré Mineur
Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a different yet enjoyable listen.This three piece band from France play violin, keybords and guitar. No bass, drums or percussion. There is a guest female soprano vocalist. The guitar is mostly strummed while the keys and violin take the prominant roles along with the vocalist of course.This is one long 40 minute piece. Actually I was reminded of ARPIA's latest not because they sound anything alike but both bands really stay within the style of music they decided to play with little in the way of variance.

It opens with organ, vocals and strummed guitar.Vocals stop around 1 1/2 minutes then the song settles. Violin before 4 minutes then the tempo picks up and the vocals come and go. A new section after 8 1/2 minutes as keyboards, guitar and violin lead. Vocals are back 13 minutes in. A change 15 1/2 minutes in as pulsating keys and vocals take over. It turns darker 17 minutes in before brightening a minute later. Violin comes to the fore 19 minutes in. Vocals are back. The tempo picks up before 23 minutes with vocals and guitar leading.

A new section 24 minutes in as violin, organ and violin lead. It settles with vocals and it's darker. The guitar and keys before 27 minutes are cool. Violin leads a minute later. Vocals are back 30 minutes in. Piano after 31 minutes as vocals stop briefly. When they come back it's not good. Not a fan of the style of vocals there. Violin takes the lead 35 minutes in and other vocals come in for the first time both male and female. It settles 37 minutes in before a big finish.

Certainly the soprano vocals are an acquired taste and they really keep me from giving up that fourth star. I do really like what they've done here though. 3.5 stars.

 Messe en Ré Mineur by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.80 | 43 ratings

Messe en Ré Mineur
Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by debrewguy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars If anyone is looking for a starting point in over the top prog, this might be a good place.

Not that it's just a jumble of noise, it's not. There are passing melodies, haunting violin solos, and organ riffs, echoing female choral singing. Sometimes chaos, resolving into soundscapes that prog electronic groups would kill for .

At the 15:30 mark, you actually have what seems is going to be either a wedding march or the Ave Maria. Then a tape looped riff, first by the violin, then guitar, and then bass, with the return of the female vocals that slowly go from angelic to Gong like yelping, with a male voice singing counter melody. Then it comes full circle and once more, are we in church ?

18:43, the organ and violin take over for a bit ... I'm imagining Nektar at its' best (outside of Recycled) , but this music still gives merit to its' title Mass in Re Minor. Maybe this is a 70s reply to Handel ???

At 26 plus minutes, Wapassou introduce some Raga to the mix. Yet, it brings to mind a spanish born raga (???). It could be the guitar backing, it could be the guitar & keyboard meshing. It could be the moorish underpinning of some spanish culture. This is a french group ?

The final ten minutes the group comes to its' chamber rock climax. The organ, the violin, the female vocals once more building in emotion, the male coming in proclaiming , until we end in an almost post-coital peace, we've fulfilled this service's spiritual mission. We're preparing to re-join the outside world. Re-energized ? Enthralled ? Joyful ? Sated !

Yes, if you're going to start somewhere in avant-garde, this is a great place ...

 Wapassou by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.10 | 31 ratings

Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by debrewguy
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars So here I sit trying to come up with words that might offer some comparisons to assist you as to whether this is an album for you.

Well, here is the best way I can describe it - Imagine early 70s Ange trying their hand at being the soundtrack era Pink Floyd. Or vice versa. For example - Borgia is, for the most part, a take on that oldest of blues & boogie riffs - A , C, D, then back to A. Have Pink Floyd play a stilted blues version, with the keyboards sound from Ange's Caricatures . Or if you're Canadian, and grew up in a small town and went skating at the local rink every Saturday, I'm sure you'll be asking if that wasn't one of those endless series of organ tunes that seemed to provide the backdrop for your weekend sortie. A little freakier, but not mind blowing ...

Melopee seems played on an instrument (or instruments) that approximates a mix of B3 Hammond & Mellotron. Add to this, a violin playing the same melody as the keyboard(s), a flute somewhat quieter, and after a few plays, you also hear an acoustic guitar in the background, accompaying the whole with a mellow spanish flamenco-ish lilt. Calm , and you do walk away afterwards with the song echoing in your head. In my case, at least until I heard all the instruments. Kind of like ... once the puzzle is solved, the interest is lost.

Rien, Misillusion and Chatiment do recall a lighter Univers Zero. They don't captivate me in the same way, and frankly, this comparison drew my attention more than the songs.

Trip, which ends the album, brings me back to the early Ange sound from Caricatures & le Cimetiere des Arlequins. The way the organ sounds, the way it is played, it even made me go back & listen to Caricatures to see if I was simply remembering a similar tune from that LP, but no. Just the sounds. Apart from the 2 minute or so raga outro ...

So how do I actually feel about the music ? Well, I can see the RIO/Avant tag. But for 1974, it sounds dated. For Avant-Garde, it really doesn't come across as experimental or adventurous. Not even compared to some of the Symphonic or even Krautrockers of the time. And finally, the compositions themselves fail to really stick around in my ears, and once I'm to the next CD, they have already left but little traces in my memory.

O.K., but much better later (Messe en Re Mineur). But then, everyone has to start somewhere

 Salammbô by WAPASSOU album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 29 ratings

Wapassou RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

2 stars Ah, sorry...this album is hard for me to listen all over...

If my memory is correct, at the time French progressive rock was very popular, Wapassou has ridden the prog waves with Ange, Atoll, Tai Phone, etc. etc. But their style is much different from other bands. I suppose they thought it was the most important that the floating and streaming tune and sound, without any percussive sections, should scatter over their play and works. So, as you can listen, this album has exactly fuzzy atmosphere and beat(?). If I listen to this work, I always feel seasick, or drunk on Japanese sake...I guess most of avant-freaks love the album, but I have to say sorry.

I'll give this album 2 stars, with a thought by avant-freaks.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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