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DEBILE MENTHOL

RIO/Avant-Prog • Switzerland


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Debile Menthol biography
Once upon a time in Neuchatel, Switzerland there was this band called Debile Menthol who played Rock In Opposition in the vein of Samla Mammas Manna, Etron Fou and Henry Cow and with a sort of minimalistic approach that reminds Massacre (Fred Frith).
Founded in 1979, this band managed to record only two albums - Emile Au Jardin Patrologique (1981) and Battre Campagne (1984). Both albums were released by RecRec which is a Swiss label that was created in order to release their albums. RecRec has re-issued those two albums together as one release (2-CD case) with bonus tracks (1994).
The first album is rather cheerful sounding (with occasional darker parts), jazzier and has a large lineup consisting of 9 members (playing on violin, sax and clarinet among others). This album can appeal to Samla Mammas Manna and Miriodor fans. The second album had a smaller lineup and the sound changed a bit as well to a more fierce sound (and more similar to the Massacre sound than the Samla Mammas Manna sound, although the eccentric touch of the Swedish band is still there). Overall this is a weird sounding band, which created a mix of quirky rock, punk, fusion, free jazz and plain eccentricity. The lyrics (when there are any) are being spoken (sometimes at high tone) in a non-melodic style (not sung and to me reminds of Massacre and The Clash) in French and filled with satire and humour (as their name might suggests). During their tours the band was under financial and personal stresses which lead to its disbanding and the creation of two other bands mentioned below.

Related bands:
Nimal - Guitarist Jean M. Rossel formed the more folk-influenced Nimal with 'cellist Tom Cora drummer Pippin Barnett and others - http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive_rock_discography_BAND.asp?band_id=2149
L'Ensemble Raye - Cedric Vuille and Jean Vincent Huguenin went on to form this group - http://www.ensembleraye.ch/

==Assaf Vestin (avestin)==




Discography:
Emile Au Jardin Patrologique, studio album (1981)
Battre Campagne, studio album (1984)

Debile Menthol official website

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Emile a la CampagneEmile a la Campagne
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DEBILE MENTHOL discography


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

4.28 | 18 ratings
Emile Au Jardin Patrologique
1981
3.39 | 10 ratings
Battre Campagne
1984

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

DEBILE MENTHOL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.00 | 6 ratings
Emile A La Campagne
1994

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

DEBILE MENTHOL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Emile Au Jardin Patrologique by DEBILE MENTHOL album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.28 | 18 ratings

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Emile Au Jardin Patrologique
Debile Menthol RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by jglowe77

5 stars Believe me, this is not a carelessly given 5-star rating. I have listened to this album at least 20 times through, and it never ceases to amaze me. The instrumentation on this album akin to the virtuoso lunacy to be found on Begnagrad's eponymous album. Strange melodies and song structures dominate this LP, from the folksy, classically-influenced musings of Tres Amusant, Major to the haunting industrial vortex of Rien. I speak very sparse French, so I have no idea what these people are saying, and that is probably for the better. This album, as a whole, exhibits a slightly unhinged quality, as one would experience in a conversation with a seemingly normal person who nevertheless seems barely able to conceal his/her insanity. Bubbling beneath the surface of this album is a kind of demented-circus-quality of madness that seems at once both endearingly amusing and subtly dangerous. A must-have album for those who enjoy like their prog waaayy out there.

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 Emile A La Campagne by DEBILE MENTHOL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Emile A La Campagne
Debile Menthol RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars As the title subtly tells (it contracts the album's two titles), this is a compilation of Debile Menthol's two albums with a few bonus tracks added. This two-disc set is all you need to find out about the first chapter of Momo Rossel and JV Huguenin's multi-story rocket musical adventures. Debile Menthol was the craziest Avant Prog group coming from Romandie (the French-speaking Switzerland), since being caught up by Thonk and Steamboat Switzerland (both RIO trio taking ELP as a base), but Debile Menthol turned into the weaker L'Ensemble Rayť and then into the energetic Nimal.

See the separate album reviews for the majority of the contents, but the two bonus tracks on the first album are well in the spirit of this Avant Prog, often approaching the grotesque and absurd. The release's booklet contains a number of image & text collages, which apparently have no link with the original albums, but reinforce the absurd and nonsensical side of their music.

Most likely, this is the only Debile Menthol CD release (it says the vinyls are still available) that is still available in the second half of the 00's, but it always better than nothing. If you enjoy weird Dadaist European folkloric music, this release is really aimed at you.

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 Battre Campagne by DEBILE MENTHOL album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.39 | 10 ratings

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Battre Campagne
Debile Menthol RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Almost three years after their first album, Debile Menthol returned to the studios to record their second (and last) album with a slightly reduced line-up, being only a septet by then, but surprisingly with such a large group, all seven were around since the first album. Musically speaking, Debile Menthol's music is just as crazy as before (if not even more so), certainly more demented and vigorous and chaotic, sometimes approaching dissonance. The album is also much more sung, and the vocals are much fun (they used an outside lyricist) if you understand French. The album is much faster and synthesized than its predecessor, sometimes reaching post-punk speed like XTC, Squeeze or The Knack, but being much more complex and often changing throughout one number, a bit like a Zappa tune.

The vocal bits are often grotesque, inducing a sense of lack of seriousness, but this does not affect the music too much, a bit as if Zappa's crazy vocals would've stopped you from enjoying the rest of his music. Only the closing Cul De Sac seems to stand a bit out of the rest of the album as it sounds like early Univers Zero somber acoustic modern classical music. While this album is probably more complex, it seems that in the long range, it was less influential than its predecessor. Probably best to start with their debut, rather than this one;

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 Emile Au Jardin Patrologique by DEBILE MENTHOL album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.28 | 18 ratings

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Emile Au Jardin Patrologique
Debile Menthol RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Recorded in the Fall of 81, Debile Menthol's debut album is very much in advance of its time and was obviously very influential for many group that are developing the Avant Prog genre (whatever that may be) today. From the Quebecois Miriodor, Rouge Ciel and Interference Sardine, to Finland's Alamaailman Vasarat or Uzva, to Belgium's Julverne, X- Legged Sally Hardscore or Cro Magnon etc.: all of these groups owe IMHO a big debt to Debile Menthol's works. Debile Menthol is a 9-man formation (most are multi- instrumentalists), from which will emerge Rossel and Huguenin. For a long recording career, much of which is featured on this site.

While Debile Menthol's music is a rather crazy pot-pourri of musical influences and borrowings, they often remain fairly accessible, fun, often going into the bombastic and grotesque folkloric fair music (like the Oktoberfest beer-bingeing music or circus music for example) and I bet you that if she was still alive today, my grandmother could find some of these pieces amusing and might just be tapping her foot along. The album is fairly acoustic (just some synths and electric guitars) and mainly instrumental, with only a few weird French rather-funny vocals in off-voices, but they can get demented as well. In the album highlight A Nos Mamans (To Our Mothers), they sound for a small minute like the Sranglers, if you can believe it. Other tracks can sound like some crazy Devo or Talking Heads (Regarde Par La FenÍtre and Crash Que Peut), but the whole thing being much more complex and as much fun.

Most likely one of the most influential album in the "Avant Prog" genre, given its early release date, and a fun one too. Only for progressive nutheads with a few loosened bolts above the neck level.

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 Battre Campagne by DEBILE MENTHOL album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.39 | 10 ratings

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Battre Campagne
Debile Menthol RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Pnoom!

4 stars This album by Debile Menthol is my first experience with the band, and it's one to remember. I don't know if the musicians ever went to music school, but if they did, they forgot any lessons about allowing the listener to breath. This is a good thing, however, as the result is that we are presented with a non- stop assault of pure energy. And you may not realize it, but pure energy can stand on its own for quite some time, and even longer when coupled with great ideas, as is the case with Debile Menthol's Battre Campaigne. These elements combine to make this one of my favorite RIO/Avant albums (automatically making it one of my favorite albums in my collection, as RIO/avant is perhaps my favorite prog subgenre, though, if only for CAN, Krautrock runs it close competition).

Right from the opening moments of this album, we know we are in for quite a ride. Bim-Bam is about as condensed as energy gets, and, as I pointed out earlier, it is combined with great ideas, resulting in an amazing opening song that truly sets the tone for the album (and what a tone it is). The vocals that come on top are as frantic as if not more frantic than the music. Their vocalist, like with Topi Lehtipuu of Hoyry Kone and especially Damo Suzuki of CAN, has the ability to make the music itself make more sense. Sure, he sings in French, but language should not matter when it comes to music (and I happen to like the sound of French, though there really aren't any languages I don't like). The rest of the album is in a generally similar vein as Bim-Bam, but without sounding repetitive. For example, the song A Quoi Pensent-Ils (what are they thinking?) is generally subdued (on the surface), relying more on subtle bass work rather than pounding drums, but it is equally as strange and effective as Bim-Bam. Avalanche takes a new direction altogether, focusing more on combining avant-garde ideals with great melody, similar in nature but not in sound to Frank Zappa's work.

What all of this results in is an album where we are presented with a diverse selection of music sure to give everyone something to enjoy (and, for RIO/avant fans like me, a whole lot to enjoy). They have managed to successfully create a unique sound, one that is enchanting and enticing, always engaging, never boring, and quite rewarding. If you like adventurous music, and don't mind if, at times, it seems strange and "out there," this is the perfect album for you. It probably won't ever be regarded as a defining RIO/avant prog album, but it certainly deserves to be in every prog collection. A very fun album, and highly recommended.

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