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Progressive Electronic • France

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Philippe Besombes biography
Philippe Besombes is an underground but now cult french artist from the 70's avant garde-prog scene. After a student doctoral degree to become a chemist he turned to music and was partly formed by Stockhusen and Xenakis. He rapidly showed an interest to electronic synth dispositifs (AKS, MiniMoog, Polyphonic ensemble Korg...). In 1976 Philippe Besombes had opened his own recording studio with Jean-Louis Rizet. He produced three major albums under his name. He recorded his most notorious effort in 1975 with Jean Louis Rizet. The duo published the enigmatic and complex "Pôle" (1975) for synthesisers orchestration and shimmering, spacious, nebulous electronic textures. The same year Besombes recorded the soundtrack of the movie "Libra".The music delivers an hybridation of electroacoustic experimentations, bizarre ambient soundscapes and jazzy-folkish ingredients. In 1976 "Ceci est Cela" is a collection of experimental electronic pieces more in the genre of Pierre Henry and Stokhausen)
Philippe Besombes is also known for his group "Hydravion" and for being the founder of the obscure label "Pôle -Tapioca" (have been published different works from Magma, Gong, Pôle, Potemkine...)

Similar artists: The Cosmic Jokers, Fille Qui Mousse, Lard Free

: : : Philippe Blache, FRANCE : : :

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Anthology 1975-1979Anthology 1975-1979
Purple Pyramid 2016
Audio CD$12.99
Mio Records
Audio CD$9.99
$25.00 (used)
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PHILIPPE BESOMBES - ANTHOLOGY 1975-1979 * NEW CD USD $22.68 Buy It Now 3 days
Anthology 1975-1979 [Box] * by Philippe Besombes. USD $22.69 Buy It Now 5 days
PHILIPPE BESOMBES Libra CD French EM/Psych OST ex-Pole, Hydravion w/Bonus Tracks USD $16.98 Buy It Now 8 days
Philippe Besombes - Anthology 1975-1979 [New CD] Deluxe Edition USD $29.47 Buy It Now 11 days
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Libra (Un Film du Groupe Pattern) [1/20] by Philippe Besombes (Vinyl,... USD $18.33 Buy It Now 14 days
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PHILIPPE BESOMBES LIBRA - UN FILM DU GROUPE PATTERN LP Electronic Space Rock USD $17.99 Buy It Now 16 days
Philippe Besombes - Libra - Un Film Du Groupe Pattern [New Vinyl] Blue, Reissue USD $21.28 Buy It Now 22 days
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Libra - Un Film Du Groupe Pattern - Philippe Besombes (Vinyl Used Very Good) USD $19.28 Buy It Now 26 days
PHILIPPE BESOMBES Anthology 1975-1979 CD 4 Discs Set (Hydravion) USD $31.99 Buy It Now 28 days
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PHILIPPE BESOMBES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 15 ratings
3.66 | 14 ratings
2.33 | 3 ratings
La Guerre Des Animaux

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

PHILIPPE BESOMBES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.00 | 3 ratings
Cesi est Cela

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pôle by BESOMBES, PHILIPPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.68 | 15 ratings

Philippe Besombes Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars That sure doesn't look like an ordinary fag that guy is smoking... and don't you just love those old 'Chewbacca' woolly sheep coats people wore without shame in the 70's? What a decade! So tasteless it just makes you laugh out loud and wish you were back in that era where anything was acceptable.

This is an ambitious double album from '75 - around that time where even quadruple albums were acceptable as certain record companies sat back and let the musicians take control. The opener 'Haute pression' is similar to Floyd's 'One of these Days', but replaces bass with a keyboard throb. 'Pole' is a good example of electronic underground rock where there's much experimentation at play. One thing's for sure - this isn't a musical score played from written notes. Nothing is rushed or condensed. It all just seems to play out real-time.

The Paris based 'Pole' label was similar to their 'Cosmic Courier' counterpart in Germany, where many artists came and left as a sort of extended family. This recording has lots of Arp, VCS3 and Mellotron keyboards. The biggest similarity with 'Pole' would be 'The Cosmic Jokers' from Berlin. This is a bit more varied with lots of unidentifiable sounds and electronic phasing.

At a gargantuan 76 minutes they've plenty of time to carry out their arty experiments and it works well. If this were squashed into 40 minutes, I'd imagine it would have been an unholy tangled mess.

The highlight on 'Pole' has to be 'Armature double'. A glum, slowly evolving piece of electronica which comprises Electric piano, Mellotron and sudden bursts of industrial noise, slowly paced and quietly evolving. Where did these guys get possession of such fancy equipment? It's not as if they had huge amounts of money. In those days electronic machines cost an arm and leg. Literally.

Pleasingly it's also well produced, being clear with lots of resonance and dynamics considering its age. However, you can clearly hear their vocal limitations on 'Rock à Montauban ' which are as tuneless as early 'Faust'. but like most European bands of the time - there was no front-man, no leader and vocals are considered as important as what's being played around them. All for one and one for all.

On the final 22 minute track 'Pole' go all out flanger-tastic where every sound is crushed through phaser ridden technology which always brings a smile to my face.

For most listeners this album will sound too directionless, too tuneless with a multitude of 'noodling' and electronic knob twisting to be of any real value. These criticisms are valid, but you have to admit, it's a good laugh.

 Libra by BESOMBES, PHILIPPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 14 ratings

Philippe Besombes Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One time member of French mentalist band 'Pôle' and 'Hydravion', Philippe Besombes is probably more well known due to the 'Nurse With Wound' list rather than his actual recordings.

Hallucinogenic substances surely played a large part in this sprawling weird album from '75. Being nowhere near as electronic as his contemporary releases with said bands, it still sounds incredibly unusual, particularly considering he was only only 24 years of age.

Comparisons vary from Alvin Curran, MEV, Stockhausen and Xenakis, only a bit more accessible. Who on earth is this guy with his echoing bells, tinkling piano and almost native American vocals? Well, apparently he was a big friend of Jean Michel Jarre, although I find that hard to believe...

More than anything 'Libra' is a Psychedelic album, laden with a whole lot of very unusual effects and atonal passages for a 1975 recording. The only 'normal' tune would have to be 'Tis A Song' which is so ordinary it sounds as though it's from a Max Bygraves album complete with French vocals but thankfully only lasts 2 mins 33secs. However, even that one has the thin reedy voice thrust through electronic filters.

In many ways listening to 'Libra' is like having big soft alien hypodermic needles inserted very slowly into your brain. Sprinklings of piano and fat bloops of electronics occasioned by the odd effected electric guitar squelch about like Abominable Snowmen having a party in Anchorage.

Certainly not an album for the casual listener, 'Libra' demands close attention and even then you may find it VERY annoying.

 Libra by BESOMBES, PHILIPPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 14 ratings

Philippe Besombes Progressive Electronic

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Originally a chemist, preparing a PhD at the university of Paris, but always fiddling around with free jazz and contemporary music for a passion, even working with a ballet troupe until the summer of 72, when Besombes embarked on a typical hippie trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. On his returning, he met Jean-Michel Jarre (then still working for a radio research centre) and started a duo with him, playing electronic music and played live a few gigs in early 73. Commissioned by Pattern (an association of moviemakers) for the soundtrack of a seldom-seen movie Libra, Besombes took quite a while to work on this album, thus ending informally the Jarre partnership. The movie project proved difficult, because it became a dialogue-less 90-min project that was, as usual, under-financed. When it finally came out in 75, the project was critically well received, but remained confidential.

The album has a very wide scope ranging from strange TD synths and sounding like Pierre Henry (the opening Plage with its orgasmic voices and q) to some weird "bruitage" ala Faust (Les Diapos), passing through some Ron Geesin-like Floyd moments (the Ballade En Velo with the Geesin-like horns ala AHM) and some pure RnR moments (the out-of-context Boogimmick) and some downright Floyd ambiances (Cérémonie or Jaune, which sounds like Saucerful Of Secrets, the track). You even get some Indian music (Raggacountry) and some almost-normal prog rock (Hache 06) and much more. The second side holds the longest tracks, but this does not make the album anymore direction, as it ends on a weak English-sung Tis A Song.

While there are some outstanding (and even sublime moments), there are some rather embarrassing moments as well. The album is actually quite uneven and it goes a bit aimlessly in every direction. While I can never thank enough MIO to release such lost French gems, I wish they'd have given us some kind of info on the origins of the four bonus tracks, but most likely, they were part of the movie as well, since they sound quite a bit like the rest of the album. My guess is that if MIO records named the-is album Libra Vol.1, there will be yet another one.

Besombes will record a second "solo" album in 76 than found Hydravion (his best-known project in 78), before recording the last of the album (eponymous) I know him to have recorded in 79. Nevertheless, this debut album is very much worth investigating it, even if I would not call this work essential.

 Pôle by BESOMBES, PHILIPPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.68 | 15 ratings

Philippe Besombes Progressive Electronic

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Bombastic "cosmic" synth experiments and a hybrid electronic rocking "journey" from Besombes and Rizet in this classic project called "Pôle". Very far from the "urban" and semi- industrial "hypnotic" loops delivered by frenchies from Heldon and Lard Free. "Pôle" features nice exhibitions of analog synth variations: the psychedelic synthesiser trippiness of "Haute pression" with its propulsive electronic "patterns" and drum parts, the floating & meditative "Evelyse" for synth / acoustic flute combinations. The album also includes a furious freak 'n roll jamming session in the surprising "Armature double" and humorous collage sounds in "Rock a Montauban". "Lundi matin" is a groovy, powerful electronic jazzy piece. The track which closes the album (synthi soit il) is a weirdo minimal "droning" essay for phasing synth lines and a beautiful "levitating" melody. A majestic, strangely abstract composition. The last minutes take back the initial theme of the song, covered by "hypno" & rhythmical electronic motifs. This album is mostly made of synth equipments for semi- improvisations, really "trippy" in its own way with a vast catalogue of electronic sounds (sometimes in a rather old fashioned style). Highly recommended for fans of vintage cosmic soundscapes.
 Libra by BESOMBES, PHILIPPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.66 | 14 ratings

Philippe Besombes Progressive Electronic

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars psychedelic "super project" from Philippe Besombes, initially recorded for a little movie. Extremely eclectic and intelligent, this effort conciliate unique sources of sounds mixed to luminous analog synth /organ textures, occasionally punctuated by voices, and acoustic, electric instruments. Unusual instrumentation including a vast exploration electronic gadgets and "collages". "La plage" is weird as hell, a difficult but subliminal listening for "dark" electric guitar chords, "somnambulist", linear organ sounds and fantomatic- hysterical voices, totally "orgasmic" vibration. "Rugby" is sonic, freak n roll composition with hammering drums, interstellar noises and freakish bass lines, "mega cosmic" trip! "Theme Grave" delivers a "sinister", "plaintive" electronic funeral theme for glacial organic chords, spectral voices in the distance. "Ballade en velo" is a musical rupture, delivering a charming folk ensemble for brass instruments and acoustic guitars, a sunny melody is floating in the air. "Ceremonie" reveals an almost religious, incredibly awesome organ melodie accompanied by church like chorus coming from an other world, eternal! Despite the incredible personal atmospheres delivered in each composition I regret that there aren't any «epic» songs, playing with time and duration for a better progression in the musical movement. Anyway this remark is minor. A wonderful, "hyper-inventive" album with no equivalent elsewhere. At the top of the French prog electronic classics! Far better than Philippe Besombes side project called "hydravion".
Thanks to Philippe Blache for the artist addition.

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