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Komintern biography
Founded in 1970 - Disbanded in 1975

This French band was founded by Francis Lemonnier (sax and vocals) and Serge Catalano (drums and percussions) in May 1970 after they left RED NOISE due to musical and political disagreements. The name chosen gives you a clear indication as to their political views. The band released one album called "Le Bal Du Rat Mort" in 1971 and one single "Fou, roi, pantin" and were active until 1975. The musicians that joined them were Michel Musac (guitar), Olivier Zdrzalik (bass, vocals, organ and piano) and Pascal Chassin (guitar). At first they were less focused on composing only music but more on mixing it along with satiric theater - a sort of "cabaret satirique", in order to express their extreme left views. They used their music to enhance their message, and they did it in a manner that mixed several styles of music that would fit their show and the message to be passed on to the crowd/listeners. They were related to extreme left movements such as the "Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire" and they toured in the summer of 1970 in, among other places, universities and factories that were in strike.

In July 1971 they manage to get into a recording studio of Pathé Marconi with the help and influence of Philippe Constantin et Etienne Rodagil. They are joined by guests musicians such as the Quintette de Cuivres lead by trombonist Raymond Katarzynski, trumpet players Pierre Thibaud et Fred Gérard, Joss Baselli on accordion and vocalist Jeanne de Valène. The producer Philippe Constantin does some editing of their texts and leaves out two texts that were recited without any music and replaces the booklet which featured originally a painting by Diego Ribeira.

Le Bal Du Rat Mort (The Dead Rat's Ball) is released in December 1971 and 2000 copies are sold. This release did not exhibit the true face of the band, but it did however show their talent as musicians and as composers and ability to combine different influences. This album is a mixture of rock, free-jazz, fusion, folk, oldies tunes, chanson Francaise and a general theatrical and quirky approach to composing. The overall result is a well-done mixture of styles and atmospheres. This may not be groundbreaking but it is different than the average output of French bands at that time and can be seen as avant-garde in their musical approach in this album.

In 1972 Komintern forms "F...
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4.14 | 37 ratings
Le Bal Du Rat Mort

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4.00 | 1 ratings
Fou, roi, pantin / Elle était belle


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 Le Bal Du Rat Mort by KOMINTERN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 37 ratings

Le Bal Du Rat Mort
Komintern RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

5 stars The proof that RIO didn't spring out the forehead of Chris Cutler one particularly inspired Saturday morning in 1977

After leaving the theatrical satire groove of Red Noise both Francis Lemonnier(sax, vocals) and Serge Catalano(drums, percussion) went onto new pastures after a major fall out with the rest of the band supposedly to do with polics. Joining forces with them were Michel Musac(guitar), Olivier Zdrzalik(bass, vocals, organ and piano) and Pascal Chassin(guitar) who all seemed to sport identical extreme leftist views.

In Komintern politics, theatre, French culture and absurdity are all scrambled up in this furious roller-coaster ride. You carefully plug into your seat, and BOOOM the ride is off to a wondrous circus land of strange sailor motifs and dancing Mandrill monkeys on balconies. Additionally you find a complexity regarding musical turnovers that'll make Gentle Giant look like Meat Loaf. Pacing wildly through avantguarde cabaret rock, fusion, angular folky chanson and zany off hinged vocal dominated sections, Le Bal de Rat Mort offers up the possibility of what Samla Mammas Manna would've sounded like, if they were French. Funny thing is that both of these bands actually were playing parallel to each other during the start of the 70s - developing a similar feel and sound at much the same time, only with two completely different cultures running the engine room. My guess is that they probably didn't even know about the other band's existence, let alone what their music sounded like.

All of this obviously started with Frank Zappa, and I think both Samla Mammas Manna and Komintern were highly influenced by Zappa's humoristic irreverence - not only in the lyrical sense but moreover in the manner in which he sliced through contemporary music with huge scissors and chainsaw elbows. Franky boy practically infused Dadaism into the rock world as something tangible and funny. Something you could actually make use off. Komintern took the baton up, just as Red Noise had did, and ran this filter through the heartland of France - it's age old accordion music, the new jazz rock, chanson traditions, beat music flirtations, and then managed to create an entirely unique sound for themselves. A sound that shakes you from your tree - rustles up the ground, and has you bouncing up and down with twitchy, unwieldy and nonsensical joy.

Apart from the core of the band, there are guesting musicians joining in on trumpet, trombone, accordion as well as the wonderful expressive vocals of Jeanne de Valène that show themselves in the most brilliant moments. The infusion of what now is a small Big Band(hoho), litters this entire album in scattered reed chit chatter - making you feel as if you're sitting in a room with some 50 different bird species all competing for your seed.

This is what makes circus elephants horny at 4 in the morning. It's what drunk clowns listen to when they're base jumping off the Eiffel Tower. It's the sort of music that leaps into your head like a long stretched limousine with silver doors and bells on it. It makes you jump for joy - dance into trances maniacally dripping with energy and sweat - open windows in places there are no windows, and shout LARS! at people in the street you've never met in your life.

I have read other music writers before me stating, that The Dead Rat's Ball (What a sensational title eh?) wasn't as experimental and ground-breaking as it's peers when it hit the street in 1971. As opposed to who I might enquire? How wrong they are. I truly object to such an obvious ludicrous statement. This is one of the most experimental and out there albums of it's time, and perhaps together with Måltid from SMM, Le Bal du Rat Mort lays down the blueprint of what later became the principles behind the RIO movement. This is genesis right here, don't you forget it people!

 Le Bal Du Rat Mort by KOMINTERN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 37 ratings

Le Bal Du Rat Mort
Komintern RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Without question these Frenchmen were one of the very first RIO bands to burst upon the scene. Their Communist message was as important and probably more so than the music they created. in fact they had two tracks on this debut that were words only that the Producer thankfully left off the record. In a live setting it was all about the message and I should mention that this band includes violin / cello player Richard Aubert who would go onto play with ATOLL. Also Gilbert Artman towards the end of this band's career played drums for them in a live setting. He is of course the drummer and brains behind the great LARD FREE. So yes this album is silly at times but always entertaining and adventerous. This really is a blast to listen to. I should mention that the main band is made up of the usual instruments plus sax while they have two guest trumpet players, a trombone player, vocalist and accordian player.

"Bal Pour Un Rat Vivant" is the side long opening track and it is all over the place at times. An intense start then it settles with violin before kicking back in. A change 2 minutes in then it settles with violin, sax and bass standing out. The sax becomes dissonant. The tempo continues to shift often. Another change before 6 minutes and it sounds great ! Love the guitar especially 7 minutes in. Fantastic bass before 9 1/2 minutes then the horns are back. Vocal melodies before 11 minutes along with dissonant horns. It then turns lighter with violin before 12 1/2 minutes. A change before 14 1/2 minutes as strummed guitar with violin and a beat takes over. The tempo then speeds up to end it.

The next suite "Le Bal Du Rat Mort" is divided into four tracks. "Hommage Au Maire De Tours" opens with some mock "ah ah amen" chants then the music kicks in with silly vocal expressions, farts and lots of violin. "Petite Musique Pour On Blockhaus" is a top two for me as it starts off slow but sounds incredible. The horns start to blast and it's very intense before 2 minutes. Amazing ! It settles back 3 minutes in and the violin comes to the fore after 3 1/2 minutes. Very cool. Horns eventually join in. "Pongistes De Tous Les Pays..." is a vocal track and yikes ! At least it's short and it is all in good fun. "Fou, Roi, Pantin..." ends it and this is a top two as well. This sounds incredible. I just love the sound and the vocals too. Guitar after 2 minutes and the passion in those vocals after 3 minutes is moving me. It settles again. Lots of horns and bass in this song too. It kicks back in with vocals. Nice. It's catchy with horns 5 minutes in to end it, violin too.

A solid 4 stars and a must for RIO fans or anyone who is into adventerous music.

 Le Bal Du Rat Mort by KOMINTERN album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 37 ratings

Le Bal Du Rat Mort
Komintern RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars How would like an hour to fool around, forget yourself and be guided by a myriad of humoristic sounds? You are bound to get entertained with this release. Its eclectic nature and funny parts, sounds and some noises will guarantee ~32 minutes of comic relief from your everyday life troubles. All in all, this is a wacky release which explores the amusing side of music and is also an experimental composition that goes for a stroll all around the block for musical ideas and structures while bringing in their own luggage.

Goofiness. They like to play around, be funny and humorous and at the same time carry on a serious message (look at their bio for background). Their way is maybe a different approach to seriousness?

"Bal pour rat Mort" is a very dynamic, and ever changing album that develops, changes main themes, explores and goes on and on in its search for new sounds, new avenues in which the music can develop. And all, it seems, with good sense of humour.

As we start off, already within one minute you get several styles of music - March, Tango, 60's movie soundtrack and plain oddities. If this is what you get in less than one minute, you can imagine what the whole track of more than 16 minutes delivers. The main instruments here are the sax, trumpets and accordion. They lead this "strange" interplay between styles and moods and lead from a cheerful music to a more wild one (you can imagine how a sax might do this) to a more relaxed tune and even to a formal sounding one as is heard right at the beginning with the march like part. Around the 4th minute we get a jazz-rock interlude with occasional violins and nice bass background and rhythms provided by the organ. Towards 6 minutes we get a more smooth sensation as we gear a more rock lead part with the guitar making its wah- wah appearance. But it is not long before we "deteriorate" back into the demented abyss in which the oddity takes over again and guides us through what appears at first listens as a maze, but once you listen to this enough times, you learn to appreciate the intricacies of composing such a piece and the how subtle are the changes from each style to the other between the different parts. I will not drag you with me in describing the various parts and changes portrayed here and will only conclude that the term boring does not apply here.

Most of the album is instrumental, and the instruments do the talking (mainly the sax and trumpets but the others get a fair representation as well). There are however songs, one of which with lyrics fitting the Komintern name and which are also funny.

While you might argue that it's not original, as they borrow from other sounds and simply put them in one song, I can say there's more to it than that. First of all, the merging is done very well in a way that does not only not sound forced, it actually sounds as if it is supposed to be that way. Second, there is more than just bringing several styles together. Yes, they borrow from several other genres, but they take what they feel needed and create a new sound using those ingredients and make up a special odd sound, since they add their own quirky style to it.

You might argue that this band wanted to include too much and did not focus enough on a particular style and path. But then you are ignoring that it is what they set out to do from the beginning, fuse several styles, merge between what you might not normally associate with one another. Create a new sound that is made up from the merging of sounds. If this notion sounds bad to you, then you should avoid this. If you like eclectic (both in general in an album and within one track), then you should try this one. Sadly finding this will prove to be a daunting task as it is only available in used vinyl record shops and sadly it has not been reissued.

This album should appeal to people who like what I refer to as the Samla Mammas Manna School (humouristic style with a general cheerful mood in the music. There are more attributes, but those are the ones who appear in this album); fusion fans; people who like quirkiness and oddities fitting the avant-garde tag; and people who like a mélange of styles (that is done in a good way).

4 stars for a too short but with great content album.

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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