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ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO

Psychedelic/Space Rock • France


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Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro biography
Led by Patrice Moullet, ALPES was founded in 1970 with Catherine Ribeiro as the lead singer. A very original band, highly prolific throughout the 70's and still alive. Their music is rather experimental and hard to define and involves folk, progressive and improvisation. Patrice Moullet is the inventor of several musical instruments amongst which include the "Cosmophone" and the "Percuphone". In a similar vocal style to Brigitte Fontaine, Catherine Ribeiro's low voice tone may also evoke Nico at times and is theatrical and declamatory. There's often an intense dramatic tension in the singing. The debut albums are the best, and "Paix", with its two long suites, is considered the most progressive and is the best one to start with.


Bio Written by Oliverstoned

Born in Lyon during the war, Catherine Ribeiro started her career in acting, even shooting a film for JL Godart, Les Carabiniers, he met future writing partner Patrice Moullet (then under the name of Albert Juroost), before she started singing, recording a bunch of singles throughout the 60's, both in Portuguese (her parent's origins) and in French. These singles are now compiled in a set called Libertés. In the late 60's, Moullet asks her to starts a band, first named 2Bis (one record released under that moniker), than Alpes, where she'll be the front person. The group was lucky enough to participated to one of the very few festival still organized in France in the early 70's (most of them being banned to avoid further youth/student riots after May 68 both the group and festival getting the "go-ahead" from authorities a few hours before starting) in Port Leucate, then Avignon, playing to huge crowds and getting wide notice of the public.

During the early 70's, Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes recorded a string of stunning albums, starting with Ame Debout and ending with Le Temps De L'autre, the most remarkable being Rat Débile Et Homme Des Champs, with stunning tracks such as Poeme Non-Epique and Ere De La Putréfaction (sic). The group is then centered around Catherine, (guitarist) Moullet and (keyboardist) Lemoine (future Gong) and Motron, but by 76, only Lemoine remained with Catherine. The later 70's will see albums getting wiser in terms of provocations, but will gain in musician abilities and spectrum, but Ribeiro started recording solo albums dedicated to poets (Jacqueries for Jacques Prévert) and semi-anarchists singers (Ferré, Brel etc..).

In 8i, the group will disban...
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ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 11 ratings
Catherine Ribeiro + 2Bis
1969
3.43 | 12 ratings
N°2
1970
3.87 | 20 ratings
Ame Debout
1971
4.07 | 24 ratings
Paix
1972
3.92 | 11 ratings
Le Rat Débile Et L'homme Des Champs
1974
3.21 | 9 ratings
(Libertes?)
1975
3.12 | 6 ratings
Le Temps De L'Autre
1977
3.03 | 6 ratings
Passions
1979
3.03 | 6 ratings
La Deboussole
1980

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ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Paix by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.07 | 24 ratings

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Paix
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars I'm prolonging my stay in France for the next couple of reviews (and of course for the fragrant opium cheeses) this fabulously outrageous album called Paix came out in 1972, and believe you me when I say that it's formed in the hands of a group you've never heard the likes of in your life. With the progressive folk scene frolicking in all kinds of constellations - the vibe coming out of Germany felt particularly hippiyish - let's all get together and sit on the lawn, while a good deal of the music coming from the British isles suddenly had changed - fast becoming more introvert and "ugly" in its expression - epitomized by the likes of Comus, Jan Dukes de Grey and Tea & Symphony. Catherine Ribeirou belongs to these mad cats, and with her band Alpes - formerly known as 2+bis - the music coming out of your speakers when you hopefully decide to take the plunge - sounds like a haunted and slow motion catatonic version of Edith Piaf eroding through the music like pouring acid of sand.

The entire album revolves around simple, yet obnoxiously brilliant guitar patterns that chuff along like a decisively more edgy acoustic Keith Richards. Even the finger play is spot on! Hurling in a sea of mist - the psychedelic and often luminous fizzing organs snake effortlessly underneath, above and right in front of the guitar - creating an image of a wild frenzied kid haphazardly in circles with a guitar on his back - swooping about the stoic submersible rugs of furry glistening sound being hurled your way from those organs.

The focal point of everything here is the terrorising vocals of Ribeirou. Man, I'll tell you - sometimes she sounds like an androgynous Gestapo interrogator with big booming demonic obsessions darting out of her like fountains of beautiful darkness. These are the sort of vocals that echo Edith Piaf standing on top a skyscraper summoning a dangerous and desperately edgy vibe.

The first track Roc Alpin immediately gives you the impression that you're going to hear a folk rock album with somewhat strange fittings glued onto various other musical surfaces you didn't catch the first time around - but then again the first time you hear this record, it'll stop you dead in your tracks - just because the vocals appear in the room like small splintered knives.

This is however not how it all starts. Paix begins like a proper album and serves to you perhaps not the most accessible tune, but at least it sorta rocks. Feels something like a being led through a green faerie wonderland with a large and merry sailor's wife going LALAAAAAHHLAALAAHHH LALAAAAH!!! Then the organs turn up and the moods get twirling murky and soaring. Small guitar figurines leads it gently to the door as it doses off into silence.

Then an extremely French ballad comes in the form of laid back guitar strumming, and the most raging vibrato I've ever heard applied to a female rock performer. Short and very French piece - sending you along Parisienne Walkways straight onwards into the sadness of the gutter. Melancholic sweetness haunts this tune from start to finish.

At this point, you've pretty much accepted that you've acquired a progressive avantguarde cabaret album, but then something funny happens - the mood changes for the more airy and porous, and I could swear we were suddenly somewhere along the ridges of NEU! - and finally the pieces fall together, when the odd electronic string instrument called the percuphone emerges and starts emulating the well familiar two stroke rhythm of a sequencer. Additionally the music veers into dark hedges and demented yet most befitting organ runs mimic the sort of free association you'd hear from a guy like Ray Manzerak when he played live gigs with The Doors. Right there and then Ribeiro steps in and speaks out on behalf of the mad country and focuses the spotlight on all the fabulous midnight lurkers of everyday life - sporting distinct left field convictions. The track goes back and forth between these two outer extremes - feeding off the powerful back swing it gets from either side of the fence - and then slowly coming to a halt with the electronics fading smoothly out, and you get the sense that the upcoming storm is awaiting brewing round the bend. She then sings out in the most angelic voice, and the skies rip apart like new born butterflies. This is effectively only a percuphone, a light decor of atmospheric guitar riff raff, some keys and vocals, but with this title piece it feels as if the world is on the verge of becoming a speaker and everything around turns alive with sound. It's a real trip man! Ford I love this thing.

The final piece instigates with a Cluster like elegance - like a feather caught on the up-draft - refusing to land anywhere. It's as insubstantial as it is pretty - and moreover, the soothing lapping watery music from the previous track now comes to the fore and you effectively get lured out into the slippery end, where everything seems like it's melting. When Ribeiro returns to song, all of the locked away emotions seep right through under the crackling of her menacing soaring vocal lines. Oh yes, there's buckets of beauty in here as well. The final bewildering whisper/effervescent rodeo flute always sends me off chasing mice in my skull. This is like having an alluring and terrifying conversation with the incarnation of Medusa's ancient bloodline...

I've loved this thing the past 15 years, and it never ceases to amaze me just how wild and out there this album really is, and that's with the simplest of instrumentation conceivable. Sometimes less is more. So true. So very true 4.5 stars.

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 Paix by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.07 | 24 ratings

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Paix
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What if Hawkwind or Gong went folk, with Nico on lead vocals? Perhaps they would have ended up with a sound a bit like the one exhibited by Catherine Ribeiro's backing group Alpes on this release. Sputtering hazily between psychedelic space rock vistas and hippy folk chants and songs, this bizarre release combines adventurous musical experimentation with capable and diverse vocals on the part of Catherine herself, which have a resonance and a boldness to them matched by very few. There aren't many groups who can count themselves as having a truly unique sound, but Alpes might just be one of them.

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 N°2 by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.43 | 12 ratings

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N°2
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

3 stars From 1970 - the year in which I was born - appears the mighty Ribeiro and Alpes' second offering which heaps on layers of doom over the beauty of Catherine's voice. At times she'll remind you of Diamanda Galas when she was at her peak in the mid eighties.

N˚2, however, is more cerebral and raw, with far fewer effects over her vocals. To be honest she doesn't really need them - her range is incredible, sounding like a more aggressive Edith Piaf. Despite owning a scratchy old record of this, I still like it a lot.

'15 aout 1970' displays moments of beauty with vocals and guitar that will be utilised in future, better recordings.

N˚2 is sometimes tuneless but always strangely alluring, particularly on the completely mental side 2, which sounds to me like some weird sacrificial ritual in a derelict graveyard.

'Poème non épique' in its 18 mins duration has many similarities in its beginning with parts of Floyd's 'Saucerful of Secrets' with very 'Nick Masony' drums and 'Gilmour' effect laden electric guitar. Ribeiro's, almost possessed by Satan wailings and vocal ululating will leave you thinking that she was a hideous old hag rather than the beautiful woman she actually was.

The start of an unbroken run of 8 good albums in a row. Only 3 stars here because it's SO in your face that I can't really find the place to listen to this madness without getting irritated. This is Ribeiro and Alpes stripped to the bone, raw, and all the better for it on this one album.

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 Passions by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.03 | 6 ratings

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Passions
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

3 stars A surprisingly upbeat and tuneful album with mostly little short tracks this time around. It sounds quite different from all previous releases probably due to the fact that there's a cool fretless bass utilised throughout. There's also a greater number of keyboards which suits me fine. The addition of reverbed violin is quite good for a change too.

I find myself enjoying this a lot until some clown decides to give his saxophone an airing on 'Détournements De Chants'. I don't know who it is, but it leaves my face looking like I'm smelling a crate of six week old dead fish, I last had this experience whilst listening to Gary Numan's awful 'Warriors' LP in '83. What was heading for any easy four stars is deservedly punished and reduced to three.

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 Ame Debout by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.87 | 20 ratings

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Ame Debout
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

5 stars This is my favourite album by Catherine Ribeiro and Alpes. It brings back dark memories of being part of a jury at a high court in winter in 2006, travelling by train in the dark - which could, in a weird way sum up this album.

It's probably the gloomiest of their albums, but is beautiful at the same time. I'm so pleased she always sang in French. A lot of the emotion would have been lost if she'd sung in English. This is my one gripe with most Krautrock bands. This, however, is no Kraut album. Alpes are instantly identifiable even without the vocals. I've always thought there's something a bit creepy about their albums. I can't quite put my finger on it. Most folk agree that 'Paix' was the high watermark of their career. Well, I choose this one. It's cool, suave, bleak, laid back yet intense. Oh, and she looks great - black eyeliner, jet black hair and a fantastic jawbone! A tremendous album that probably creeps in to my top 40 (from 4000 albums).

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 Le Rat Débile Et L'homme Des Champs by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.92 | 11 ratings

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Le Rat Débile Et L'homme Des Champs
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars This is the third of five superb albums in a row by Catherine Ribeiro and Alpes. Don't let the front cover put you off - it sounds nothing at all like it looks! If it wasn't for the 'Nurse With Wound' list I'd never have discovered this (or Magma, Franco Battiato and Taj Mahal Travellers come to think of it). Ribeiro has an astounding voice that sounds powerful in a Lisa Gerrard from 'Dead Can Dance' kind of way. Edith Piaf similarities are inevitable.

The band Alpes have a distinctive way of playing, sounding quite dark and sombre which suits Ribeiro's voice perfectly. All their albums sound very European. You'd never hear an album like this originating from the USA. It's really difficult finding any info. or footage of them in the 70's on 'You Tube' when they were undoubtedly at their peak, which is a shame. Anyway, this is a great album and well worthy of four stars

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 La Deboussole by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.03 | 6 ratings

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La Deboussole
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

3 stars What the...??!! Well I wasn't expecting this. Quite a departure from previous albums. Bordering on 'Disco Ribeiro'. I don't care - I could listen to her all day with no complaints. This one's quite a bit more straight forward than all the others. Her voice is still 'to die for' though. Clearly, New Wave bands have had an influence on the group here. Perhaps it was a good thing that they packed it in here rather than face the possible ignominy of taking on board that early 80's overproduction that destroyed many a Prog band in that decade. This is still pretty good stuff though - more through Ribeiro's vocals rather than Alpes who seem to have latched on to that keyboardy and straight drum thing that occurred around this time. Pretty good, but not a relevant entry point to this fantastic band. Leave this album till last and then you'll notice the huge shift in sound.

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 Paix by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.07 | 24 ratings

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Paix
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

5 stars Here we have the usual awful clash of dress sense on the sleeve complete with ropey photograph. Thankfully, I'm here to rate the music. Ribeiro still looks pretty hot though eh? What a jaw!

'Paix' get off to a surprisingly jaunty start complete with 'La-la-la-la-la' vocals on 'Roc Alpin' with Ribeiro sounding like she's throwing daisies up in the air in a sunny forest. It's unrepresentative of what's to follow though.

Track two is more like I was expecting. Acoustic in nature with lots of weird effects pushed through the instruments along with the usual astounding baritone vocals of Catherine Ribeiro. The title track is the highlight. Fifteen minutes of near perfect music. Somewhat doom laden and pretty heavy in atmosphere.

Thankfully I can't speak much French - (apart from 'Le chien mange de pomme') and I'm led to believe that this might help matters, as there's supposedly a fair bit of Socialism in a Communist kind of way involved in the band's beliefs.

The last track 'Un Jour... La Mort' takes up a mighty 24 minutes. This has that 'jenais se quois' that all Ribeiro and Alpes albums retain - even after nearly 40 years. Indescribably beautiful.

There's a lot of bongos present on this album and apart from the first track there's no drum kit at all, which gives things a strange folky groove. Hypnotic and psychedelic are the two words I'd use to sum 'Paix' up with.

The best female vocalist ever? Well, she's better than Lisa Gerard, Kate Bush and Diamanda Galas. So quite probably. Excellent

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 Paix by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.07 | 24 ratings

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Paix
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

4 stars A delightful French folk? No, not at all!

Let me say please don't be deceived by the first poppy French pop-rock Roc Alpin - Alpine Rock. Ah, sorry, of course this is a very smart and fine song, with Catherine's masculine husky and overwhelming voices and rhythmical French poppy sounds. Consider this is exactly a wonderful French Rock song. And furthermore, in the next ballad Jusqu'a Ce Que La Force De T'aimer Me Manque, with a flamenco guitar solo, Catherine's voices can get more flexible, more passionate, and more melancholic. Cannot help crying in her graceful but exploding chorus, let's try this ACID FOLK!

However, naturally, the real gems in this album should be the last two long songs - especially, the last track Un Jour... La Mort, with three independent parts in it, has absolutely all of their musical essence; quiet, smooth, (and a bit boring) opening... Catherine's mysteriously hoarse but palmy, fruity vibrations with heavy riffs of a bass solo... ethnic percussive sounds with her aggressive French singin'... and based on a fantastic electric guitar solo, impressing avalanche of pleasant voices and psychedelic keyboard & guitar sounds... even her shouts and cries can be comfortable for us, what a beautiful ending scene!

The title track Paix is another gem. spacey percussion is particularly impressive. Repetitive and fragrant riffs by a fancy keyboard solo and a simple (and sometimes eccentrically heavy) guitar one can remind us French progressive folk with some danceable and sensual texture. But the basis of this song is "Rock" I wanna say.

Oh, anyway, finally let me say - Roc Alpin can be very fit for my daily jog. :-)

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 Passions by ALPES & CATHERINE RIBEIRO album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.03 | 6 ratings

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Passions
Alpes & Catherine Ribeiro Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Compared with 77's Temps De L'autre, CR&A underwent a lot of pzersonnel changes, where only Moullet and Ribeiro remain, but with a returning Lemoine (whi will make his presence felyt as he's quite involved in the songwriting), making ex-Gong members (Shamal-era) two in this Alpes line-up along with percussionist Mireille Bauer. In the meantime, since their previous album, Catherine had recorded one or two solo albums, the first being homage to French poet Jacque Prevert, and another to anarchist singer Ferré. With a nature & wind snapshot of Catherine gracing blandly Passions, I always wondered why the much more impressive and militant and drawn (by Moullet himself) artwork on the inner sleeve didn't make it on the outer one, but most likely this was a record company decision

Passions is a bit of a departure musically, boosting shorter songs with the exception of two "monster tracks" with a much changed sound and even Ribeiro's vocals being recorded differently. This is immediately noticeable with the opening Iona Melodies where Lemoine writes the music and Catherine sings about her daughter changing her life, David Rose's violin being much too present and when not, guest Kennyatta's sax being obtrusive. Frères Humains is a return to previous Alpes albums and a highlight here. If it wasn't for Rose's (bad and sounding like a cheap fiddle) violin, you could easily imagine the following Cristalpin being on a Gong album of the later 70's, percussionist Mireille Bauer's presence clinching it. Starting out on an instrumental prog intro, Tous les Droits Sont Dans La Nature is another one of one those huge cries from Catherine about her utopias and generous ideals over an often changing "background" (only because it could've been recorded a tad louder in the mix) music.

The flipside holds the 11-mins+ L'Oiseau Devant La Porte, which starts in a lengthy prog instrumental intro, before Ribeiro tells us of the fresh young enthusiastic bird hitting the realities of our closed society's realities. While a good prog number, the track only convinces partly, because Ribeiro's lyrics are a bit off the mark and they dictate too much the music. Following the guitar instrumental Alpinette, Femme-Témoin is homage to Jane Fonda's anti-Vietnam stance and, while it comes over a decade after the facts, is impressive with percussionist Bauer renders the war realities particularly well. The closing Détournement De Chants (high-jacking of songs) is obviously from the same session as the opening track, this time with Kenyatta's sax and Campello's clarinet giving a strange glue-sniffing Supertramp- like feel over Lemoine's piano, but Catherine is taking wild shots at censorship.

While a bit different and not as representative of Alpes as others, Passions is still much worth owning, if you're into Alpes and want to own all the good albums. But personally I found David Rose's violin/fiddle all too often out of tune and not always inspired and it ruins a bit the album for me.

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Thanks to oliverstoned for the artist addition. and to Sean Trane for the last updates

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