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Ange - Au-delà du délire CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.97 | 310 ratings

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5 stars Dateline: December 1975. Place: Fort de France, Martinique. Soldiers and riot police everywhere as US President Ford and French President Giscard meet for some silly world leader summit. The heat-nauseated CRS coppers are in full leather outfits, literally melting under the swelteringly leaden Caribbean sun, with huge perspiration puddles around their shining boots ("C'est dur d'etre flic!"). I, the innocent long-haired strolling student-tourist, am busy hunting down some LPs and lo and behold, my clammy hands land on this superb recording, at the time very hard to find in Canada. Its overtly childish, medieval cover is oddly reminiscent of famed artist Breughel's Flemish peasant themes, where simple peasants till the harsh land, preparing the grain for winter bread, under the watchful protection of the castle walls. 32 years later, this delightful prog bedtime story still evokes fond memories of a bygone youth, where fantasy had a greater bearing than any "mature" routine. The original vinyl LP had a two full-page lyric sheet with extensive drawings in spidery reddish-brown ink, giving a visual context to such character fables as the nasty opener "Godevain le Villain", the outrageously anti-clerical "Si j'etais le Messie", the stirring "Exode" and the not so sweet Sugar battle "La Bataille du Sucre", all coated in a Middle Ages veneer that was obviously quite prevalent in those minstrel-led days of Genesis, Tull and Giant. Unfortunately unknown to non-French listeners, Christian Decamps' pen was furiously creative, injecting harsh words laced with innuendo, sarcasm, irony and a touch of anger: "Blood of thy fathers, adultery, take me with you, rip away the land from the grips of the false king". Brezovar deftly alternated 6 and 12 string acoustic delicacies with some high-powered lead guitar that winked more towards a Martin Barre tone, both harsh and dirty. Francis Decamps' organ had a similarly moody groveling sound with no hint of any polish which, in retrospect, provides the unique gritty charm this record possesses in abundance. The bass and drums are arch-typical of the French progressive school, very "a propos", without any overt attempts at glorified showmanship or wasted posing. But the real magic bathes in the spotlight of a brilliant vocal exhibition put on by Christian, whose eruptive swagger, manic persona & somewhat over-the-top delivery will confuse the more placid, conservative Saxon listener into believing this to be hysteria (Not too many British operas out there!). He growls, pants, burps, howls like a combination Peter Gabriel-Jerry Lee Lewis, expressing without restraint the inner turmoil that exasperates his soul. In "Si j'etais le Messie", his voice imitates a drunk (with hiccup), a pederast ("sniffing my behind"), the Virgin Mary ("doubting her virginity"), diabolically swerving between fury and blasphemy. His open mockery of the church and its rather frail human element was highly criticized by certain conservative segments of French society but the hoopla only made Ange as famous as the notorious Serge Gainsbourg , for the same "stretching the accepted boundaries" philosophy. It's precisely the juxtaposition of the puerile setting and adult explicit content that makes this a defining artistic monument. Everyone knows that the French are a hopelessly melodramatic lot and few finer examples exist than this brilliant album, which currently sits at my top 9 all-time progressive masterpiece. I implore you to "take a little trip back." and Ange-oy this musical feast. 5 exodes
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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