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Henri Roger - Images... CD (album) cover


Henri Roger


Progressive Electronic

3.91 | 3 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Pôle Records specialized in some of the most obscure albums to have emerged from the progressive rock and electronic from 1970s France and left behind an all but forgotten canon of musical gems that to this day have never been reissued. Amongst many of the more esoteric progressive electronic artists was HENRI ROGER whose debut IMAGES was released in 1975 in tandem with a few other label mates, namely the artist Pôle, Philippe Besombes and Jean-Louis Rizet.

ROGER was born in Ismailia, Egypt in 1951 but moved to France and at the age of 15 autodidactically learned the piano where he focused on perception, imagination and improvisation over classical training. As an eclectic lover of many styles of music he began his career as a musician in Paris in the early 70s and toured with the band Taï Phong as well as with the singers Mama Bea Tekielski and Catherine Ribeiro on the live album "Love To The Naked."

IMAGES (say it in French! EE-MAHZH!) came out in December 1975 and was the fifth release on the Pôle label after the two Pôle (artist) albums, Pataphonie and Philippe Besombes, all of which shared similar avant-garde and electronic traits. The album showcased four tracks with the opening title track swallowing up 21 minutes of the overall 46 minute running time. IMAGES found a second release in 1977 on the Tapioca label also in France but has remained woefully obscure ever since.

This album has an interesting mix of influences that range from fellow countrymen Heldon to the Berlin School approach in neighboring Germany but all in all, IMAGES has a sound and style all its own. While the album is dominated by a series of bloops, bleeps and key stabs that coalesce into a constant parade of squigglies and other electronic freakery, there is a deliberate attempt to extract a number of melodies that come and go to keep the album from falling into complete abstraction.

The title track has a very cosmic approach not unlike the surreality of Klaus Schulze but with a certain French charm and stylistic delivery more like Heldon but subdued beneath the electronic swarms of sounds are actual compositions that take musical scales from classical, jazz and even blues however at times teased and tortured into totally obscured references. "Au Delà du Langage" is a much more aggressive piece with bouts of complete chaos emerging from drunken notes spiraling out of control and a kind of Jean- Michel Jarre type of electronic workout only with more avant-prog angularities.

"Attaraxie" is completely unexpected as it is simply a folky acoustic guitar strumming unaccompanied by the incessant electronic freakery. Perhaps a nice chill out session to pacify the listener but a tad lackluster compared to the electronic brilliance that surround. Only a few scant percussive sounds are allowed to punctuate the otherwise lonely guitar in action. "Asyle Cosmique," the second lengthiest track returns the alienating space effects with jittery electronic oscillations and sounds like a mental meltdown where Heldon, Conrad Schnitzler, Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno all drop acid and start jamming. The final track is somewhat of a summary of the album's run including some guitar at the end.

Except for the rather bland acoustic guitar track, this is a brilliant slice of avant-garde experimental progressive electronic that mixes ambient with new age with behind the scenes atonal freeform jazz and 20th century classical providing some sort of scaffolding upon which the menagerie of spaced out bloops and bleeps and swoops and sweeps can coalesce. While the soundscapes may sound dated due to the limitations of the technology, HENRI ROGER performed an incredible array of weirdness on his Yamaha YC45D organ. This album is quite creative and although not quite as otherworldly as the first two Pôle albums is nonetheless one of France's glorious electronic achievements despite the utter obscurity.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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