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Verto - Krig/Volubilis  CD (album) cover





3.88 | 20 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Pôle Records only existed for a brief time from 1975-77 with only a dozen or so releases to its name but for seekers of some of the most adventurous experimental music that the 70s had to offer, this Paris based label has become a veritable goldmine for some of the most obscure examples of true musical freedom coming from various artists around France. VERTØ was one such project and was actually the alter ego of Jean-Pierre Grasset. This musical entity existed from 1974-79 and forged a new musical path that was part Magma inspired zeuhl, part jazz-fusion and part psychedelic experimental rock in the vein of Steve Hillage and Manuel Göttsching. VERTØ was centered in the city of Toulouse. During the same mid-70s period Grasset was the vocalist in the band Le Concert Dans L'?uf.

KRIG / VOLUBILIS, the first out of two albums to emerge and the only to appear on Pôle Records that came out in 1976 and featured Grasset (guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, saw, drums, electronics, composer, recording engineer, sleeve, producer) accompanied by mostly members of fellow Pôle Records group Potemkine who had been forging a similar mix of jazz-rock, zeuhl and avant-prog since 1971. This is an all instrumental album blurring the line between the aforementioned progressive rock genera but also included ample moments of ambient progressive electronic and avant-garde escapism. While the first part of the album is more structured with bubbling zeuhl rhythms and Krautrock guitar freakouts, the second part of the album completely escapes the gravitational pull of musical structure and ventures into the freeform electronic style of Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream.

This is a very dark and spacey album and ideal for those seeking out the farthest out there trips you can embark upon. It's something like early Ash Ra Temple and early Magma jumped on a spaceship together off to Kobaia and then met Klaus Schulze somewhere along the way. Together they crafted a new form of galactic musical form that is inspired by Earthly connections but forged in the vacuum of space and laced with an underpinning of musique concrète and 20th century classical punctuated by zeuhl rhythms, Krautish guitar antics and jazzy decorative features. While Grasset covers the lion's share of the instruments heard on KRIG / VOLUBIS, the Goubin brothers of Potemkine included Gilles Goubin on fretless bass and Charles Goubin on guitar however this album is basically a solo project and the 11 instruments on board are technically performed by guest musicians.

The tracks from "Krig" to "Locomo" cover a lot of ground but it's the 18 1/2 minute "Strato (Incluant Volubilis)" that really launches the album into orbit, structured much in the same way as Can's "Tago Mago" which gently nudged the listener into ever-increasing trippiness until the rocket launch money shot where all Earthly connections are jettisoned and freeform musical sounds squirm and wriggle around in a gravity-free environment. With oscillating feedback, creepy violins and cellos and a darkened bleakness, this and the final track "TK 240 S 52" which provides a monotonous drone and perpetual buzzing straight out of something you'd hear on the soundtrack from "2001: A Space Odyssey" ends the album in a most unsettling way. It becomes apparent why the album has two titles as the first KRIG refers to the more accessible Earth-based side whereas the VOLUBILIS tackles the mysterious free from sounds that possibly could have been the inspiration for modern drone metal.

While the list of releases from Pôle Records was short, it's amazing how many outstanding examples of experimental weirdness were released on this feisty indie label with almost all of its artists having been included on the ultimate tripper's Nurse With Wound list. This album was released twice with a second pressing on the Tapioca label in 1978, the successor to the Pôle Records label but has not seen another reissuing since and is clearly an example of an album that exceeds all expectations and despite the obvious influences on board more than adequately expands the possibilities in order to make a compelling experimental album that goes beyond the call of duty for crafting a truly amazing experimental relic from mid-70s France. Welcome to tripper's paradise. Ecstasy achieved.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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