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Verto - Krig/Volubilis  CD (album) cover





3.88 | 20 ratings

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4 stars Surrealistic adventures in sound

I´ve been overwhelmed by the amount of great music coming out of France during the 70s. Especially during the last couple of years, I´ve found myself digging deeper and deeper into these Roquefort cheese- and Bordeaux wine- flavoured obscurities, and one of the biggest revelations to me personally has been the sheer diversity of the avant scene. This scene was about as broad as you can get, with everything from silly Zappaesque dadaism to the full monty sanitarium musicals with stethoscopes and neon boas.

This album by Verto appeals to the psychedelic initiated. Those of us who like our music to be porous and melting - bubbly and surreal. This record is all of the above, but it is somehow not the right description - just putting a psych tag on this mother, - because the rather angular lines within this music, and the monstrous coldness within these - how the music turns your blood into rivers of ice and burns at the same time - this characteristic of it, just doesn´t come across, when one only hears "psychedelic music". Chamber rock then? Well not exactly, but the violon and the ghastly whiffs of voices, that from time to time pop up in the music does have that quality to them. They move about in a horror movie atmosphere and permit the feel of the album in a way that is highly reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream, although these 2 artists sound nothing alike. RIO is perhaps the closest you´ll get in description, and the first side, which is filled to the brim of jack in the box drums that pops out of the music, but still keep things tight and earthbound, - is a perfect example of this parallel.

Krig/Volubilis is what I´d call an experiment in sounds - largely built up around the multitude of different facets lurking inside an electric guitar. The brains behind this outing is named Jean-Pierre Grasset, and while he also plays the drums, potentiometers(this is an electronic device much like a light switch, and I´ll be buggered if I can get my head around just how this could be used as an instrument...) and something as poetic as sounds, - his main business on this album is making the guitar sound like everything under the sun. He plays that thing like a bat out of hell, and during some sections I think he´s up there in the highest fields of angular demonic possession with guys like Zappa and Fred Frith. I really do. His guitar bounces of surfaces and creates an invisible dome, in which all the other instruments knuckle under. Again, I hear some similarities with the early RIO bands, but then again this album is far too psychedelic for that to be true. The marathon track Stratos is a fine example of this testimony, and while it has decisively more in common with Tangerine Dream´s Zeit - it basks its majestic oozing presence in waters unknown to this listener. Some of it sounds like it´s played on wine glasses, but giant enormous ones that would take up 15 arm lengths to reach across - let alone handle with delicate musical skill. Other sections sound like buzzing bees, or maybe that Australian telephone that Crocodile Dundee uses in the sequel - y´know that little wooden paddle on a string, that you swing around your head creating these aggressively flapping elliptic sounds that not unlike the didgeridoo - transform into a man maid bug instrument. -And without any form of rhythmic enhancements other than spiralling sculptures of quasi guitar patterns, the whole feel of these gigantic buzzing drones, is one that reminds me of the locust swarms of the old testament. Some of this album is almost ambient music, but there´s so much happening in these otherworldly drones, that calling it ambient just doesn´t seem right. If somebody told me it was an alien form of communication - a way to speak to the stars, then I´d buy it on the spot. In fact, this track could have been the perfect ending to Spielberg´s Close Encounter of the Third Kind.

The final track follows in Stratos´ footprints and does genuinely sound like music, which has been made through the usage of a 2. W.W. fighter cockpit. IIEEEAAAAAARRRHHHHHHOOOOOUUUUHHHMMMM, but in a silent way - Strange as that sounds...

All this and much more - and not a synth in sight! Pretty spectacular and quite the unique experience. The only downside to this album is perhaps the lack of any real structure - the tracks seem bundled up together like apples and oranges going to the steak house, but still there´s bundles of joy to be found in this seductive French affair. I´ve had the weirdest images running through my mind whilst listening to this outing, and something like dancing in mid-air with a lady bug during a plane crash with hundreds of humming crystal glasses singing along - is one of the more mundane of these...

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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