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Artcane - Odyssee CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.63 | 69 ratings

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4 stars Another one-hit wonder created a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away(the 1970s) this impressive slice of Crimson-style prog provides yet more evidence of the febrile scene that existed throughout France during the genre's golden years, producing groups such as Magma, Mona Lisa, Pulsar and Ange to name but a few. Now we can add Artcane to the list. Issued by the French wing of major label Phillips in 1977 - same label as Ange - 'Odyssee' came very late-in-the-day for a full-blown prog-rock record, which also explains why it disappeared without trace. By 1976 the awful punk rebellion had fully taken hold of the British music scene, exerting an grim, vice-like grip that suffocated creativity. In France, however, it would take another year for this darkness to arrive, and it was during this period that some of the great French prog-rock albums were created, such as Ange's 'Guet-Apens' and the seminal concept album 'Halloween' by Pulsar. 'Halloween', of course, has an international reputation, and is widely considered a classic, yet despite being recorded in optimum conditions, with a large budget and plenty of time, the label refused to spend any money on promotion. Pulsar had, in effect, gone away to the countryside for two months to record 'Halloween' with the full backing of the label; by the time they returned the musical landscape had drastically altered. The label had changed management and direction, prog was out, punk was in. It was the same for everyone. This then begs the question: Did the same happen to Artcane? Probably, yes. But frustratingly we'll never truly know, such is the mystery surrounding the albums creation, and the quality of 'Odyssee' only heightens that sense of frustration, because here was a young group with talent. Often compared to King Crimson and, sometimes, VDGG, Artcane definitely belong in that category, yet they are no mere copycats. Featuring the quartet of Jack Mlynski(guitar, vocals), Alain Coupel(keyboards, vocals), Stanislas Belloc(bass, vocals) and Daniel Locci(drums), 'Odyssee' begins in glorious fashion with the high-intensity title-track, a thunderous, foot- stomping opener that brings to mind 'Red' with it's brooding guitars and rumbling bass thuds. It's a grandiose, almost cinematic start, though one that is tempered by the more restrained 'Le Chant D'orphee'. Featuring a more meditative ambience and an ominous tone, the nine-minute 'Novembre' takes a few minutes to warm up, yet it is worth the wait as the quartet gradually feed off one another to create a thrilling explosion of instrumental power. The album's key piece, however, has to be the lengthy epic 'Artcane 1'. Coming in at around sixteen minutes, this is a dark and deftly-woven piece of music, featuring all four members on vocals, which alternates between soft moments of ethereal spookiness and jagged rock assaults, drummer Locci expertly holding the quartet together with his precise rhythmic patterns. Definitely worth a place in any serious prog collecton, 'Odyssee' is a remarkable debut album from a youthful and inexperienced group. A product of the curiously underrated French prog scene of the 1970s - a scene that definitely deserves more kudos - Artcane is a genuine lost classic. Fans of King Crimson, Ange, Pulsar and VDGG are urged to investigate. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2015

stefro | 4/5 |


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